Authors: Glenn van Dyke,Renee van Dyke
Steven moved closer so that Ashlyn could see him. Their eyes met.
“Enki?” asked Ash.
Steven smiled, but it was Lady Ninmah who answered. “He’s alive. What you did gives him a chance. Thank you, Lady Ashlyn. If not for you—” Ninmah’s voice cracked. “I owe you a great debt.”
Ashlyn glanced at Steven and back at Ninmah. “No, you don’t. We are forever in your debt, Lady Ninmah. Forever. You have both done more for us than you know.”
Ninmah bowed her head. “I must leave for the Kisurra soon, but first, there is much we need to discuss.”
Ashlyn tried to sit up—but seeing her lingering weakness, Tara quickly stepped forward and gave assistance. Once upright, Tara handed Ash the glass of water, which she gulped down.
“This woman is Tara. I have given her to you, Lady Ashlyn. She will stay by your side and see to your needs. I’ve given her instructions to help you. I find her advice very helpful in understanding the people of Tiamat.”
“Is this where it all hits the fan?” said Ashlyn to Steven.
Steven nodded. “I have to take Destiny 2 to Hadaesia in a few hours. Soon as the Arkane is finished making repairs.”
“Lord Steven, am I correct in assuming that you have the ability to shift form?” asked Ninmah.
Ninmah’s eyes narrowed as she bore down on the weight of the situation. “Then, when you arrive at—Hadaesia, you must enforce the will of the Council. Enlil cannot be allowed to ever again come into power. You must kill him or forever render him powerless.”
Ninmah saw the exchanged glances of deep concern between Steven and Ashlyn. “Your eyes betray much. I can see that Enlil has already been a source of great grief for you. You must not let history repeat itself. This is your chance to do what must be done.”
“I will,” said Steven. “I’ll do what must be done.” The cold, steely look in Steven’s eyes told Ninmah all that she needed to know. Steven was going to kill Enlil.
“So be it,” said Ninmah. “I empower you to act on behalf of the ruling Council, to act directly on Enki’s behalf. You are charged with enforcing the judgement against him. To do so, you must assume his form, becoming Lord Enki. No disrespect, but the Anunnaki people must never learn that it was an Anunnaki hybrid that took Enlil’s life. It would create great fear and unrest among the Anunnaki, especially those in the outlying worlds who are loyal to Enlil.
“As for the people under my command, they are sworn to allegiance. The crew of the Arkane will not reveal your identity. They will protect your secret.”
“I should have known,” said Steven as he thought of the irony behind her request. Enki had become Steven to defeat Enlil, and now Steven was to become Enki to do the same. “It always comes full circle.”
Ninmah knew there was much she didn’t know. She also knew that she must not ask—that some things were best unknown.
“And you, Lady Ashlyn—” said Ninmah.
“Must go to Tiamat,” finished Ashlyn. “I too mean no disrespect, Lady Ninmah. The Keeper has imparted knowledge to us of events that must be fulfilled. I just wanted you to know that we are aware of what must be done and that we are prepared to act accordingly.”
Ninmah nodded. “Very good.” Ninmah then asked a question she’d been wanting to ask since she’d first seen Ashlyn on the bridge. “I noticed that you are wearing the Star of Elements upon your neck. May I see it?”
Ashlyn gave Steven a puzzled look as she removed the choker and pendant.
“May I ask where you got it?” Ninmah examined it.
“It was given to me by a man who was like a father to me, many years ago,” said Ashlyn.
Softly, as if it were to herself Ninmah said, “Interesting. I wonder if he was aware of the legend that speaks of the great power it holds?
“I lost this a few days ago. Before Enlil’s forces arrived. There was a great fight on the surface of Tiamat. I lost the Star in battle and had thought it gone forever. It is the only one of its kind known to exist.” Ninmah smiled. “It was a gift given to me by Anu’s wife, for my joining with her son, Lord Enki. No one knows the Star’s true origin—but legend says it once belonged to a Transor.”
Ninmah held it out to Ashlyn, offering to give it back. Seeing Ashlyn’s hesitancy, she pressed her to take it. “It belongs to you. For me, it is nothing more than a beautiful necklace—but for a Transor?”
