Planet Athena, jewel of the heavens, was once home to many artists. With creativity and magic they conjured up worlds of great beauty. With an ability to rekindle lost dreams and a love for all of life they went on missions to help bring dying cultures back to life.
Then suddenly the light of Athena dimmed and it was felt throughout the galaxy.
As lifetimes passed, many artists found themselves on different planets - universes away from Athena. Earth, one of these planets, was plagued with drugs, crime and the darkness of ignorance.
Amidst the turmoil arose Nicole Jensen. Seeing the destruction of her fellow man, she realized that with her songs she could make a difference to the many lives she touched. Through her efforts, Nicole was able to rise to stardom. However, as with many who are seeking to tell the truth, she was assaulted by one of those in power whose purpose it is to control the lives of the many. After receiving a crippling attack and knowing her life was in jeopardy, Nicole withdrew from her career and her fans.
Then, when all hope was nearly gone, she had an encounter with a mysterious stranger.......
|Publisher:||Cordova, Barbara Joy|
|Product dimensions:||5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.00(d)|
The Empress Zeena stood in front of a large arched window in her planning room. She gingerly ran her fingers along the window's stone ledge, as if to remind herself of the fact that her empire was still standing. Zeena sighed a deep breath of relief as she looked out upon the beautiful lands of Athena. The planet full of artists was once again united as a team. "It will never happen again!" she thought, practically aloud, as she remembered the tragedy that had threatened her beautiful homeland several hundred years ago. Some of the pride and honor that she'd worn before the catastrophe had slightly faded from her majestic countenance. Zeena still blamed herself for what had occurred. Although the planetary healing process was nearly complete, remnant scars still remained from the battle. She thought it unfortunate that some of the artists continued to hold back on their true powers, and that many team members were now gone. Even though the new foundation wasn't quite as strong as the old one, the Empress hoped that her hindsight, and that of her people, would help them not to make the same errors again.
Zeena's thoughts were suddenly interrupted by a flash of brilliant whiteness that she saw out of the corner of her eye. She was dazzled by the sight of a winged horse that soared into view, gracing the skies with his elegance. A playful young man sat astride the horse. He drew an image of a rainbow in the sky, not knowing that he was also drawing the Empress into a less serious mood. She waved to the rider and smiled warmly at him as he flew by.
A splash of sound hit Zeena's ears as she was taken in by a sudden musical performance taking place beneath the window. Two men magically plucked the strings of their instruments, while a vocalist poured an enchanting song from her heart. Zeena's smile widened with pleasure as she bathed in the artists' creations. As her spirits lifted upwards, she reminded herself of the potential power of this planet, full of creative beings. "Art, like a laser beam, cutting through the despair and awakening lost dreams," she thought, while noting how she herself was being uplifted by the entertainers outside.
As the music intensified, a dancer emerged, as if from nowhere, and started leaping in harmony with the song. He stepped into the air and twirled like a top, until he was several feet above the ground. Higher and higher he rose, until suspended, parallel with the fifth story window where the empress stood. Zeena smiled, and applauded approvingly. Then she playfully climbed upon her window ledge and held out a welcoming hand. The agile dancer saw this as a signal that she wanted to join him. He took her hand and pulled her from her perch. Zeena's long silver hair added an embellishing, rhythmic motion to the sky dance, as it whipped around her. She couldn't remember having this much fun for a long time. In fact, she almost felt guilty. While she danced with pleasure, enjoying the new freedom, something tugged at her heartstrings. As the music crescendoed, she slowed down. Her smile turned to a frown. "Thank you for this dance," she said to the dancer, as she quickly kissed him on the cheek.
"You're welcome, my Empress," he said. He gave her a look of both respect and puzzlement as she scurried back through the arched window, stumbling upon the planning room floor. The dancer floated downward, back to where the musicians stood.
The surge of song emanating from the singer ebbed into silence, as she noticed the swiftness of Zeena's departure. For a moment, she caught herself worrying that perhaps her singing had displeased the Empress. As the small concert of song ended, one of the musicians put his arm around the girl. "Kareva, what is the matter?" he said, sensing her withdrawal.
