The guest house on Misko, originally intended as a getaway for Emperor Bartala and Empress Nalau, has been dubbed “the house”. The huge dining room, with it’s massive table makes a great meeting space for planning, and with multiple guest rooms there is plenty of personal space. It is here that the team gathers for the first time.
The Muse of Mischief and Agent Brzko sit at the head of the massive table, while Lelelu, Zri, Xiix, Nalau, Numia, and Ferocity take their places along the sides of the table. They were all chatting, excited about their new union.
M stood up, grabbing their attention. “OK, listen up.” She was met with immediate silence. “Let’s get started, we need to talk about our first mission. We’re going Clyrea X9.” She sat back down and Brzko jumped in.
“Zri, who is your new first officer?”
“Actually it’s still ShyUst. He also resigned from his official position on Gaznzul to work with us.”
“That’s great news.” Brzko continued. “Nalau, how is your new crew working out, have you had enough time with them to trust them in a potentially dangerous situation?”
“Absolutely. We worked well together when we took Isyuno to Suus.”
“Good. Nalau, how empathic is Snov?” M asked.
“Very. It seems that many of the beings held in stasis by the VReoria were able to develop the power of their minds. I think it helped them survive.”
“Right, like my father being able to develop the ancient Trelod ability of telepathy.” Lelelu interjected.
“Exactly.” The Nalau confirmed. “So when do we leave for Clyrea X9 M?”
Just as she was about to speak Lelelu interrupted. “There’s a small situation that I think needs to be handled before you head out on that mission.” Everyone just looked at her, so she continued. “We received a message from Vustia, the Ruling Council has requested assistance.”
“What’s wrong?” Brzko asked.
“The portal in Traphus seems to have been hijacked. It leads to Luchybos and is generally used for transporting small goods. But it’s been closed and the locals say they can hear someone in them, singing.”
“Singing?” M, Brzko and Zri said in unison.
Lelelu smiled, here eyes sparkled, making her even more beautiful. “I know it sounds crazy. And if it’s OK with you, I’d like to help handle this.” She said looking at M.
“By all means, please do. If you can work it out quickly then we’ll leave for Clyrea X9 the day after tomorrow.”
“Nalau, would like to come with me?”
“Most definitely! Wouldn’t we Numia?”
“Yes, When would you like to leave?”
“Now?” Lelelu said looking back and forth between Nalau and Numia.
“OK, let’s go.” Nalau said, standing up. As she activated her transporter she said “Hopefully we’ll be very soon. Lelelu, there’s no point in taking two ships, why don’t you ride with us?”
“OK, I’ll be right there.” Lelelu turned to Zri and kissed his cheek. “I’ll be back soon.”
“Be careful Le.” She activated her transporter and all three of them left for Nalau’s ship.
After a quick preflight check, they were off, it would only take a few minutes to get to Traphus from Misko. Nalau let Numia handle the landing without comment.
Vustia was there waiting for them.
“Vustia, it’s a pleasure to see you again, are you well?” Lelelu asked taking his extended hand.
“I am very well. How are you Lelelu? You look good. How is your father? Has he recovered?”
“Oh yes, mostly. He’s visiting a friend on Suus right now. And you remember Empress Nalau I’m sure, this is Numia, Guug, Snov, Strupa and G’uld.”
Nalau stepped up and extended her hand. “Of course.” Vustia said. “It’s a pleasure to see you, thank you all for coming to help.”
“It’s our pleasure, please show us where the portal is.”
“Right this way.” He led them to a solid metal doorway, standing alone in an open area between what looked like small warehouses.
M turned to Snov, “Can you feel anything? Anything from the other side of the door?”
Snov stepped forward and placed both his hands on the door. Something from the otherside pounded against it and he jumped. He placed his hands back on the door, turned his head to the side and closed his eyes trying to focus.
“I feel frustration, despair, sadness.”
“No anger or hostility?” Lelelu asked.
Snov turned his attention to the door again, focusing. After a moment he moved back. “No, I do not sense anything threatening.”
Nalau turned and looked at the group, they were ready. She nodded to Guug, he grasped the handle and something pounded again.
“Open this door now or we’re coming in!.” Guug projected with as much force as he could. He turned the handle and with is incredible strength, he was able to turn it enough for the door to unlatch. They all heard the click, and readied themselves for an attack. A massive force pressed into the door, slamming it all the way open. There was a loud hissing sound as a bright blue cloud surrounded Guug. Numia grabbed his shoulders attempting to pull him back. But it was too late, the blue cloud surrounded both of them. It wasn’t causing them any harm but it was too thick to see through. Before they could decide which way to go to get out of the cloud they heard Nalau.
“Afrit, stop this NOW! I demand that you take a solid form immediately.”
Afrit? Lelelu thought that sounded familiar, then she remembered why. Was Nalau right, was this Afrit the Great of Jinn?
“NOW Afrit. Or I’ll have the Dragon breathe fire in your general direction. You’ll be scorched no matter what form you’re in.” Nalau continued.
