Historians note: The account told here takes place three months following the Great Rashalon according to the date as given by Princess Sitara to the Lady Arshira when asked about her birth. Naturally Sitara must have referred to her hatching and not the date that her mother bore forth her eggs. It should be considered that at this juncture, the Falcanian Khanate was in its infancy, much like our Shotar’s twin daughters. Also, the desolation of the United States remained a recent event and the Imperium that would rise to replace it had yet to be founded.
Part 1. The Phoenix Rises
[India, Kuras: September 20, 2018]
Sharr stood in his office, glanced over plans for Vorkrür Island. Three months ago he had been a man, a simple mortal. Yet now he’d become something more. Together he and his friends stepped into the Rashalon Engine and at last became that which they had long envisioned to be, genuine biological Falcanians.
Moreover his wife and Queen, Nadia, without whose brilliance this Falcanian genetic miracle could not have been made possible recently gave birth to twins, his daughters: Sitara and Ariel, who at this moment were being nursed at their mother’s breast. Their voracious hatchling hunger required a great deal of her attention.
Intently the Shotar listened as the foremen discussed progress on the artificial Island which they constructed out in the Bay of Bengal. Not an easy task, either engineering wise, or politically speaking. The Shotar swayed his plated tail and adjusted his black translucent wings while he continued to pleasantly think about his wife, whom he had not seen all day.
“Excuse me Sir.” Atar Kran interrupted the meeting between the foreman and his Shotar.
“Yes Atar?” Sharr looked up at his Drakorian commander.
Kran gave the foreman a warning glance and the engineer deftly excused himself.
“What is it?”
“You remember that little… Project you entrusted me with after we left The States?” Atar watched his friend’s blue-gray eyes widen and his whole body go suddenly ridged.
“Yes.” The Shotar said, jaw clenched.
“We found him.”
“Where is he?” Sharr spoke cold, clipped.
“Montana, with a survivalist militia.” Atar gave Sharr a moment to think about that. “They’ve clashed with fragments of the old American government, that ‘Legion’ ruled by the former Marine who calls himself Romulus.”
“Get me a strike force!” Commanded Sharr, he’d heard enough.
“Do it!” Warned Sharr, he felt his heart thump, a fury began to burn in his blood.
“Sharr I realize you want to –”
“You don’t understand Atar.” Sharr informed his Drakorian and turned to look out the window at the small Falcanian settlement that sat beneath the white caped Himalayas. “No one trusted me…” He put his hands behind his back. “Nature bestowed upon me a warning and instead I ignored it. Not that my word meant anything, I was biased – Even crazy…” Being where he now stood Sharr appreciated the irony. “Not even my friends believed me, perhaps with reason? I don’t know.”
“The Queen believed you.” Atar assured.
“Nadia has a unique vision.” Sharr responded coolly, a lethal edge to his voice. “Do you know Nadia had to be the one to tell me what happened to Aria? And then because of the war he got free, without punishment. I shall avenge her!”
“We all agreed to stay out of other nation’s affairs. It’s a war zone my Lord. We are still too few.” Atar understood his friend’s impulse, but it would be risky going into that nuclear ravaged wildness for one man. “At the moment the US isn’t a nation, more like a collection of animals fighting for power. Perhaps one mighty beast will take control soon and make something better?”
Brooding Sharr at last said. “I shall have vengeance Atar. With my own hand, I will plunge my Kraris into his heart and then take it to burn as an offering in her memory.”
“I’ll gather some men.”
“Thank you Atar.” Sharr Khan at last sounded pleased. “And I shall be going with them.”
Curtains parted around the cushioned nest where Nadia rested when Sharr entered his chambers which he shared with his wife in their Indian mansion that once had been the Korelia’s estate, now grown to become a small palace. The Shotar wasn’t surprised to find Nadia’s parents were in the room, tending to their daughter’s every need. The birth of the twins was hard. It wasn’t at all certain a Falcanian female could carry more than a single egg at one time. More to the point, Nadia’s Robotess, Morningstar nature proved a biological obstruction. Despite a possibility of complications, his Queen insisted that she would keep both eggs.
For Nadia, sapient life was sacrosanct. These twins heritage, children of both a human, now remade into a winged Falcanian man and his Robotess consort deserved every chance at life. To even suggest one of them might be snuffed-out lit Nadia’s ire.
