Chapter 2:

The Rose

Face of Eternity : The Star and the Rose

We got to the tree line and smelled smoke. Clouds of gray mist filled the air.

"Yalda, can you tell where the source of the fire is?" Uncle asked.

This forest was big, so it's likely that there could have been a lot of places where a fire would have started. But I had one special way to find the source...using my nose!

-Activating Advanced Olfactory sensors-

I sniffed around in the air. The smell was super easy to track to its source.

"Yeah." I pointed to where the flame must have been. "That way!"

I had a toolbar on the right hand side of my field of view. There was a LOCATION icon on it that allowed me to load up a map of the local area.

The LOCATION icon looked a little like a treasure map with an X on it.

My nose pinpointed exactly where the fire had started, and I set a waypoint on the map. The data was sent to Uncle, who alerted The Hive's defenses of the problem.


A few Bees flew over our heads as fast as planes! They raced to where I indicated the waypoint.

Those were wasps. They were combat bees about the size of a small car. A few drone bees followed them. Drones were maintenance bees that looked a little like Uncle's bee form if he were thinner.

One was ready to fight off any possible intruders, and the others would put out the fire and assess the cause and damage. They'd get there long before we did at those speeds!

More bees were making their way there, too. Once they arrived, they sent a report to Uncle immediately.

"Impossible! How did a monster get here? And a...human?"

Monsters and humans? Oh boy, this was getting crazy!

I could see the waypoint in my field of vision, so could Uncle. It gave us a lay of the land and plotted our most optimal route to the trouble with a line in our vision. Pretty neat, honestly.

We started quickly making our way over there, preparing for anything we might find.

I mentioned before that The Hive kept away big threats, but that wasn’t completely true. To be honest, there weren’t many threats at all here to begin with. Uncle always told me that there was no safer place than The Hive. The only real danger was some of the bigger animals, but they didn’t usually come to the flower fields, and I never went past the flower fields to them.

If there were threats, animal or otherwise, The Hive’s defenses would kick in and take whatever it is out. The protocol was called Maximum Prejudice, meaning anything that shouldn’t be here would be terminated.

It’s really harsh, if you ask me, but they had to protect this place from bad guys.

“That location…” Uncle started as we were climbing over rocks on a small hill, “there is supposed to be an inactive Nalnara gate.”

Nalnara gates were these portals that could teleport you to different places, as long as they were linked up to another Nalnara gate.

“Do you think someone used a Bana…Manona crest to activate it?”

“I’m unsure. No doubt things will become clearer when we reach our destination.”

The spot wasn’t far from us now, but things were really getting smoky. You could see fire and scorch marks on the grass and trees.




Explosions blasted just ahead!

Uncle summoned a bubble shield around us and protected us from the shockwave!

“AHHH!” I screamed!

The explosion started to let up, then he lowered the bubble shield.

“Young Mistress, use your wings to fan away all this smoke!”

“I’ll try.” I nodded, materializing my wings.

I flapped my wings back and forth, sending out gusts of wind, focusing hard on not losing my footing the whole time. But I was really getting pushed back.

The smoke was starting to clear, but it wasn’t enough to see what was going on. Uncle joined in with his own wings to help me fan away the smoke.

Then things really started to clear up. We could see what caused the explosions. It was a girl, probably a teenager since she was on the shorter side. She had a maroon red jacket that almost looked like a military uniform, decorated with little stripes of colour on her shoulders, black leggings, and her left arm had a very artistic tattoo sleeve. Her long, straight, black hair was waving with the gusts of wind we were creating.

There was fire in her hands, and her tattoos were glowing hot orange. She was facing down some sort of giant monster that looked like a squirrel? Or a Ferret? No…that was a mongoose!

-WARNING! Threat sighted! IFF tags active-

-Identifying identified-

-Mongoose monster tagged; foe-

-Enemy count = (1)-

-Uncle tagged; Friendly-

-Fire Girl tagged; Friendly-

My identify friend or foe tags were lighting up. Anyone allied with me got a green outline, anyone that was an enemy got a red outline, neutral people were yellow.

Bones were sticking out of the Monster Mongoose's head and arms, they were sharp and glowing with brown looking marks.

The Wasps were right next to the girl, backing her up as she was facing down the Monster Mongoose!

Hey wait a minute…was that Samael on her shoulder too? What was he doing hanging around her like that?

