<Draft Scrapped. See below for revised ver.>
<Draft Scrapped. See below for revised ver.>
Last edited by Norsehound; 15th Oct 07 at 1:53 AM.
Author: Children of Kadesh, Children of Kadesh (book 2), The Taiidan Civil War, The Fire ,Tradition, Outcry (oneshot), Chronicles of the Nadiim-Basad,
and maker of the Map of the Homeworld universe, and the Homeworld 2 Grand Strategy Game. Responsible for Cataclysm 2nd. Also has a running short story collection.
<Deleted. Greenstone's review is applied to the protogenic '05 version>
Last edited by Norsehound; 26th Jan 07 at 10:36 PM.
As a reader of Unread works (hell it is my kingdom anyway) and spurred on by the challenge of your Map I thought I would give this another thorough read through and give a few opinions. Be warned some of my thoughts get people angry at me, but I mean it in an effort to enhance and encourage your writing eye. . .
First: It reads like a history book with too much of a fictional taste, it covers too much ground too fast for a good story, slow down, detail and impassion certain areas. Say the sections about the exploration of the vessel, or the getting into the bridge, hell you could write a whole story just on the first seven paragraphs, then start another story to include the next part up until the first ---- break or at least a good few chapters on it. Like I said you rush really fast and tell us a lot of stuff, but at the same time you leave out great spans of good fleshy meat.
Second: Keep with a good name, Khar-Deshai was the name you originally gave the vessel, keep it throughout the rest of the tale, even if the people eventually call themselves the Kadesh it is enough of a derivative that the two names will become similar. Then again you could entirely change the name of the ship so that it is no where close to what the people are called, After all the people who landed on Kharak did not end up calling themselves the Khartobins did they?
Third: I like the idea of your cult, but it was a little too intense to have been rushed like you did, I found myself wanting to see the insanity a bit more, the infatuation for Miriam was fine and dandy but really the guy ended up sounding more like a sex crazed freak than a cult leader. Again this is probably due to your foreshortening of the “story”.
Fourth: I hated the way and manner in which Tamuur died, I was hoping for something a little more well subtle, a swaying of the elders to the cult, an assassination here an accident there and all the while Tamuur the ever ignorant fool lost more and more say in the council until he is deemed a heretic and Unclean by the Elders and Levi (bad choice of a name if you ask me) and possibly sent into exile on board one of his own swarmers. Miriam being brain dead and yet still becoming married to Levi was foul, in fact it almost made me hate the entire thought of the Kadeshi cult not that it was really good or anything but that was just a sickening idea.
Anyway my thoughts from the depths of the Library of the Unread. It needs lots of polish, but it has a good plot.
As always, critisim makes me shudder, but it's necissary. Thanks for the review!
And FYI, story is undergoing a re-write. I'll have to finish at least Genesis before posting it over the...well... atrocious writing that was ch1.
At least I'm being a little more merticulous this time.
Last edited by Norsehound; 26th Jan 07 at 9:26 PM.
OK. Started all the way from the beginning to re-write and revise this thing.
CHILDREN OF KADESH
A Homeworld Fan Fiction
In the beginning, the people sinned.
A great evil descended from the sky on to our paradise, bringing with them flame and death as they openly roamed the streets and causeways of our paradise. They killed many, spared few, and showed no mercy for those fortunate enough by Sajuuk to survive.
With our cities ruined and our cause lost, we were condemned from paradise by the great enemy. Some say we offended the great maker, he who shapes what is, Sajuuk, and that these messengers of God were sent to punish us. Others thing it was the great tormentor, Khelan-Jaat, and his minions that drove us, Sajuuk’s great work, from Paradise. Whatever the case, our punishment was expulsion from Paradise…
There was a tap his shoulder. Turning, wide-eyed, the boy held the fingers to his lips and made the “Shhh!” sound.
Miriam smiled at him.
Both young people turned to continue to listen to the bard retell the same story they had heard over and over again. The Deluge; the expulsion of their people from Paradise. It was a story that, so they were told, they would have memorized by heart in the years to come. For, they said, it would be the story of their existence; Cramped in these metal boxes for the rest of their lives, headed for a destination they would never live to see.
Tamuur didn’t want to believe it, but he listened out of his love for history. In his mind he imagined the great evil roaming the streets of paradise, the titanic Khelan-Jaat immolated in fire with great horns and a howling mouth, commanding the children of Hiigara to board these rusted ships and never return. The great metal boats taking off from a world they would never see...
And yet, there was hope, somewhere. There had to be. No story he knew told of hopelessness… at least, he’d like to think so.
The lecture finished and the bard was applauded before the assembled audience gave him the meager coinage they felt he deserved. Miriam’s insistent tugging on Tamuur’s shoulder turned the boy’s head.
“What is it?” He asked.
“I want you to see something,” She said.
Tamuur, sighing, followed the girl out of the niche and into the main causeway of the ship.
The Causeway was, to the old people, called “Cargo hold C”, one of three on this level of the vast craft which Tamuur had lived his entire life. While he knew the stories his grandparents told him of the great green land they had left behind, this was all he knew: Metal walls, metal ground, metal sky… a world surrounded in construction. It was an organized world- a world which Tamuur hoped, one day, to understand.
He followed Miriam along the causeway to the front of the ship. He wasn’t as energetic as she was in her skipping- she was obviously betraying her enthusiasm for whatever she wanted to show Tamuur. But as he watched her skip he found himself a little light-hearted about her. He couldn’t place it- at age 12 it was appropriate for him to dismiss it as the strange thing adults called ‘love.’
But he was magnetized to her curiosity, her thoroughness. Whenever she found something neat she had to share it with someone- and usually that was Tamuur, if not one of her other friends. It usually lead the three of them to most unusual adventures.
After walking the long way down the causway, Tamuur came through one of the wide doors to find the third of the trio standing on his toes, looking out one of the many windows to the Outside. Though Miriam skipped ahead through a man-sized door into the cabin beyond, Tamuur took the time to stop and say, “Silas, do you want to go outside?”
Silas turned his head and smiled at his friend, coming down on his feet again and turning, “I was just admiring the stars, Tamuur, nothing wrong with that.”
Tamuur just shrugged and followed Miriam. Silas followed, stepping a little more gracefully than Tamuur’s sure strides. It was only a hint of the differences both men had, but these differences were outweighed by their friendship.
Tamuur stepped through a few more hatches with Silas behind him before he realized just where he was. Comparing the mental map of the outside of the ship to where he’d been (he had studied the other ships outside long enough to figure it), he realized they were near the front of the ship- one of the areas long inaccessable to the people and deemed forbidden by the elders.
Tamuur’s interest suddenly perked. Miriam might have found a way through!
His pace increased, and Silas noticed. “Hey, slow down!” Called the younger boy.
Tamuur hurried through the last door to see Miriam standing beside one of the many airlocks, a wide grin just under her lips.
Tamuur, catching his breath, said, “Okay Miriam… what did you want to show me?”
Miriam turned around to face the door and hit three of the huge buttons on the airlock. The door beeped in a sequence unlike Tamuur had heard before, and the door opened into darkness.
Tamuur, remembering the lessons of his grandfather, stepped cautiously into the darkened room and allowed his eyes to adjust. He would need a long while to explore this place- he often did in unlit areas when he went free roaming like this. There was a certain technique and procedure that he-
“It’s all right,” Miriam said as she strode past him, “I’ve already been around here.”
“Miriam!” Chided Tamuur, “There could have been traps, or bombs, or-“
“Deamons?” Silas suggested.
Tamuur gave him a deadpan look while Miriam stepped up to the front of the room and reached on her toes. Tamuur, taller than she was, walked up behind her and grabbed her by the shoulders to lift her. Beside them, Silas also went up on his toes to look.