“Sharr!” A glimmer shined in Nadia’s bright blue almond eyes.
The Shotar kissed his mate.
“I told you that you would see him. Nadia’s been fretting,” said Ambika Sen. “Wanting to get out of bed and be at your side. We don’t want her upset.” Indeed her own daughter was becoming restless regulated to this room following her labors. “She knows the doctor wants her to stay on bed rest –”
Despite his apprehensive disposition, Sharr replied. “Nadia’s stubborn. Just like her mother.”
From her place in the many cushions of the nest, Nadia cleared her throat.
“Perhaps we should go my wife,” interjected Turhan Korelia. “Leave the young couple to themselves?” He lovingly touched his daughter’s cheek. “They’ve had so little time to be alone these days since the recent tragedies.” Never mind the assorted politics that kept Sharr Khan’s attention which he now dealt with in order to establish his fledgling Khanate.
Ambika and Turhan Korelia quietly exited.
“What’s wrong?” Nadia knew without a need to be told something bothered her husband. “I do not require my telepathy to see you are upset.” The pregnancy temporally hindered Nadia’s PSI power. She flicked her Morningstar enhanced eyesight, watched his heart thump erratic. All Sharr’s biorhythms were off. “Remember my eyes can see more than what is on the surface.” She leaned on him, where he sat with her on the bed. “Tell me. I can help.”
“Nadia…” Sharr looked into those brilliant-blue almond eyes. A Morningstar trait. “There’s something I need to do.” He cleared his throat nervous. “I’ll be leaving Kuras for a few days.”
“Where are you going?” Nadia asked, worried. The world crumbled into ash. Few places were not touched by America’s desolation. At least the little chunk of it they built for themselves remained relatively unscathed. And here Falcanians were protected by the Indian government.
“I have to return to North America.”
“No!” Nadia repeated firmly. “It’s not safe! There are factions fighting for ground to rule, the radiation and poisoning have scarred the land. The danger is too great –”
“I’m going to go there and kill him.” There, Sharr Khan laid it out plain as day. The look on Nadia’s Persian modeled features told him she knew what he meant.
“You know where he went?”
“Atar has kept an eye out for me.”
She nodded, brushed back a strand of auburn hair to reveal a newly oval pointed ear. “Our people are effective, I trust Atar’s Drakorian.” Nadia bit her lip. “Do Kvaltar and Shuriken know what you are planning?”
“You know what they would tell me, I don’t want them to know, not yet.”
“I understand.” Nadia grabbed his arm not really wanting him to go. “Would you like any Valküri?”
“The Imperial Guard will be enough.”
“I understand, Roder… Sharr.” Nadia forced a smile. “I hope this heals that wound in your heart.” Nadia wished she had avoided using the word ‘hope’ right after she said it and so she changed the subject. “Kalpana Aranskrai is pregnant, Dr. Makross just told me.”
The abrupt topic shift took him Sharr Khan off guard, he blinked, exhaled deeply and said. “That’s good to hear. More Falcanians to populate the world and build our legacy.”
Part 2. Resurrection City
[Montana. Formerly Part Of The American Republic]
Functionally closer to a Colonial settlement, certainly that would be the tech level things were at, it was nothing but a shantytown located out in the hills. The electromagnetic pulse rendered most microchip-based technology inert. Had one to measure the human species by this town alone, one would never guess that The Singularity struck the planet Earth. The survivalists colorfully called it Resurrection City. With a population of little more than one hundred souls, many sick from ambient radiation and lack of resources the name was meant to inspire trust.
A council of men served as Resurrection’s city leaders. The core militia established the base after the American Republic’s fall. These were hardy enough people; they waited decades for the day to come when the ‘End Times’ would herald in a new kingdom for God. None of the armed men of Resurrection however were ready for the death about to rain down from the sky on what; all things considered a rather pleasant evening.
Falcanian F-1 Razor-Claw gunship choppers hovered over the shantytown. The gunships loosed suppression fire, took out guard towers along the perimeter. Soon after the Falcanians landed military personnel into the small settlement to effectively occupy it. All completed in a matter of hours, with hardly a defensive shot fired at the Falcanian troopers. The sort of military operation Falcanians liked. A surgical strike that crippled one’s enemy, leaving them at your mercy.
