Jerren Ryo Gregory, a young man who has felt the bitter sting of failure many times in his life, feels there is no destiny waiting for him on his home world. Now he looks to the stars for answers, followed closely by his best friend Ami.
Ami Mizuno Anderson, a young woman whom, unlike Jerren, has achieved much success in her life, discovered that she had failed to shape her own path, much to her despair. When she was provided the opportunity to apply for the space program, Ami jumped at the chance, giving her best friend the option to join her.
In the hope of a better life, the pair embarked on a journey beyond the stars, only to have their ship struck by a meteor, causing them to crash land on the planet Mercury, the sole survivors of the ill fated voyage.
The closest planet to the Sun, Mercury was once part of an ancient Kingdom that had long since passed into obscurity. There on that desolate world, the duo were surprised to find natives of the planet, still alive and thriving millennia after their kingdoms slow decline into the realm of myth and legend.
Highly advanced, the humanlike Mercurians adopted the stranded humans and taught them their culture and way of life.
A year later, Jerren and Ami finally felt at peace with their lives…until the soldiers from a distant empire began raiding the Mercurian settlements.
A mighty galactic empire that controls a vast area of space, the Jurai hierarchy harassed the peaceful citizens of Mercury, stealing people and resources until one day they sent their soldiers down to invade and lay siege to the planet. Many tried to defend themselves; however Jurais military, under the control of General Seina Yamada, was too powerful a force for the peaceful Mercurians. Many died in the siege, but more were taken captive and forced into slavery.
Jerren and Ami, caught in the crossfire and taken as slaves along with their adopted people, disillusioned and fearful of what may lie ahead, cannot help but wonder what fate Jurai holds in store for them.......
part 1: Exile to Jurai
In the outer reaches of the universe, Jurian Imperial Military ships returned home after several months patrol in the dark, un-conquered sectors of their mighty empire.
Landing safely on their home soil after piercing the planet’s atmosphere, the gangway lowered and captives were steadily led from the ship's hold, closely observed by their captors.
The majority of the captives were Mercurians from the Sol sector; but two notable exceptions stood out from the crowd, for among these captives were Jerren and Ami, two Terrans of Earth who were roughly forced into the single file line of their fellow captives with the butts of their guards' weapons.
“Keep it moving, kid. You're dragging the line down.” a guard yelled sharply, thrusting the butt of his weapon into his back.
“It's not my fault these cuffs weigh a ton! They make it a hassle to move, much less quickly...” he griped under his breath.
Jerren brandon Gregory was a black skinned boy, 19 years old. At 5 foot 5 he did not tower over his surrounding captors or fellow prisoners, but an aura of capability made him stand out like a beacon from the mass of defeated faces in the crowd. Wearing a black tank top and jeans, he was somewhat nondescript but a nice enough guy when you got to know him.
The guard caught a vague hint of what he'd said and shoved him yet again, harder this time.
Not far off, Ami could be heard attempting to reason with the guards.
“You can't treat us like this! Captives or not, we're still people!” she cried.
Ami Mizuno Anderson was a small but intelligent 22 year old woman, 5 foot 2, with blue hair and eyes. She wore a white buttoned shirt with a blue vest, a brown thigh high skirt, and brown boots.
“Both of you shut your mouths!” another guard growled, “Or would you rather I make you shut them?” he said, thumbing the hilt of his saber.
“No, no, we're moving. No need for hostility...” she mumbled, shuffling forward with the rest. It wasn't long before they were forced into what they hoped was a temporary holding area as the line wound on out of site.
“These guards must be insane!” Jerren proclaimed loudly, looking over his shoulder to make sure there weren't any guards waiting to strike him again; he didn't need another bruise on his back…or worse.
“Not to mention incredibly rude. They can't just treat us like animals because we're their prisoners.” she sighed, looking down the length of the line, alarmed at how long it really was. Jerren noticed the look and peeked down the line as well.
“Jeez... this line is worse than the ones you find at a newly opened amusement park!” he said, eyes open wide from the sheer volume of people. Ami sighed, turning her attention back to Jerren.
