No matter how hard Sadia tried, she couldn’t sleep, and she knew why. Matt was in trouble. In her mind’s eye, she saw something was wrong with him. She found Matt as he sat in a heap outside the landing crew compound. “Matt, are you okay?” The soft caring voice entered his head and he knew it belonged to Sadia and he looked up to see her standing over him. “What happened to you?”
“How did you find me?” He said surprised to see her.
“I felt your pain and I just seemed to know where you were.” Sadia gasped. “Just like the Khad.”
“Have you ever been tested for ESP?”
“Maybe it runs in the family.” She didn’t want Matt to know how powerful her feelings were. She didn’t want him to know just how frightened she was. “How did you get like this?” She fell to her knees.
“Storm I feel like I’m losing my mind.” He wrapped his arms around her and hugged her as tight as he could. Startle at his action she was uncertain what to feel,
Then Sadia felt something. Without knowing how she knew there was something in his brain. It was alive and powerfully strong and exerting some form of psychic energy. Whatever it was it sensed and tried to repel Sadia’s intrusion but it wasn’t strong enough. “Matt what is going on here?”
“Maybe you should try to use that telepathy again.”
Sadia hesitated for a moment then she closed her eyes. Concentrating she thought about what to say. Then she took a deep breath and started to generate thoughts in her mind.
Suddenly Sadia’s head snapped back and a considerable amount of energy escaped from her mind, the force propelled Matt backwards as the thrust entered his mind, a kaleidoscope of images battered him until he was almost unconscious.
Matt had to steady himself. “Wow, think you could have sent something a little less,” Matt looked up at Sadia and her eyes had rolled back in her head and she was in a trance shaking as if she was having a convulsion. filled with concern Matt grabbed her. “Storm.”
All the images that ran amok in Sadia mind were now in both of theirs. When Matt let go of her he broke free of the trance. Sadia was still in it, her eyes still shut. KISS ME her thought said. Matt decided to oblige her but before he could, Sadia opened her eyes. “Hey, what are you doing?” She pushed him away.
“There’s something in my head isn’t there?” Matt recounted.
“Did you see it too?”
“Only a few seconds.” Matt leaned toward her. “Sadia, we linked minds, just like we did back on the ship. Maybe we can use this to communicate with each other?”
She looked whimsical for a moment. “It’s worth a try. Think of something and send me the message.”
Matt closed his eyes and concentrated. THOSE ARE SOME NICE KNOCKERS AND SHIT
“Matthew Stewart,” She yelled at him.
“Did you get my message?”
“Yeah, I got it all right, loud and clear.”


