Back to Before
Part 6b

by MAC


Lillith of Velor, Copyright, 1997, 1998, Infinity Bridge. All rights reserved.

Arion Headquarters

The radios had finally gone silent. The only reports on the battle above came from runners from topside. Even hundreds of feet below ground, the gigantic battle could be heard and felt. Soldiers were running in all directions. Voices shouted. Frantic movements. The headquarters was on the verge of panic. Large disintegration pots were stuffed with paper documents as the staff rushed to eliminate all paper records that had accumulated.

The General stood silently in his office. As the rock around him rumbled incessantly, dust fell from the ceiling to dirty his freshly tailored uniform. He stared blankly at the map on the wall. The long mountain range along the northern part of the continent was still marked in red. It should not even exist now.

The General's aide stood at attention while the General peered one last time at the map. As the sounds of battle grew closer, the aide felt the time was quickly running out.
"Sir. May I suggest once again that I proxy for you immediately? There may be no other way for you to escape capture."
The General hesitated for a few more precious seconds before he nodded and began to unbutton his tunic. The aide did the same. Within seconds, identities had been transferred with the simple trade of uniforms.
"Thank you for the opportunity, sir, and good luck." The aide snapped to a salute as the General, now Captain, grunted once and walked calmly out the side door.

Out in the hallway, disruptor fire could now be clearly heard coming from somewhere down through the eastern corridors. The low rumbling sounds grew louder. The `General' walked calmly to his door to close it. As he did, he could see Arion soldiers flying backwards through the air, contorted into odd angles. The rumbling came closer! Arion bodies smashed repeatedly against the walls as flashes of heat vision and disruptor bursts filled the air! The door closed with a loud CLATCH, serving only to hide the growing carnage in the outer halls. The `General' walked to his desk and sat down to wait. The distant booming soon became unbelievably loud and intense! The floor shook violently! Suddenly, the entire east wall of his office exploded into the office!

The intense sounds abruptly stopped.

The swirling dust filled the office like a gray fog. Out of the mists of dust walked a dozen Velorian Protectors in their red and blue uniforms. Leading them was a fierce-looking, young Protector. Her face and body were dirty and smudged. There were small spots on her where blood had splattered. Arion blood. She boldly stepped forward and glared at the `General'. The black soot around her beautiful face made her flashing blue eyes and clenched teeth seem even brighter. She put her fists on her hips as she spoke with a voice tinged with hatred.

"I understand you're looking for me."

The `General' blinked. His confusion was only temporary as he calmly responded. "Looking for you? Why would I need to do that?"
The young Protector's eyes were cold, penetrating. Her voice reflected her contempt for the man sitting before her.
"To surrender and order your people to cease fire."
"NEVER!" screamed the `General' as he jumped to his feet, tore the desk apart with his hands in one move, and flung the halves to the side as a challenge. "Who the hell do you think you are dictating terms to ME! I'll kill you first!"

The Protector couldn't be more pleased as she smiled and lowered into a combat stance. Her small fists rose slowly as her body tightened in anticipation.

"Fine. Let's negotiate."


The Tetrites had blown through the disorganized Arion army by engaging the units piecemeal. Most of the Arions had been caught under the torrent of crashing ships. So quickly had the ships come down, that the Tetrites too had to rush to avoid being crushed! The small number of Arions Betas that escaped were dealt with by the Tetrites. The thousands of Protectors had destroyed nearly every one of the Primes on the planet.

Phil could almost see the fountain.


The `General's' uniform was in shreds as he picked himself up from the floor yet again. The blonde Velorian unleashed blistering punches up and down the `General's' face and body. His body jerked and quivered as the young female tore into him. Finally falling away from her, he tried to stagger to the door. Carpathia, the Velorian Protector of Tolan blocked his retreat.
"I don't think Lillith is done negotiating your surrender, baby."
The `General' blinked to clear his mind. Lillith? He had heard that name before! She had been eliminated by Section-5! He read the reports! She was..."Dead", he croaked as he turned to look upon Lillith as if she were a ghost.
"She doesn't look dead to me, babe." Carpathia shrugged.