"I don't know if the Empress..." Before she could complete her sentence, a small white bird with blue-tipped wings, sent by the Empress, circled nearby. Kareva smiled as she snapped out of her self-abasing thoughts, "nothing, never mind," she said, watching the little winged messenger, which she knew to be a symbol from the Empress to acknowledge them for a performance well done. Kareva then realized how silly it was for her to ever think the Empress would insult an artist. It was just something that Zeena would never do. Kareva thought about the fact that such an idea must have simply lodged itself into her mind like a piece of residue from the past, an aftermath of the tragedy. She was merely equating Zeena with someone else!
The little white bird knew his job was done, and flew back into the palace planning room, where Zeena tensely paced around. Some of her stiffness momentarily abated as the little creature landed upon her shoulder and nuzzled her cheek. She stroked the head of the bird and then opened the door to a large gilded cage. The bird obediently flew inside.
Now that the problems on Athena were under control, one might presume this was enough to make Zeena happy, but she was nevertheless quite worried. The salvaging of Athena had been a true test of strength, even for her. All her attention had been averted from other pressing matters in the galaxy. She had tapped deeply into her own well of power in order to keep her homeland from going down altogether. It was only moments ago, while dancing in the sky, indulging in a brief moment of pleasure, that she had perceived that there were troubles with other planets in the Milky Way galaxy.
Zeena grew tired and lay down on a pink satin resting couch, her body sinking into a comfortable position. "Be damned you Black Knights!" Zeena said aloud as she slammed her fist into a couch pillow. "You're still at it!" she said, relying on her keen perceptions which told her that the Knights were still actively wreaking havoc in many sectors. It always disgusted her that such creatures dubbed themselves with a name that implied they were doing noble deeds. She knew that in their twisted way, they actually believed they were right in their actions. The Athenians, however, took their name to heart as merely a pun that really meant "Black Nights," as this is what they attempted to bring to many a civilization.
Zeena silently regretted the fact that she'd been so out of touch with leaders of some of the other planets. They had normally informed her of their exact troubles.
As she closed her translucent eyelids, she started to recall some of the missions she'd sent her people on long ago. She saddened as she remembered some of the great artists, many of whom were no longer around. They used to go to other civilizations that had suffered attacks from the Knights. The Athenians used their artistic talents to help others revitalize their hopes and dreams, and got them to work together after being torn apart. If only Athena herself hadn't been a victim of the insidious attack by the Black Knights, Zeena knew she could have spent the last several hundred years sending her artists out to help fight the decay of many a civilization.
As Zeena lay on the couch, she drifted out beyond the bounds of her physical body. She was getting a spiritual perception of something that puzzled and disturbed her and she couldn't quite put her finger on its point of origin. "What is it? Where?" She was being drawn to something, and she wondered what it was. Several questions begged for attention in her mind, and she tried to zero in on the one that was the most prominent, the one that was causing her to reach out and seek an immediate answer.
Like a boomerang, thoughts about the tragedy kept coming back to her. "But why?" She wondered. She thought she'd filed these memories in the archives of her mind labeled "Athenian history." She knew she was now ready to carry on and face the future, but there was a piece of the past she couldn't ignore. "Why? Oh, I see, it's a clue. That's it, a clue," she gaped as a hazy image started to form in her mind. Then the picture got clearer and clearer as she adjusted the tuning on the scene she was looking at. There, before her, emerged a lifelike image of a beautiful Athenian woman with long blond hair and bright turquoise eyes. "Rhianna," the Empress said, sitting up as if being propelled by this picture. Zeena shuddered with both fear and relief, as she recalled the fateful moment when Rhianna's courage had helped to keep Athena from going down altogether. Unfortunately, although Rhianna's heroic act had helped save Athena from total doom, she herself was not saved from the clutches of the Knights. After a sad encounter with the gods of darkness, hundreds of years ago, Rhianna had left Athena, and had not since returned. The Empress suddenly realized how much she missed this being of whom she was very fond. Zeena now sensed that something was wrong with Rhianna. "My dear Rhianna, where are you? After what you did for Athena, I owe you my assistance. But I must locate..." she said aloud, as she was interrupted by the sound of desperate knocking on her door. Zeena jumped up and went to see who the urgent caller was. Opening the golden door, she was greeted by the face of her assistant, Gilmar, a tall man of nearly five hundred years in age. He was somewhat frantic.
"Gilmar, what is the urgency?"
"I'm sorry to disturb you my dear Empress."
"There's no need for apology. Come have a seat," Zeena said warmly, while putting her arm around her assistant.