Taking it from Ninmah, Ashlyn held it in the palm of her hand, looking at it. She thought back to her conversation with Tynabo at the Foundation. He had spoken of it as being a banned technology, simply explaining that he wanted her to have it for protection.
“Do you know what it can do?” asked Ninmah.
“Yes. I used it once. It encased me within a suit of armor,” answered Ash.
The ensuing silence told Ninmah that Ashlyn knew nothing more.
“It does far more than that, Lady Ashlyn, much more—at least according to Legend. They say the Star of Elements can call upon the forces that surround us. The pendant is said to have five unique abilities. They are accessed by touching its center or one of the four sides. As the name implies, it accesses the elements. North is earth. South is water. West is fire and east is wind. The armor you spoke of is activated by pushing the center of the pendant. Only a Transor has the power to use it. The fact that it worked for you confirms what we believe about you. The pendant draws from the energy within you. Touching one of the sides while thinking of the corresponding element, activates the power within. It was one of the reasons that Transors were so feared.”
“One of the reasons?” questioned Steven.
Ninmah’s gaze upon Steven hardened. “Yes.” There was a long moment of silence as Ninmah tried to recall the story. “I was but a small child, but I remember hearing Anu tell my father about an ancient legend. I still remember the fear I felt upon hearing the story. It spoke of a netherworld—a place of great horrors that tore at the mind. A place where an evil darkness exists.”
Ashlyn groaned, drawing their attention. Her eyes were wide as she recalled the emptiness, despair and loneliness of what she had sensed.
Steven spoke, explaining what little he knew. “Just before our exit from the wormhole, Ashlyn sensed the darkness. She said her enemies were calling her.”
Ninmah tensed. A deep sigh escaped her, making her shudder. “I had never given much consideration to the darkness as being real.
“Everyone thought the legend of the pendant was mythical, but now, I am not so sure. If the darkness exists, then you must be careful. The netherworld was said to be a place of horrific fires and fierce winds—winds that would peel back the flesh from the bone. It was a place where mountains sank into the sea to never be seen again.”
“The four elements of the pendant,” said Steven.
“Yes. The four elements of the pendant,” parroted Ninmah.
“It is said that a Transor had the ability to send their enemies into that netherworld. A place where the past, present, and future are all one. A place where they would be tormented forever. No one who was the enemy of a Transor was safe from such powers. And the temptation for a Transor to abuse the power was great. Too great.”
Ashlyn and Steven said nothing. Her words were so close to the biblical description of eternal torment in Hell, that they both felt a chill race through them.
“But, until we know for sure, it is only legend,” said Ninmah.
“As was my ability to heal Enki until a few minutes ago,” reminded Ashlyn.
“Your confidence is already growing,” said Ninmah. “As regards my story, you must remember, I was but a child. I do not know if a place of such
“It does,” said Ashlyn with conviction.
A nervous grimace pursed Ninmah’s lips. “Then perhaps we should see if the pendant has such abilities? It may be your savior.”
“If it does, they would not be safe to use aboard a ship,” said Ashlyn.
“I have little knowledge of the pendant beyond its configuration, but I do know a Transor’s power is tied to the strength of the emotions calling upon it. The stronger the emotion, the more power it has. I believe it is safe to do a small test, trying each of the elements one at a time.”
“I have to admit, I am anxious to see if it works,” admitted Steven. “And she’s right. You may need it.”
Ashlyn fastened the choker around her neck. “Remember, you asked me to do this.” Ash looked at each of them in turn. Touching the center of the pendant, the armor instantly unfolded, encasing Ashlyn. The pendant was now part of the armor, having integrated itself into the design. With another push, the armor folded inwards, disappearing back into itself.
Steven spoke. “Well, I’m already impressed.”
Ninmah looked at him, then back at Ashlyn. “As am I. Can you try the four elements please?”
