Authors: Glenn van Dyke,Renee van Dyke
“They are coming,” said Enki, his voice weak and barely audible over the sound of crackling circuitry and electrical fires on the bridge. A light haze of smoke was drifting through the air, creating deep shadows that the dim lights of the strained emergency backup system could not erase.
Ninmah leaned closer to the lips of her dying husband and asked, “Who is coming?”
Sitting in a pool of Enki’s blood, Ninmah coddled Enki in her lap, a wide gash across his abdomen. Enki coughed, spatting yet more blood upon Ninmah’s bare chest.
On the bridge of Destiny 1, a soft whirring sound could be heard. The crew recognized it as the sound of the Spatial Transporter. They drew their weapons and formed a circle around Enki, protecting him from Enlil’s boarding forces.
As the figures within the field coalesced and the crew saw that the two people arriving were unarmed and not a threat, their weapons slowly lowered. Those protecting Enki parted, letting him see the strangers that had appeared.
Steven and Ashlyn were taken aback by what they saw. Like Destiny 2, the bridge was in its battle configuration. The stations were unmanned as a dozen or more of the crew were scattered around the room, dead—some dismembered. Part of the hull was missing, blown-out. The Keeper had erected a temporary containment field, saving the lives of those left on the bridge. The survivors were beaten, weary, and not bothering to mend their wounds. They were prepared to die.
Enki was lying on the floor between them in the arms of his wife. The crew was gathered around him, resigned and supportive of their dying commander. Steven and Ashlyn couldn’t help but notice that the seven women on the bridge—the four dead and the three living, were all unclothed. Neither Steven or Ashlyn had ever known that it was natural for Anunnaki women to be naked. Though Tynabo had hinted at such in the recording back in Denver, Steven now understood fully the reason behind Ashlyn’s loathing of clothes. It was natural to her genetics.
Though he was dying, Enki’s eyes brightened at seeing them. “See, Nin. My father had promised help would come.”
Looking up at Steven and Ashlyn, though overwhelmed by sadness, Ninmah’s lips formed a narrow smile. Her endearing gaze invited them to come closer.
They approached and knelt beside Enki, though it be in the pool of blood. He, like the other men were dressed in black leathers—those befitting a warrior.
Enki’s eyes were as deep and compassionate as they remembered in their discussion with him, two days before.
Steven spoke. “Your crew is safe, Lord Enki. Enlil’s fleet is destroyed. Only his battlecruiser escaped.” It was a welcome revelation to the crew. With their sensors down they hadn’t been able to see the battle taking place outside.
“You did that?” said Ninmah. “You destroyed all his ships?”
“All but Enlil’s. He initiated a jump to Hadaesia before our second volley of missiles arrived.”
“Hadaesia?” Ninmah looked at him with questioning eyes. While the word held meaning to her as an Anunnaki, using it in the context Steven had, bewildered her.
“Excuse me, Earth. Hadaesia is what your Earth’s name will someday become,” said Steven, wondering if he had made a mistake in explaining.
“I think I understand. Hadaesia? It will be a fitting name for the place where Lord Enlil will die. But still, you must go after him.” Ninmah paused. “I am sorry. I do not even know your names.”
“This is Ashlyn. I am Steven. We have come a long way to be here today. We are aboard the Destiny. Our Destiny.”
Enki stiffened, a jolt of pain making him grimace as he sought for the strength to speak.
The eyes of Ninmah and Enki locked. They were talking to one another, silently—within their minds. When they looked up, Ninmah spoke. “We understand. We do not know how you were able to do so, but we understand.”
Enki strained to reach out and take Ashlyn’s hand. With the touch, Enki inhaled deeply. His eyes drifted upwards to meet with Ninmah’s. Ninmah’s eyes tightened, and she cocked her head to the side as if she were questioning Enki’s thoughts. When she looked up, her eyes were fixed on Ashlyn. “You—you are a Transor?”
The room grew quiet. The shoulders of the crew straightened. They exchanged glances. The word Transor had tapped into deep memories and fearful emotions in their subconscious.
Enki coughed again, spouting more blood.
“Though I am a doctor, his wounds are beyond my skills. And he is too weak and injured to shift form and save himself—but you can save him,” said Ninmah, her face pleading for Ashlyn to try.