Zeena could almost perceive what Gilmar was going to say, before the words tumbled out of his mouth.
"I was in the galactic map room a few moments ago, when I noticed a red 'danger' signal coming from one of the solar systems on the chart. When I saw this I thought I should warn you."
"This could be one of the answers I'm looking for. You are one step ahead of me, observing the map before I finished my perceptic search."
"I'm sorry, I just thought you might want to see what was going on."
"I'm the one who should be sorry for having neglected the map for so long," said Zeena, as both of them left the planning room and flew down a long palace hallway toward a huge, dome-shaped room. Zeena and Gilmar lifted their robes as they climbed the small stairway that led to the door of the room.
There, in the center of the room, laid out on a round table, was an enormous map. Each solar system had colored lights on top of the individual planets. The colors were used to signify degrees of danger. Zeena moved around to a section where a bright red light fiercely blinked on and off several times per second. Her eyes zeroed in on a tiny planet in the outer rim of the galaxy. She pushed a button that made the planet grow larger. "Earth, my god, that's where she is!" she said while tightly holding onto the edge of the table. "Red. Not a good sign at all."
"Nearly the highest level danger code there is. If this were two shades brighter, wouldn't it mean that the planet would be�?" Gilmar paused, knowing he didn't need to go on. He looked straight into Zeena's fiery eyes; both of them growing more and more concerned over this sight.
"Gilmar, please excuse me, I need to be alone in here for awhile," Zeena said, while hot and cold waves ran through her body. "I am not quite done with my perceptic search."
Gilmar quietly closed the door on his way out. Zeena gently ran her hand over the small red bulb. Then, feeling like a laser beam had cut to the core of her being, she suddenly became awakened to the fact that a number of her old teammates were now on Earth. "That's where they are! Lost their magic and power; and such short lifetimes. Barely enough time to get anything done."
Zeena sensed that many of her old friends had been born and died a number of times. They didn't even have the chance to live a decent life span. A typical Athenian often lived up to six hundred of those Earth years, and one still looked young up until around the age of five hundred. The Empress herself was an exception in that she had been able to preserve her body fifteen hundred years now.
Zeena wanted to get a general picture of the state of affairs on Earth, and her intentions were so strong that she stirred up the air and caused a warm wind to come whistling in through a small, round window. Closing her eyes, she got a perception of some of the general conditions on the planet, and sensed that the Knights had infiltrated long ago, but were wearing a guise that she couldn't quite make out. She just perceived that the damage they had inflicted had created a disaster on that planet.
Once again, like a boomerang returning, she was hit with a picture of Rhianna. She opened her eyes and started slowly pacing around the large, round map. "Rhianna, what is it?" she said aloud and then went back over to where the little red light blinked, as if being summoned by it to take a better look at something.
"Trouble. I know you are in trouble." It was easier for Zeena to perceive specifically what was happening with her fellow Athenians than with other beings in the galaxy.
The picture of the radiant Athenian she once knew transformed into an image of another female. It was Rhianna, wearing her current Earth body. The dynamic glow around her had faded; the one that used to shine brightly with a strong sense of purpose and vision. The Empress sensed, however, that underneath her troubles, she still harbored a bright illuminating presence. Somehow, this would have to be rekindled so that she could carry on with the crusade she had embarked upon. Zeena sensed that the mission Rhianna was now on was very similar to others she'd taken on in the past, but this time she was on her own and had gotten into some grave danger. Her mission was vital in helping to salvage this sad little planet.
The last thing Zeena needed to know was the whereabouts of Rhianna. Although she knew she was on Earth, this was not good enough. She had to get a closer estimation of where to find her. This was the hardest feat of all, and it took a much sharper degree of concentration, as she was now dealing with a completely unknown and distant location.
Continuing with her ritual, she focused on her target on the map. Like the eyes of a bird hovering over a field in search of its prey, Zeena zeroed in on the distant planet in the galaxy in search for her old friend.
"Rhianna, give me your physical location," she thought loudly. At that moment, she saw something happening on the map. When the Empress gave her command, a golden light appeared. In compliance with Zeena's wishes, the magic light scanned the planet. Then it pinpointed a particular area of planet Earth and flashed on and off several times.
"So that's the area you're in. I need to know more," she thought, as she worked on getting the exact name of the area where Rhianna was, as well as more facts about her current life on Earth.
The Empress knew what her next move had to be.