Chapter One

Zeta

The battle had been swift, and though most of her warriors survived, there was a heavy price paid. Zeta lost an arm, and there were several others with severe wounds. They were still a full day’s walk from the village, and she was sure others would die before they arrived. Zeta was leading the pack when they came to a clearing that was not there several days ago. Zeta motioned the other warriors to stop. She stepped into the clearing and felt the grip of an unseen force, gently pulling her forward. A blue orb appeared before her; it slowly emitted a beam of light that engulfed her body. The sensation was nothing she ever felt. It was a tingling that was almost painful. Then she heard the voice, “you are the chosen, it is time you took your place as the rightful heir to the throne of Theros. We can no longer hide you from your enemies, and it is time for you to stand and fight. Step into the orb”. Zeta was not sure what to do, but something in the voice was familiar. She stepped into the orb, and what she saw took her breath away. She was standing at the edge of a cliff, and as far as the eye could see was a sprawling city. Everything seemed to hum with power. Suddenly she began to vibrate, a moment later she was standing in a large room full of soldiers. Her first reaction was to draw her sword, but the soothing voice assured her that there would be no fight. “This is where you were born; we have fought many battles over the years to protect your identity. However, the time has come for you to take your place on the throne”. Zeta stared at the little man who had spoken, but his lips never moved. “I have to get back to my soldiers, I am not sure who you seek, but I am not it”! “This is the world that you were born to rule, if you perish on earth, our race and the humans will perish as well.” The orb started emitting several colors, and suddenly the floor came alive with motion. Zeta saw her face as a child and watched as she was placed near the village, she thought was her birth home. It was not! She suddenly felt dizzy, how could this be, and why her? “It was you because you are the last best hope to free both of your worlds from war and greed”! Zeta spun on her heels, “I demand to be returned to my village”! “You can return to your warriors, but as of today your life has taken on a new purpose, you will be Queen, or we will all die, starting with your warriors and the family you have grown to love”! Zeta looked over her shoulder, and the little man was staring at her, his gaze was cold. Maybe that was because he communicated with his mind. There was no way to read his face as he spoke, so that left her at a disadvantage. “Zeta, you will regain your powers once you accept your destiny, but until then you will walk the earth clueless like the rest of your adopted clan.” The vibration started again, and Zeta was standing in the clearing once again. Teyra rushed to her side, “what happened; you disappeared for a few minutes.” Zeta looked at her, she was surprised, “what do you mean a few minutes, it was three hours”! Teyra looked at her in disbelief,

“No, you were only gone a few minutes, look the sun; it is still high.” Zeta looked up the sun was still at the noon location. How could this be? Now she was beginning to fear what the little man had spoken. If she was who he said she was, there was no way she could allow her people to die. Zeta would have to save both, but how? Lar chimed in as if on cue, “there is a war coming, and you will have to be ready. Until then, you need to rest. Your arm will start to itch tonight when you rise tomorrow it will have regrown. None of the people in the village will ever remember that it was gone’.

Zeta laughed to herself, “yeah right, there is no way to regrow a missing limb.” They reached the village, and the medicine man was tending the wounded Agooji. Zeta was exhausted. She headed for her home. Just as she stepped through her doorway, the nub that used to be her arm started to itch. Now, the little man had her attention. The night was full of dreams, known and unknown. There were memories of the land she briefly saw after she stepped into the orb. There was a difference now she saw the inside of a palace. She was running through the hallways laughing and playing with another child who also wore her face. Zeta was startled from sleep; she had a twin sister. A twin sister, but, where is she? She was wide awake, and the memories were coming hard and fast. They were starting to overpower her mind. Zeta wiped her brow and took a deep breath. It was then she realized she had cleaned her forehead with the arm that was no longer missing. Zeta got dressed and stepped out of her home. She needed some fresh air, and she headed for her favorite place. The doctor turned and looked at her and then at her arm. It surprised Zeta, and the little man said no one would remember the arm lost. The medicine man looked into her face and sent a telepathic message, “it is okay; I was placed here many years ago to protect you. Enjoy your walk”. Zeta shook her head and headed for the cliff. The cliff was her sacred ground, is was she always went to look over the valley and appreciate the land her people were guardians of. She did not realize that the view she so enjoyed also gave her a view of the space that Theros occupied. What was Theros, where was her sister, and what role did she have to play in this coming war? The fact that she had her arm back was proof that she was either stuck in a horrible nightmare or everything she knew just went up in smoke. She sent a thought to the little man, and he answered, “I need to know everything from the beginning, and you can start with my sister.” “I will start with your parents, that is indeed where your story begins. My name is Lar, and I have no taste for being referred to as ‘little man.’ I have been counsel to your family for several generations, and I will serve you to the best of my abilities as well. So, shall we begin?