Lillith crouched in a fighting stance as she swept her arms slowly in a wide arc. As her fists came into position, she tensed her entire body. Muscles expanded instantly to massive size and power. Her uniform stretched so tautly that it creaked from the strain. Her eyes still burned with the intense hatred that had been waiting for an opportunity like this. She was no where near done with the `General'. Her anger twisted her top lip into an angry sneer as she saw his surprise toughen into acceptance of her challenge.

The `General' lunged wildly at her. Lillith's fist snapped out at him so fast that loud snap from a sonic wave was heard almost simultaneously with the loud crack of the fist against the jaw of the Arion. His body was a blur as he violently crashed against the rock wall only to rebound off. Staggering back at Lillith, again she lashed out with a punch so powerful that he immediately impacted the wall in exactly the same place. Again, he staggered from the wall, but this time he was too devastated to keep from falling to his hands and knees before her. Lillith gripped the large Arion male by the neck and raised him from the floor.
"You will contact all of your units and order them to cease fire. Is that clear?" The `General' could barely speak!
"No... NO! I'll....I'll die first!"
Lillith shrugged. "Probably." She flung the `General' firmly into the wall with such immense force that the entire 50 foot wall cracked and tumbled into the room on top of the battered Arion.
Carpathia reached down to lift the nearly lifeless head of the `General' off the floor.
"General, will you order your troops to cease fire?"
The `General' gurgled through the blood that flowed so freely from his mouth. "No...never...let them all...conquer...or die.."
"What are you saying, General? There's no need for this! Call it off!"
The `General' could only mouth the word `NO' the instant he died. His mouth remained set as he had spoken his last word.

"PISTU!" Carpathia let the `General's' head drop hard to the stone floor. "I wonder if there's a second-in-command around here." Lillith set her hand on Carpathia's shoulder.
"Come on. We better get back up there. It's not over yet. Let's try to end it quickly."
Carpathia shook her head in disbelief.
"Lill, I really thought this guy would shut it off. Everyone who dies now, dies needlessly."
"No, Carpie. Everyone who's died since they arrived, died needlessly. Let's go."


The entire continent seemed to burn as the massive battle continued throughout the day and into the evening. Isolated pockets of Arions, usually led by surviving, fanatical Primes, continued to fight. As they showed themselves, the Protectors eliminated them ruthlessly. Neither the Arions nor the Velorians were interested in the concept of prisoners.


Through the smoke, Phil could now see the prominent form of the fountain just ahead. Fires illuminated it's stone surface, giving it the appearance of being painted on a dark gray background. Within minutes, he was scrambling onto the rim where he frantically turned from side to side, ready to meet any new Arion threat. There were none.

Exhausted, struggling to catch his breath, Phil looked back in the direction of the Faldref. Columns of black smoke filled the sky from huge wrecked ships. Bodies, Arion and Tetrite, littered the ground everywhere. Some still slowly writhed, but those were few. As if suddenly waking from a bad dream, Phil froze at the sight of it all. His overheated Taifun rifle clattered to the ground.

"By the William, what...what have we done?"

Another large Tetrite climbed weakly onto the fountain to stand next to Phil. He too was short of breath.
"Philanthropithitatus! We have done it! We have won our planet back!"
Phil could not take his eyes off the scene of destruction as he breathlessly answered.
"Our planet? Did we not... have this planet before?" His response confused his fellow Tetrite.
"Well, yes, indeed we did. But we have now taken possession once again!"
Phil slowly turned to him. His eyes were filled with the tears of someone weary of a terrible shame. His voice trembled.
"So for the many months of pain, suffering, cold, hunger, want, misery, and death, all that war can ever truly provide is a path back to before?" Phil sighed as the other Tetrite rotated his head out of curiosity. Phil could not look the Tetrite in the eyes any longer as another thought came into his mind. "So many. So many are gone." Phil noticed a cluster of dead Tetrites nearby. He whinced as if the sight caused him physical pain. He now sounded distant, as a great sadness came over him. "I do not believe that war will ever hold a fascination for me."