“I don’t have that ability,” answered Ash, saddened that she even had to utter the disappointing words.
“Yes, you do. Enki senses it. He is a very strong and gifted empath. He can see inside the soul of an individual.” Ninmah looked down at Enki, and nodded before again looking up. “He says that you are just unskilled. That you do not yet know the power you possess. He asks you to try. Please.”
Ashlyn shot a quick glance at Steven seeking reassurance. She found it in his sympathetic and loving eyes.
Taking in a large breath of air to strengthen her resolve, she took Enki’s hand between her two palms. She had no idea of what to do or how to tap into the ability, or if it even really existed. Closing her eyes, she focused on blocking out the sounds around her. As the sounds faded, her mind stretched, searching within herself for an emotion to cling to—a thought that could guide her. She tried to envision Enki’s wounds but found herself unable to do so. Her mind was clouded with doubt.
Ash opened her eyes and looked at Steven. She shook her head.
Into Ashlyn’s mind, Steven whispered,
“You can do it, Ash. I believe in you. It’s Enki who saves us in the future. We can’t let him die. It might change everything for us.”
Ninmah noticed the private conversation they were having and the shared nods between them. She could tell that Steven was giving Ashlyn encouragement.
Taking a deep breath, Ashlyn tightened her grasp upon Enki’s hand. She refocused—determination framing her face. She began to feel the intense pain that Enki was feeling, and she reached out, embracing it. It became a part of her. What he felt, she felt. Ashlyn could feel Enki’s fading life-force. She could hear the slowing of his heart and feel his lungs fighting for every breath.
She grasped onto the flow of energy surging within her. The transcendent manifestation of her desire to save him, held a calming warmth that was almost spiritual.
Enki inhaled deeply. His head tipped back and his body stiffened. A moment later he went limp, exhaling the air in his lungs. His chest did not rise again. Ninmah’s head dropped; a sigh escaped her. A tear fell from her eyes upon Enki’s face as she leaned forward and swept her fingers across his cheek. She gave him a tender kiss on the lips.
Steven saw Ashlyn’s closed eyes spasm, and he knew that she’d felt the moment when Enki’s heart stopped. Without warning, Ashlyn too suddenly collapsed. Steven caught her limp body as she was falling and laid her on the ground. He checked her pulse. “Her heart’s stopped!” Though he didn’t know why, he suspected that within the depth of their connection, they were as one. And when Enki’s heart stopped so had Ashlyn’s. With the first compression of her chest, Ashlyn’s head tipped back and she took a large, gasping breath that filled her lungs. Her eyes fluttered open to see that Steven was looking at her.
As Ashlyn weakly moved closer to Enki—Steven helped her, taking hold of her arm.
Again kneeling before Enki, Ash took his hand in hers and closed her eyes. She focused, recalling the warmth of the energy she had felt moments before. She found it within her heart. Her emotional desire to heal Enki carried an intense strength. Her mind latched on to it with an iron grip.
When Ninmah finally looked up from her husband, she saw a light emanating from inside Ashlyn, from her heart. It grew in size and brightness, spreading to her shoulders and down her arms until it enveloped her hands. The surge of light then spread into Enki’s hand and up his arm.
Some of those watching took a step back, some a step closer—a simultaneous expression of their fear and their hope.
The light spread over Enki, growing in brightness. Soon, like Ashlyn, he was radiating from within. Ashlyn’s mind could see his heart. She sent a surge of energy into it.
Ninmah noticed it first and with a simple glance at Steven, conveyed her thoughts. Ashlyn had succeeded in restarting his heart. Ninmah lifted the flap of leather covering the worst of his injuries. Only Ninmah seemed unsurprised to see that Enki’s wounds were closing, healing.
Though unconscious, Enki took an inhaling breath. With each passing moment as his breaths grew stronger and more steady, Ashlyn grew weaker. The life-force strengthening him was draining her. Her hands were trembling, her body twitching.
Without warning, Steven felt the room begin to spin, his vision blurred. The linked aura between him and Ashlyn was draining his energy as well. He put his hand to the floor trying to regain his balance. Ninmah noticed his stagger and put her hand on his arm, steadying him.