“Yeah, I know. And just a quick estimate puts us waiting here for at least 4 hours, probably more. By the time we get through I'll be an old woman!” she ran her fingers across her face, feeling the wrinkles that didn't yet exist.
Jerren sighed this time, exasperated. Ami smiled at him.
“Don't be such a sourpuss, Jerren. We could both use the exercise. Not to mention this fresh air actually feels lovely.”
“Man, Ami. Seems like no matter how bad the situation is, you always try to find a bright side.” Jerren shook his head.
“Well, someone has to do it. How else would we keep our spirits up?” She replied, smiling in earnest.
“Yeah, you've got a point there, especially not knowing where we're headed.” he said. His head tilted up as he caught sight of what looked like a bird passing by. Ami took notice as well, her head tracking its flight. It was only then that the two truly looked at the planet on which they'd landed, and they were unable to stop staring.
Enormous rolling hills, completely green without even a trace of brown led off into the distance; monolithic trees, stretching high into the sky almost kissed the clouds; an immeasurable array of flora dotting the vast entirety of the ecosystem splashed color everywhere; seemingly endless rivers, clear enough to see the fish swimming, all met their eyes. It was truly a stunning vista to behold.
“This might not be an ideal situation, Ami. But this place is just... it's...” he was unable to find a proper word to describe what he was seeing.
“…Breathtaking.” she replied.
The line began moving again, and faster than Ami had predicted. Soon enough, the pair saw their destination, whatever it may be, on the horizon.
“Well, it looks like you were wrong about how long this would take, eh?” Jerren asked, smiling and gazing around at the pure beauty of the place they'd been taken.
“It would seem so…and I'm almost sad to see it go.”
Roughly two hours had passed since Jerren and Ami had progressed into the registration centre. As the outside got further and further away, they both were amazed to see how big the centre really was.
“Take a look at this monstrosity,” Jerren said in awe. “I.. I don't know what to say. I'm usure whether I should be amazed or intimidated!” He exclaimed.
“If you ask me, I'd say a bit of both,” Replied Ami. “The architectural boundaries of this place... Very intriguing. But, like you said, it's also very intimidating in it's size.” ” SHe muttered, craning her neck to see better. The centre was a very large building, spanning 400 cubits in length, 200 in height and 300 in width. Being made of a steel and titanium alloy, the walls and floors reflected a bit of light. As if to put a cheery on top, there were also large computer screens built into the walls, flashing data by at lightning speed while the interface made various sounds.
Two Jurian guards split the captives into two groups, prodding and whacking at them with their weapons like before. The men were forced to one side and the woman the other. The emperor strode out, his steps long and smooth as he looked upon his captives. He was about 6 feet tall with hair and beard being a purple colour. His skin was a fair caucasian tone and his eyes a red wine colour. He was dressed in long, elegant-looking robes with shades of brown and purple, while the ankle-length cape he wore was a dark blue. Just from his walk you could tell he was a tad arrogant and proud, and you would later learn of his short temper. A cocktail which made him the most feared ruler in the galaxy. His name: Azuza Masaki Jurai.
The empress stood beside him, not quite matching his height, but still tall for a Jurian female, standing at 5 feet and 7 inches. She had blue hair tied up in a long ponytail style, red eyes and the same skin tone as her husband. Her attire was a slew of red, pink and brown. Personality-wise, these two were polar opposites. She was cheery and all smiles. Misaki Jurai.
Jerren was next in line and approached the front, standing before the emperor at a holoscreen computer.
“What is your name and age, boy?” He asked without looking up.
“My name's Jerren, I'm 19 years of age.” He said, nervously. The emperor nodded and spoke again.
“Good, now forget it. Here you'll be addressed as slave number 9631151.” Jerren gasped at this.
“What!? That's a load of crud! You can't just call me a 7 digit number! I have a name already!” He exclaimed, causing the emperor to frown.
“It's you name now, boy, and you'll not only respond when you're called by it,” He paused to reach for his sword, putting it to Jerrens's throat. “You're going to like it, got it!?” Jerren froze and lowered his head, nodding.
“It's fine...” He gulped. Azuza grinned and patted him on the head.
“Now that's what I like to hear from a good, submissive slave or Jurai. Now go on ahead to the scanner at the gate.” He waved him off, turning his attention back to the holoscreen.