The gunship which ferried Sharr Khan soon settled into the town’s center. A raven-like armored figure disembarked from the black helicopter. Hidden in a cowl and in his right hand he brandished a shining, single-edged curved knife, while in the other, a newly purchased Grenadier Firearms EM-3 coilgun hummed ready to fire. The Shotar hovered forward, powered by the jets of his Garuda. Behind him, his plated tail snapped. Tri-claw boots sparked on the broken stone.
Wielding a makeshift crossbow, a lone figure sprung at the Shotar, discharged a bolt that bounced off the dense technologically superior fibers of the Falcanian jodtok that Sharr Khan wore not even leaving a faint scratch. Drakorian started to intercede yet the Shotar waved them aside. He had been more stunned that the man only had a crossbow with which to defend himself. So primitive.
Sharr Khan could not know that ironically, the Militia counsel forbid most of its citizen’s heavier, higher caliber weapons. Interestingly, even under the feudalistic Khanate, the right to bear arms stayed uninfringed. To Falcanians, only armed people were free.
Titanium blade lifted, the Falcanian ruler waited for the man to make another pass. Predictably he did, of course to his own peril. Firing his EM-3, the Shotar hit the man in the shoulder and brought him to his knees. Sharr rotated on his jets, casually lopped off the arm which held the makeshift bolt thrower. Blood gushed out of the wound. Thrusting past the wounded man with a swift arc of his Claw-blade, Sharr put him out of his misery. A gasp could be heard from the gathered settlers as their comrade’s head dropped to the ground. Coldly Sharr continued forward, his Drakorian formed a tighter knot around him. They’d no wish to endure a scolding from the Queen should Sharr be harmed. “Find him!” Sharr Khan commanded. His Ox-blood armored men jumped to obey his order and swooped over the gathered crowd.
“We are looking for this person.” Atar Kran produced a picture of a pudgy blond man. “We know that he is among you.” The Drakorian growled in a deep voice.
Now it’s not every day one sees winged beings descend upon you. To the people of Resurrection Falcanians looked alien, or in the very least demonic, with their mammalian wings and armored tails. Above the gathered folk sounds of wing beats pushed on the air. None among the residents were genetically or otherwise enhanced. Generally such people were frowned on in this town, as it was believed such augmentation lead to the Earth’s ruin. And so they trembled.
Sharr peered from beneath his cowl, and his harsh glare came to rest on a man. A shot rang out of the darkness, struck Sharr Khan in his chest, and caused him to reel backward until he stabilized his hover. The low caliber bullet dinged onto the ground. Drakorian ripped the man from the crowd, forced him to kneel before the unhurt Shotar, who allowed himself to laugh. A laugh filled with loathing. Actually Sharr Khan had been more than a bit amused by what just happened. Nadia surely wouldn’t have seen it at all that way, yet Sharr couldn’t miss a Shakespearean irony. “I was the one who came here to kill you.” The Shotar said in a low voice, only those close could make out what he said. He descended on his jets in order to be closer to the man, spoke in a deadly whisper: “I thank you for presenting yourself to me.”
Forcing the pudgy man upward, two Drakorian held fast to his arms. Lack of a good diet seemed to have taken some of the meat off his former stout frame. His face was worn and gaunt. Suddenly a woman forced her way to the protective line established by the Drakorian Guard and demanded. “Let my husband go!”
“Husband?” Sharr Khan asked.
“Angelica, my wife.” The troll of a man explained still not certain about the situation.
Studying the dark-haired woman the Shotar nodded. Under different circumstances he might even have found Angelica attractive. “Brad, is she anything like Aria?” Sharr spoke the name with such venom that his hate became a steadily freezing river. The very tone chilled his prey. Before him Sharr Khan watched Brad go pale. He hadn’t thought to hear Aria’s name ever again. “You’ve no idea who I am, do you?” Spat Sharr in disdain. And in that moment knew confirmed himself to be the superior. He raised his Kraris, placed it over Brad’s neck, glared down with contempt upon the mere human. All he need do was rip the claw across Brad’s throat to finally end this.
Angelica began to scream.