The blue cloud began to get thicker in front of Nalau, slowly it began to take shape. The shape of Afrit the Great. Afrit looked around, taking the time to note each individual. “Hey! There’s no Dragon here! Empress you’ve changed!” He said looking her up and down.
“Afrit.” Lelelu called, getting him to turn in her direction. “How did you find your way to the Planet of Portals?”
“This is this is the Planet of Portals?”
“Look Afrit, we’re not in the mood for games. How did you get here?”
“I was banished. Well, sort of. I was actually given a choice. A choice between akenn kote or banishment from Jinn.”
“Akenn kote?” Nalau asked.
“Right, akenn kote.” He looked at her and realized she wasn’t familiar with the term. “It’s an ancient way to say nowhere.”
“What did you do to deserve banishment?” Nalau asked.
“What makes you think I deserved it?”
“You were my houseguest for a while, I’m confident that you deserved it.”
“Ohhh you really have changed! I bet you’re a blast at parties now, Nalau.”
She didn’t take the bait and scold him for addressing her by her first name. Instead she stood still and gazed at him. Once again he looked around the room.
“So where’s this Dragon you were threatening me with?”
When no one answered him, he finally gave up. “OK, OK. I was involved in a little scandal on Jinn. I had a little bit too much fun at a party and it turned out my drinking pal was the daughter of the ruling Jinn. He was furious, accusing me of corrupting her. Ha! Little does he know.” He looked around, looking for sympathy. He didn’t find any so he continued. “So he gave me a choice, I could step through a portal leading to akenn kote or be banished from Jinn. I chose the portal, but it seems like the same thing because now I’m stuck on this hideous planet. No offense to my blue friends here.” He said nodding toward Lelelu and Vustia. They all turned and looked at him.
“What is akenn kote like?” Lelelu asked.
“Lonely, that’s what it’s like.” Again no response, so he continued. “It’s like a single, huge room, there’s lightning dancing at the top of the room. But no other discernible features.”
“How long were you in there?”
“I don’t know for sure, a few weeks maybe.”
“You can survive that long without sustenance?”
“Ha! I was a houseguest on Ploosnar wasn’t I?”
“Let’s put him back.” Nalu said, sort of kidding, but taking a step forward to emphasize her point.
“No, no, no. I’m sorry sister. I just hate being alone, I can’t help myself. I don’t know how to describe it in there. It’s almost like time stands still, but not really. It’s a terrible place. The door on the other side should be locked”
“Where is the other door?” She asked.
“One of them is on Jinn, and it’s one way.”
“There are more of them?” Vustia asked.
“If the stories are true, yes. Jinn children are told stories of akenn kote being used to travel between places undetected, or to hide. But it’s risky. If you can’t find an exit, or if it’s locked, you may be trapped nowhere for eternity because time doesn’t move the same in akenn kote. I don’t know how long I was in there looking for a way out. Once I realized I was hearing industrial sounds, I stayed in this area because I figured there was a way out.”
“So now what do we do with you? I don’t think you can stay on the Planet of Portals.” Numia said.
“Well technically I wasn’t banished from Jinn….. But I don’t think I want to go back there. Maybe I should spend a little time here. My ancestors spent time on this planet.”
“No.” Vustia, Lelelu, and Nalau said in unison.
“Umm OK then.” Afrit put his hand on his chin and looked up at the sky tapping his foot. It made the pointed tip of his shoe jiggle. He snapped his fingers as he lowered his hand. “I’ve got it! Foskpruchu.”
“Do you speak Foskpruchu?” Lelelu asked.
“How difficult can it be? Besides I love a riddle!”
“OK, Foskpruchu it is. Where’s your bottle?”
“Back on Jinn.”
Nalau rolled her eyes at him. “Fine. We’ll take you to Foskpruchu but if start anything on my ship I’ll have Guug and G’uld put you down.” She began walking toward her ship.
He ran after her, “Wait, this is your ship? And HEY what do you mean ‘put me down’? I’m not some feral Koblenipi on Ploosnar!”
She kept walking at a quick pace, knowing that she’d gotten to him pleased her. But he couldn’t see the grin she was wearing from behind her. The remainder of her team followed Afrit aboard the ship.
Lelelu and Vustia were still standing in front of the portal. “I’m sorry Vustia, we solved one mystery but have given you another. How the Jinn were able to send someone through a portal… I can’t explain that.”
“I’ve heard of other portals that lead into the Planet of Portals but I’ve never seen them. They are supposed to be in a deserted area, and locked down. But those were stories I heard as a child, I never believed them.”
“But maybe it’s true. Maybe there are portal that aren’t one way. That would change the planet, wouldn’t it?” She knew Nalau and here crew were waiting. “I’ve got to Vustia, I guess we’re going to Foskpruchu. You know how to reach us if you need anything else.” She turned and as she jogged toward Nalau’s ship, she realized that for the first time since being captured by the VReoria she felt completely recovered.