Jerren walked forward to the scanner, walking into it's field of operation.
“Scanning.” It said in a low, computerized voice. “Number 9-6-3-1-1-5-1. Age: 19. Skin tone: Dark. Hair colour: Black. Eye colour: Black. Gender: Male. Welcome to Jurai, newcomer.” Jerren moved forward after this.
After Jerren, Ami went next. She approached the empress and waited for her to speak.
“Hello, captive of Jurai. What is your name and age?” She said cheerfully, looking over at her.
“My name is Ami Mizuno, and I come from Earth. My age is 22 years, Ma'am.
“I see. Well, your new name is...” She trailed off while looking over the holoscreen, momentarily pausing. “Where did you say you were from again?” She asked.
“Earth, Ma'am. The man your husband just sent through is also from there.” Ami replied repectfully.
“Interesting... Well, your new name you will be addressed as here will be number 0254. You must remember this for the slave auctions tomorrow. Now head to the scanner at the gate.” She said smiling.
“I accept my new name Ma'am.” She finished and walked to the gate.
“Scanning.” The computer said once again. “Number 0-2-5-4. Age: 22. Skin tone: Light. Hair colour: Blue. Eye colour: blue. Gender: Female. Welcome to Jurai, newcomer.” And she stepped through the gate. After a few more of the day's slaves had been cleared, Misaki the empress walked over to where her husband sat. He was still on his computer hub, searching through the holoscreen.
“I have some very interesting news for you, my dear.” She beamed.
“What is it? I'm quite busy right now".he didn't look up.did you know the boy and girl called Jerren and Ami are not from Mercury as we once thought. They are, in fact, from Earth.” The emperor stopped typing and looked up at her.
“Really? Well, that certainly is interesting. Bring them to me after we have finished with the rest of these captives.” He went back to work after he was finished speaking.
“It will be done, dear.” She walked back to her own station.
An hour of wading through crowds and searching later, Jerren found Ami picking what resembled roses.
“I finally found you, Ami!” He said with relief, running up to her. She looked up at him with a face of sadness.
“Apparently my name is not Ami any more. It's 'Slave Number 0254'.” She sniffed at the flower's sweet smell. He sighed and sat down with her.
“So, they changed yours too, huh? Well, I'm Slave Number 9631151, and it's a pleasure to meet you.” He held out his hand to shake. They both laughed a little at this. The moment of mirth was broken though as two Jurian guards approached them. Jerren and Ami both grimaced.
“You two, are your names Jerren and Ami?” The guard on the left asked. Ami nodded at this.
“Yes we are, why do you ask?” The guards nodded at each other and brought out pairs of handcuffs.
“You are to be escorted by us, willingly or not.” The guard on the right said as they were grabbed and cuffed.
“Wait! Why are we being taken?! Where are you taking us!?” they yelled as they were dragged off.
It took about a half hour of twisting and turning halls and passages before the captives reached the castle. The guards, practically dragging the two, stopped momentarily at the large doors. The guards stationed there gave them a nod and stepped aside. The one to the left pressed a button and the doors let out a mechanical whir, opening wide. The “escort” continued until they had reached the throne room of the royal building, the guards shoving their two captives over, causing them to fall flat on their faces, before kneeling themselves before their leaders.
“How unnecessary...” Jerren muttered, going to stand along with Ami. The guards sprang up and pushed their faces back into the carpet, barking in unison:
“You KNEEL before your superiors!” They immediately gave up their pointless struggle, and the guards returned to their kneeling as well.
“How do we get in these predicaments, Ami?” Jerren asked her in hushed, exasperated tone.
“We were just in the wrong place in the wrong time. Or maybe this is just a nightmare, and the both of us are still at home, in our beds.” They panned their heads around to see the room they were now in, awed by the intricate walls and floors which looked to be made of a metal-stone composite material that were silver and beige in colour. The castle itself was a cylinder shape, and when he looked back through the still open doors he saw the extended bridge with a surrounding moat that he had missed in the haze of being dragged in. Large roots grew from the ceiling—no, it was more appropriate to say that the structure was built around these roots, which Jerren could only assume lead to a very large plant at the top of the palace.
