Prologue: A Final Farewell

4K 338 22
                                              

The rain fell in quiet waves of silver and gray from an early spring sky. Before the psyren dreamwalkers came, each rainfall was welcomed as a sign of life and renewal. It marked the beginning of another year of growth and one more season lived beyond the cull. Even after the dreamwalkers freed their minds from generations of selective breeding for passivity, a good rainstorm had filled her soul with a kind of peace, like everything was alright in the world.

Today, however, the rain only meant one thing to Ambriel, leader of what was left of Humanity on Earth. Today it meant Death.

It was cold and unrelenting, the rain, but not nearly as cold as Ambriel's heart felt as, with arms folded, she stared at the monument erected in Max Niekro's honor.

'You've gone and died on me a second time, Max!' she thought, her mental voice filled with accusation, despair and loss as she fought the impulse to shiver in response to both the sleet of emotions racing through her and the trickle of arctic-cold water making its way down past her collar. 'You've left us alone. Alone in a universe we don't understand, with enemies all around us. You were our greatest protector, even when we hated you for what you were. You were the force that pushed us forward, gave us resolve and conviction. You gave us hope again.'

The tears came unbidden at that point, filling her eyes with their salty burn. It wasn't the first time she had cried since hearing of Max's passing, nor would it be the last. 'Where do we go now, without you here guiding us?? What will we do? Will I do without you?'

A gentle pull on her hand pulled Ambriel's attention away from the rock.

"Why are the angels crying, mama?" asked two year old Michael from where he stood beside her, cloaked against the rain and the cold.

Thinking her son was referring to one of the old stories that said rain came from angels in heaven crying, Ambriel wiped away her tears with the back of her hand as she began to correct him.

"It's just rain, Michael," she said with an understanding smile.

A frown appeared on the young boy's face.

"I know it's just rain, mama," he quickly retorted before pointing at the four figures standing on the monument's other side, almost invisible in the downpour. "I mean those angels, the real ones. Why are they crying?"

Real angels? Ambriel tracked along Micheal's pointing finger to find the four standing nearby, unseen and unnoticed up to now. It was as her eyes fell upon them that she saw the telltale shape of wings on their back.

Vesari! But what are they doing ...

Then it hit her: it was General San'Arkada and the three children she had created with Max's stolen DNA! Oddly the realization of their identity sent a trickle of anger through her, the faintest of echoes of the rage that Max had felt when he had discovered San'Arkada's thievery. Then the trickle was washed away in a surge of sympathy as she could imagine what the children, especially the two girls who had spent so much time with their father, were now feeling.

"Be strong now, Miranda, Alise," San'Arkada said in a low voice, trembling with her own emotions, as she laid a comforting hand on the shoulders of her daughters, both of whom were sobbing disconsolingly.

"Your father would want you to stay strong for him, as he did, for you."

"I cannot believe he's actually gone," Kai softly said, his own features twitching with barely restrained emotions. "I barely spoke to him, angry that he treated you unfairly."

San'Arkada looked over her shoulder at her son.

"Did he, Kai?" she said, a frown on her flawless features. "Was he unfair when he judged me duplicitous for stealing his DNA?"

Risen: ShatterverseWhere stories live. Discover now