Phil slid down from the rim of the fountain and disappeared into the smoke as the confused Tetrite watched. Looking up to view the same scene of carnage himself, the Tetrite muttered, "No, I do not suppose it will ever be a fascination for any of us." He turned to look up at the center of the fountain, still standing proudly above him. "Still, the misery ends here and more will soon live in peace." He turned back to look in the direction that Phil had trundled off in. His voice filled with respect.

"Because of you."

The underground Arion Headquarters complex

A handful of Arion survivors were huddled in the corner of one of the upper chambers of the vast complex. The bunker went on for miles in all directions and hadn't been completely cleared of Arions when Lillith entered the chamber. When she saw the Arions, her smile disappeared as her expression hardened. Carpathia, Protector of Tolan and Kara, Protector of Earth, stood just behind her, one on each side. The tall blonde Protectors all wore the red and blue uniform, the red capes hanging from their powerful shoulders as they stood stoically with their muscular arms crossed. Lillith spoke each word slowly, barely able to keep her temper under control.

"" The Arions looked at each other, then to the floor nervously. Lillith exploded.


The Arions jumped at her outburst. Kara placed a hand on her shoulder, as if reminding her of their talk a little earlier. One Arion, obviously a Prime with the insignia of a Captain on his uniform, smiled arrogantly.
"We know of no Velorian males here, woman."
Lillith's eyes burned with a desire to tear that male literally apart when she noticed that the other Arions were staying clear of this Captain. They were mumbling as she focused her hearing on them. General? What General? This Arion male did look a bit old to be a Captain. Could he...

Lillith calmly turned her back to the Arions. She noticed that Carpathia was eyeing the Captain suspiciously too. Their eyes met briefly as Lillith raised an eyebrow. They both had the same thoughts.
Carpathia walked slowly to the side of the group of Arions. In a relaxed, conversational tone, she spoke perfect Arion.

"Please have a seat, my General."

Without thinking, the Captain responded "Why, thank you. That's very kind of...". He stopped at the realization that he had just given himself away. Carpathia was grinning at him broadly.

The General cursed himself briefly before steeling himself to face the Velorians. His old pride had returned, as well as his booming voice. The General straightened his tunic proudly. "I am the Commanding General of the Tetra Occupation Forces. I wish to negotiate a cease fire with the appropriate representatives of the forces opposing me." Kara giggled.
"It seems to me that you guys have already ceased fire. We broke all your weapons and your people are mostly dead." The General appeared shocked at the news. It was worse than his reports had said. Yet, he tried to remain composed. Turning to Lillith, he continued.
"You appear to be in charge. I will negotiate with you." Lillith shook her head slowly as her eyes bore deeply into his.
"I am not authorized to discuss terms, Arion. You must talk to the planet leadership. You are theirs. I would much prefer to simply destroy you where you stand." The General regarded her with contempt. Nothing he would like more than to gut this impudent bitch, but if it's as bad topside as they say it is, it would do nothing more than delay the inevitable. He could always tear her to pieces later. He turned to Carpathia.
"I wish to negotiate a ..." He ceased immediately when Carpathia raised a slender hand.
"After today, I don't talk to Arions." She turned her back to him to make the point obvious. The General mumbled a curse as he noticed Kara. She was obviously amused by all of this. When she saw him look in her direction, she shrugged and simply said, "Sorry, wrong again."

The General was incensed! This was not a game! These women were playing with him! His voice boomed through the chamber as he let his temper have his voice!
"Who speaks for this pisshole!" The words barely left his lips when Lillith grabbed the General by the neck and lifted him off his feet.
"Show respect to the Tetrites, Arion, or you won't be talking to anyone ever again." Slowly, Lillith lowered the startled General back to the ground and stepped back. The General rubbed his neck. The experience helped him to regain his composure. His voice was now much more subdued.
"With whom do I negotiate?" Lillith stepped aside and pointed. "With him."
The general looked down to see a dirty little Tetrite with five legs standing before him.

"The warmest of good evenings to you, sir."