They had reached the ship’s forward observation deck. A row of round windows peered out into the space ahead of them, showing the backs of many ships and their six huge glowing engines. It also revealed the lights, showing that there were others like them trapped inside the metal coffins.
Silas did his best to point and say, “They stretch on forever!”
“It’s fantastic…” Miriam said with awe.
Tamuur lowered her and peered for himself. He lost count of the new ships he could see in his vision- he would have to come back here later with a tablet and abacus to add to the number of ships he knew existed out here. He could identify some new features on the ships that he had never seen before, also, which demanded documentation.
“There must be hundreds,” He said, “Hundreds of them… with hundreds of people inside…”
“The whole Hiigaran race…” Silas mused, then pointed, “Tamuur look!”
Tamuur turned his head with Miriam so they could see it. Even with their shorter height they could all see through the round windows one of the huge brick ships start to turn.
“It’s moving…” Miriam said.
Tamuur just stood riveted to the deck and watched. Part of his mind had always accepted that the ships never moved- the stars did. It was like a trail of water flowing downstream, and these bricks were rocks. His grandfather told him this wasn’t the case, and secretly he wanted to believe that the rocks could move on their own. But all his friends said this wasn’t true- their own fathers and mothers told them so. Tamuur was overwhelmed by the proof of his theory.
“Look…LOOK!” Silas pointed again.
Something was wrong with the great ship. It had peeled off from the rest, but the lights were flickering. Something bright was happening on the command pod-
The flash made Tamuur lower his eyes and cover them. There was ironically no sound- just the bright spots in his eyes. He lowered his hands and stared into the darkness to blink them clear, before looking up again.
Where the ship had been there was only the visage of a hulk retreating past his view. He knew he couldn’t see it- it would be passing too high for any of the windows to see. His mind painted for him the rest of the picture- one of the bricks with her hull split wide open down the center like a warm anauo snack. Steam was replaced by debris, however, and air.
It dawned on him then the cost of life in that ship. Uncounted numbers of lives were extinguished, just like that, with no reason.
“They sinned…” Silas said suddenly, breaking the silence, “They sinned and they were punished.”
Miriam looked at Silas, who was still staring out into space, and asked, “How did they sin? What did they do?”
“Don’t be silly,” Said Tamuur, “It’s happened before, My dad has stories. Something went wrong, these ships are old.”
Silas took a step forward and stopped, then started to wave his arms. “Tamuur?” He said, “Tamuur? I’m blind… the flash blinded me.”
Tamuur sighed and took Silas by the arm. “Silas,” Tamuur said as Miriam took the other arm to guide their friend to the door, “One of these days you’re going to stare so long out into space it’ll suck your mind out of your brain.”
Miriam laughed, and then looked down at her hand to see that Silas had taken it. She looked at his face and then joined in his smile, despite the fact that he couldn’t know she was.
They didn’t tell anybody about their secret- not even their friends. The seeing room, as Silas had called it, was their own. It was also the very beginning of their adventures.
After Silas got his sight back, the three of them returned to the seeing room to look out at the ships again. Tamuur was sketching furiously, commenting to his friends about what some things were on the other ships. Miriam and Silas listened and commented when they could, Miriam from where she sat and moved a pair of knitting needles while Silas had climbed up to sit in the sill of one of the round portals.
Tamuur had painstakingly moved some of the discarded boxes in the seeing room and moved them so that he could sit on them to look outside. It also gave him some more degrees of seeing- he counted at least three more ships below their own.
“The markings on the side,” Tamuur said, “They’re different on each one. What are they?”
Miriam shrugged, “Decoration?”
“Names,” Silas said, “They’re names of the ships.”
“They are, huh?” Asked a skeptical Tamuur, “So if they’re names, can you read them?”
“Sure,” Silas said, pointing, “That one’s Naala-Sur, that one’s Komoti-juu, that one’s the Lisaan-gib, that one-“
“Wait,” Tamuur said, “You really can read that stuff?”
“Uh-huh,” Silas said, “My dad’s a calligrapher remember?”
“What language is it then?” Tamuur asked.
Silas shrugged, “I dunno. I just remember what he taught me. He called it ‘Baalai’.”
“Ask him where it’s from.” Tamuur suggested.
“I need to have something to show him first.” Silas said.
Tamuur sighed and grabbed a scrap of paper, scribbled some of the drawings on it, and held it out. “Here.”
“I don’t want to come down,” Said Silas and turned his head to look outside.
Tamuur sighed and then felt Miriam take the slip of paper from his hand. She considered it, before saying, “It’s beaitful.”
“It is…” Tamuur dismissed, and looked out at the stars, “It’s nice… I wish I were a calligrapher.”
“No you don’t,” Silas scoffed.
“Yes I do!” Tamuur replied.
“No you don’t,” Silas said, turning to face his friend, “If you were, you’d be a better artist than you are.”
Tamuur winced, “What?”
Silas adjusted his seat saying, “All your drawings are rough and blocky. If you wanted to be a calligrapher, you need to make graceful, thin lines. Not rough and blocky and square.”
Out of reflex, Tamuur looked at his drawings.
“You’ll never be an artist,” Silas said, laughing, and turned back to the portal.
Tamuur sighed and dismissed Silas, turning back to his sketching. A moment later he noticed Miriam was watching him draw. She looked up at him, smiled some, and whispered, “I think you draw really good, Tamuur.”
Tamuur just smiled back and looked out at the ships again to continue drawing them.
“Twinkle, twinkle…” Silas mused, running his fingers across the reinforced glass. His eyes were fixed on a red dot glowing brightly ahead of them.
Six months later, the three had managed to explore the room with lights. In their snooping, Silas discovered a loose ventilation shaft hatch. Tamuur felt the adventure was just beginning.
They were now moving through the upper vents of the ship. It was just Tamuur with Silas this time- Miriam had an inconvenient instructional period that prevented her from coming. She pouted about it, but had to suck it up. It wasn’t proper for girls to play with boys… then again, it wasn’t proper for anybody to do what Tamuur and Silas were doing now.
In fact, it was possible that they might be put to death if anybody ever found out.
In both boy’s minds though, the worst they could think of was being told no and sent to their beds.
According to Tamuur’s sense of direction, they had emerged into the spine of the ship. Only rarely had they seen lights lit on other ships this high- it seemed the highest deck was off-limits on a normal basis. Then again, with the reason they got here…
After crawling though vents and dust, both boys emerged into deck one. Tamuur knew this from the giant red/yellow 01 painted on the side of one of the walls. Such markers were heavily corroded on other decks, but still there.
“Wow…” Silas said behind his mask, “It’s quiet…”
Tamuur nodded and both boys took a moment to drink in the silence. In living in a world packed with people and metal halls, silence was as much of a rare commodity as precious stones.
Tamuur looked down the long hallway and noticed there were no doors. The corridor ran all the way back to what seemed to be the end of the ship- miles away. The floor was covered in peeled paint, and the dust was so thick it caked the floor. If anyone needed evidence they were here, it wouldn’t be hard to spot.
“Let’s go back.” Tamuur said, pointing, and aiming his flashlight in the direction of travel. Silus followed him.
Both boys walked in silence for the back. Tamuur was focused ahead, his mind racing at the possibilities of what could be on the fabled first deck. Were there storerooms? A way into engineering? A solution for their predicament? Salvation? Monsters? Half the thirll was exploring. The other half was the feeling of abandonment… disuse… potential. Hidden things left here that once were. If there were any machines in disrepair on this level, he could spend days trying to take them apart and examine them. His mind was mechanically oriented… with only one known diversion.
