Earth, the Seventh Colony.
Before recorded time.
The silver ship dropped from orbit and descended through the little blue planet’s atmosphere. A sequence of instructions, loaded into the onboard computer centuries before, triggered one after the other in conjunction with live readings from the surface. While the first of the seven inhabitants stirred in her pod at the simulated light of predawn, the computer switched to audible alert mode, speaking her first ethereal words aloud since their departure from Arcadia.
Landing site acquired and locked in. Adjusting thermals. Reverse thrust in three…two…one. Surface oxygen levels in target range, depressurizing cabin, filtering in outside air.
Lowering landing gear, prepare for touchdown in three…two…one.
The ship set down on a rocky plateau near the tallest peak it could detect on its initial scan of the planet. Levelers adjusted the vessel and anchored it to the mountain as the first of the seven slid out of her sleep chamber.
Ona’s legs felt as though they belonged to someone else as she put one foot after the other on the cool surface of the ship’s deck. She steadied herself as she scanned the other crew pods.
“Computer?” Her voice sounded alien to her.
Yes? The ethereal voice responded.
“Why are the others not awake?”
A door at the far end of the crew cabin swished open. Ona watched as lights flickered on illuminating the chamber beyond.
Please proceed to the aft cabin for further briefing.
Her legs tingled with each step, but she felt the strength returning to her. The door swished closed behind her just after she stepped into the chamber. Seven sarcophagi stood in an array around a pedestal that held what she knew to be one of the Great Books of Power.
“Why is the Eye not in the Book?”
A hiss of air announced the opening of a panel in the ceiling above the book. A crystal orb drifted down from the opening held only by a delicate beam of feathery blue light. The orb stopped just above the docking cradle inside the Great Book of Power.
Ona stepped closer to the orb, suppressing her desire to touch it. Faint blue lights pulsed just below the surface.
The computer startled her. Directive override by order of the Arcadian High Council. Commander, identify yourself.
“I don’t understand.” She stepped closer to the Eye, staring into its depths. “Am I not to await the others for initiation and attunement?”
Negative. Directive override. Please identify yourself for override commencement.
“You know who I am. I am Commander Ona, Sixth of Seven, appointed delegate of the Seven Councils and loyal servant to the Order.”
The light inside the orb grew brighter. Place your hand on the Eye for override initiation.
Something inside her responded to the command before she could give it a second thought. She placed her outstretched palm on the cool, glassy surface. The connection was visceral, immediate. Synapses within her fired, awakening a chain of energy that sought out and found electrical connections to the crystal orb.
Dormant places in her mind came to life as though the orb merely turned on the lights in a room so she could see all that was contained within.
The computer, or was it the Eye, spoke inside her mind.
Sixth of Seven, failsafe override Innova activated. Sequencing roles…sixth may override first should directive Colony not succeed.
“I do not understand. Am I to override the First?”
Only if the First deviates from mission protocols. Commander Ona, you are authorized by the High Council to take appropriate action in such an instance.
“But the First is the Binder of the Great Book of Power. I am only the Sixth.”
Negative. Override protocol has resequenced roles. You will receive attunement before the others.
The orb held her hand tightly to its surface. She couldn’t pull away from it even if she wanted to, and she did not want to. A primal energy surged through her, lighting wildfires behind her eyes as it scribed the words of the Great Book of Power across her being. The Eye of Jupiter, for it was so named, revealed to her the intricacies of the universe, the higher plan, and the possible treachery of her compatriots. After what seemed to her like the blink of an eye and an eternity all at once, the Eye released her.
Take your place, Ona, Sixth of Seven and Binder of the Great Book of Power.
Ona stepped into the sixth sarcophagus and folded her arms across her chest.
You are not authorized to disseminate information about sequencing or override Innova to any of the others. Understood?
Ona nodded. “I understand.”
Very good. I will awake the others for final attunement.