Sons of Heaven: Beldon
By Brenna Lyons
We've talked about them for millennia. The Sons of Heaven came to Earth and lay with the Daughters of Man, spawning the heroes of old (or the monsters of old, depending on your mythos). They have been called angels. They have been called demons, the fallen, the devil... Somewhere behind the myths, there were men, winged men who came from the stars and took simple human women as mate. It is time for one modern human woman to discover who and what the Sons of Heaven were, and that discovery will change her life forever.
When Jannie Reynolds goes down the line into the deeper caverns in search of more artifacts depicting the winged god-man, she doesn't know a team member with a thirst for fame intends to cut her ropes. She doesn't know her life will be saved by alien technology or that she will stumble upon a five-thousand-year old winged alien in a stasis tube who doesn’t know his colony has been destroyed. And she certainly doesn’t know she's an alien crossbreed, as well.
Beldon stirred, his mind and body coming to functionality at a maddening pace. His link to the sensors cleared first. He searched for signs of battle and relaxed at no such input.
There were only two reasons for the priests to wake him. If they didn’t require his protection, they wished for him to evaluate one of the young and advise them on their progress toward suitable matches.
He sighed. So far, the breeding on this planet hadn’t produced a close enough match. Beldon was starting to doubt it ever would, though saying it would be paramount to treason.
The priests had woken him countless times, and he hadn’t found a match yet, close as they’d been. Still, he took solace in the soft bodies of those brought to him to be evaluated. The priests and the young expected it of him, and it was the least he’d earned.
How long has it been this time? How long since they’ve woken me? It might have been one generation, or it might have been ten. The longest so far had been ten.
The answer from the sensors sent his heart skittering. The bio tube suddenly felt too tight. He beat at the locks, shouting for the priests to manually release them. The wait for the computer was intolerable this time.
Too long. It’s been millennia. Sakkan! What went wrong?
Without a doubt, something or someone had forced them to seal the tube for so long. What would have caused such a choice?
It couldn’t have been battle. His bio tube was coded to wake him automatically for battle. He was, first and foremost, left here as protector to their seeded young.
They could have succumbed to disease; their first thought would have been to shield Beldon from it. They could have died in a cataclysm his bio tube had shielded him from.
Were they all dead? There was no answer from the tube, as if the systems were having problems understanding the question or identifying the answer.
Beldon cursed his shortsightedness in putting his bio tube under their sole control. He’d trusted the priests would wake him whenever it became necessary. In hindsight, that had been foolish.
What had woken him now? Was it a condition the priests had set? Was the bio tube breaking down? Surely, his Sakk brothers hadn’t waited nearly three millennia to search him out.
With that, he struck the locks again. What if they wouldn’t open? What if the bio tube was breaking down? Dying of dehydration wasn’t a pleasing thought.
Strange tonals reached him through the tube’s loosened seals. Beldon tapped at the translator circuitry, but he only succeeded in spurring sporadic translation.
“Wait...open...” An ancient curse followed.
Two of the locks snapped open. A cry of pain and a second curse identified the speaker as female.
Sakkan breathes! Where are the priests? Why was a female opening the tube?
He pleaded silently with the sensors, compiling all the data they could provide of the situation outside the bio tube. Whoever the female was, she was the only being within sensor range, which was highly unusual. There should have been hundreds of priests and young in range, if it was working properly. Even the basic sensors would cover the entire habitation areas of the temple, but Sakkan alone only knew what three thousand yans had done to the circuitry.
The final bit of information stopped him cold. The shields were down. If the generators were operational, only one of Sakk blood could open them, and there was only the unknown female in his proximity.
Was she one of the young? If so, where were the others? Was she human? If so, what was her purpose here?
Or were the generators broken and he defenseless? Or, defenseless with young to protect? Sakkan, not that.
Three more locks opened, and the computers took over, taking the last seven in a rush of air and the creak of untended pistons. The moment the opening was large enough, Beldon launched to the top, seeking the height advantage for possible battle.
She fell back with a cry of fear at the movement, her pale skin going summer cloud white at the sight of him. Her dark eyes scanned up and down his body, stopping at his extended wings. Her breathing went ragged, and she collapsed to the dirt floor, her eyes slipping shut.
Beldon laughed harshly at that. Humans and the young bred in the temple were frail creatures. More than once, the young brought to him had fainted in his presence. Even more amusing were the battle-hardened human soldiers who’d loosed their bladders when pitted against him in battle.
He dropped down beside her, sobering. On closer inspection, it seemed the female was injured. Her clothing was ripped and stained in dirt and blood. Her head was discolored along the temple and cheek, as if she’d been struck...or had struck something else with formidable force.
Certain that he had time to spend, Beldon assessed his surroundings, his heart sinking. The temple was all but indistinguishable from the caverns in which it had been built. Whatever calamity destroyed it had been long ago.
A scan for biological traces told him roughly what he’d expected it to. The remains of the priests were the stuff archeologists and treasure hunters dreamed of finding. They were dead. All of them were, male and female. Nothing Sakk had moved here for almost as long as he’d slept.