“Wow...” Jerren muttered.
The emperor padded his fingers rhythmically against the armrest of his throne, rather impatiently at that. Jerren gulped before speaking.
“Yes, sir. Why is it that your guards... Escorted us here? Have we done something wrong? I apologize in advance.” Azuza stopped tapping now, sitting forward in his seat a little.
“You both are in a lot of trouble,” He turned to Ami now. “You told my wife that you are both from Earth, not Mercury. Is that correct?” Ami nodded and rose a little to speak to him.
“That is entirely correct, your grace. But, what does that have to do with the two of us being in trouble?” She said as politely as respectfully as possible.
“You see, Earth is not yet advanced enough for us to contact them. Until a world has reached it's space-faring age, we leave them be. As soon as they leave their native world's gravity well, we go and give them a choice,” He smirked a little, letting it hang in silence for a few moments. “When they enter their space-faring age, they have use to us. We go to occupy their territory. Now, we're fair rulers, so we give them a choice. If they comply, we will quietly move in and we will be fair and kind to them. They will prosper under our rule and there will be peace. But... Should they choose the other option... They die. Obey or be destroyed, that's how we rule.” The two captives gasped.
“You... You destroy them!?” Jerren called out furiously. Azuza nodded, still smiling at him. “So... You're an imperialistic empire that doesn't mind raising it's military arm against uncooperative nations? Ami said as she heard all this.” Azuza nodded.
“Correct.” Jerren couldn't believe what he was hearing. Rage boiled inside of him every second he was in the presence of this world-destroyer.
“So that's what happened to Mercury...” Ami muttered.
“Once again, correct. But, that's not important at the moment. Why you two are in trouble is because you have trespassed on Jurian soil, an offence punishable by death.” He let in sink in for a moment. The two were in total shock.
“But...” He trailed off, giving them hope. “I've chosen to overrule this. Mostly because you can be used quite efficiently for labor, or personal service because you are human. Any Jurian would pay good amount of Jurain currency for two human servants,” They were relieved simply being able to live. “However, until then, you will be watched—closely—by two of my best guards. For all I know, you could conspire with the people of former Mercury or even run off.” He waved his hands and his guards once again stood to grab them.
“Wait! We may be your captives, and we may unwittingly tresspassed, but we're honest and law abiding people! Please!” Azuza banged his fist on the armrest.
“Enough out of you, girl. My word is absolute and final. You will not argue any longer, you will go and listen to what you're told. Do you understand?” They stopped struggling an nodded.
“Yes, sir.” They said in unison.
“It's not “sir”, it's “Your Grace” or “Your Highness”.” He growled.
“Yes... Your highness.” They said again, in unison. He waved his arm in an away motion and they were dragged away once more, the large doors shutting behind them. Misaki let out a sigh, turning to her husband next to her.
“Now... Why is it that they needed escorts?”
“They may be the ones.” he stated, watching the doors shut.
“The ones?” she asked, now curious.
“Come with me. I have something I must show you.”
They both got up and walked towards a door by the thrones, hidden by a curtain. Azuza pulled an old, golden key from his pocket and unlocked the door, stepping in the dusty, dark room. Inside was an ancient, almost decrepit looking projection unit in the centre of the room. misaki seemed amazed by this.
“What... Is this relic?” she asked while studying it, fascinated. Azuza pressed a small button on the machine and a hologram projected all around them. It was a large wall of text that was unreadable to Misaki. Azuza translated it.
“What it says, in short, is that a day will come when the kingdom of ancients will come and take the planet that controls all things by storm, and the oppressed shall be freed and the oppressors destroyed.” Misaki still seemed confused.
“I don't understand. How does this ancient text relate to us?” Azuza sighed at this, turning to her.
“My wife, I love you, but sometimes you are incredibly dense. Obviously, the oppressed in this case are the people of former Mercury, and we are the oppressors.” Misaki gapsed, taking it in.
“So... What you're saying is... This is our doomsday prophecy?” She shook her head in disbelief.
“But we are the most powerful empire in the galaxy! We have alliances, and most important of all, we have Tsunami, the protector of Jurai.”