The General rolled his eyes. "You can't be serious." At this, Lillith took a menacing step forward, but Kara grabbed her arm. A few softly spoken words in Lillith's ear helped Lillith to calm herself. Kara took over the discussion for the moment.
"We are serious, General, and I think you had better get serious as well or the Tetrites may turn you over to us. Now you wouldn't want that, would you, mon general?" The General pondered the true meaning of Kara's words before clearing his throat and turning back to Phil.

"I will require transportation for all of my remaining troops back to Aria. All officers will retain their sidearms. We will require food. I will have my staff prepare a list of preferred dishes. You will provide adequate housing for..." Phil interrupted.
"I see no reason for..."
"Silence! My demands must be met before three more Tetra days have elapsed. Do you have a list of my surviving troops? If not, you will provide that within one day's time. In addition..." Again Phil interrupted.
"Sir, your demands are..."
"TETRITE! Stop interrupting me! Why do you not write this down?"
Phil shrugged. "It is not needed."
"WHAT? Is your memory that good?"
"I do not need to remember it either, sir." The General blinked.
"What...what do you..." Phil took a step forward.
"General, you and your staff will remain here until you are tried for crimes against the citizens of Tetra. All weapons will be removed and destroyed without exception. You will be given your own rations, nothing more. Even now the remains of your Fleet is being removed from the surface of Tetra and taken to be destroyed in our sun." Phil stepped closer to the General as his calm voice took on an uncharacteristic coolness.

"When you last came to Tetra, you were warned that we would incinerate you if you came again. That will be done, sir. There will be no trace of you or your people on Tetra. You will all be removed." Phil turned to walk away when he abruptly stopped and looked back at the speechless Arion officer. "And, General, I will not count your dead, sir. I am counting my own."

With that, Phil ceased `negotiations' with the Arions and trundled to a group of Tetrites waiting patiently to speak to him. Lillith was smiling brightly.

"Sucks to be you, General." The General grunted as he looked at the floor.

There was some excitement among the Tetrites as Phil rapidly approached Lillith.
"Mistress? We have found him. We have found the William!" Lillith's smile left her face as her eyes closed momentarily as if in prayer. "This female will lead us to him." A large tan Tetrite waved hesitantly at Lillith to follow her. As Kara watched the prisoners, Lillith, Phil, and Carpathia followed into the dark catacombs.

They moved cautiously through long, dimly lit tunnels. Lower into the ground they went as the tunnels narrowed. Through a maze of flame-lit chambers and intersections, the torch fires cast a bizarre spread of shadows along the rough, jagged walls. Finally, passing through a tunnel barely five feet high, they emerged into a small empty chamber. In the corner, two dead Tetrites were stacked. The Tetrite guide motioned to Lillith who had stopped to look regretfully at the dead beings. "This way, Mistress. Just through this door." A heavy wooden door creaked loudly as it was pushed open. A damp aroma of mildew was swept out as a subtle breeze from the door rushed by them all. When Lillith stepped into the next chamber, she was amazed at how large it was! There were weapons of all kinds lined up against one wall. There was a strong stench of ozone. The air was chilled and damp. Overhead lights pointed in one direction as if it was a theater. They were illuminating the target area of a large shooting range. There, clamped firmly against a stone wall that showed signs of repeated hits from weapons, was the battered, unmoving William. They had used him for weapons testing all these long months. Lillith was shaking furiously as she rushed forward.

"Get him down! GET HIM DOWN FROM THERE!!"

Carpathia and a dozen Tetrites also rushed forward and broke the bonds that held William. Even the mighty Carpathia had to work to get the huge restraints off of him. He collapsed immediately as Lillith caught him.
"Will'm! WILL'M!" Lillith's tears ran down her cheeks as her shaking hand caressed his face. His invulnerability had served him well, but every being has their limit. They had starved him and his parched lips showed a lack of water as well. His eyes slowly opened a bit. At the sight of her, he tried to smile. His voice was weak and rough.
"Hey......kitten.......missed you."

Lillith was crying openly now, rocking slightly with him in her lap.
"I know. I know. Don't talk, Will'm."
"Honey?.....Is it over?" Lillith drew him closer, holding her lover to her as she tried to speak.
"Yes......yes, darling. It's all over."

"Good..........who won?"

