Prologue: That Inevitable Betrayal…

In a Galaxy several hundred light years from Earth, there is a planet called Omega 4.  It actually sits in the same solar system as a planet known as Sixam.

It is a peaceful planet, inhabited by several species of lifeform.  It is ruled over by a powerful family, called the Zagothas.  They have ruled for thousands of years.  The current King, Zionas Zagotha, has ruled for almost a hundred years.  It is close to the time that his son will take over.  Though their species is nigh immortal, the ruling family hands down their throne at least every fifty years, though Zionas was popular enough to warrant another term.  But his term would be coming to an end soon enough.  His son, Hanseron, would be coming of age right around the time he would need to step down.

But peace seems to bring out those that want to disturb it.  Omega 4 was no exception.  Those embroiled in peace are often blind to the machinations of others.  Such was Zionas.  He ruled with a kind, but firm hand, oblivious to the fact that someone of his own blood was now talking about treason.

“Yes, yes, this will do.”  The voice was a bit loud in the silent room.  But there was a gleeful note to it, one that could send a shiver down the spine.  It didn’t help that the figure behind the desk wore a dark hood, most of his face obscured.

A loud noise sounded, signaling someone at the door.  “Enter!” the male barked out.  The door slid open and a lithe, pretty female with blue skin entered.

“M’lord.”  She went down on one knee before his desk, her head bowed.

“Rise, rise,” he ordered impatiently.  “Do you have news, Sunia?”  She stood obediently.

“Yes, m’lord.  I do.”

He waved his hands.  “Well?  Are things proceeding as planned?”

She nodded, her manner deferential.  “Yes.  Things are on schedule.  The Defenders should be picking him up now.  They have all the evidence they need.”

“Excellent!” he exclaimed, throwing back his head with a triumphant laugh.

“Word should arrive any moment, m’lord.  Once they have him in custody, it will proceed quickly,” the young female murmured.

He stood, hitting the desk with both hands before he walked around, looking at the young female.  “Excellent work, my dear.  Truly excellent work.  Your loyalty will be rewarded, that I promise.  As soon as word arrives, you will deliver it?”

“Of course, m’lord.”  Her tone wasn’t so deferential now, but calculating and the look in her eyes was decidedly feminine.

The King sat behind his private desk, looking deep in thought.  He’d heard some troubling rumors of late.  That wasn’t anything new.  He made it his business to have his finger on the pulse of the people.  Rumors were a form of currency in the court and in the city.  Normally, Zionas was an expert at separating pure rumor from fact.  But this was a bit different.

A buzzer sounded and Zionas looked up.  “Enter.”

The door slid open and his assistant walked in.  He managed a smile for her.  “Sunia.  How are you, child?”

Rather than her customary greeting, she stood in front of his desk, looking grave.

“Your highness… I-I’m so sorry.  I hate to be the one to tell you, but- Prince Hanseron has been arrested.  It-it’s serious, your highness.”

The King said nothing, could only sit there, staring.  Too many thoughts whirled around his mind.  Too many impossible thoughts.  “H-han,” he whispered after what seemed an eternity.

After a moment, he seemed to pull it all inward.  “Th-thank you, Sunia.  R-retire for the night.”

She bowed low, concealing the smirk on her face as she left.

When the door closed, Zionas stared at it for a long moment, then he swiveled in his chair, closing his eyes for a moment.  Once they opened, there was a hardened quality that hadn’t been there before.  He hit the button underneath his desk and there was an electronic squeak as a door slid open and a little panel was exposed.  The King hit the button in the middle of the panel.  What sounded like a dial tone could be heard.  “I am calling in my favor,” he said without preamble, his voice unusually hard.  “My son’s life depends upon it.”




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