Silus, on the other hand, took occasional glances outside. While Tamuur was focused on the ship, Silus was focused on the outside. The stars had shifted the last time he had looked- and the clouds and veils had changed. He would have to write about it later.
But the awe of this place! The loneliness! The silence… Silus would need another moment sometime to drink it all in- or perhaps come back here and let the nervousness overcome his gut. He never felt like this before… and a momentary wish was that he was alone in his venture here. The feeling was almost narcotic.
Tamuur took notice of the doors they were passing now on their left. Sealed shut, but not welded shut. Whatever force that sealed these canisters obviously didn’t consider that there would eventually be inquisitive souls who got past the rudimentary precautions. There would be much time to explore them later.
That is, until he came to one particular door.
Both boys stopped in the hall to look at it. The door was rusted with age, but both could make out amid the rusted chips the red cross sigil of a medical facility. They stared at it for a moment more.
“We should go in.” Tamuur said. Silus nodded. Tamuur turned to the door lock only to notice that the panel was absent. It wasn’t even on the floor- it had been completely removed. Only a round ring hole and the base remained, with wires and naked bolts from where it had been torn.
Tamuur peered inside before reaching a hand in and snatching some wiring. It was still here at least. As he cut the wires and experimented with them, Silus turned to look outside the window again.
“No…” Tamuur breathed, “no…” Each wire he knew was connected to some kind of mechanism to the door. One feed lead to the keypad, another would lead to another emergency system that could automatically open the door. The trick was finding the right combination that overrode any locks and opened the door automatically.
“No, no,” He droned on, until he connected white with red. The door cracked open with a noise so sudden Silus jumped and staggered with fear. Tamuur laughed behind his mask and approached the silver of an entry. The door was either jammed or the motors died- but either way they could get in.
Tamuur pressed ahead first. His light shone across the room and the far wall. Silus was behind him, wide-eyed and curious at the darkness he was entering. The deathly cold and silence was also present.
Unaffected by feeling, Tamuur immediately examined the wall to the side of the door. The panel was intact, but unpowered. Not good. He then found above it the light control- surpassingly still lit. he reached a gloved digit out and activated it.
Silus jumped again at the sudden explosion of light. It wasn’t complete, and many of the overhead lights had burned out or sparked, but there was now light in the room. Both men stopped to look about the room rife with new things neither had ever experienced.
“This is a full hospital…” Tamuur observed, “Everything’s here…” He walked to one of the observation chairs and stroked the faded leather. There were bases for chairs like this, but only one of them was intact. This medical station had four.
Silus pressed onward, clicking off his light, and approached a cabinet. It was locked. He pocketed his flashlight and gripped the handle with both hands.
As Silus struggled with the medicine cabinet, Tamuur was examining a bench of medical equipment. He reached out and pulled a pistol-like device from its slot next to three on one of the counters. He examined it with his eyes, turning it around, and ran his other hand across the side. He hadn’t seen anything like this before.
Silus finally managed to get the cabinet open. The metal lock popped open and Silus staggered back, then peered into the large cabinet. Little plastic boxes had lined the shelves, designated with writing too small for him to make out clearly. He pulled one of the pillboxes from the shelf and examined the red and white capsules within.
“We should come back here sometime with Miriam,” Tamuur suggested, then noticed what Silus was doing. “Silus, don’t touch those.”
Silus looked at Tamuur as he held one of the pillboxes open, some of the red and white pills in his hand. “What are they?”
“Pills. Medication. Prescription stuff. You’re not supposed to take them unless you’re sick.”
Silus looked back at the pills and pondered aloud, “But what happens if you take them when you’re well?”
“Just leave them alone.” Tamuur said, “They could be poison or something.”
“Why give poison to a well person?” Silus asked, still considering the pills.
“Silus, just leave them alone.” Tamuur replied, “We can look, but don’t touch too much stuff- and definitely don’t eat anything. Those pills are probably older than you are.”
Tamuur didn’t mean it as a joke, but Silus chuckled behind his mask and returned the pills to the pillbox. He looked over his shoulder, seeing Tamuur considering a medical scanner, before pocketing one of the pillboxes.
“Anyways,” Said Tamuur, “I think I need to sit in here for a while before tinkering with anything…” he trailed off as he spotted some books on a shelf. He read the label and pulled it off the shelf to look at the cover. “Huh.”
Silus pocketed a few more pillboxes in his jacket before turning to Tamuur. “What?”
“Medical book… I think I’ll take this.” Tamuur said and folded it under his shoulder.
Silus hesitated, then asked, “Can I take some of the pills?”
“No,” Toned Tamuur, turning to his friend, “They can hurt you, Silus.” Tamuur stared at his friend, and then said, “Put them back.”
“You have your book,” Silus said, “I want some of the pills.”
“Fine,” Tamuur said, taking the book and putting it on the shelf, “I’m leaving the book. Put the pills back.”
Silus sighed and returned to the cabinent to pull out the pillboxes one by one and replace them on one of the shelves. When he was finished, he looked back at Tamuur- still with an upset expression in his eyes. Silus sighed and removed the last of the pillboxes from his person, stacking them on the shelf.
“Good,” Tamuur said, “Let’s go.”
Tamuur turned to go and strode for the door. Silus reached out again and managed to slip a pillbox from the shelf- his favorite- and conceal it in his hand. It was a skill he had picked up from idle play- and used it now to prevent Tamuur from being hard with him again.
Tamuur killed the lights with a flick of his hand and stepped into the door crack. “Why did you turn off the lights?” Asked Silus as he followed Tamuur through the crack.
“To preserve them,” Tamuur said, “Some say it’s better to keep them on but I don’t want to take any chances. Anyway, we should probably get back- it’s already been a few hours.”
Both boys started down the hallway for the way out. Silus glanced back at the door just once, and then smiled beneath his mask. He did it! Now all he needed to do was keep quiet about the secret he had in his pocket.
Tamuur regretted leaving the book behind, but he didn’t want to have a long argument with Silus. Tamuur remembered all too well the first days of his own exploring of foreign substances. After taking a sip of ship lubricant, he endured weeks of pain before recovering. His parents told him he was lucky to be alive, and Tamuur remembered that lesson all through his life. He hoped Silus wouldn’t need a similar experience to learn that lesson.
When they returned they told Miriam all about their stories and what they saw on level one. Despite Miriam’s enthusiasm to see the hospital for herself, they had been missed, and decided to keep a low profile for a while. None of them wanted to undergo the punishment of stasis- being sent to their cubicles or even worse; confined to the ship’s nursery areas. None of them realized the gravity of their situation, however, and persisted as normal curious children did.
Silus had secreted his pills well- hiding them under his cot until all had fallen asleep. Using a small stone he managed to reflect the overhead lighting into his tent to be able to read the cover of the pillbox he had liberated.
The pills were called “CERANOEX”, and the errata on the labels had many things to say. Silus had never encountered medicine before- he had heard about it but never had to take anything himself. Medicine, so he was told, was for serious patients. Patient who could die, they said, or patients who were terribly ill. He remembered some of the adults saying that once there was a lot of medicine, but now there was only handfuls left of it to cure people.
Silus understood Medicine as something magical, something finite. And here he had in his hands a small amount of that stuff- of that magical stuff that healed people. If it could heal the sick within a matter of days, what else could it do?
He studied the label night after night, trying to decipher it’s meaning like Tamuur did with the various mechanical parts and things he found from various places. He even wrote about it in his journal, made conjectures about confusing words and sentences. But what he did know was the magical properties of ‘medecine.’
One night he decided to try some of the magic for himself. Deep into the night cycle, when the door to his tent was shut, he produced the pills and read the instructions. One pill was necissary, just one, for the magic to work. He had a glass of water with him. The pills were swallow-able.