Return to the habitat, sunset

Throughout the desert, Tetrite survivors returned to their homes. Few found them. Nearly every nest not buried under the Arion fleet had been destroyed earlier. Most of those who stayed behind were either dead or lost somewhere in the South. No one knew where else to start, so they began to gather at the fountain.

Lillith flew silently over the moving masses of Tetrites all going to the same place that she, with William in her arms, was now headed. All around her, Velorian Protectors soared through the sky looking for any Arion stragglers and removing wreckage.

Descending from altitude, she still could not believe what she saw in that old familiar place. The fountain stood defiantly, unscathed by the Arions! What a sight as millions of Tetrites gathered around it! Suddenly William pointed. His hoarse voice yelled out as best he could. "There! Look THERE!"

A big, blue face peered tentatively from behind the fountain at all the Tetrites. It was Flare. She looked confused. So many Tetrites around her when there had been none for so long. Lillith landed without a sound immediately in front of her. Flare's surprise overwhelmed her as she became so excited that she did not know whether to jump or run! Her tail was wagging! Her head was wagging! She whined and barked and couldn't decide what to do next as Tetrites scattered from her in all directions! She finally jumped up and knocked the weakened William to the ground, washing him with licks as she howled and whined with excitement! Lillith laughingly pulled her off William only to have Flare spin around to give Lillith the same treatment! While Lillith struggled to get the dog off herself, William stood unsteadily before sitting on the rim of the fountain.

"It's amazing! I thought she was dead! How on earth did she survive?"
"Perhaps I can provide an answer to your query." William turned toward the voice. A dirty faced Tetrite holding a tattered tennis ball stepped forward. William recognized him as one of the locals. William greeted him with a raspy voice.
"The warmest of good evenings to you, sir. It would be most welcome to hear any information that you may have concerning my dog." The Tetrite looked pleased at the proper formality of William. He began.
"Sir, when the Arions came, they found a dead Arion Beta buried a few miles out in the desert, just over there. The throat of the Beta had been forcibly removed. They found some imprints on the ground around the shallow grave that evidently matched the impressions of the feet of the blue creature. When they came to this place, the creature was discovered hiding in a burrow that she had dug beneath the fountain."
"Hiding from the Arions? That's not like her." William looked puzzled.
"No, sir. Hiding from you. The creature had killed the Arion Beta on the night of the attack upon your habitat. But her frame of mind around that time led her to believe that she would be punished for the killing. So she dragged the body away, buried it, and attempted to hide from you. The creature is quite good at hiding herself. The creature had traveled as far as the Faldref before returning." William was shocked and very hurt.
"She ran away? From us? My god! Flare! Flare, you poor baby!" He hugged the dog affectionately around the neck. Flare melted into him, soaking up even the tiniest amount of affection from her master. To Flare, this was everything she wanted. Her entire world was in his touch. "Flare, you never have to hide from us. We love you, baby." As Flare laid her massive head on William's lap, he petted her lovingly. Her eyes fluttered closed out of pure enjoyment of his touch. Lillith petted Flare as well. She was curious though.
"How did you come to understand the dog so well?"
"Life became so rare after a while, Mistress, and information so scarce that we could not help but inform ourselves about this creature. We had a Gathering, Mistress. Those of us still alive here and the great blue creature. Most of those who participated are now deceased. But we gathered a great deal of information from the creature. Her behavior made us all very curious indeed and gathering the information helped us survive. We are indeed indebted to her for her interesting behavior."
"Behavior? Oh, you mean the hiding."
"No, Mistress. We were all hiding from something at that time. But the creature did not hide when the Arions came. The creature was very adamant in defending this local area and would not allow Arions to approach. They suspected that she had killed the Beta and were quite impressed. They appeared to have an appreciation for the loyalty of the creature to the area, so they fed the creature from time to time. Perhaps many of them had creatures like this one involved in their lives before. Whatever the reason that they did so, the Arions did keep the creature alive. Yet the creature would not return their kindness. Considering the nature of the Arion species, I believe that they mistook that attitude as ruthlessness. They certainly seemed to appreciate it. The creature thus survived."

