Time’s Guardians Prologue
The Time Walkers
Thousands of crypts dotted the landscape in every direction. Square black stone chambers glinted dully in the fading light. The mausoleums stood cold and silent, stark reminders of the finality of death.
Softly, the doors of each of the dark vaults began to glow. One by one, the solid, black portals dissolved and light poured from the interior of each crypt.
Lantz awoke with a start. He quickly sat up and then realized that he was lying on a narrow bed in a medical ward on a Ratherian warship.
He pressed a shaking hand to his head and shoved his bright blue hair out of his eyes. The protective suit he had been wearing was gone and he was dressed in a thin, one-piece wellness uniform. The soft material monitored his vital signs and adjusted its temperature to keep him comfortable. He did not remember donning the bright white garment. The medical personnel must have removed his other clothing and redressed him.
Lantz drew his knees up close to his body and then rested his forehead on top of his knees. He concentrated trying to recall what had happened.
“It is like being a god.” General Tavarius’s exultant voice came over the receiver in Lantz’s helmet. “Reawakening life, reanimating bodies, soldiers wanting out of their tombs, wanting the ferocity of blood and battle, wanting revenge.”
Lantz glanced at the general. “Revenge?
“Vengeance is a powerful motivation,” Tavarius said. “It is the reason the Time Pirates are rising from the Moon of the Dead.”
“Who or what are the Time Pirates?” Lantz asked.
“A race of beings that have the gift of being able to transverse the dimensions of time. They refer to themselves as Time Walkers. Once, they were the most feared warriors in this galaxy.”
Shadows loomed in the doorways.
“And now,” Tavarius said with satisfaction, “they will be again.”
Lantz shuddered and lifted his head. What had happened next had been more terrifying than anything he had ever witnessed.
“You are awake.”
Lantz’s head jerked up. A person stood silhouetted in the doorway. Lantz could not make out the face or uniform, but he knew the voice well enough.
“I would like to know what happened.” The figure remained in the doorway.
“General Tavarius took me along on a mission,” Lantz began.
“An unauthorized mission,” General Morth said.
“I didn’t know that,” Lantz snapped.
“Regardless, you went along. Do you know what reason Tavarius had to go to the moon of that particular planet?”
“Revenge against whom?”
“A scientician named Michael Blayne.”
“I see.” Lantz saw the shadowed head move slightly. “He wanted to avenge the death of his friend General Gregore.”
“Yes.” Lantz began to laugh. “Tavarius wanted me to capture Michael Blayne.”
“You found that amusing?”
Lantz abruptly stopped laughing. “I found it impossible.”
There was a short silence. “So Tavarius decided he needed more assistance.”
“Something like that. Tavarius was obsessed with bringing Blayne in alive so he could be tried for crimes against the Ratherian Empire.”
“Did Tavarius succeed in awakening the dead ones?” Morth asked.
Lantz shuddered. “Yes.”
Silence fell. Lantz knew Morth was watching him closely.
“And?” Morth finally said.
“And they turned on him.” Lantz swallowed heavily. “I’m a scientician but I couldn’t stop them, and I couldn’t open a portal. I ran for the ship. Your war vessel put a tracking beacon on me and pulled me in. I don’t remember what happened next.”
“You were in a completely incoherent state when my soldiers pulled you from your ship,” Morth said dryly. “What happened to General Tavarius?”
“Are you certain?” The voice sharpened. “Did you actually see him die?”
“No,” Lantz said wearily. “But if he’s not dead, he probably wishes he was.”
“The Time Walkers have been freed.”
Sarvon did not turn around. He continued to stare out the window at the multicolored cloud formations. He saw his image reflected in the glass. A tall, thin man with long white hair, light aqua eyes, and pale blue skin stared back at him.
“We knew that would happen one day,” Sarvon said. “The Ratherians were not going to keep that particular group inactive indefinitely.
“Yes.” The man who had made the announcement nodded. “It was inevitable.”
“And so we are called to duty once again.” Sarvon smiled slightly. “It has been a while since our last major action against the Ratherians.”
“Fortunately, there are very few beings who can impact time,” the first man said.
“Very fortunate indeed, Arturus,” Sarvon agreed.
He turned and faced the other man. Dark hair and eyes, tall, broad-shouldered, and muscular, Arturus still resembled the knight he once had been. “But those that can are, of course, extremely powerful. That is why the Guardians of Time exist.”
“I know,” Arturus said shortly.
“An eternal battle in an unending war,” Sarvon nodded. “I have heard you say that more than once.”
“And will hear it an infinite number of times yet,” Arturus suddenly grinned.
“Undoubtedly.” Sarvon turned back toward the window.
“Shall I prepare the Guardians?”
Sarvon shook his head. “We will watch and wait. To act precipitously in this matter would be foolish.”
“We will wait?” Arturus was astonished.
“Yes.” Sarvon looked over his shoulder at the other man. “Now is not the time to act.”
“But… The Walkers…”
“I am curious about what the Ratherians intend to do. If I remember correctly, their original experiment with the Time Walkers was… less than successful. Perhaps they have learned something from the last disaster.”
“Perhaps.” Arturus sounded dubious.
“Oh, I agree. It is very doubtful.”
“There is a reason the Ratherians have kept the Time Walkers locked away for one thousand years.”
“Yes. However, those who knew of the danger have long since died, and the Ratherians who do know are obviously willing to take the risk.”
“I can only wonder why,” Arturus said sourly. He looked at Sarvon. “And yet we do nothing.”
“We cannot interfere unless they actually try to disrupt any time energies.”
“Which they will.”
“Possibly.” Sarvon was silent for a moment and then asked, “Have you been watching the second Keeper?”
“Michael Blayne? Yes, of course, but frankly, it is not necessary. He will not disrupt time for his own purposes.”
“When he became the Keeper of the realm of the scienticians, the time stream rippled and changed.”
Arturus shook his head. “He did not cause that.”
“You sound very sure.”
“I am. Michael Blayne saved that realm and the galaxy along with it, and then he stepped aside and gave the realm back to the original Keeper. Those are not the actions of a man we need to worry about.”
“On the contrary.” Sarvon said. “Anyone that powerful must be watched with a careful eye.”
“He was recognized by the Warrior Totem,” Arturus reminded him.
“Yes, before we knew he even existed. Most unusual.”
Arturus looked up sharply. “And that concerns you?”
“Yes, it does. I keep asking myself why. Why didn’t we know about him?” Sarvon pursed his lips. “I wish I knew the answer. I have a strong feeling that it will be important.”
“So you want me to continue to watch a man who will do us no harm and you don’t want me to take any action against our old enemies,” Arturus said.
Sarvon smiled. “You are a Guardian now, Arturus, not a warrior.”
Arturus’s dark eyes flashed and then he dropped his gaze. “I know.”
“And are still chaffing against it after all this time.” Sarvon shook his head. “Remember, time is but a moment.”
“It is also eternal,” Arturus shot back before turning and stalking from the chamber.