Silus put the pill in his mouth and drank- felt the thick pill slide down his throat with the water. He almost gagged at it’s size- he haddn’t swallowed anything that hard that was so big before. Sitting on his bed he waited for the magic to happen.
For the first minutes there was nothing. Twenty minutes came and went and there was nothing. Sighing in disappointment, Silus leaned back into the bed and prepared himself for sleep.
But there was something odd. He no longer felt the bed- no longer felt the air or the sheets or the cloths. He felt something… something strange. He was floating, or rather he thought he was floating. He sat up and looked at his hands to realize that he had lost his sensation of touch. Running a hand over the sheet, everything felt numb.
And he heard a voice. A beautiful voice. It sounded a lot like Miriam’s… and he looked around to see where the voice was coming from. Outside, somewhere. It was somewhere outside. He stood and wobbled on his feet and walked to the door of his tent, forgetting completely the fear of being discovered. Opening the flap, he peered outside into the empty common of the cubicle space. He didn’t see anything, but the floor seemed to be rippling like water.
He closed the flap. He was afraid, fear was in his mind, but he didn’t feel it. Instead he felt the same kind of loneliness he felt on the first level of the ship- that sensation of his insides being all floaty and gelenatous. He turned back to the bed and felt his insides swirl with him.
But he saw something. It was coming from the shiny mirror he used to deflect the light to read by. Yes, the light… He could see a face there. It was outlined in the sheets of the back wall. They resolved into the ghostly image of a face- moving, breathing, blinking. It was the face of a woman.
He could hear someone’s voice. He strained his ears, loosing all sense of time. He could hear her voice calling to him from a distant place. He strained his eyes, squinting to see if it was really real, and the point of light in his eyes turned into a full red dot.
He hovered there in complete ecstasy, before suddenly becoming aware that his stomach was drifting up his throat. He shuddered, and the next thing he knew he was sitting in something sticky.
As he sat there in his own vomit, he tried to recapture the voice, the spirit. It was there somewhere, just beyond his memory. He just sat, wide-eyed, contemplating what he had seen.
In the morning after, Tamuur followed the spur of a moment and took Miriam somewhere. Suddenly appearing at her dwelling place and taking her by the hand, the two of them departed for the lower areas of the ship.
She was confused, as he wasn’t saying anything. He just smiled at her when she asked where they were headed. Eventually they descended the staircases for the lower levels of the ship.
The bottom half of the titanic vessel had been converted from empty carrying space into rows of hydroponics plants and gardens. He held her hand as he pulled her through the rows of plants.
Finally, she stopped him and asked, “Tamuur, where are we going?”
Tamuur, still smiling, looked about him before reaching a hand through the plants. Miriam watched, wide-eyed and curious. Her eyes bulged a little more as Tamuur produced a strange mechanical construction out of the trees and set it on the floor. It was about as high as their waists, with four mechanical legs and a compact computerized head with a glossy cover fixed to the top of the body. A large camera eye sat on the top.
“What is it?” She asked.
“It’s an automation,” Tamuur said, proudly. He fingered around the body of the machine and flicked a switch. The device jerked, then raised it’s head up some distance before stopping and rotating the blocky construction. It’s eye flicked, taking in information.
Miriam was laughing with amusement. She composed herself and said, “It’s wonderful Tamuur! Where did you get it?”
Tamuur beamed with pride as he said, “I built it.”
“You did? From what?” She asked.
“Parts,” Tamuur shrugged, still wearing his pride. He stood beside Miriam and looked at the automation saying, “It’ll start walking in a minute.”
The automation turned it’s head and started to move it’s stubby feet. The machine waddled back and forth as it took step after hurried step in it’s loud march down the walkway. Miriam giggled behind her hands, amazed at the power of his creation, before her eyes widened a bit as it toppled over and fell.
Tamuur sighed with a little embarrassment as he approached the struggling robot and switched it off before it became too confused. “Sorry… it worked well before…”
Miriam stepped forward saying, “I think it was wonderful Tamuur.”
“You do?” Tamuur beamed, and then turned back to the machine with pride, “Maybe I can build more… maybe they can do more things. Maybe I can give it arms to it can do stuff.”
Miriam walked on the catwalk before stopping and sitting down on her legs beside him. “I think he’s fine the way he is.” Tamuur looked at her. She smiled and explained, “He’s cute. He has a lot of character already.”
Tamuur looked back at his machine and started to stand him up, “He doesn’t do much… he just walks.”
“It’s good enough though.” She said, “Besides, if you made him do everything, then what would you be doing? You like to do things yourself, don’t you?”
“Build things, yeah,” Tamuur said, standing, “But doing chores and helping my grandparents…”
Miriam stood with him, “But if your robot did that, then your grandparents would be sad because they would miss you.”
Tamuur looked at her in consideration. “I never thought of that…”
Miriam beamed, “I guess that’s why I hang around with you.” She turned to the robot and picked it up with her hands. “He’s real light…how about we introduce him to everyone else?”
Tamuur hesitated, then thought better of it. “Sure,” he said with a grin, “Why not?”
Last edited by Norsehound; 27th Apr 07 at 4:59 AM.
I'm liking this reboot.
I hope you would focus more on the characters now.
Also--I'll back Greenstones criticisms...and I think he said pretty much what I was going to say before the server ate my long-assed post.
Basically--just make these people a little more real, and don't rush events, and things too much.
I'm liking how this didn't have things happen so fast, so please keep that up. It's nice to see a fresher perspective on an older story and how things would be done differently now.
I should try and go back to my reboot of the Banana Chronicles (yes that's HW fanfic too), but blegh. No inspiration. *thud*
Anyways, best of luck with this okay? I'm definitely still going to be reading.
I don't think the writing is as hot on this one, but for the sake of moving the story forward...
“Tamuur, this is a very delicate instrument. Only three are left in the entire ship. Do you understand?”
“I’m not twelve anymore,” Tamuur dismissed. The signal keeper handed the bulky light instrument to the young man and stepped up to the window.
They were along the side of the ship, near one of the accessible windows to the outside. Today, Tamuur was to make his first signal to the other ships. He was a little nervous, and ran through the memorized codes and articles of light communication in his head. He was certain he wouldn’t do too badly though- he practiced the message many times and the signal keeper said he was a bright young man with a promising future. One assumption the keeper made though, was that Tamuur had decided to make this his profession. In reality, Tamuur just wanted to master the art of light communication.
He was given this permission because of the widely accepted fact that he had a knack for all things mechanical. Ever since revealing his automation years ago, he had been entrusted with more and more broken machines and devices. Over the years, he had worked his mechanical wizardry and tinkering knack on many of them and even got some to function once again. Others he scrapped, and more he assembled from what few components were brought to him.
The signal device was one such thing he had thought about setting out to recreate. He needed an understanding in signaling, however, which explained why he was here.
He aimed the light device at one of the distant, nearly stationary, cargo vessels and flashed the long blink. He repeated the cycle until a light flicked on the other side.
The light keeper, watching this from only steps away, nodded as he folded his arms and observed. Tamuur opened communications with a traditional greeting before giving the inquiry the elders posted. Tamuur finished his message, and listened to the reader standing at another window.
“They say the plague is getting worse,” the reader translated, “It has claimed five more families and is spreading by the day. They have run out of their medicines…”
Sullen faces appeared in the room. Sajuuk had blessed their ship, in that disease was rare and the council was ever watchful of the sick and the wounded- treating them with conservative uses of medicine or quarantining the infectious. But for other ships, it was likely that such precautions weren’t practiced, or the disease was too great. Whatever the case, it had only existed in nightmares that plague and death would consume an entire ship- trapping the survivors in with the dead.