William shook his head slowly as he petted the grateful animal. "Amazing." He looked down at Flare and made a face. "You're soooo amazing, big dog!" Flare just tried to climb deeper into his lap within a flurry of tail wagging.

Kara floated down behind them after hearing them talk. "Are you okay, William?" William turned and smiled weakly as blue dog hair filled the air from his constant petting of Flare.
"I'm fine now, Kara."

Kara placed her hand on Lillith's shoulder as William noticed Protectors hovering overhead and settling to the ground around them. They were here with them now. They were all here. Millions of Tetrites and thousands of Velorians came together for one last time.

Kara looked at the ruins of the hangar and the habitat. She shook her head as she spoke to her sister the way only a sister speaks. "You're going to have to rebuild this place, Lill, but it's good to see both of you together. Guess you worried for nothing, Sis."
Lillith's only response to her sister was a smile as the memory of her nightmare returned. She wrapped her arms warmly around William's. The hard demeanor was gone now. She was not the Protector of the planet at this moment. She was a woman who loved deeply. For too long she could not know if she would ever see him again. Not until this moment could she finally feel in her heart that he was safely with her once more. Leaning forward, she kissed him lightly on the cheek before she softly spoke. "I have you back. My nightmares weren't true. For too long it was lost, but now I have my heart back. My love, my everything, my darling Will'm." William turned to look into her eyes, but Lillith could only bury her face in his neck and whisper her love for him again and again. She broke down and the sound of her crying made Flare lick her hand to comfort her. The old familiar sloppy lick made Lillith try to giggle. William held her tightly as he tried to laugh as well.
"Poor Flare. You could never stand to see her unhappy, could you, baby." Flare nuzzled his hand to encourage more petting.

Lillith sat up, kissed William once more, and turned to Kara who was smiling sweetly at the scene before her. Lillith took Kara's hand. "Thanks, Kara. Thanks for doing so much!" She twisted around quickly. "THANK YOU, PROTECTORS!" A murmur of returned courtesies could be heard among the sea of blonde women. Kara continued.
"We should go now. We have to return to our worlds. Who knows what's happening back there. Especially Carpathia," she teased. "Who knows what those Tolans are up to, eh?" Carpathia stiffened at the remark.
"They are a marvelous species!" This brought pokes and playful hands from every Protector around her. Her eventual smile showed that she now knew the joke was harmless. Lillith laughed again for the first time since this had all started. The feeling it gave her was so wonderful, so deeply wonderful. She looked around her with the most sincere smile. What could she say to the more than 4000 Velorian Protectors who had joined them in a circle around the remains of the habitat. There was a reverent silence as she searched for the words, but they would not come to her. Only the eyes met and understood. Blue eyes in silence. The feelings well understood.

Out of the silence of the moment, Phil silently trundled out of the crowd alone and into the rubble of the habitat. The Tetrite wearily picked through the charred ruins without a word. Finally, he found his rock bed buried upside down. Blackened from the energy blasts and chipped so badly that it now teetered a bit, he turned it upright and steadied it. With a grunt, he strained to climb on top. Successful, he settled down onto it, sighed once, and fell fast asleep. Every eye was upon him as he truly slept for the first time in months.

William shook his head slowly as he spoke aloud. "Look at him. He led millions of his people through months of occupation, fed them, protected them, saved who knows how many lives. He never gave in to the Arions. He never gave up on you, Lillith. He led his people in the final battle to retake the planet and ended the nightmare of Arion tyranny. And all he really ever wanted was to come home. To come home to his favorite rock. To sleep and be at peace."

Somewhere in the vast gathering of Tetrites, one of them began the low drone of a Tetrite song. Others joined in with harmonies above and below the original note. Beautiful chording evolved as the song drifted longingly through the feelings of the Tetrites. Kara kissed Lillith on the cheek and smiled. The time had come. She touched William's cheek to say good-bye and rose slowly into the air. On and on the Tetrite song droned. Louder still as thousands, then millions all sang their song together. The air was filled with their voices and thousands of beautiful blonde Velorians as both rose higher into the air.

It was as if angels ascended to the music of the chorus of a world!