Ashlyn tapped the west side of the pendant. From each of her palms, sprouted a small flame. Ash held her hands up and tried to blow out the flames. They danced in response. Ashlyn’s eyes were gleaming, her wide smile conveying how much fun she was having. Like a small child, Ashlyn playfully spun her hands around, watching the fire follow. Though her hands wound through the flame, she felt no heat, no ill effect. She could sense that there was an invisible shield, a barrier protecting her.
Entranced, the hearts of Ninmah, Steven, and Tara were speeding. It was magical to watch.
With a flip of the wrists, the small flames flew to the far wall and burst. Ash tapped the pendant, stilling the flames rising from her palms.
Quickly pushing the bottom of the pendant, south, Ash thought of water. It instantly began to rain heavily in the room—putting out the fire she had created.
Tara gave a small scream and grabbed a pillow, holding it above her head.
Tapping it again, Ashlyn turned it off.
Steven loved the way Ashlyn’s skin glistened when it was wet. Not to mention how her black stretch outfit became see-through, giving her the wet t-shirt look.
Seeing Steven’s naughty thoughts, Ashlyn stuck her tongue out at him.
Ninmah smiled. She knew exactly what Steven was thinking.
Seeing that they were all waiting to see more, “Ready for the next one?” asked Ash, not needing or waiting for an answer. Ashlyn then tapped the east side of the pendant. The room was instantly whipped into a frenzy by a strong tornadic like wind spinning around them.
“That was fairly straightforward,” said Ashlyn as she stilled the winds.
For some reason, when it came to tapping the top of the pendant, the north direction, Ashlyn hesitated. She didn’t know what to expect from the earth element and it scared her.
Seeing her fear, Ninmah smiled in encouragement. “Go ahead. It’ll be fine.”
Ashlyn tapped the top edge. The entire ship began to rumble. It quickly grew in strength until the deck beneath them was shaking violently, threatening to throw all of them to the ground. Strong gravitational forces were at work. Ashlyn shut it off.
“I guess we know what the earth element does now,” said Steven.
“Yes, you can form gravitational waves.” Ninmah seemed pleased by the results. “Very impressive.”
A call came in from the bridge. Internal ship communications were again operable. “Lady Ninmah. We are not sure how, but a series of gravitational waves just hit the ship. I have maximized all power to the shields and put the ship on alert,” said Solon, whom she’d left in charge on the bridge.
“No need, Solon. It will not happen again. Stand down. Have the Keeper reroute the power back to making repairs.”
“Yes, Lady Ninmah. Standing down,” Solon affirmed.
“You may well be the original owner,” said Ninmah. “The pendant reacts as if it is a part of you.”
Steven raised his brow. “Time paradox?”
Ninmah tipped her head in agreement. “Quite possibly.” She turned to speak to Ashlyn. “It pleases me that the Star is in your possession. Such ancient artifacts are rare and the Star of Elements is perhaps the rarest artifact of them all, certainly the most mystical.
“At least now, if I am asked about its whereabouts when they see me, I can honestly say that it is being put to good use.” Ninmah smiled. Her eyes shifted from Ashlyn to Steven. “Lord Enki was right about your people. He has long believed that you would someday surpass us. There is more to being evolved than simply having advanced technology. True evolution comes from within. I believe you have done that. Enki saw in your mind a peace that our people have not yet found.
“Enki and I, being the ones responsible for uplifting your species, could not have hoped for more. We are proud of what you have become. I look forward to the day when you will join us on Heaven.”
“As do we, Lady Ninmah. The Keeper showed us Heaven. We look forward to raising our children there, a place of peace and enlightenment,” said Steven. “We look forward to learning from the Anunnaki.”
Ninmah sat down on the end of the bed. She released a heavy sigh filled with sadness. “What you say about Heaven, is not completely correct, Lord Steven. I must temper your words against a larger truth. You will soon learn that we are a people divided. While Heaven is a place devoted to the arts and gaining knowledge—there are other places, distant places where such is not the case. Our reach has exceeded our grasp. Your world is one of those places. Until now, Enlil has gone unopposed. He preyed upon the weak—taking the women he desired and killing the men that opposed him. He accepted ritualistic sacrifices of children. His pursuit of dominance and evil knew no bounds.