The light keeper nodded sullenly and spoke a message for Tamuur to translate. He did so, trying to distance himself from the thought of their own ship being in the same situation. Hundreds dead, no hope, the plague. The helplessness.
After being in the signal room he was released, but asked not to spread the somber news. The council would wish to do that, since they were the handlers of information. They, at least, knew how to shield the populace from despair enough to keep the spirits of the people high.
As he reemerged into the center areas of the ship, his thoughts dwelled on the possibilities of what he could do. There were many airlocks on this ship, but hardly any of them had protective equipment. None of them had forgotten the fact that absolutely nothing existed immediately outside the ship. No air, no heat, no light, and more importantly: no life. Any breach in the hull spelled disaster not just for the individual, but for the entire population. This fact had been drilled into all the children since the first days of ancient times, when their people were banished from paradise.
But there had to be some reason… Tamuur would not let defeat overcome him. There had to be some way to get the medicines aboard other ships to the people in dire need on others. Had he not reconstructed entire machines on his own? How hard would it be to construct a machine or device capable of travelling outside the ship, to others, and boarding them?
As he walked into his abode of the cubicle village, the first of many problems came to mind: rubber. The scarcity of it. Any polymer would do as a sealant- as his grandfather had told him. Air needed to be kept in with something soft- metal on metal would not contain it. Airtight equipment had to be constructed… and Rubber was, in his mind, the best solution for something to contain the air. Unfortunately it was the rarest substance on the ship, needed in many other applications from medicine to machine repair.
He turned into his cubicle and noticed he wasn’t alone. She was seated on his bed. “Miriam,” He realized with awe.
She smiled with him with a smile that left him stunned for several seconds. She stood, revealing a well-shaped, lean figure common among the people. Her golden hair had turned wavy as the years went on, and her face and body filled out to become more as a woman’s should. She charmed him now with her innocent eyes and small smile.
Tamuur had changed, also. Working with machines had maintained his muscles, giving him strength. Like his father and grandfather, and as he was told great grandfather, he was tall and broad-shouldered. Of the three friends he was taller, Silas reaching the height of his chin. If anything it gave him troubles- as he was outgrowing the propped-up cot Miriam was now standing from.
Physical changes were also internal. Tamuur had a great concept about this love thing, now, and he felt the feeling when he saw Miriam again for the first time in two years.
Tamuur composed himself, trying to be stern, but his question came out tender, “What are you doing here?”
She smiled at him, hands folded before her, “I missed you,” she said.
Tamuur was unsure of this. She could be lying- her sudden affection for Silus seemed to suggest she wasn’t fascinated with Tamuur’s ‘Toys’ anymore. She chose the artisan over the builder, the poet over the tinker. He had given up hope when he hardly saw her anymore, and missed her dearly.
To see her now was… moving. For a moment he forgot all about the scarcity of rubber, the planning he had, and the vision for the device to walk in the stars. All he could see was her, updating her image in his mind of what she looked like. Her, garbed in white, and beautiful.
She too was staring at him- into his eyes. They were both paralyzed by how much they had grown.
Tamuur was finally able to find words, “I…I…” he shook his head and smiled, averting his eyes as he said, “It’s been too long…”
Miriam tilted her head a little to the side, then said, “You missed me too. You’re not good at hiding your feelings… are you?”
Tamuur could feel his face change, becoming warmer. “Not…not when it came to some things…” He took a breath and faced her again, asking the question that emerged from being buried in his mind for the past two years: “Why did you stop talking to me?”
Miriam still looked into his eyes, her expression changing to match her statement, “You were becoming fascinated with your machines… you just wandered off into your own mechanical world. I couldn’t talk to you anymore because you were always busy.”
“I would have dropped everything if you visited,” Tamuur replied, “All you needed to do was say something.”
Miriam lowered her face. “I’m sorry… I just… didn’t want to interrupt your work.” She looked up again, “You’re so happy doing what you love doing Tamuur… I didn’t want to interrupt your happiness.”
“I would have been happy if you visited.” He said.
They were quiet for a moment, before Tamuur bitterly decided to ask a question. “How’s Silus?”
“He’s fine,” She replied, “He’s been really creative lately.” She smiled, “You should hear some of the poetry we’ve written.”
“Together?” Tamuur said, raising his head. His heart was already sinking.
She nodded happily, saying again, “He’s even decided to perform some readings in the forum this afternoon. I’d be happy if you came.”
“I don’t know…” Tamuur said, shaking his head. He remembered his words, however, and raised his head to ask, “Will you be there?”
“Of course!” She replied, “He won’t be the only one reading… so will I.”
This made Tamuur smile some. “Then I’ll come,” He said, “I’m sure everything can wait while I enjoy myself.”
They both smiled for a while, and remained even after the smiles faded.
“Silus’s changed,” Miriam said as she lowered her face. The tone she used made Tamuur suspicious.
“What’s wrong?” He asked.
Miriam answered, “Well… he’s just… different. I think it’s the stress he’s under… his mother is terribly ill.”
“I didn’t know…” Tamuur trailed off.
Miriam raised her face to him with concern in her eyes. “Tamuur… can you….watch him, for me?”
Tamuur’s eyebrows lowered, “Watch him? What do you mean?”
Miriam’s eyes averted sideways as she said, “I know you two haven’t spoken in a while… but you’d know best what’s wrong with Silus. You and he used to be close friends before….”
Tamuur pressed his lips together in consideration. She was asking him not only to accept the fact that they were together, but also to watch Silus for any signs of trouble. It said many things… and perhaps the friendship was worth salvaging. He nodded and said, “I’ll see what I can do.”
Miriam smiled and stepped forward, catching Tamuur off guard with a hug. He gently returned her embrace, unsure of everything now since his world had been tipped almost on its head from where it had been earlier this morning.
Tamuur held his word and dropped his plans for the afternoon to attend the forum.
It was a small circular clearing near the front of the ship, surrounded by the tent enclosures erected on the metal floor. A statue made of winding bare white metal strips had been erected at its center- its purpose to convey, in abstract terms, the freedom of the Hiigaran spirit. It was a thing of ridicule among the younger generations.
Tamuur spotted Silas even before he could hear him. Two years had changed him, yes, starting with his physique. He was smaller than Tamuur, both in height and in body composition. His lean body was almost stick-thin, appearing just as scarce and fragile as the metal collection of curving frozen white and silver strips behind him.
His voice hadn’t changed though, and as Tamuur approached he could now understand his sweeping gestures and passionate stance.
“That no man become lost,” He motioned across the seated audience with a finger, “that no woman, man, or child become lost in the heavens, in our boats. Sajuuk, he who shapes what is, is but a mere shadow- a thing. His spirit is with us; doubtful! He knows only himself… if he exists. How can we speculate what he is or what he isn’t? We know only the name and what the myths tell us… there is no truth…”
Tamuur, standing some distance behind the seated audience, wondered if he was the only one confused about Silas’s ‘poetry’. His thoughts were interrupted when he spotted Miriam, seated some steps beyond Silas. Her eyes caught his and both smiled as they saw one another.
Silas didn’t notice either, even after finishing. He spread his arms and dipped his head low as the assembled audience applauded. After a moment he stepped out of the center space, meeting Miriam halfway between her seat and exchanging an embrace.
Tamuur decided to sit down, and took a place at the back. He brought his knees up and hugged them as he listened to Miriam.
Rather than introduce herself, she looked at the delicate sheet of paper before her. This raised some eyebrows- paper was incredibly scarce in today’s time. Tamuur noticed it also, but all thought left him when she started to read.
“In my eyes, I have two hands
Two brothers, two souls, to paths, two lands
Beginning, ending, arriving, leaving.
If I raise one hand, the other falls.