The clouds swirled again as the shaft of light soon reappeared. Into the light flew the Protectors, knowing that they soon would be home again. Always would they remember this place. Always would they watch for the Arions. Always would they hold their freedom so much more dearly. As the last of the Velorians entered the wormhole, it slowly closed back down to a pinpoint of light. Then there was only the Tetra sky.

The song of the Tetrites softened to a whisper as Lillith walked slowly toward the sleeping Tetrite known as Phil. There was silence as she kneeled before him and bowed her head in reverent homage. When her head again raised, Lillith smiled sweetly. A single tear ran down her young cheek.

"Sleep well, Phil, sleep well. Tonight, Tetra is free."


The Second Arion War on Tetra ended as quickly as it had begun.

Lillith would not allow any wreckage to litter the Tetra landscape. Every Arion ship was removed from the planet and incinerated in the Tetritian sun. No bodies were left either. This time, Aria was not allowed to remove them. They too were incinerated. Lillith had lost her patience with the Arions. She reminded them all of Large Grey's warning to the Arions at the end of the first war. All surviving Primes were tried for crimes against the Tetrites and executed. Betas were gathered up and passed along to the Scalatrans for resettlement elsewhere in the Galaxy. Evidently, few wanted to return to Aria. Those that did want to return were told to find their own way home. Lillith would not help them.

Arion atrocities soon became known. Hundreds of thousands of Tetrites were killed or maimed uselessly. In one event, a misunderstanding over a tin of food resulted in the immediate execution of 154 Tetrite young. The Death March, where over half a million Tetrites brutally died, became legend. Out of a tiny population of 60 million, the war resulted in 12 million graves on Tetra and 4 million missing. Nearly 30% of the population died. The Tetrites are small creatures and the powerful Arion weapons left few wounded.















The high number of Tetrite MISSING is directly related to the same reasons that few were wounded - the devastating weaponry used. The Arion MISSING mainly occurred that final day when the Velorian counterstroke completely devastated the Arion ranks.

It is also interesting that every Arion was a casualty. The figure of 1,288,515 was the actual troop count when the fleet departed Aria. The only Arions to make it home to Aria again were among the Betas who were wounded.

William recovered fully to rebuild the habitat and then some. The fountain in the courtyard that had survived the invasion and the great battle became a symbol of Tetritian freedom and a statue to honor the dead. It still stands today as a place of honor on Tetra.

But, what was never spoken of was how so many Velorian Protectors came together from across the universe in only a matter of months. Tetritian legend says that Lillith had brought them all together herself. As in all legends, there is some truth to it, but there is also more to it.

Lillith had been summoned, as the others had been summoned, by greater forces in the Universe. Forces that had warned the Supremis races not to war against the lesser species - the Ancient Ones. Alone and away from William on a night just before the invasion, she was required by the Ancient Ones to leave immediately. No good-byes, no explanations. Yet, William and the Tetrites never lost their faith in her throughout the occupation. A faith justified upon her return.

The Ancient Ones had intervened as they had forewarned that they would whenever and wherever the Arions used such overwhelming force. But the intervention was not in the way that everyone had assumed. Instead of direct intervention, the Ancient Ones brokered the largest gathering of Protectors in the universe. A force more than up to the task to devastate the Arions. The Ancient Ones do indeed work in mysterious ways.

Lillith told William all of this once. Just once.

They never spoke of it again.


"Boopa, did that all truly happen?"

The weary eyes of the old Tetrite took on a faraway look as he answered slowly. "Oh, yes, little one. It all truly happened." He seemed to catch himself becoming lost in the memories as he quickly smiled at her. A tired leg smoothed her young coat affectionately. He loved the way she called her grandpa "Boopa".

"Boopa, what happened to that little boy?"
"What little boy?"
"The little one who was chased into the canyon and escaped. What happened to him?" Her tiny face displayed her concern for another child. The old Tetrite's smile broadened.

"He grew up, had children of his own, and lived long enough to tell his granddaughter a wonderful story."

Her eyes grew even larger before she snuggled affectionately deeper into his fur.

"Aw, my Boopa!"