Astor’mret was a tiny Narlin settlement on Terra Alpha tucked away in the forests of Cascadia. The giant redwoods reminded the refugees of their homes on Talaria, and as such roughly 200 Narlins called this forest village their home.
Audren Swiftblade walked up the stone walkway and it was like passing back in time or stepping into a Tolkien novel. The houses were built high into the trees connected by rope and wooden plank bridges. There were several sandstone and marble buildings between the redwoods baring intricately carved designs and religious scenes carved in relief.
Audren entered a nearby lift and she was lifted into the tree canopy. She stepped off the lift and made her way through the “streets” of the village. On the far side of the village, she entered a circular building.
The air was thick with incense smoke and illuminated by candles and several oil lanterns. An old Narlin woman sat cross-legged on a rug with her back against the trunk of the tree in the center of the room. The elderly Narlin was approaching her third century. Her fingers were long and boney with deep wrinkles across her light blue face, and her long sweeping ears sagged and decorated with numerous golden earrings. Her eyes were clouded white with blindness. She was a High Priestess serving that village.
Audren sat down across the Priestess folding her legs under her and hand into her lap. They sat in silence for a long time before she spoke. “Lady of the Moon,” Audren began, “I have returned to my people after time with strangers.”
“We are all strangers in a strange land,” the Priestess replied. “How was your time with the humans?”
“I consider them friends,” Audren admitted. “They have different ways. They do not honor their Gods or even their ancestors, but they are a good people.”
“There is more to living than prayer and tradition. An argument could be made that not all traditions are worth hanging on to.”
Audren considered the comment for a moment, “Like armor and swords. Humans have abandoned those items long ago yet, we consider them integral to battle despite having little practical use. Though, they have forgotten the ways of the land. There is no connection to nature and they struggle to survive when there are no replicators or air conditioning.”
“We are of nature. Narla placed us here to live in harmony with it, not to conquer and turn our backs on it,” Priestess observed.
“Despite that, I believe them to be honorable people.”
“The Emperor agrees with you,” Priestess nodded in agreement. “What are your plans now my child?”
Audren considered the question for a moment and finally spoke, “I will remain on the Zebulon Pike. I have not felt like I have belonged anywhere for a long time until I took that assignment from the Emperor. They do not need me to monitor the cloaking device. Their engineers are resourceful but… I have friends there.”
“Narla be praised,” the older woman said. “I think you should consider joining their Starfleet. It could give a face to the plight of our people. We cannot stand without the help of the Federation. It may be the death of our way of life, but doing nothing is the death of our people as a whole.”
Audren considered the priestess’s words. She said nothing but simply nodded.
“For now your place is with the humans, but there will be a test.”
That grabbed her attention and fixed her eyes on the dead eyes of the other woman. “Test? How?”
“There’s a storm coming,” Priestess said in her crackling voice. “You will be caught up in that storm, and you and your friends will be lost to time and space. I have no notion as to if you will be able to return or what your part in that it may be… That fate is obscured in fog, but if you do not go all you shall know is loss. Now, let’s pray.”
Audren bowed her head with the priestess and joined her in prayer.
Audren left the Temple of the Moon shaken a quarter-hour later. She leaned against the wooden rail seventy feet above the forest floor and taking in the clean fresh mountain air and filling nature restore her sole as she considered the wise woman’s words.
It wasn’t a good idea to ignore the prophecy of a priestess, let alone a High Priestess of the order. Narla wouldn’t look kindly on that and the God of Death… or even the God of War were known to enforce the will of Narla upon those that ignored her wishes.
A chirp of her combadge broke her from her reverie. Sighing she dug into her robes and pulled it out and pressed it. “This is Audren.”
“Audren, it’s Trinity. Sorry to bother you, but shore leave has been canceled. Sorry.”
Audren was happy to hear that. She had lost her appetite for staying in Astor’mret after her conversation with the High Priestess. That prophecy was disconcerting, to say the least. “Understood Commander.”
“Thanks, Audren. Trinity out.”