"Serenity! Can you feel it?"
Serenity twirled with a flair of silver hair to look at Sol, and despite the danger in their situation, she felt a faint flutter as he jogged into sight, his armor glinting gold in the setting sun.
"We have to get moving. They're sure to know we're the leaders of the revolutionary faction! Let's go!" She followed along behind as quickly as she could, casting longing glance at the beautiful wildlife around her. As she passed, she picked a small green branch off of a silver berry tree. Her last piece of home. "C'mon!" Serenity shook off her reverie, stuck the little twig in her hair, and began to run again.
She and Sol wrestled the camouflage away from the cave mouth while she dismissed her mental shields, and they piled into their small space craft. Sol hunched over the controls, struggling to set the coordinate of their jump point and bring the real-space engines to life. Serenity slumped into her padded chair and brought her considerable mental powers to bear on the minds she could feel outside, questing for some sign of her and her compatriots. Her mind was stretched almost impossibly thin, but she gritted her teeth and held on. If she failed, they would all be lost. She didn't even notice the G forces as they took off, or her weightlessness, or Sol belting her back into her seat. She did feel their passage into the hyperspace terminal, though-their entrance cut off all the searching minds she held at bay. Serenity opened her eyes with a tired sigh, and smiled when she saw Sol's concerned face hovering in front of her.
"Are you all right, Serenity?"
"I'm fine. How long until we reach the rendezvous co-ordinates?"
He didn't even have to glance at the chronometer. "A minute or so-but they won't know where to search for us for a little while, more than long enough for us to leave. Even the government doesn't have the ability to read the residual clues in our jump point in less than a day. We're safe for that long."
Serenity nodded, and felt a jolt as their ship slid out of hyperspace, and her mind connected up with her fellow subversives' minds again. "We're here."
Sol turned and began to examine their position, waiting for more information from Serenity. She turned to him. "Do you have the co-ordinates?" He nodded and read them off to her. She repeated them mind to mind, and was just finishing up when Sol began to swear. Serenity looked to him in concern. "What is it?"
"We didn't jump away from the planet fast enough. A government ship followed our wake. We have to get out now!"
"I'll take the controls! You're going to have to make a diversion. There's a red giant less than a light minute away-you get ready, I'll draw the ship toward it while the others jump to safety." Sol nodded grimly, and they solemnly traded places. Serenity gripped the control in her sweaty palms and concentrated on pulling the government ship after her. After a minute of tricky maneuvering, she got the ship close to the star. She slammed her hand down on the hyperspace engines' emergency start button, and screamed out, adrenaline rushing though her veins, "Now Sol! We're jumping!" The engines roared to life, and pushed them through to the fifth dimension, throwing Serenity to the ground. She didn't even have time to feel the pain of impact as she passed out.
"Serenity! Serenity! Please wake up!" Serenity considered opening her eyes, but decided it would take too much work. Instead she weakly raised a hand and tried to wave the pesky fly that kept calling her name away. A strong hand grabbed ahold of hers, and she finally opened her eyes to see who it could be. "Serenity! Are you all right?"
She blinked her sapphire blue eyes and looked around in confusion, hoping her memory would catch up with her. Suddenly it did. She sat up with a shout. "The ship! Did we stop it? Are we safe?"
Sol smiled, crinkling the corners of his amber eyes. His wavy blond hair brushed her cheeks as he leaned in close. "Yes. We're safe. We stopped the ship. I set off the nova successfully, and it swallowed the vessel up just as we jumped."
Serenity felt a sharp pang of guilt assault her at the thought of lives lost. Sol read her expression and smiled sadly in sympathy. "I know. I don't really like it either. But it was a over sixty of us, or them. We really didn't have any choice. Besides," he shrugged, "they wouldn't have even hesitated in doing the same to us."
Serenity nodded in reluctant agreement. "I know, but..."
Sol gave her a gentle hug. She wished he wouldn't. It was hard enough hiding her feelings as it was. "We have to decide on a system to settle in. We've narrowed our choices down to ten systems, all on the edge of the galaxy. We're going to conference in a few minutes." Serenity pushed her emotions out of the way at the news. She had to be calm and collected, or everyone would sense her strong emotions. She had to be strong. She was their leader after all. If she couldn't control her fear and uncertainty, they wouldn't either. She struggled to sit up. Sol knelt at her side to give her a hand.
"What system looks most promising?"
"The one with twelve planets looks quite nice. It's the only one with any planets that don't need terraforming to support life. It's quite unusual, though."
"It has two double planetary systems within the stellar system, and one of them contains both life-bearing planets."
"Two! That's unheard of!"
"I know, but it seems to be the best choice, and you can just bet Hermes is drooling in anticipation of studying such an odd planetary arrangement."
Serenity chuckled faintly at Sol's jab. He was a man of action, and couldn't seem to understand Hermes insatiable thirst for knowledge. "Yes, I'm sure he is. This unusual system sounds promising. Twelve planets gives us plenty of room. I think we'll settle for that one, unless someone at the assembly gives good reason not to." She strode forward in a weak reassertment of her usual forceful presence, toward her waiting people.