“This is about Aria?” Asked Brad.
“Yes.” The Shotar growled.
Brad gazed under the concealing cowl, where a goateed face hid behind a form fitted bird-helmet that glowered back at him with eyes which reflected-light like an animal. “Roderik?” He said astounded. “It can’t be!”
“It is.” Sharr’s tone became more dangerous.
“You have to know I didn’t kill her?” A nervous sound came out of Brad’s mouth. “Besides…”
“What I know is that you ran when the police questioned you.” Sharr Khan accused. “I also know that you were aware she started her affair once more with Saul.” To Saul Berkowits own credit it had taken much effort on Aria’s part to reignite things between them. “You were nothing but a replacement for Saul and became enraged with her… Killed her for it.” Sharr started to find this discussion tedious. He’d no intention to allow it to go on further, and brought his blade up for the killing strike.
And then Brad said: “Did you ever think you’re as me guilty? You obsessed over her.”
The blade rattled to the ground with a metallic clang. Sharr turned away and heavily exhaled. “Bring him in chains!” Sharr Khan ordered. “Find a dark cell and leave him there to rot for all life, never to see the light of day.”
In that moment Sharr’s own guilt overcame him. Whatever the facts of the case, it would always remain true. That yes, he had been, and was obsessed with Aria. She invoked in him demons that could not rest. It was also true that he knew what he knew, and because of his lack of perspective Aria DeFalco died, murdered for his inability to act to protect her.
Part 3. The Beginning
At rest in the small room which served as his throne room, barely larger than the mobile home’s living room he once resided in back in the United States, Sharr Khan contemplated his expanding settlement. He chose a sturdy chair to act as his royal seat, a simple black wood, cushioned with heavy pads colored the ox-blood red of his Drakorian Guard. A canopy hung over the throne and camouflaged him from anyone who might enter. The Shotar sat with his head heavily in hand, lost to his troubled thoughts.
“Hey there!” Nadia strode into the room, placed herself onto her mate’s lap. Possessively she curled her tail around his body.
Sharr Khan hugged her closely, glad to feel the solidness of his wife, as well as her intense warmth. “You weren’t here when I returned.”
“Maa, I and Shalimar took the children to temple.” Nadia explained. “I witnessed something interesting there.”
“Really. What?” Asked Sharr Khan curious. A slight hint of a smile touched at his lips. Seldom did his expression waver from that of a neutral one. A trait that he’d worked long and hard to cultivate. It had been noted; Sharr rarely appeared to be ‘enthused’, this was by design.
Nadia stroked Sharr’s hair, which began to grow long, Sikh like, just as she preferred it. “I watched a Hindu Priest welcome one of your Tahru Jahs as a brother, together they blessed our children. Your religion is taking root my Lord.”
“That is good to know.” Sharr indeed was most pleased.
“Is it done?” Nadia asked referring to Brad.
“The matter is taken care of.” Had Nadia actually learned what became of Brad she would not be happy. Better it would have been to kill him outright she would have said. Sharr and his battalion of Drakorian deposited the man in an out-of-the-way place before returning to the Subcontinent. The Shotar would be able to get amusement out of his eternal detainment locked off from the world – Brad would die decrepit and alone in darkness.
“Ahem,” The sound of a man clearing his throat interrupted the couples’ moment. “My Shotar, Maharani.”
“Shreik!” Sharr acknowledged his majordomo, Shreik Hro Trakan. “What may I help you with?”
“I wanted to inform you that his Excellency, Naresh Singh shall be arriving to dine with you this evening.”
“Oh yes,” Nadia said told him breathless with joy. “Maa says the vote for our recognition of sovereignty is almost assured to go in our favor.”
“Good.” Sharr Khan was convinced that Ambika Sen somehow managed to stack the Indian Parliament in their favor. The Shotar had never exactly been certain what tools his mother-in-law kept at her disposal. Naresh Singh certainly behaved as if he were indebted to the woman.
“And a diplomatic package has arrived from the Shogunate.” Shreik continued. “Japan wants to open up relations with us, as well as negotiate a technological exchange. It seems our genetic modifications have impressed them.”
“Indeed Shreik, very promising. It is a good beginning.” Sharr leaned back in his chair while Nadia nuzzled close.