Asim had been riding for hours and Omar grinned as he watched his friend show a passion he had sorely missed for years. He was on a mission to kill the spaceman and as fool hardy as that sounded Omar was more than happy to tag along.
Just like that, the old Asim had returned. “Slow down my brother we’re going to kill our horses.”
Asim said nothing. Darkness had fallen hours ago and the heavy clouds had blocked the moons some it was pitch black. Asim’s horse had been on this trail so many times she could do it with blinders. Asim trusted his horse with his life. She would not fail him. He would get there in time to stop his Princess from giving in to a stupid fairy tale that consumed her very existence.
Matt wasn’t sure how long he had stayed outside her palace, he was equally unsure why he was still there. Matt could see Jihan’s balcony from where he hid in the outgrowth. He sat with his back against a tree and hung his head. What in the hell is wrong with me?
Suddenly Matt heard someone moving past him from outside the dwelling. He heard the voice of two men whispering. His enhance eyes allowed him to see in the dark. He recognized the two men immediately as Asim and Omar. Matt had a hardy chuckle. As bad as he felt, Matt had to admire Asim for acting. He stood up, brushed himself off, and walked quietly down the path. GOOD LUCK AND SHIT
“The window to the Princess room is open.” Omar said riling an agitated Asim.
“I’m not blind you idiot. I can see the window is open. She’s waiting for the bastard Stewart to come.” Asim slammed his fist on the ground. “We can wait here and ambush him.”
“And if he doesn’t show, we could wait here all night.” Omar worried. Asim was enraged slammed his fist against the wall.
“You go back to the camp. Tell everyone that I am on a trader run to the Southeast.”
“What are you going to do?”
“Each second that passed mean my beloved is that much closer to giving herself to the spaceman. If we’re too late, it will be the last thing that Earthman ever does.
“So, what are you going to do your highness?”
“I’m going in there.” Asim headed for the balcony. “If what I fear has already happened I’ll search for the Earthman and when I find him.”
“But the princess, won’t she blow the whistle on you.”
“I’ll take my chances.” Asim made his way onto the balcony and into the room.
Asim walked into Jihan’s room, the scent of oils perfumed his nose. He thought back to how the aroma filled the air when she would come to the camp to visit him. She would bring him food and a cool drink of fresh water from her own well.
In the dark, he bumped into a chair. The noise woke Jihan. “Who’s there? Matt is that you?” Jihan rose from the bed.
“You wait for him!”
“Asim,” Jihan was terrified; She knew how violent he could be so she braced herself. Moments passed and she heard weeping. It was Asim. Soon his crying became an uncontrollable whimper. When she reached him, he hugged her like a dying man clinging to life. Soon Jihan was hugging Asim back as hard as she possibly could. “Come to bed.” She whispered softly.
“What about Stewart?” Asim asked.
“He didn’t come.”


Matt returned his gaze to the balcony where He fully expected her to throw him off. “So why did you come tonight?”
“You invited me.” Matt felt that feeling flooding over him again. This time he fought to stay focused and somehow could keep the feelings at bay. “This is not the time.”
“Not the time? I’ve been waiting for you all my life.”
Beads of sweat formed on Matt’s head and he felt the familiar tension in his groin. There was the sound again in his ears as if a frequency was being sent. He looked at her as if he was dying from starvation. No, “I’m sorry Princess but I can’t.”
“Don’t you know who I am? I’m Jihan.” She rocked back and forth and wanted to cry but she was too angry. Who did he think he was “You have to know about the prophecy that I have saved myself for you. I had faith to believe you would come. Every night I searched the sky for your ship. Men have fought over me. They laid riches at my feet, all to no avail. But the MAJOR has the nerve to refuse me. How did this MAJOR FELLOW get the nerve to refuse the most prized possession on the entire planet?”
Matt had trouble believing a beautiful princess would even want him. Still he felt strangely flattered. He hung his head and kneeled in front of her. “The truth of the matter is I do like you. Why wouldn’t I?” Hell, I wouldn’t be the first Officer to take advantage of his rank. I even have your consent. Matt reached up with his hand and wiped a tear from her cheek. “You’re right Princess. I can’t say I haven’t dreamed about you. I can’t say I’m not burning with desire to hold you.” DID I JUST SAY THAT?
“Then, why don’t you?” Matt stopped her before she could say anything more.
“Look princess, you have to understand, this prophecy just doesn’t sit well with me. This is bigger than the two of us. The planet, the colony, the Khad, right now my job is to protect the colony; it can’t be any other way. Please say you understand.”
“I hate you. How could you humiliate me like this?”
“You spoiled brat.” He walked a few steps backward. “If you can’t understand this maybe I need to tell you about your father.”
You knew my father?”
“Captain Aurora was my idol. He’s the reason I became an astronaut. In a way, he’s the reason I’m here.” Matt saw he had her attention. “This is not about you. It’s about your father. It’s about the sacrifice he made for the colony and the brave men that gave their lives with him. What would he say about you carrying on like this? I know what he would say. Stop being selfish, that’s why I’m here.”
Jihan suddenly felt sick to her stomach. Matt was there because of the settlers, not just for her. He was there to free them from bondage. “I’m so sorry. How could I be so childish? How could I be so insensitive? Of cause, I understand. It’s just that I’ve been waiting for you all my life.”
“Standing here before me is a beautiful woman who has overcome impossible odds and based on the past few days who wouldn’t think the prophecy wasn’t true?” Jihan tried to talk but Matt stopped her. “Now just is not the time no matter how we looked at it.” “Listen to me Jihan, I’m not really sure what to make of all this. But I promise you when the crisis has passed we will have time.”
This time she stopped him “Shhh. You called me Jihan for the first time.” She wrapped her arms around him  and Matt held her in his. “I’m not sure anymore either, but I am sure about this.” with that, she kissed him. It turned into a long passionate kiss. For Jihan it was a lifetime in coming.
Matt whirled and headed to the balcony. “This isn’t over, far from it. We’re just putting it on hold for now.” As he left he knew his words were more than just an act of contrition, or an expression of regret, they were a pretense of things to come.