The meeting was a mess. They'd all squished into the largest ship. It was really too small to hold them all comfortably, and tempers were as hot as the temperature in the stuffy cargo hold. Serenity waited until shouted arguments reached a fevered pitch, then she swept into the room, radiating calm. She stopped at the podium, followed by Sol, and they stood in front of their tired, bedraggled followers, completely silent. Arguments slowly petered out into silence, and when Serenity felt everyone was finally ready to listen, she began to speak.
"I know you are all tired and worried, and in a bit of a shock at the suddenness of our discovery, but all of us have made it out, and the government can't follow us here. We're safe, everyone. We can rest easy in that knowledge."
"We can never rest easy as long as the government can trace us!" Serenity raised her eyes, which suddenly cooled from a warm summer sky to cold glaciers of ice, toward the loudmouthed Zeus.
"I repeat, the government can't follow us. There is a reason we were discovered. Just before the alert went out, Sol and I managed to steal something I think you'll all recognize from the imperial palace." She reached with her mind into the dimensional pocket she'd stored her treasure in, and it popped into existence in her open palm. An awed silence filled the cargo bay. "I see you all recognize Ginzuishou. This is the reason you made me leader, after all. Only the women of my family have ever been able to keep the vast amount of energy in Ginzuishou under control. Without this, the government will never be able to find us." She turned her hand ever so slightly, letting the bright facets of Ginzuishou sparkle and flash in her audience's eyes.
"Then why didn't you use Ginzuishou to stop our pursuers?" Zeus couldn't seem to curb his combativeness. Serenity frowned at him.
"You know how much control Chaos has over our world. Do you really think we could stop it right now, even with my hand controlling Ginzuishou? We barely managed to escape with our lives!" The ice was more pronounced now, having migrated into her voice, and Zeus pulled back from the her cold gaze. "I had hoped we could become stronger before we were forced to make a play for Ginzuishou, but Sol and I could tell they were beginning to suspect our existence. Do you think any of us would be alive right now if it weren't for our possession of Ginzuishou?"
Hermes leaned close to his impulsive friend and elbowed him in the ribs. "Why don't you be quiet now, Zeus, before you make an idiot of yourself?"
Serenity thought she heard a sour "Too late," from Poseidon's general direction and smothered a chuckle as ominous thunderclouds of anger filled Zeus' face.
"Well," she interjected before a quarrel could develop, "to continue, we failed in our attempt to oust Chaos' influence over our home planet, but we havemanaged to escape, and we have a few different stellar systems that are candidates for settlement." Serenity motioned toward Hermes, who turned on the holoprojector as soon as the lights dimmed. Serenity gestured toward the glowing simulation of the strange twelve planet system Sol had explained to her. "This is the most promising system. As you can see, three of the planets are within the habitable ring around this star, and two of them, a very rare double planet group, have developed life on their own. There are twelve planets, so there is plenty of room for all of us--"
"Don't forget the star itself," Sol grinned and cracked his knuckles. Serenity gave him a fond but exasperated look.
"Only you would even consider a star viable real estate." His grin widened and he made an exaggerated bow in her direction. Serenity turned back to her audience, now noticeably amused. Trust Sol to lighten things up. She shot a quick thought of warm gratitude toward him. "The other possible systems all have fewer planets, and none of them have planets with life already developed on them."
Hermes spoke up. "Well, then, I'd say our choice is obvious. Wouldn't you?" He looked around at his comrades, then pushed ahead without bothering to wait for agreement. "There are fewer than a hundred of us. We should be able to live here without any problems, and we'll be far enough away from the center of the galaxy for Chaos and her ilk to have a hard time finding us, at least until we've had enough time to build up our strength. I assume that's what we're doing, Serenity?" He stopped talking long enough to breathe, and Serenity seized the brief lull in his speech to get control of the meeting again.
"Yes, Hermes, that's what we thought. We'll fly to the system, and decide who will live where. We'll need to make these planets habitable, and also keep in mind we may have to defend our new home." Serenity looked over to Sol. "Can you think of anything else we need to cover before we split up again?" Sol nodded and made his way to the podium. Serenity stepped back.
He cleared his throat uncomfortably. "Uh, we all left Haven rather hastily. Does everyone have enough supplies to see them though? We're at the edge of civilized space, and this will probably be our last chance to get supplies before we arrive at our new home."
A few people raised their voice to say they needed fuel, replacement parts, and various supplies. Sol nodded. "The safest place for us to attempt to buy supplies is this planet here." Sol gestured toward the holoprojector, which obligingly changed from the simulation of the twelve planet system to a picture of a pretty purple planet with pink clouds. "They're far enough from Haven that Chaos' influence will be weak, and there may even be some who sympathize with us. We'll stop there, pool all of our currency, and buy what we need. Let's go-we don't have a lot of time, here, folks. We'll send the co-ordinates to you over the com systems after all of our engines are hot."
Serenity and Sol watched their friends and comrades pop out of their sight one by one, until the crew of the ship they were on and they themselves were the only ones left on the ship. Sol saluted the crew, then turned with a gallant bow to hold out his hand to Serenity. With a happy giggle she took it, and they teleported to their own small ship. Serenity turned to Sol as he sent out their resupply planet's co-ordinates.
"What is the name of the planet, anyway, Sol?"
He turned his burning amber eyes on her. "Mau."