“Huh?!” The girl turned to see us. “Hey, help me out here! This thing's kickin’ my ass!”

GASP! She said a swear word!

Uncle jet in. His suit transformed into knight looking armour made out of blue glass.

His left hand turned into a blue blade of light and cut through the Monster Mongoose. Burning energy crackled across the monster's skin.


It screeched fiercely, retaliating with a quick swipe that Uncle dodged.

Uncle's energy blade sharpened to look more like a curved sword, then he struck at the monster with a stab!

The blade stuck deep into the monster's torso, and Uncle ran it all up the chest!



The cut cauterized the wound instantly, but the monster felt the incredible sting of a powerful blade!

"RAAAAEEE!" The monster screeched.

It was big, but it could move around quickly. It scurried around Uncle and tried to escape, but the girl cut it off with a blast of fire from her hand!


The flame spread all across the ground, hitting grass and monster flesh. It let out disgruntled squeaks as it turned to see Uncle racing at it, flanked by two wasps.

"Blitzkrieg maneuver!"

The wasps flanking him flew forward fast, then struck at the monster with their sharp stinger blades.

Then more bees showed up and surrounded the Monster Mongoose, preventing it from escaping.

Uncle came charging in with one final stab to its neck, then he cut the head right off!

"Yeah!" I cheered!

"Wow…" the girl remarked.

Uncle gave me a stink eye. He didn't like when I cheered for violence. Even though we won, violence wasn't something that should be considered good.

"There's more of these around." Uncle turned his gaze to see three more Mongoose charging in.

These three were bigger than the last one. They looked a lot more angry, too.

Wasps flew down from above, tons of them. They all flew in to attack the monsters in a swarm. It stopped the monsters long enough to give Uncle an opening.

Uncle ordered the swarming wasps to part enough space to allow him through. Then he ran down the empty lanes the wasps made and struck at each monster with quick strikes.

When he'd cut down the monsters, their bodies would start to erupt with energy. A cloud of purple puffed into the air from the now decomposing skin, three clouds in total. The purple clouds hovered up into the air and rained down big droplets all around. Each droplet turned into a little version of the monster.

Uncle didn't seem as worried about the little monsters. He let the wasps mop up the small ones that spawned, then he came over to us, transforming his armour back to a suit and straightened his tie.

"These Mongoose types are especially feral around snakes. They go into a frenzy." Uncle said.

" that so?" The girl looked at Samael, who slithered off her shoulder and came back to me. "That weird little thing just got on me and started hissing. I figured out it was driving the monster crazy, which kept me alive."

"How did it keep you alive?" I asked.

She said that once someone or something loses focus, and gets uncontrollably angry, even if it's all wild and scary, it won't fight as well. The monster was frenzied, but it was uncoordinated.

"Unfocused anger is about as helpful as a stick in a sword fight." She turned all around, seeing the mess of monster guts and fire everywhere. "Sorry. I came through that portal, and these guys followed me in."

I guess that kinda makes sense. But how, and why was she here to begin with?

"It couldn't be helped." Uncle shook his head. "I'm just glad you are alright."

The girl cleared her throat, then looked down at me with a curious gaze. Her face kept shifting emotions up until she put a finger to her chin. Then she just narrowed her eyes. She looked angry for some reason. Did I make her mad? Or was that just how her face looked?

"Yup." She nodded. "You're definitely the girl he was talking about. Snake in your hair and everything."

I guess not many people had snakes as a scrunchy, so using that to tell me apart from others was a good indicator.

Also, I don't think it was common for people to have white hair. Not like mine.

"Your dad wants me to take you back to him. He gave me this as proof that it was him."

She handed me a little wooden duck. It had a small hook on its back, and blue eyes like gems. It had the darkest pupils, like little black holes.

I knew what this was. It was a little toy that dad left over my bassinet as a baby. I thought he threw it out, but I guess not.

It apparently made me really happy. Uncle said the day he had to take it down, I was crying so much.

I took the wooden duck, then examined it to make sure it wasn't fake. My hand scanners radiated a grid of light into the thin air and checked out the whole thing. It was definitely real alright.

"Dad really did send you." I put the wooden duck in my dress pocket. "Why didn't he come though?"

"He was busy, and we had some nasty things chasing after us," she claimed. "If those monsters aren't proof enough, I don't know what is."

You know, I never got her name. She might not have known mine either.

"Who are you?" I asked.