The light within Enki and Ashlyn dimmed. Ash slumped backwards, unconscious. Steven caught her shoulders and pulled her into himself, gently letting her head settle upon his lap.
Ninmah reached for a device sitting atop the navigation array next to her. She ran it down the length of Enki’s chest. “He’s alive, barely—but he’s alive. If we can get him home to Heaven, he’s got a fighting chance.”
Ninmah paused briefly, then asked, “Solon, have we made contact with any of our ships?”
“Yes, Lady Ninmah. We have four vessels besides this one, remaining. They are all heavily damaged. Only one is capable at this time of initiating the jump to Heaven. The Kisurra. The Arkane will be operational in a few hours. The others—” Solon shook his head.
“Very well, Solon. Get a team to move Lord Enki to the Kisurra. Tell the Kisurra’s commander to prep a stasis chamber for Lord Enki and prepare the ship for launch. We leave for Heaven in one hour.”
Steven spoke up. “Use my ship. The Keeper can help you.”
Ninmah shook her head. “The two of you must go after Lord Enlil, before he gathers more forces against you. When we leave for Heaven—so must you leave for Earth, this Hadaesia as you call it.”
Steven nodded, but added, “Ashlyn will be staying here. For the moment, she has her own path to follow on Tiamat.
“I’ll be going to Hadaesia alone. I need to take the Arkane along as well.” He’d not forgotten the Keeper’s story, and how the Arkane had brought so many life forms from Hadaesia back to Tiamat, saving them from extinction. It had been one of the reasons for why the people of Tiamat would someday change Tiamat’s name to Earth. They were honoring all the sacrifices the Anunnaki had made for them. “We need to talk,” said Steven. “Privately.”
“Apparently, we do.” While staring at Steven, Ninmah directed her words to Solon. “Solon, tell the Arkane that I am ordering them to accompany Lord Steven to Earth to confront Lord Enlil. They are not to question his commands. They are to return to Heaven, only when and if Lord Steven gives them permission to do so. Until such time, they are bound to him, giving him their support. Tell them to contact Lord Steven the moment their ship is jump capable.”
“I beg your forgiveness, Lady Ninmah—but the Arkane is not a good choice of vessels for an offensive confrontation with Enlil. The ship has little weaponry, and it is far too large and slow to maneuver in battle. The Kisurra would be a much bett—”
“Solon! Lord Steven is aware of the ship in question. You will not question his judgement again. Is that understood?” said Ninmah.
“Apologies, Lord Steven, Lady Ninmah,” said Solon with great sincerity, giving a small bow.
Ninmah turned to a human woman beside her. Steven assumed she was a servant, for she was not adorned with jewelry as were the Anunnaki women. She was however, very beautiful—which was likely the reason she’d been chosen. “Tara. I am going to have you stay behind with Lady Ashlyn. She will be going to Tiamat. I charge you with taking care of her. Never leave her. You will serve her like you serve me.”
“Yes, Lady Ninmah. If I may ask, I am worried about my family. I fear what has happened to them.”
“As do I, Tara, but I believe Lady Ashlyn will help you find them. I want you to teach her. Guide her. She has a lot to learn.” Ninmah watched the team taking Enki away. “Tara, come with us. You need to hear what we are going to discuss.” Ninmah motioned for two members of the crew to come and carry the still unconscious, Ashlyn. “Take Lady Ashlyn to my quarters.”
Steven waved them back, picking Ashlyn up. “I can carry her. Lead the way.”
Inside Enki and Ninmah’s quarters, Steven set Ashlyn down atop a large, luxurious bed. Tara, who had disappeared into a side room, almost instantly returned with a tray. Atop the tray was a glass of ice water, a bowl of warm water, and a small cloth. Steven stepped aside, making room for her as she approached. Tara put the tray down and sat on the edge of the bed next to Ashlyn. Taking the cloth from the tray, Tara dipped it into the bowl of warm water and dabbed Ashlyn’s face. She left the folded cloth to rest atop Ashlyn’s forehead. It roused Ash and she began to wake. “Lie still, Lady Ashlyn.” Tara put her hand on Ashlyn’s shoulder. “You’ll get your strength back in a few minutes.”