Matt reached in his pocket and pulled out a pink note that Upasana gave him and smelled it. Only a hint of jasmine on a message from Jihan Aurora saying she had to see him immediately. “I guess I can’t avoid her forever.” Matt said as he kept walking, He admitted to himself he had no clue what to expect.
Matt followed the directions on the note and slipped in one of the back entrances into a lavish room. Jihan came out of an adjoining room wearing a see-through nightgown that revealed what Matt could only have guessed at before. Her face was done up with makeup that extenuated her beautiful eyes. She had wonderfully shaped black hair normally covered by her headdress.
Matt just stared as she walked by him to secure the door to her room. “Have a seat while I fix us something to drink.”
Matt looked around and saw that he only had two choices, her bed, or a large chair. He quickly sat down in the chair. Jihan turned to see him and smiled coyly. She walked over to where Matt had seated himself with her hands on her hips. “Your seat selection will never do.” she informed him. She gracefully slid over to the bed, and with a pat of her hand invited Matt to join her.
Matt tried valiantly to ignore her look with was sultry enough to melt an iceberg. He figured he’d better remain unmoved by the whole scene. He got up, walked over to the balcony entrance, and pulled the curtain open.
“No, don’t do that.” Jihan screamed as she leaped up and rushed over to him. She grabbed the curtain from his hands and pulled it closed. “Someone might see us.”
“Princess, what exactly are you doing?”
Jihan looked in disbelief. “You’re an Earth man, right?”
Matt had to take a step backwards to keep from brushing against her. The smell of jasmine rushed into his nostrils with an onslaught of tantalizing excitement. HOLY COW Matt pulled out the note on the pink paper. “The message said it was imperative.”
“I thought the note was self-explanatory. I figured you would know what I meant. I thought you’d want to, you know.”
“Princess,” Matt scratched his beard,
“Surely you can tell I’m seducing you. I’ve heard all about your type. Earthmen, they don’t wait until marriage.” She pressed her body against Matt and wrapped her arms around him. “So, I’m not waiting.”
Matt forced her arms from around him and pushed himself away. “Look Princess, I’m a United Earth Space Force officer on a mission. GOD HOW DUMB THAT SOUNDS I can’t indulge in any foolishness. Don’t you know what’s going on here? We’re on the verge of a war, at any moment. This whole thing is highly inappropriate.” I CAN’T BELIEVE I’M SAYING THIS AND SHIT
For the first time Jihan felt rejection and she couldn’t fathom it. His words cut through her like a knife. She smacked his face then she could hardly stand as she staggered back to the bed.