There’d been no active breeding measures since then. There’d been no reports to Sakk. Beldon wasn’t sure there was a home to return to.
What did that mean to him? Stranded on this alien world?
The female moved, a moan escaping her lips. Her shoulder-length hair feathers picked up red sand that nearly glowed against black curls.
Answers. I need answers she might have.
* * * *
Jannie hurt from the tips of her hair to her toenails. Her head was just one more pain in the lot, though it was the most troubling to her, since it was most likely to affect whether or not she found her way back to camp.
She wanted to believe the fall had been accidental, that the rope had been frayed or the clips faulty, but there was no denying the truth. The rope had been cut, and Edward was going to play this off as an “unfortunate incident in the field.” All for a little personal glory.
By all rights, the fall should have killed her. Even now, Jannie couldn’t identify what she’d hit. It had been smooth, warm, dome-shaped... She had slid down its side, landing hard at the base...of nothing.
The dreams that followed were even more bizarre: touching strange raised markings with blood-soaked fingers, wandering through half-lit caves she couldn’t identify a light source in, a man trapped under the rock, vivid glyphs on a stone vault...and an angel.
“What dreams may come,” she breathed.
No. That wasn’t accurate. Jannie hurt too much to be dead.
But I will be dead, if I don’t find a way out of here.
She forced her eyes open, her breathing hitching at the apparition leaning over her. Deep blue eyes in a fierce face surrounded by waves of golden hair couldn’t hold her attention when compared to the blinding white expanse of his wingspan.
Jannie swallowed hard. “Am I dead?”
After a moment, he smiled...then laughed, but he offered no answer.
Attempts at movement sent shards of pain down her shoulder and arm. She groaned. “Nope. I hurt too much to be dead,” she reminded herself.
His brow furrowed, and he retreated to the stone vault. Now that her vision was clearing, Jannie realized light was emanating from inside it.
He returned with a metal cup and offered it to her. Jannie took it with a nod, hoping it was water. She couldn’t identify the drink, but it was tasty and wet, so she drained it, then offered a word of thanks. He set the cup aside and settled on his knees, staring at her.
“Do you know a way out?” she asked.
He cocked his head to one side, his eyes narrowing.
Great. No English.
He understood enough to laugh when I asked if I was dead. “Do you understand me?”
There was a momentary pause. Then he tipped his head in response.
“Great. Can you show me the way out?”
“Either you don’t understand everything I say, or—”
Another tip of his head.
She groaned, scrubbing a hand over her face, then winced at the complaints from her bruises. “Of course. Whoever said angels spoke English?”
A hand touched her throat, and Jannie staggered to her feet. Her vision blurred, and she collapsed into his arms.
A series of dizzying movements later, she was surrounded by bright light, laying on a surface as smooth as glass and warm as bath water. A buzzing not unlike static electricity teased at her skin.
Jannie forced her eyes open, staring up at the angel. He pushed buttons etched with symbols not unlike those she’d seen on the scrolls. He did it by memory, his attention riveted to a glowing read-out of the same sorts of symbols.
His fingers went still over the keypad, and one eyebrow rose in what she’d term surprise. His gaze panned from the readout to her face, and a smile lifted one corner of his lush mouth. For some reason, that expression made her distinctly nervous.
* * * *
Beldon stared at her, his heart warming at her naivety. She tensed as if to flee, and he placed a restraining hand on her uninjured shoulder.
“Calm, young one.”
It was a given that she didn’t understand Sakk, but she relaxed all the same.
Beldon looked around at his wings in surprise, noting how they’d curved around the tube in an unconscious move of protection and comfort. The move was instinctual; a young one was frightened, and he was sworn to protect her.
He’d denied his base side so long, the response shocked him. He was a soldier, not a caregiver. There had been nest parents and priests for that, but they no longer existed.
One hand came up, and she stroked at his primary feathers, murmuring something that didn’t translate. He bit back his instinctual response to that. The young one didn’t know what a Sakk male would expect after such a touch. Adopting a stern expression, he guided her hand away.
Her cheeks darkened, and she chewed at her lower lip. Her gaze flicked to his wings, then away, and she tipped her head in agreement.
That settled, Beldon moved on to his evaluation of her injuries. To his relief, they were minor. The young one would be unsteady on her feet for several weeks, and she’d require herbs to minimize the inflammation and ward off infection, but she’d heal well, he was sure.
She tried speaking to him again, but the only two words that translated were out and home.
“Home is waiting for you, young one.” He kept his tone soothing, needing to comfort her in the only way he could.
Her eyes drifted shut, most likely due to the yosha root he’d given her to drink before he moved her. In moments, her breathing was deep and even.
Beldon traced a finger along her lower lip. They’d done it. Priests or no priests, forced breeding or no, the match had been made.
He reached across her and started punching in the code to alert Sakk of their success.
Sakkan only knew what would happen next. Did Sakk still exist? Did they think Beldon dead? Would they leave him here, or would they take Beldon and the young one home?
Only time would tell.
Beldon froze, startling in the realization that he was humming Sakkan’s Night Song to her. He hadn’t even known he remembered it. What was happening to him?