Mother of Light
The Xandra - Book Two
When one of Earth's Exploration ships, carrying colonists sleeping in cryogenic suspension, found a planet suitable for colonization they named it Nu-Eden. One thousand colonists were transported down to the planet's surface to start populating their new found paradise, but they soon discovered they were not alone. A sentient being who calls herself 'The Xandra' slowly absorbed the colonists and replaced them with identical duplicates.
The Xandra managed to invade the alien space station, which is circling Nu-Eden, and she replaced the 197 human observers who were on board of the station. Only Commander Beringer and his 27 marines managed to escape and find refuge with the alien Genaar, deep inside the huge space station. They went into cryogenic suspension, hoping to find safety in the future.
One thousand years later they are awakened from their deep sleep and are anxious to find out what happened…
The roar of a swamp-tiger interrupted the silence of the dark forest. Viran glanced at the team leader. He showed signs of wariness. Horgan was getting too old for these gathering missions. He should never have come on this one. Time for a younger man to take charge.
Rah and Roh, the two sky-wanderers, already appeared in the evening sky. Their silvery bright light began to illuminate the dark interior of the forest. Viran did not fear the wanderers, but he feared the night creatures they awakened.
The sea would become too choppy for the ship to begin the return journey to their island. They would have to spend the night hidden among the rocks on the seashore.
“How long?” He asked the team leader.
Horgan shifted his axe from one big-knuckled hand to the other and shrugged his massive shoulders. “Not long,” he growled.
“I hear the Tree-devils above us,” said Rim, one of the young warriors. He held his spear awkwardly in his big hands.
“The Tree-devils are harmless,” Horgan said. “It’s the Neanders I worry about.”
Viran had never seen one of those big hairy brutes that roamed the forest at night, but according to the stories they were twice a man’s height and solid muscles, their bodies covered with long shaggy hair, and their mouths so big, they could swallow a child with one bite.
Viran shuddered and gripped his war-hammer tighter. He would not give up without a fight. He would smash at least one shaggy skull.
“This load is beginning to get heavy,” a voice said behind him. Viran looked back at Deter, who staggered under the weight of the big basket full of herbs he had strapped to his broad back. Roc and Raul walked close behind Deter, equally loaded up.
All three youths were big and strong, chosen for missions like this one, but they had been traveling far too long and it began to show in their movements.
Hager, who brought up the rear, called out suddenly, “We have company!”
They must have been hiding in the trees, waiting silently for the Humans to walk into their trap. Neanders were not too smart, but they were cunning. At least a dozen of them dropped into their midst.
Viran swung his big hammer and smashed it onto a shaggy head. He uttered a triumphant war cry as his opponent crumbled to the ground. Beside him Rim pulled his bloodied spear out of a thick, hairy body.
Another huge shadow loomed in front of Viran, long sharp teeth gleamed in a gaping mouth. Viran didn’t have enough time to raise his hammer; he just lifted it, pushed it forward into the ugly face and registered the cracking of bones with grim satisfaction.
An angry roar erupted beside him. Pulling back his hammer, he drove the wooden handle into another of the creatures. He heard the dull thud of the impact, and then a pair of muscular hairy arms wrapped themselves around his chest in a crushing grip. He almost gagged when the stench of the Neander rose up into his nostrils. His arms pinned to his sides, he couldn’t lift his weapon. Even though big and strong, Viran felt helpless in the embrace of the big brute. Twisting and thrashing, he tried to dislodge the creature. When he thought his ribs would crack, the pressure suddenly lifted and he slipped out of the deadly embrace. He looked up to see Horgan grinning at him, his axe still embedded in the hairy back of the Neander.
“You’ve done well, all of you,” Horgan said.
Viran became aware of the sudden silence and realized the fight was over. He stared down at the lifeless bodies of their attackers. “They are not as large as I was made to believe,” he said.
“They are big enough,” Hager said, wiping the sharp blade of his spear tip on the shaggy coat of one of the Neanders. “That last one almost got you, Viran.”
“I know, but thanks to Horgan’s mighty axe I am alive.” He took a few deep breaths, winced when pain from bruised ribs shot through his body. Picking up his war-hammer, which had dropped from powerless fingers, he looked at Horgan. “You saved my life, I won’t forget,” he said.
Horgan laughed. “You would have done the same for me.” He looked at the others. “I am proud of you. You’re a good team.” His eyes fixed on Rim, who nursed his left arm where a sharp claw had left an ugly red mark. “You’ve been bloodied today, now you are a real man, young Rim.”
“More company,” Hager cried out and brought up his spear.
A shadowy figure dropped from the branches, then three more. Tree-devils. Small humanoid creatures with large, black eyes.
Viran rushed to his companion’s aid, swinging his heavy hammer. This puzzled him. Tree-devils never attacked Humans.
“Don’t harm them!” Horgan bellowed. He shouldered his beefy body past Viran. “I know what they want. We are being summoned.”
“Summoned?” Viran asked. “What do you mean by that?”
“The Xandra needs our services,” the older man said and a sly grin split his craggy features. “It is an experience you won’t forget as long as you live.”
“How do you know?” Hager demanded. Young, tall and lanky, he didn’t look much of a warrior, but he threw a spear with better accuracy than most.
“It happened to me when I was young,” Horgan explained, “relax, we are in no danger.”
“I don’t trust these ugly creatures,” Rim said, pointing his spear at one of them.
The little creature stared at him with his large round eyes, then it turned and began walking back on the narrow path. The other three followed him. One looked back at the Humans, lifted a long arm and made a beckoning gesture.