Later in the hall there was a noise at the door. Matt opened and found Old Man Peters in the doorway.
“I’m here to introduce myself. I’m Peters.”
Matt laughed, and then saw he was serious. “You senile,”
“How do you mean?”
“We’ve already met.”
“I see, that explains a lot.” The old man walked by Matt and warmed himself by the fire. “Memory loss I suppose, the effects of advanced age. Quite annoying,” Peters then sat next to Matt at the table. “So, what have we talked about?”
Matt offered him a fresh cigar. The old man’s eyes widened. He smelled the cigar taking in the aroma. “As promised part of my own personal stash.” Matt dropped the carton on the table. “You were right; they take this prophecy nonsense seriously.”
“But you don’t?”
“Shouldn’t the Princess marry that Asim guy?”
“Hmm, you already know about Asim.”
“It’s pretty obvious they’re in love with each other.”
“Then you have no interest in Jihan?”
The question surprised Matt. “Look I’ve got more important things to worry about and shit. Like the Khad.”
“But how does she make you feel?”
“That’s a strange question,” Matt didn’t want to sound annoyed but the question was out of line. “How do you mean?”
Peters’ gave a befuddled look. “This is interesting?”
“Oh, you mean the outburst at the campfire.”
“I was referring to the wedding.”
“That make’s two of us.” Joseph added.
“I guess that did looked bad.”
“She is beautiful.” Joseph continued. “But duty comes first.”
“The colony comes first.” Matt said to stop him.
“I see.” The old man looked at Matt for a long silence.
“You okay?” Matt asked concerned.
“Few men could have resisted her charm.”
“You’re telling me.” Joseph couldn’t help himself.
“But I didn’t come to chitchat?”
Matt lit his cigar. “What’s on your mind?”
“Are you taking on the Khad?”
“We want to find a peaceful solution.”
“And if you fail?”
“Don’t worry old timer I don’t plan on failing.”
“That sounds more like it, that’s the Matt Stewart we know.” Joseph asserted.
“Giuseppe please. Make no mistake we will fight if we have too.”
“Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning.”
“Very Good, Major, and quite apropos don’t you think?”
“That’s it? You came to spout philosophy?”
“You keep expecting me to say more?”
“I couldn’t get you to shut up last time.”
“Very well let’s talk some more about The Princess.”
“Okay Peters, what about the princess?”
“You had better make sure Jihan is on your side.”
“Why wouldn’t she be?”
“Loyalty,” He shook hands with Matt. “Good day Major.” He puffed his cigar, “You’re much more disciplined than I thought you would be.” He picked up the carton of cigars and left.
“So, what’s the plan now?” Joseph asked.
“Find out who’s with us.”
“Especially find out if that Aurora girl is on our side.”
Matt gave him a stare as he walked out the hall.


The Khad were absent For the First time in memory. Still it was days before the villagers finally trickled out of their homes. Many of the settlers were surprisingly loyal to the Khad and showed distain towards the Horizon crew.
All the lead houses though attended the briefing and it had lasted all day. Maggie Amen presided over the preceding and knew all the bylaws and charters signed by the original crew before their executed. “Since Abe Basrilian was the surviving original member most of the ruling power went to his children.”
“And you accept this?” Someone asked.
“It’s what my father and the others wanted. It’s all legal and binding. There’s nothing we can do about it.”
Deforest looked at Matt. “Didn’t see this coming did you?”
Matt shook his head. “Technically until a new government could be put in place the charters are the law of the land.”
Lt. Quinn entered the room and He didn’t look happy. “We don’t have full cooperation yet.” Quinn queried.
“The meeting has dragged on with little progress.”
“I recommend whatever we do we proceed with caution.” Matt said followed by a collective groan. “We can’t trust them.”
“Well you’re the expert,” Quinn lobbied.
“I know all about the Ryptordian armada. They’re the warrior faction and they are more than capable of trying something I can guarantee that.”
Maggie returned. “So, what’s your plan, to take them out?” The room went silent.
Matt smiled. “That would make things easier.”
“Matt’s been killing aliens a long time.” Deforest quipped.
Matt’s face suddenly stiffened. WHY AM I SO EAGER FOR A FIGHT? “So, In the words of John Lennon, give peace a chance?”
Matt stopped talking when Princess Jihan Aurora and several of her servants entered carrying trays of food. She led them into a middle room of huge wooden table and chairs. The servants placed bowls of fruit on the table followed by trays of meat and vegetables. When they were done the place had a warm and peaceful atmosphere in candle light.
“A feast, fit for a king.” Deforest remarked.
Jihan veiled gestured for all to find seats and sit down. Matt would not let his eyes meet hers but the overwhelming urge to run over to her left him baffled. Jihan whispered something to Upasana and then she left the hall.
Deforest placed his hand on Matt’s shoulder. “She defines class, doesn’t she?”
“I guess. I really hadn’t noticed. She is a princess and shit.” A crunching noise rang out and it turned out to be Doris, who had helped herself to what looked like an apple from the fruit bowl. Matt gives her a look.
“What? I’m starving.” Doris looked to see the rest waiting and quickly swallowed what was in her mouth.
“Representatives from the different religions need to bless the table.” When they finished Doris looked at Matt and mouthed the word “NOW” and smiled. Matt winked.
Matt looked over at Deforest. He nodded and raised his cup. The room quickly became noisy with laughter and song as everyone enjoyed their first feast with the visitors from Earth.