"The name's Indena. You're…" she snapped her fingers, trying to remember my name, "Yalba, right?"

"Close, it's Yalda. This is my uncle, Mel."

That was his human name. I called him Uncle though because it was natural for me. He wasn't actually my uncle, but since dad made him, we were pretty much family.

Monsters just kept spawning all around from the raining haze. The bees were doing a good job clearing it out, but Uncle wanted to get it all wrapped up quickly before we sat down for a chat.

Uncle and the bees were on top of the purple clouds in seconds, using gusts of wind to clear it all out.

He jetted toward the remaining monsters and cut each of them down, one by one. His blade ruthlessly slashed through the air and turned each of them into a visceral pile of leather and mana haze. As they died, the remains evaporated away.

I had to turn my head from the violence. It was way too much now with all the monster guts flying around. I don't know why that bothered me more than the big ones being dilapidated, but I guess it's a little different.

Oh shoot, I meant decapitated. Sometimes I really mess up my words!

I'm just glad Uncle had things under control.

Indena came over to me and tugged on my arm to get me away from the action. We weren't too far now, still in earshot of Uncle.

"Let's stay here for now. Let the old man handle this part. He seems pretty strong."

"Okay." I nodded.

Just as we were sitting back and waiting for Uncle and the bees to clean things up...that sounds like a band name, doesn't it? Uncle and the Bees

OH! Forgot we were in crisis mode for a second there...

Anyways, just when things were starting to slow down, Indena asked me to take a look at her Manona crest.

"Your dad said you'd know how to use this thing to get us back to him."

She must have been talking about wherever she was from. Each crest should have a log of the places that it'd been, so all you needed to do was open a portal with that location selected.

So, here's the funny part. I've never actually seen a Manona crest before. I could interface with it though, and I saw the log…

It showed that it had been to a lot of different places, but some of them were from thousands of years ago.

Boy, that was a long time's like when you check out a library book, and it says it hasn't been looked at in over 20,000 years. Daddy's library is full of books like that. He wanted me to log whenever I took a book so I'd be sure to put it back when I was done. I had a habit of leaving them all around The Hive.

I made it into a game, guessing the year a book had last been looked at. Dust was always a good indicator of age, kinda like a tree ring. The more layers of dust, the older it is.

I felt the Manona crest shake a little, but I figured that was just Indena moving her arm.

Uncle finally finished mopping up the last of the monsters, then he came over to us and examined Indena for any wounds.

"You'll need some treatments for these bruises and scuffs."

"Nah, those weren't from the monsters. I got those this morning from sparring practice."

She must have been a martial artist then. It should have been obvious with how she fought these monsters alone.

Uncle started to lead us back home, but I heard a weird wooshy sound come out of Indena's Manona crest.

The Manona crest started to randomly glow brightly, then the whole thing was bursting with blue rays of light.

"What the…!" Indena tried to take it off, but it wouldn't budge.

It shook up her arm violently, then a beam of energy blasted out of it and slammed into the ground under us.

A glossy bubble of energy quickly expanded and covered her and I completely. Then it started to brighten and popped like a balloon!

Indena covered me up with her body, just in case we were in danger. But we were fine after it popped.

I felt woozy for a few seconds, so did Indena. She almost threw up, but I think she was trying hard to keep herself from vomiting.

"Damn…" she huffed out, moving away from me and desperately leaning on a rock for support. "Whatever that was, it was horrible…"

She suddenly fell silent, like she'd passed out. But I saw her orange eyes were still moving around, wide, like she was in shock.

"Oy, Shrimp…" she looked at me. I guess shrimp was my nickname now, and I didn't like it. "Take a good look around. Tell me what's wrong with this picture."



I did as she asked. For some reason I heard a bell sound too...not sure what that was about.

I immediately noticed that the grass was a lot more sage green, and there was a little snow on the ground. A cold haze filled the air, and the sky was cloudy with a really heavy overcast.

All around us were big evergreen trees, full of pine needles instead of leaves. A rare sight where I lived, but not unheard of.

Beyond the trees were mountainous hills surrounding us, capped with snow cover. Just beyond them was a big icy formation that must have been some kind of ice sheet, or maybe a was hard to tell from this distance.

Needless to say, this didn't look like The Hive's forest anymore, and I couldn't see Uncle anywhere.

“Where in the World are we?!” I shouted.

Mario Nakano 64
Taylor J
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