Return by J. Barrett - HTML preview
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So here we stand, in the center of the massive Companion Hall, amid Companions and Keepers from across the galaxy. I could see each ledge above occupied by a Companion, (in their true size), and their Keeper, many of which I personally knew. Each Companion had answered the call; some unknown desire that had risen from their inner depths urging them to return to their home world. Never in Companion history had a call gone out like this - summoning all the Companions in the Galaxy.
So, as I said…here we stood. We were urged to climb the stairs to the top of the center platform and step upon the Circle of Truth. Our minds would be opened to all in attendance.
Begin at the beginning… came an inner command.
We closed our eyes and seemed to float in a relaxing sea of safety and love.
We were called Peacekeepers, created to enforce the Law of the Galaxy. After the devastating war of Argosis VI and the unexpected annihilation of an entire race of beings, the Galaxy was shocked to their senses. In the aftermath of that horror, the planets united in the formation of a Guild, and pledged that never again would we allow ourselves to engage in war on such a level. Never again would we allow evil to so corrupt us.
The governments of all the planets in the Guild agreed that a special police force, with extraordinary powers, was needed to maintain the Law in the Galaxy; and so the Peacekeepers were created. This force would be independent of any planet; they would have total authority to make final decisions in all disputes. They would be answerable only to the governing Guild; a body of legal representatives from all the worlds involved. These Peacekeepers would be incorruptible, dedicated to the law, and totally impartial in settling disputes.
Training for the Peacekeeper Corps was rigorous and long, requiring the Keeper to be proficient in all forms of combat, physical and metaphysical. The individual Keeper himself would have to be conversant in all forms of the Law and graduate with a Law Degree of the 5th Level. Training would then begin to allow the Keeper to be matched with a Companion. The intensive bonding with the Companion would turn the Keeper's hair white if successful. With a successful matching, the Keeper and Companion would then be assigned an area of the Galaxy to patrol.
Matching with a Companion was vital, for it was the Companion who insured that the Peacekeeper’s decisions would be accepted and followed. Knowledge of the power and impartiality of the Companions was Galaxy wide; and no one ever wanted to anger one.
An ancient evil saw his own doom fast approaching and decided to forestall it. The usurper hired the evil assassin Rubik to kill the ‘Anointed’ before the Companions could find him. This was unacceptable in accordance with the Law and a warrant was issued to hunt the assassin down and arrest him. Word reached the evil Rubik and the first thing he did was kill everyone who knew him; then he ran.
The Peacekeeper assigned to go after him was killed, along with his Companion, in a horrific brutal ambush. To kill a Peacekeeper was bad enough, but to slay a Companion was to invite death. The deaths were a terrible blow to the Guild, and roused the ire of the entire Companion family. This Rubik was no sentient being... he was pure evil, a brutish killer. The sentence handed down was a rare one; he had to be brought to 'final' justice.
Mya and I were given the order to track him down. Arrest him if possible - eliminate him if necessary. We accepted the warrant and set out after the rogue. Mya and I had been working together for ten years. During that time we had earned ourselves a respected name in the Peacekeepers Guild. Mya had shown her power only four times during all that time, but it was enough to spread the word around the quadrant. Many who called for a Peacekeeper would request us, for they knew they would be treated justly.
We missed Rubik by days on one planet, and hours on another. His trail was leading directly towards the forbidden system. Normally the Milky Way was out of bounds for everyone, but I was given special permission to enter the system. I reported back to the Guild that Rubik’s trail lead directly towards the planet known as 'Earth'. This was considered a hands-off planet; a still evolving world with scattered wars across its surface; it had not yet learned to come together as one. Worlds such as this were to be avoided; the Law stated all contact was forbidden. Because of this unexpected turn of events, I was required to get clarification on the Law. The information I provided to the Guild now changed the game; they issued an order for the immediate liquidation of Rubik.
Mya and I were now told the real reason the Guild and the Companions were so upset.
It seems that they have been waiting for a very long time for a being to evolve and rejoin the ‘Waiting One’. The being was discovered on Earth and had been guided thru the centuries to the present. The being had reached total awareness and was ready to evolve and claim his rightful place. We were given special coordinates and told to land and seek out a ‘teacher’ named Tobruk. He would introduce us to the being and we were to escort him to the Companion home world.
All well and good, but it seems that Rubik had other plans for us. As we came around the moon Mya shouted a warning just as a barrage of fire hit our ship. Rubik was making sure we would be unable to complete our mission. I returned fire and then all hell broke loose; it was nothing short of all out mayhem. One good thing, Rubik’s ship was destroyed in a fiery explosion.
My cloaking device had been damaged in the fight and Ship was losing the ability remain hidden. The COM Center was in a shambles; wires were hanging down and sparking all over. I had no way to inform the Guild about what had happened, or call for help. Mya tried to use her abilities but we were too far away for her to reach any of the other Companions. With my engines on impulse power I attempted to limp out of the area, but the ship would not turn. Soon we were caught in Earth’s gravity, slowly being pulled towards the planet’s surface; I thought to myself, "what else could possibly go wrong?"
Maya then informed me that unfortunately, it was a sure bet that Earth’s satellites had picked up the firefight. Great, just great!