“Yes, let us begin,” said Zeta. “Lar instructed Zeta to step into the orb. The orb would return her to her place of birth”. Zeta turned just as the orb materialized. She took a long look over the valley; it was land she loved to the core of her being. Zeta turned back to the orb and stepped in and found herself transported into the large hall. This time everyone in the room was on one knee and bowing to her. Lar stepped into view, and he too bowed low. Zeta was annoyed, “Why are you people bowing to me”? Lar looked up at her, “you are heir to the throne, and you were born first. Your parents are deceased, so you are Queen”. Zeta stumbled back a few steps; she was suddenly lightheaded. How could this be, first she finds out that she was not born Dahomey. Her parents are dead, and she has no idea where her twin sister is. There were far too many questions, and she had not gotten a single answer yet. Zeta looked down at Lar, “where can we talk, privately”? “We can go into your council chamber, your highness.” “My name is Zeta, Agooji warrior of the Dahomey Kingdom, and until you convince me this is legitimate that is how you will address me”! Lar looks at her and smiled, “yes, Zeta, as you wish.” They entered the council room, and the door slid closed behind them. Lar walked over to a podium in the middle of the floor. He placed his right hand on the screen, and pictures started to roll over the far wall. Two chairs slid across the floor to them, and Lar motioned for her to sit. Zeta sat and felt the chair spread to the contours of her body. She vaguely remembered the chairs, but it too felt like something she had dreamed. Lar directed her attention to the wall. There was a woman giving birth. “That is your mother Queen Tiva, and that is you. A few minutes later, a second child was delivered. Zeta jumped to her feet and stared at the screen. She had not cried in years, but watching her twin forced the emotions out of her. She watched as the midwife handed her to the most handsome man she had ever seen. “That is your father, King Tril. He and your mother were wise and just leaders, just as his father and mother were before them”. Zeta was concentrating on her sister, “where is my sister, she hissed at Lar, and how did my parents die”? Lar was caught off guard by the sudden aggression. “You will have to place your hand on the podium to unlock that information. Zeta turned to walk over to the podium, just as it appeared beside her. She placed her hand on the podium, and her hand slipped into the screen. Lar rushed to her side, “do not resist; the screen only accepts a hand into the podium if you are of royal blood. The device confirmed you are indeed Zeta, Queen of Theros”. Then the podium started to release her hand, and once it was completely free, the podium sank into the floor. Zeta looked at her hand. There was a device on her wrist. She looked at Lars,