“We better follow,” Horgan said.
“I don’t like it.” Viran looked at the others.
“Neither do I.” Raul said. “What about our packs? I can’t carry mine much further.”
“Leave them. We’ll pick them up again when we come back.” Horgan turned to follow the Tree-devils.
“If we come back,” Hager snorted.
“We will, now let’s go.”
Muttering, they dropped their baskets and, reluctantly, they followed their leader. They didn’t worry too much about the contents of their baskets. The herbs and berries would keep. The baskets were woven from tough vines and covered with thick skins taken from sea bulls.
As they walked behind the four small creatures Viran heard twittering voices and soft rustling in the branches above. When he looked up, he saw small dark shadows flitting through the trees.
They hadn’t walked long when they came to a fork in the path, one of many Viran remembered seeing when they came this way before. The Tree-devils took the narrower path, and they followed it for quite some time.
“I don’t have a good feeling about this,” said Raul, as he walked behind Viran. “I wish I had a better weapon than just my knife.”
“You won’t need a weapon,” Horgan rumbled and laughed.
“What’s funny?” Raul demanded to know.
“You’ll see.” The big man chuckled to himself. “You’ll see.”
The path became wider, ended in a clearing. Before them lay the ruins of some kind of building. Moss covered the wide steps that led to a gaping opening. Creeping vines clung to crumbling pillars and rough stone walls. The two moons threw double shadows as they bathed the ancient ruins with their silvery light.
“What is this place?” Rim, the youngest of the team, asked.
“It’s a place of worship,” said Horgan. “Look at those statues!” He pointed to a row of weathered stone carvings, all of them representation of the female form, in different poses. “This is where they worship the Mother of Light.”
“Pretty gloomy place,” murmured Raul, “gives me the shivers.”
Viran realized suddenly that the Tree-devils were gone. “Now what?” he asked Horgan.
The team leader stared at the dark opening that led into the interior of the ancient building. “We’ll go inside,” he said.
Gripping his war-hammer tight in his right fist, Viran followed the big man. The others tagged along with little enthusiasm.
As their eyes adjusted to the darkness inside, they saw a large chamber. Moonlight spilled through openings in the slime covered stone walls. As if by design the light illuminated a chair carved from stone in the center of the chamber.
The chair was occupied.
At first Viran mistook it for another statue, but then the figure moved and rose. Viran gasped. He’d never seen a woman of such beauty before.
Tall, her red, flaming hair falling across bare shoulders and spilling down her back, her breasts large and round, and her legs long and slim, she looked like a vision out of a dream.
She stepped fully into the moonlight, and Viran moaned when he saw her perfect naked body and her beautiful face.
“I am The Xandra,” she said in a clear, but seductive, throaty voice. “Welcome to my temple.”
“She’s not real,” whispered Roc who stood beside Viran. “No woman can be that beautiful.”
“I am real,” said the Xandra, “but I am no mortal woman. I am The Mother of Light. I am a goddess.”
“What do you want from us?” Horgan asked boldly.
The woman laughed. “You know what I want, Horgan. We have met before, when you were young.”
“How do you know?”
“I am a goddess. I never forget, but I also see it in your mind. I see that you haven’t forgotten either, that all your life you’ve ached for the time you spent in my embrace.”
“It is not you who I remember,” Horgan said.
She laughed again. “I was the one. I appear in many forms.” She paused and sighed. “This temple used to be a thing of beauty and splendor. Now it is rotting away, covered with mold and dust, home to fire-lizards and dust-vipers.” She lifted a slim arm. “My angels will guide you to a place that is more suitable.”
A shadow obscured the moonlight coming through the window. When Viran looked he saw the silhouette of a slim creature outlined against the sky. Silvery wings glittered in the moonlight as the angel fluttered gracefully to the ground.
Another one appeared, then two more.
The first one landed in front of the Humans, and Viran stared at the slim, naked winged girl. She was exquisitely formed, her breasts small, but firm, and her face so lovely he ached when he looked at it. Fine golden hair cascaded in soft curls down to her buttocks. Viran looked into her eyes. They were large and as blue as the sky on a cloudless day. She smiled, and his heart melted.
“I am Angela,” she said with a clear, but somewhat childish voice. “Come.” She folded her silvery wings and walked on small, delicate feet.
The other three angels were just as naked, just as lovely.
The men followed them outside, down the moss-covered steps. They entered a narrow path, which they walked for awhile. It led them into a large clearing, with a pond in the middle. On its placid water floated a giant plant. It appeared round and thick, its surface covered with soft, purple petals.
A group of young girls were bathing in the water. A few sat on rocks beside the pond, all of them beautiful and naked. Viran never saw so many lovely breasts and bare round buttocks before.
The men stopped at the edge of the clearing and just stared at those naked female bodies. Three of the winged girls spread their wings and lifted into the air. The remaining one looked at Viran. “The Mother has chosen you,” she said with her childlike voice.
“Chosen for what?” Viran asked and touched her gently on the shoulder. “You are very lovely,” he said without waiting for her answer.
His hand moved down to her breast, cupped it. She removed it with a gentle hand. “I cannot give you what you seek,” she said.
“Is it forbidden?”
“Not forbidden.” She smiled. “It is not possible.” She took his hand, guided it between her legs. His fingers encountered nothing but smooth, soft skin.
“I am forever a virgin,” she said. She looked at him sadly and added, “by design. The pleasures of the flesh are denied me.” Her lips touched his fleetingly, then she opened her wings and took to the air. She hovered in front of him for a moment. “I have no such desires,” she said, rose into the night sky and disappeared above the trees.