A young leader on a distant planet must make a decision that could change the destiny of her people forever.
It has been 35,000 years since the Thir landed on the planet Padir, saving its native population from extinction. In doing so they found themselves worshipped as gods and decided to stay on and educate the Padira.
Now, after generations of benevolent coexistence Z’han, the newly appointed head of the Thiran High Council on the eve of her first meeting finds herself faced with the single most important decision of her young life: Whether to trust the man who trained her-the most respected Thiran alive when he says everything she and her fellow Thirans have been taught-Many by this very man, is little more than a lie. That, or merely declare him and all who would stand with him heretics and enemies of the state.
Unwilling to condemn her father’s oldest friend and his compatriots, yet unwilling to give up the position of power her people have enjoyed for over 30 millennia, Z’han finds herself in a precarious situation as he is put on trial. Her unease with her own position as ruler coupled with her inexperience and reluctance to take action push Z’han and all the people of Padir towards a situation that could very easily destroy them all.
And so, as the other gods appeared one by one each in turn acknowledged by his or her Priests or Priestesses, Garvel gave only the most cursory of bows. Little more than an inclination of his head.
There was only one God that mattered in all this. One true God under whose authority all the others could do naught but submit.
For, were not the others not truly Gods so much as they were….aspects of the All-Father’s nature?
Was not Pa’ar, the so-called “Love God” merely a manifestation of the All-Father’s lust? Or Oscal, God of Learning His knowledge, Poral the Healer Z’Mad’s desire to heal the Padira and maintain their health? Were not the Goddesses Naj and Z'ni vessels for His artistic and philosophical natures respectively? Was not K’lon, as she appeared upon the dais resplendent in her golden armor nothing more than the All-Father’s sword arm-His great strength placed in the form of a tall, dark-skinned woman so that the Padira would know that he was their protector? And would therefore have less fear of him?
Garvel felt his heart pound in rhythm with K’lon’s pike as she brought it down upon the floor again and again. Some ten times total.
Then the real magic happened. Z’Mad, in all His Glory suddenly appeared upon the dais. Garvel felt his heart leap in his chest as Z’Mad, demonstrating the grace that only a God could, bowed first to the lesser Gods and then to Garvel and the Padira. After he’d been bowed to in return, Z’Mad smiled as he placed his hands, palms facing outward in front of his face.
With military precision, K’lon raised her pike and tapped it three times. In answer, an honor guard of 10 Padiran warriors-R’tal the Gladiator chief among them raised their spears, holding them straight above their heads.
Garvel always liked R’tal. She was in many ways like Agna, her twin. The same velvety brown, almond shaped eyes. The same long ebon hair and smooth skin. There were, however with R’tal a marked difference: Unlike Agna, the gladiator knew her place. She was respectful, and while she was known at times to be as arrogant as her sister-at least R’tal, whose skill as a warrior was second perhaps only to the War Goddess, had earned the right to be so.
Now, she stood there, centermost not among the Padira, but just forward of the Thiran Host-Opposite the Goddess of War herself. As K’lon began to pound her pike upon the floor again, R’tal, catching the rhythm, began to pound her own spear upon the floor, punctuating each pause with a sound akin to a loud exhalation of breath.
Three beats, hunh! Three beats, hunh! The sound growing as the Padiran guard and then the Thiran Host took it up, until it became less a sound and more of a sensation: An intense thrumming that set itself into your blood and took you over until it became more vital than the beating of your own heart.
Enraptured, Garvel gave himself over to it as the pounding intensified and Z’Mad, to the astonishment of the Padira grew to a height of nearly 4 meters, became transparent and then his body began to shift and reform itself. When the hands had gone from being strong yet gnarled only then to become soft, slim youthful and feminine, Z’Mad’s body shrank down to a height of just under 2 meters and became solid once more.
It took Garvel a few moments to realize that he’d been holding his breath. This could have proved embarrassing had he not quickly realized that everyone else-Including Agna was doing exactly the same thing.
The Padira gasped with amazement and delight as the young hands lowered and there before them stood a shimmeringly beautiful Goddess. The transfiguration was now complete.