If I speak one word, the other is said.
One I cannot have without the other
To let one live, leaves the other dead.
In one light I have a gear
A pretty gear, a gear with ears.
I speak to the gear and it gives me thought
Wonderful thoughts, thoughts I want.
In the other I have a lens
A lens that makes a prism of the light it bends
I look through the lens and it gives me sight
But from it I can no longer decipher the…”
She was staring at Tamuur as she lowered the paper. Everyone was waiting for her to finish.
Blushing, she shook her head, “It’s not finished… I’m sorry…”
Tamuur was one of the first to begin applauding. She had her head lowered as she left the stage. Another poet stood, but Tamuur was watching Miriam. She and Silas departed, headed off and away from the forum. Other heads watched, but only Tamuur stood and walked to follow them.
He didn’t take a direct route. Like all other inmates on the ship, he knew the exact layout of the city of tents. After tracking the pair he stopped when he could hear them.
“…but I liked it,” Silas’ voice was saying, “I can guess your inspiration… it’s me and Tamuur, isn’t it?”
Miriam mumbled something. Silas chuckled. Then he said, “I didn’t know I was a gear… I guess it works… beautiful and polished, eh? Ah well…” the rest were murmurs.
Tamuur waited and listened as Silas and Miriam parted. Steps later, Miriam rounded the corner of the tent Tamuur was hiding behind. Seeing him, she gave a sudden gasp.
Tamuur just stared at her with his mouth slightly agape.
In his tent, Tamuur’s hands worked around a damaged agricultural machine while Miriam sat on his bed. Neither of them had said much after Miriam went home with Tamuur.
Finally, looking at her hands, she spoke, “I’m sorry… I guess I should have rehearsed a little more.”
“Everyone seemed to like it.” Tamuur replied, then winced at a part of the machine he was working on, “Even Silas’s spiel… what was that anyway?”
Miriam shook her head, “Interpretive. Silas is very experimental…”
“I agree to that,” Tamuur replied, adjusting his seat and looking at her, “Do you like his work?”
She looked at one of the walls of the tent saying, “Some of it’s interesting. The audience liked it at least.”
“I think the audience was applauding his acrobatic skills,” Tamuur said with a smirk.
“His work is very thought-provoking.” Miriam said, staring at him again, “How many times have you imagined Khelan-Jaat and his minions when you’ve heard the deluge?”
“You have me there,” Replied Tamuur as he looked at the machine, “The difference is the context. The deluge is the ancient tale of why our people were here… at least it’s coherent. Silas is borderline…” Tamuur trailed off as a thought struck him. He turned his head asking, “Where did you get that paper?”
Miriam, caught off guard, blinked as she pulled her head back slightly. “Silas gave it to me..” She said, “He said there was plenty where that came from…”
Tamuur leaned back on his legs, away from the machine, to think.
“Is there something wrong?” Asked Miriam.
Her coughing and wheezing were heard from the next tent over.
Silas’s head had turned over his hunched-over body, staring in the direction of his mother’s dying. He held it there for a moment and turned back to look at the thing he held in his hands.
The box- with one pill left.
Over the years since he had discovered this magic he had surrounded himself with the mystical things. Drawings scrawled on fabric, markings etched in scrap metal, even the ornate array of mirrors and prisms that lit the room in a soft warm glow.
His mother had to get better.
They had already taken her to see the healer several levels below. That was when she could walk. There had been a fear that they may have to put her in quarantine, least she infect anyone else with what she had and unleash an epidemic. When she was examined by one of the last functioning assessment devices, the machine told them that it wasn’t contagious- just….
Whatever the case, they denied her medicine. The mandate had come from the council. Not only did the medicine have to be preserved, but something was said about too many people being on the ship.
They were going to let her mother die.
Silus clutched his cure in his hands- the one thing that had opened his eyes to new worlds…new visions. With it, he had been able to comprehend not just the visual, but the spiritual. His mind had reached new boundaries through the help of this magic. And he never felt better in his whole life than when he was taken with the ecstasy of this medicine.
It was a miracle. A miracle contained in such a small little thing.
And best of all, it was medicine. Medicine from his own private stockpile. His mother needed medicine.
Clasping the pill case tight, Silas stood and made his way gently out of his shrine. Entering the neighboring tent of his parents, he volunteered to take care of mother while father went to market to get food. Silas’ father agreed and left, telling Silas not to do anything rash.
Silas poured his mother a glass of water and presented her with the cure. “Mum…” He muttered, “I brought you medicine…”
The mother of Silas, Eden, raised her grey-framed head. Her eyes winced in pain, but she saw the red and white pill Silas had in his hand. He fed her the miracle, followed by letting her drink the glass of water.
Time seemed to slip away as he rubbed her hand to comfort her. His eyes were wide, studying her features as he sought for the blessing. He waited, fingers probing in his mother’s knuckles in the way his mother used to do for him when he was little.
His mother shuddered suddenly, startling Silus as she surged in the bed. His hands went to her shoulders, calling to her, but she wouldn’t hear. Her eyes were wide open, staring up and ahead at the ceiling, her mouth agape.
“silas… Kahdesh…” She murmured.
Her body slowly went slack and she fell back into the cot. Silas, eyes wide, stared at his mother.
Slowly he sat on his knees, and then lowered his head. When the husband of Eden returned, there was an outcry of sadness.
Tamuur had forgotten the silence of this place. Deck 01 was just as he remembered it from years ago. Tamuur quickly made his way down the long hallway, leaving the vent he used to get here years ago.
Tamuur’s pace slowed a little as he remembered how much he used to enjoy this. Plodding around in the insides of ships, venturing where he shouldn’t, exploring areas long forgotten or forbidden to travel. He still had yet to find the one place he wished to see so desperately; Engineering. The tales and stories his grandfather told him about the massive engines and rows of controls and buttons came to him renewed as he thought about it in this dead place.
He continued, making his way past the windows. It was dark and forbidding otherwise, and only his flashlight was present for company.
Years ago, he wouldn’t have dreamt exploring without one of the others. Either it was Miriam, where he’d show her what he knew of the ship’s systems, or it was Silus, where the pair of them would ponder what they’d do. Now Silus was becoming a garbled poet, and Miriam…
He had told Miriam to stay behind, against her wishes. Even though she pointed out she knew where Silas went (He took her with him, apparently, on regular visits up here), Tamuur said it was wise if she stayed in the city in case he went looking for her.
“Why are you doing this?” She had asked in the doorframe of the very same lock she had opened for him when they were kids.
“You told me to look after him didn’t you?” Tamuur had responded.
Tamuur had some theories.
He reached the ajar door, the same one he broke open nearly six years ago. This time the lights were on.
He waited outside for a moment, listening for any signs of life inside. After a minute of hearing nothing save the distant roar of the ship’s engines, he squeezed his way into the hospital and clicked off his flashlight.
It was much the way he had remembered it, but there were some things out of place. Machines had been moved about- at the far end of the room a dispenser of sorts had been tipped over. Some broken machines littered the ground.
Tamuur’s eyes went to the long teal-painted shelf along the side wall of the hospital. Papers were strewn across the shelf, along with open books, ripped pages, and discarded writing styluses. Tamuur crossed the room to this shelf and picked up a sheet of blank paper with a gloved hand. The medicine wand was printed up in the upper right corner- signifying this as a blank medical document. Looking up at the paper racks, he could see the quantity was low.
“Silas…” Breathed Tamuur.
Then he remembered.
Tamuur immediately turned around and saw the medicine cabinet open. He crossed to it in three swift steps, and pulled open the metal doors.
“Sajuuk…” Sighed Tamuur.