Carlos led the group through the hot sun. At the bend was a large river outlet. The path up the mountain side was steep but doable. They just didn’t have much of a choice. The good thing was whatever they had seen did not seem interested in following. They would report back to command and let them handle that thing. That was if anyone even believed him.

All that changed in a second. Along the trail came human pilgrims who were making their way back down the trail towards the main campsite. Carlos ran ahead to inform them that there was grave danger if they go there. Plus, he didn’t want them interacting with the soldiers. “Who are you people and why are you coming this way?”

Reba and the other rebels stayed back not wanting to be recognized. Lorne moved ahead of the pack. “I have been informed that the Khad guard has been defeated back on the ridge.”

“That’s why we’re here to see what happened. Do you have any more information?”

“Yes, the Earth has sent a spaceship to us. They are the ones who destroyed the Khad forces.”

Carlos stared at him dazed. “That ship we saw last night, it was from the Earth?”

“That is why we are headed for the outlands this way.”

“The Khad campsite is still much too dangerous for your people. They don’t know about the Earth ship. You must go back.”

“No harm will come to us. Only the Khad are in danger. They have brought the wrath of God upon them.”

“You need to stop right here right now or I can’t guarantee your safety.” Carlos tried to convince them.

The soldiers realize that something was wrong. Then Ryman began to walk toward them thinking maybe it was these people who were hiding information about the missing unit.

Lorne tried to calm down the talk from behind him but soon hysteria began to build. The paranoia spread on both sides with many of the troops believing the pilgrims had somehow conspired with the hostiles and they turned their weapons on them.

Carlos stood his ground in front of Ryman. “I’m telling you this group is not the ones we are looking for. They are harmless.”

“Step aside.” Ryman continued toward them and signaled the soldiers to be ready.

Then Lorne ordered his people to keep moving forward. “Come people let us continue on our quest.

Now Carlos was pleading, “Just let them pass they mean us no harm.” But it’s too late when one of the soldiers opened fire. Carlos and his two human companions realize that they were the pilgrim’s only hope and they fired on the Khad killing several and forcing the other to flee. Because of his effort Ryman was caught in the cross fire and badly wounded.

“Oh my God, what have I done.” Lorne screamed.

“If you don’t get these people out of here you just signed their death warrants.” Carlos was now in charge and ordered the others to stop where they were.

“Help us over here.” Remy called out. Then he saw Gig on the ground.

He rushes to her side. “Gig, can you hear me?” He said holding her. She was unsure what to do next but she knew her leader was wrong.

“Don’t fret Carlos. Dying in battle is a good thing.”

“But not against your own people.”

“Oh no. You are my people. It’s not about blood it’s about belonging. We belong to each other. I especially enjoyed our many adventures but most of all I enjoyed, tea.” She died and Carlos wept openly for her. Carlos suddenly realized that they had a closer relationship then he ever realized.

Lorne was moved by the show of affection for another species and he knew he could trust Carlos. Someday he would find a way to make amends for the terrible thing he had done.