“I have no clue, Misaki. But we cannot simply ignore this. For now, the best thing to do is observe those two and prevent this before it happens.”
Early the next day, Jurian guards rousted the Mercurians from their tents that they were assigned to and were dragged away for the slave auctions that was taking place. Two guards pushed into Jerren and Ami’s tent.
"Get up!” a guard commanded, punctuating his order with a swift blow to Jerrens’ stomach with his pike. “You are coming with us!" Jerren and ami woke up alarmed and frightened as they looked at the two guards.
"What!? Where’s the fire at?” Jerren asked in surprised and pain, “What happened?"
"Did something happen?” Ami said in alarm, “Who’s in trouble?”
"Emperor Azuza and Empress Misaki have ordered your presence immediately!” said the second guard.
"Them again?” said Jerren yawning. “Did we break another one of their rules we didn't know about?"
"You will know who will be bought by at the auctions which is today!"
The guards cuffed the pair and marched them to a transport which travelled uneventfully back to the castle of Emperor Azuza and Misaki.
Half an hour after arriving at the castle the duo were shown into the throne room.
"You may leave us now!” Azuza said snapping his fingers at the guards. They bowed their heads in respect and left the room leaving Jerren and Ami at the mercy of Emperor Azuza and Empress Misaki
"Today you will know who you will be serving!” Azuza intoned his eye on Jerren then turning to Ami.
"For you human girl, you will work with the other female Mercurians in the upper chamber of this castle sewing clothes for the royal members of both the Misaki family and the Kamiki family!” Empress Misaki spoke imperiously.
"Oh, that’s good,” said Ami, “I thought I was going to be sent to a cruel, harsh master.”
'That was the original plan,” said Misaki, “But then we thought, ‘Hey, why not join your friends in hours of tediously repetitive, mind breaking manual labour’, you know, just to be merciful." Misaki smiled cruelly making Ami wince. Azuza turned his attention to Jerren.
"Now for you human boy….” said Azuza, “You have already been sold to someone, but…. not just anyone. You have been sold to my daughter, the princes of Jurai, Ayeka.”
"What….Your daughter?” Jerren exclaimed in surprise, “Hey if it's a chick besides Ami, then my friend, I'm definitely going to have a problem with this!”
"It is not debatable!” Azuza responded in a stern voice “You WILL serve my daughter!”
"Oh, do not look so dejected,” said Misaki chipping in. “It is better than a cruel male master. Besides, she is very just and lenient.” Misaki placed her hand over her mouth to hide her grin.
"Alright,” said Jerren lowering his head. “I'll serve her….like I have a choice!"
"Oh and one last thing,” said Azuza wrinkling his nose, “Those rags you are wearing must go!"
"You mean our clothes?” said Jerren and Ami in unison, surprised at the royal decree.
"Yes!” replied Azuza, “Those pitiful rags are not fit for any working member of the Misaki household. From now on, you will wear what we give you to wear!”
"But we like our clothes,” Ami protested, “We..."
"I said you will wear what we give you and that is final!" Azuza stated. “Report to the changing rooms down the hall to the left, after that you will report to your designated masters, do I make myself clear?”
"Yes sir….!” they sighed in unison, lowering their heads.
"It is ‘your highnesses!” said Misaki, “Call us ‘your highnesses’!"
"Yes your highnesses!” they sighed, then walked out the door down the hall.
Separating to change clothes the pair reunited shortly thereafter, looking at each other in their new attire. Jerren had traded his black shirt and pants for a green shirt and pants with brown boots, while Ami had swapped her white shirt, blue vest and blue skirt,and brown boots for a pink and blue dress with sandals.
"You...You look nice!” Jerren said as he blushed at ami.
"You look nice yourself….” Ami replied shyly back, “For a slave I guess. So I guess this is goodbye….”
"I guess so….” said Jerren, “But don’t be sad, we'll see each other again when the time is right.”
"Yes we will, and who knows, maybe we'll have some interesting adventures along the way.”
They parted ways in opposite directions and left each other for what lay ahead. Jerren was led by a Jurain guard to a room where he saw two girls....
to be continued.......