” what is this thing, and why has it attached itself to my arm”? Lar looked very pleased, “that is the weapon of Ultheria, your fathers’ bloodline can only wield it. It is one of two of the most powerful weapons in the universe”. Zeta noticed that Lar turned away from her with that last statement. She walked over to him and positioned herself inches away from his face, “what was that body language, where is the other weapon.” Lar looked her squarely in the eye, “the other weapon is on your fathers’ wrist still.” Zeta snapped upright, “you said my father is dead, so why would a weapon remain on his body after he is dead”? Lar looked at her, he was starting to sweat, “we buried your father without his arm, it was removed on the battlefield by General Kragin so he could claim the weapon as a prize for his king. They were able to fire the weapon for a few days after it was retrieved, but when your father’s arm began to decay, and the blood was dried up, the weapon became dormant”. “Let me guess; this has something to do with Leta’ disappearance”? “Well, after your sister disappeared, we started getting major ground tremors emanating from across the border and deep into the planet. The only weapons capable of creating the pulse waves we were recording are the weapons of Ultheria”. “Why didn’t my parents send my sister with me so that she would be safe also”? “In the history of our people, the royal family always gives birth to twins. The first-born child is heir to the throne. The second child is used as a decoy in times of war so that the rightful heir is protected and hidden away”. Zeta felt her blood rush to her head, how was this possible, why was this possible! Zeta stepped towards Lar, her eyes were spitting daggers with each step, “you are telling me that you sacrificed my sister so that I might live, and at what cost to her? Does anyone know what she has endured these last twenty years? How do I get to her”? Lar was nervous; Zeta had her hand on the hilt of her sword. He had watched her wage war in defense of the Dahomey Kingdom, and there was not anyone who could match her ferocity on the battlefield, even when she lost her arm, she killed dozens of enemies with her other hand. He knew as she walked towards him, his life was in her hands. Zeta screamed at him, “HAS ANYONE SEEN MY SISTER”? Lar cleared his throat, “Yes, we managed to get spies onto the enemies planet s few times. We sent many, but only two made it back. One of them died before he could utter a word, he had a pulse blast that had severed his leg at the hip. In his hand, he clutched a lock of hair, and when we analyzed it against your family’s DNA, it proved to be your sister’s hair. The last spy made it back with horrible wounds, but she was able to tell us that Leta was alive and a general in the Erdain army. She wears a device at the base of her neck, which is thought to control her mind. When one of our spies got within 50 feet of Leta, the device would emit a high-pitched frequency and expose them. So effectively we are not capable of getting close enough to bring her home”. Lar saw the tension on Zeta’s face started to ease, though he was still not sure if she might not take his head. Zeta sat down on the floor, but before she could get comfortable, the stair rose up and lifted her. Zeta was annoyed, and she had always loved to sit on the earth, so she could feel its coolness when she needed to think. Well, this was not exactly dirt, so she let it go. Zeta took a deep breath, “how far away is my sister from here”? “There are two answers to that question, and if you want to cross the portal, you can do so in about five hundred yards from where you are now sitting. If you wanted to fly there from the earth, it is six light-years. The first will take you about 20 minutes, the latter three earth days”. “Which is safer,” asked Zeta. “The three-day trip is safer because we can land on an isolated part of the planet and make our way to the capital city where Leta is held captive.” “How many warriors do we have to attack the Erda forces.” “We have about nine hundred trained soldiers at this time. We have taken many casualties over the millennia. We have several thousand in training, but they will not be available for some time,”, explained Lar. The weapon on her arm started to vibrate; Zeta looked at Lar. “What is happening,” she asked? “The weapons communicate with each other when engaged, one of the things we are hoping for is you, and Leta will start to speak telepathically so you might be able to help her disengage the device on the base of her neck, without killing her.” Zeta stared at him with a total look of disgust, “is there anything you are sure of”? “Yes, your highness, you are Queen.” That was almost amusing, or she would have taken his head where he stood. Zeta asked Lar to leave the room, she had a lot to process, and she was still not sure if she was asleep or not. Lar left the room, pleased the Queen had returned, and if he knew her, based on the woman he had watched her become, she was about to make a splash in the universe.

Zeta watched the door close behind Lar. She burst into tears. She had come home only to be alone all over again. Her parents were dead, and an enemy was controlling her sister. Now she understood why she felt different around the villagers she thought were her family. She was more than two and a half feet taller than the other women warriors, and a few inches taller than most of the men. Her strength and agility were unmatched by anyone. Finally, she understood why, she was from another world. All of the wild dreams, the sliding walls, the weapons that shot laser light. So many nights, she woke up screaming because monsters were coming for her. The words that would spill from her mouth when she was excited made no sense to anyone in the village, but they made perfect sense to her, especially now. It all made sense now; she was speaking the language of her people, the people of Theros. Thousands of them had died to keep her secret safe, and her sister had paid a greater price. Zeta sent a telepathic message requesting to see the life she and her family lived up until the point when everything changed forever. The look on her sisters’ face when she stared across the room at her brought tears to her eyes. So much love and she had forgotten it all. She had grown into a protector, but she had not been able to protect her sister or her parents. The images stopped. The podium appeared before her again. Then the deepest voice she had ever heard boomed into the room. “Zeta, if this recording has activated, it means you have returned to Theros. I know you must be angry and saddened by the news of our deaths, especially since you did not know we existed. Your mother and I had no greater joy than to bring you and your sister into the world. I never thought I could love anyone as much or more than I loved your mother, then the two of you popped out, and I was smitten. Your mother teased me about the tears I cried, which is fine; you are my baby girls. That brings me to the matter at hand, we have just taken you to planet Earth, so you will be safe from the war that is going on between Theros and Erda. It has always been a tradition in the royal family to protect the oldest child in times of emergencies, or threats to the throne. Your mother and I discussed it and decided that we would not sacrifice either one of you. Either both would of you survive or neither of you would. When we came for you and Leta, she had been stolen away by one of the nurses and taken to Erda. Your mother was inconsolable, and it killed her, her heart just stopped beating, and so did mine. She made me promise that I would go and get your sister and take her to you. I made that promise, but if you see this recording, I failed to bring her back. You have returned to Theros for two purposes, one, to rule as the Queen of your people, and two, if your sister is alive, go and bring her home. You have the bloodline of warriors that go back three hundred thousand years. You can go through the archives and see the heroes who have worn our name. We have fought for justice and truth and faced with the injustice anywhere we have always lifted our swords. Zeta bring your sister home. When the two of you are near, there is a gift, only the two of you share, and it will give you both the advantage you will need to escape. That is my message to you, my daughter. You have the codes to our armor room transmitted to your memory. You will know what to say when the codes are needed. I wish I could see the woman you have become. If you are anything like your mother, you must be a fierce warrior to behold. Until we meet again, I love you. Kiss Leta for me when you bring her home, and please tell her I tried to save her. I died with your names uttered with my last breath. I requested that Lar remove any video associated with the last battle if I fell, he was told to save only the video up to a certain point. The video ended; Zeta sat there seething for what seemed like hours. Zeta summoned Lar to return, he walked in and bowed low to greet his Queen. “Lar, you do not have to bow to me,” said Zeta. Lar looked at her, “Yes, my Queen, I do, though you may think it is unnecessary, your bloodline demands that it be so.” Zeta had no answer for that response, so she asked the question he had been summoned about,” If I utilize the Mino Warriors for this raid, can you purge their memories after the war? Lar looked at her; this was an unprecedented move to use humans as a means to defeat the enemy. “Yes, we could erase the memories, but how will you explain the bodies not returned or the types of wounds they might incur during the battles”? “if you were able to replace my arm then the wounds can be healed, correct? The issue of the dead is another matter altogether, and I will have to think about that. Do we have any idea how many soldiers we will be up against”? “About fifteen thousand your highness.” Zeta shot a sharp look at him for the “your highness” remark, but quickly let it go. “How many generals do we have to lead the troops? “We currently have six generals and three captains, not nearly enough for us to mount a massive attack.” The wheels in Zetas’ head were turning at incredible speeds. The Mino Warriors would have to take leadership roles in the battle, leading some of the Therosian soldiers, and by her count, many of the platoons would be primarily her warriors anyway. Zeta knew there would be casualties, but she also knew that there was no better group of warriors on the planet, and she would lead or follow them into the jaws of hell if she had to. Battles make Warriors.  The Mino were born warriors, and they had proved time and time again that the only thing they feared was not dying an honorable death. “I am returning to Dahomey. I will gather the army and tell them my story because that is what this has become. I will ask that anyone who wishes to volunteer are welcome, any who do not, I understand. This fight is not your fight and losing your life for my cause is not the same as fighting for the borders of Dahomey. I will return to the village now, and I will summon the orb when I am ready to return”.

