When Joshua died on the operating table, I feared I'd made a terrible mistake. Even after the doctors coaxed him back to life, the feeling refused to fade.

I waited too long treating his wounds, before admitting they were beyond my abilities, and put the mission further in jeopardy, by taking my runabout out of concealment. I made a frantic dash to the gas giant, to link up with a Falcon class frigate, our permanent presence in the Candor system.

Concealed beneath clouds of ammonia crystals and hydrogen gas, I had ample time to consider the other candidates and options I could have chosen. Each of them in their own way was a loner, who with the right motivation, could be manipulated or co-opted to our cause. Politicians, police officers, judges and entrepreneurs, all with contacts and influence, each considered and discarded, because they carried the risk of betrayal. I argued the case with my sisters that our work be done by the lowly and humble, those that the enemy would not recognise as a threat.

So I had picked Joshua, a human male who showed on several occasions, a willingness to confront things he thought wrong. He also had the skills to move easily through my assigned area, the sprawl that is Candor City. If I had acted sooner, when the tragedy of his murdered brother had just happened, I could have captured the moment in its purest form. Instead I hesitated, and now he lies on the edge of life, defying the might of Lazloi technology and its attempts to make him whole again.

I tell myself that these lesser humans are just tools, to be used and discarded as we see fit, but it is clear now that their fate and ours are entwined, and we cannot now win the battle alone. Already our lines have become crossed, through the bloodline of my aunt Alisandra, a halfling child born of a human father, banished by Kyraenia and probably dead.

My self-recrimination was broken some hours later, when the doctors told me that Joshua would survive. It might be some days before he was safe to move though, so he would have to lie unconscious and unaware of our presence.

As he lies there in induced sleep, my clan sisters congregate by the sick bay door to marvel. He is a man free of the disease and frail bones that afflict our own males, the first glimpse for some of them, of how our men used to be.

-- Sylenia hept Zilaerion, aboard the frigate, 'Amethyst Shadow'.


Falcon frigate and Sword runabout are original models created in Hexagon 1.21

Scene assembly and final rendering in Vue 6 Pro Studio. Post processed in Photoshop CS2

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Updated: 22 January 2009

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