The cabinet had clearly been plundered. Where this shelf had nearly been full, there were definite cleaves into the full blocks of arranged pillboxes. Glancing down, Tamuur saw empty and discarded cases littering the floor. He reached down and picked one up, examining the exterior and reading the label.
Tyrandim Tablets, 400mg
Psychoactive drug / Anesthetic
37 Coated Tablets
Tamuur flipped the box over to read the back information. He soon found what he was looking for.
NAUSEA: In some patients, vomiting and stomach discomfort may occur.
HEART COMPLICATION WARNING: In most patients, taking more than prescribed amount may result in heart complications.
HALLICINOGEN: This drug is known to cause hallucinogenic effects. See your doctor for details….
There was more, but Tamuur was already convinced this was the source of Silas’ little ‘episodes.’ He finished reading the medication and placed it where he found it. Looking at the case again, he shook his head in sheer disbelief. Silas must have been taking these ever since he found them. Tamuur should have known better than to let him in here…
Tamuur turned away from the medicine cabinet and crossed back to the shelves. He found the book he had seen earlier when he was here- he recognized the attractive and simple design to the cover. The Medicine wand was there, again, in blue. The heading at the top read GENERAL MEDECINAL GUIDE. The book was on it’s side on the teal shelf.
Tamuur picked it up and paged through it- and stopped when he saw a gap in the spine where about fifty pages would have been. Looking around, he spotted them littering the floor.
Tamuur sighed behind his mask and considered the book, then closed it and tucked it into one of the large pockets of his jacket. He reached down and gathered some of the papers littering the ground, out of hope of perhaps reconstructing as much of the book as he can.
It was no longer out of casual interest, he realized, but because Miriam asked him too. And because Silas needed help. If what Tamuur suggested was true, then there were even worse dangers in line for Silas than what may be evidenced now.
His eyes caught a glimpse of something and he stopped. On his hands and knees, he set aside the stack of papers he had been recovering and crawled across the floor of the dimly lit medical ward to one particular sheet of discarded paper. Picking it up and holding it to the light, he discovered it was a drawing.
The face was clearly Miriam’s. From there, the details just got hazy… She had her arms outstretched, as if she were flapping her wings. Robes and cloth were about her, as if she were a female derivation of Sajuuk. She was smiling, her eyes half-closed, and her expression that of compassion. Her hands were outstretched.
A circular scribble was in the bottom corner. Tamuur studied the symbol- circles within circles, and light radiating from the center to the rim in the form of harsh angles. The center circle was also off center.
Tamuur looked at the other scraps on the floor. The symbol was on many of them, along with other scribbles of what looked like writing. Tamuur returned to the drawing in his hand and flipped it around. With some irony, it was a pamphlet speaking about the responsibility of medical applications.
Tamuur shook his head, and then reached around to put the scribble on top of the stack of medical papers.
As he gathered more of them he pondered what to do. Being here was a breach of the Law- no man, woman, or child should venture outside of the common areas. It was an act punishable by death, likely because tampering with the ship’s workings was a grave offense for everyone.
Yet he couldn’t keep quiet about this. Something had to be said. Something had to be done about Silas, or things would just get worse.
A sound interrupted the humm of the engines and equipment. A repeating sound. Tapping. Footsteps.
Wide-eyed, Tamuur scattered the papers he had been gathering and stood. He crossed to the far side of the room, away from the door, and into a robe closet. He stepped inside and leaned against the inner wall, and waited.
“It’s in here,” Silus’ voice was saying as he squeezed through the door. He stopped, where the other set of steps ended seconds afterward.
Tamuur’s heartbeat rose when he heard Miriam’s voice, “It’s so cluttered…”
A chuckle from Silas, followed by, “Well, I don’t come in here as often as I want to… not enough time with everyone wanting to hear my poetry…”
Tamuur heard Silas pacing and just waited.
“It’s so lonely in here…” She said, “For a hospital. How did you find this place?”
“Tamuur and I came up here, years ago. Ever since I’ve been sneaking back and looking around. It’s kinda… a home away from home. Somewhere where I can just be left to think.”
“Is this me?” Miriam’s voice asked, along with the sound of paper.
“Not exactly…” Silus said, “But…someone I’ve been seeing… in my waking dreams.”
“Yes,” Silas said, “She’s there, speaking to me…”
Miriam chuckled, then said, “Does she have a name?”
Silas paused, then went on, “I don’t know… she never gives her name to me. She’s just there, beckoning to me… I think… I think my mom knew her name…”
Miriam was quiet for a moment, then said, “But your mother’s dead…”
“She said her name… I think she saw her too…”
“After I let her see… She said…’Kah-desh.’ I think that’s her name…”
“Let her see? How?” Miriam asked.
“I’ll show you,” Silas’ voice replied and Tamuur heard the metal of the cabinet.
“What are those things?” Miriam asked.
Tamuur heard the slosh of pills in a case and Silas’ voice, “Miracles… it’s medicine. All the medicine I could need… each one does different things… most of them let me see her…. See Kadesh…”
There was silence, before Silas asked, “Do you want to see her?”
Tamuur emerged from the cabinet, making noise as he did. He saw Miriam and Silas, the latter with his hand outstretched and the white and red pills in his hand. Neither of them had dust masks.
“Miriam,” Tamuur said after a second’s worth of hesitation, “Don’t touch it.”
Silas turned, and blasted wide-eyed, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE!?”
Tamuur ignored him, pulling off his dust mask and handing it to Miriam, “You’re not supposed to be up here without this.”
“But what about you-?” Miriam started as she pressed the mask to her face.
“Not now,” Tamuur said and turned to Silas, “Silas, we need to take you to a healer, now.”
“You don’t tell me what to do.” Growled Silas.
“You’re sick, and you need help.” Tamuur said.
“You dare interrupt my offer of vision!!” Shouted Silas, and lunged at Tamuur.
Both men toppled to the ground, making Miriam move back to the wall as she pressed the breath mask to her face, wincing as she saw both friends struggle.
Tamuur was taller and stronger than Silus, but the younger man had youth and speed on his side. On his back, Tamuur was the recipient of blows and bruises as Silas’s hands swung around Tamuur’s face. When the firsts turned to claws, Tamuur swung a closed fist and connected with Silus’ jaw.
The smaller man toppled from his place straddling Tamuur, and the older man didn’t let the advantage slip. He came up to a stand as Silas was getting up and saught something to use. Tamuur spotted the handheld scanner he had contemplated years before, sitting on the shelf beyond Silas.
The young man, up and with a bloody nose and lip, lunged at Tamuur again screaming. Tamuur held his ground and sidestepped Silas, causing the young man to collide with a medical table and fall down.
“Silas!” Miriam cried behind her mask.
Tamuur reached the table and picked up the scanner, turning around to meet another challenge, but saw that Silas had disabled himself quite well by colliding with the table. He was on the ground, unmoving save for his gently rising and falling chest.
Tamuur waited a moment more out of caution, before Miriam approached the fallen form. Tamuur still waited.
Miriam said, “He’s still breathing…”
“I did what I had to Miriam,” Tamuur said.
Miriam glanced back at him with softened eyes. “I know… we have to help him.” She turned back to Silas, “I never imagined it could be this bad…”
Tamuur’s eyes remained on Miriam for a moment before looking at the medicine cabinet.
“I see,” The balding healer said with his hands on Silas’ face. Restraints had the boy down on the bed, in case he decided to do something rash.
Tamuur had reclaimed the dust mask. If they were to accuse him, he would take the blame alone. Miriam was steps behind him, also in the infirmary, concern on her face.
“They were red and white,” Tamuur explained, “Small… the size of the span between a man’s fingernail and the first bend.” He snapped a finger, “Ceranoex… that’s what the name was.”