Lar looked at her; something had changed since she had come back to Theros this time. Zeta walked differently, more regal now. Zeta now believed she was descendant of the royal line and she had accepted the fact that it was up to her to save her sister, and neutralize the threat to her people, Theros and Dahomey. She stepped into the orb and was gone.

Zeta materialized in her home. She was surprised by that. The orb spoke, “from now on; you will be placed in a secure place each time you are transported, for your protection, my Queen.” Zeta looked at the orb, “so, you are in on this Queen thing also”? “I am your highness, I protect your bloodline, and as the true ruler of Theros, this how I am to address you, at least until my death.” Zeta looked at the orb again, “you can die”? “Yes, my Queen, we are a sentient race of beings. We began serving your family thousands of years ago when one of your grandfathers came to our aid in a battle, and we would have surely lost had he not charged into the battle and defended our people. When he died, we returned his body to Theros and his people so that he could have a proper burial among his ancestors. We have served your family since that day. I was assigned to you as you watched the video your father left for you”. “You are not the orb I used previously,” asked Zeta? “That Orb is my…what you would call my uncle.” Zeta stood there for a moment, thinking, “So, do you have a true name,” asked Zeta? “Yes, your highness, I do have a name; it is Barin, your highness.” “Okay Barin, and does it have a meaning”? “Yes, it means Noble Fighter.” Zeta was surprised, “you are a warrior Barin”? “When I need to be your highness.”

With that, Barin transformed into a humanoid figure, fully equipped with swords and throwing knives. He stood about six- feet five inches tall. Zeta took a step back in amazement. “Well Barin, welcome to the war.” Barin bowed and transformed back into the shape of the orb. “My Queen, I will be at your side from this moment forth, any harm that might come to you will have to go through me first. I am sworn to die protecting you”. Zeta turned back to Barin, “I would much prefer to have you live, protecting my people and me. I am honored to have you at my side”. Zeta stepped out into the night air; it was so quiet and peaceful. She worried that she was about to ask too much of the Dahomey Kingdom, but if she did not win, the war would come to earth. She stepped back into her home and slept. The sound of a rooster crowing woke Zeta. She jumped up and grabbed her sword. She looked at her doorway and Barin was sitting in the entrance, she was safe. She rose from her bed and prepared to speak with the warrior women of Dahomey.