The healer glanced at Tamuur and then left Silas’ face to cross to a teal shelf identical to the one on deck 01. He pulled a tattered codex from the shelf and let it rest on the desk- opening it gently and scrolling through the pages. Both young people waited as the healer considered some passages in the book.
The healer turned to them after a moment of reading, “Ceranoex… we don’t have any more of that. It’s a psychedelic used to dullen the senses in time of great pain or operation. Where did he find it?”
Miriam stared at Tamuur as the man said, “He must have found some in one of the dead spaces.”
“He ventured there?” Asked the healer.
“I can only suppose so.” Tamuur answered, relaying an incomplete version of the truth.
The healer looked at the boy and shook his head. “His mother first… and now him.”
“Will he die?” Asked Miriam.
“I cannot be certain.” Said the healer, “Much of the equipment I would need for a full analysis is otherwise occupied… although functional, thanks to you Tamuur. He will need to be here for a while to remain under observation.”
Tamuur nodded, then added, “There’s something else… I think he may have given this medicine to his mother.”
The healer stared at Tamuur, and then said, “That must imply that he has some kind of further supply… I will send someone to investigate his lodgings for any more contraband medicine.”
Miriam slowly stepped forward to say, “I can understand why he did it, though.”
The healer’s face took a grim emotion. “I know full well the edict of the council in such matters… nothing could be done. It was not my decision to withhold aid… even if we had the medicine.”
Returning from the healer’s place, Tamuur and Miriam walked side-by-side as they wandered for Tamuur’s estate.
“I have to feel sorry for him,” Miriam replied as she shook her head, “He was only doing what he thought was right. Do you think the council will charge him for murder?”
“No.” Tamuur answered, “Not on the grounds of mental instability.”
Miriam looked at Tamuur as they continued walking, asking, “Mental instability?” She stared ahead again, “Is that what we call creative people now?”
“Miriam, there’s a difference,” Tamuur said as they approached his tent, “Silas was augmenting himself with drugs he shouldn’t have- and putting himself in danger as he was doing so."”
“That’s a risk he was taking himself, wasn’t it?” Miriam asked.
“He gave some to his mother, didn’t he?” Tamuur said as they stepped in front of his tent. He pushed his way inside, and Miriam followed.
As Tamuur took a seat on the bed, Miriam asked, “Do you have any hope for him?”
Tamuur sighed and thought for a few seconds, before turning his head to Miriam, “He’s not the person I used to know. I wasn’t as close to him as you were, I think.”
“We aren’t as close as you might think.” Miriam replied as she shook her head, sliding it to the side to stare at a clockwork assembly slowly churning on one of Tamuur’s furniture pieces. “He was always the dreamer… always creative… He’d always outshine me by what he could come up with. I was just… doing it for fun. He seemed driven to do something fantastic.”
Tamuur didn’t say anything. Miriam stepped forward to sit beside him on the bed and folded her hands.
Tamuur looked at her from the side, captivated again in that moment by how beautiful she was. At age 18, he could fully appreciate it now. His heart, elevated, was in rapid agreement with him.
He looked at the small little machine workings in his room, and then his eyes stopped at the large blue sheet that was added to his room recently.
Miriam saw it also, asking, “What’s that?”
Tamuur smirked and stood, crossed the tent, and grasped the sheet gently. Pulling it from the wall, he walked backward and sat on the bed to spread the sheet between them. The white lines gracing the thick paper were delicate and crisp… arranged together, they made an orthographic view of a space warship with an oval profile.
“It’s from my Grandfather,” Tamuur said, admiring the sheet, “It’s just one of a bunch he has… plans for a space warship…”
“Heavy cruiser…” Miriam read off the corner
Tamuur stopped looking at his plans and at her again. She kept her stare on the plans for a moment longer until she looked up at him.
They stared at each other, silently, until the gravity was too much.
He leaned forward to kiss her, gently, on the lips. From there it turned into a tender embrace, wordless, as they held one another.
The paper was forgotten. It was more important to make up for lost time.
Strange, but not uncommon. . .
Anyway I am liking this a lot more, I have not yet read through all of it, but I am most assuradly liking it. Keep going!! More comments when I have had a chance to look it over thoroughly.
Definitely, definitely liking this reboot.
There's more mystery to what's going on, and a good deal more realism as well in terms of how far a character could go. I also like your refined pacing--lets us find out more about what's going on gradually, while soaking up this world. Also suggests some interesting, tantalizing stuff with the name "Kadesh."
Do please continue.
One of my concerns it that you need to not to make Silas too crazy right away. Good dramatic insanity tends to build and build upon itself until the character breaks--or at least that's what it seems to me. However, I do like your attempts to make him more sympathetic in terms of issues with medicine, and trying to help his mother.
My other concern is the potential tendency to fall into cliches--Silas and his mother echoes Anakin and his mother, the medicine having some kind of mystical hint to peple, and so on. It'd be great if you came up with twists on the cliches, so this story still can have a slightly mythic quality to it, without breaking the improved realism you're building.
I will definitely continue reading.
PS. I get this "failure to bump on the forum page" issue with my Legacies fanfics. Something to do with the server, long posts, and having to put them all up. Comments will typically bump if the update post doesn't.
Maybe I haven't seen ep2 in a while, but I wasn't even thinking about Aniken or his mother when I was writing that part.
I saw Silas giving his 'miracle' to his mother when she was sick. All he knows about medecine, pretty much, is that it makes him feel good and it's supposed to cure people. He's distanced, and doesn't involve himself with worldy affairs really.
The misuse of medecine is essentially doing the same thing religious drugs do for other cultures. The Hiigarans don't have any (at least, the refugees don't), and Silas' misuse of perscription medecine for 'visions' is the first. As you can imagine, this may have some drastic reprocussions....
Guh. Hopefully I'll feel up to snuff for writing the next few chapters... I'm half eager to get to when the Exiles show up, but there's more dots to connect this time around.
I have heard of the use of psychotropic substances for "visions" and the like--and I don't see that part as cliched. Just the "dying mother" bit.
Anyways, your reasoning for why makes sense. Right now, it works, but I just would be wary of cliches down the road.
And yes, you've a few more dots to connect for sure. However, what you've got so far makes a nice restart. I'm concerned for the three main characters here, and am wondering how this affects the Kadeshi by the time the Exiles show up.
Apparently the best time I feel like writing is sometime after midnight, my time. Most of this was written then, the rest finished this afternoon.
The festival of the Deliverance was coming.
It was one of the only holidays celebrated in the ship throughout the rotational year. It was a traditional holiday, one celebrating the exodus and the survival of the people. In a secular sense, it was a time for celebration- something special and new. In a religious sense, it was commemorating the benevolence and protection of Sajuuk. Though they may have been expelled from Paradise, there was still hope in living.
It was also a holiday of giving.
For a rag-tag society deprived of the materialism of ancient times, it held new significance. The idea of giving, once out of obligation and desire in the past, now held an infinite span of meaning on the trail of tears. The art of giving, in some families, was almost perfected to a science. Such was the importance of this holiday.
Across the span of the tent city, great thought was being devoted to what one gift would be presented to a loved one.
Tamuur was no exception.
On this day, he had surveyed his tent. It was in many ways his room- the culture of the exiles was organized such so that only couples could share tents. Usually, siblings had their own dwellings from the year eight and older, and usually a housing unit was appropriated either close to the family or within relative reach. From then on, it became the private property of the occupant.
Tamuur had all of his possessions gathered inside, everything from his earliest days to the present. And yet, after investigating all of this and taking stock of it, he could not find a thing worthy enough to give to the new highlight of his life.
He was still the tinkerer, even after nearly a year since Miriam’s return to his life. Ever since that one evening, it seemed as if a story abandoned for decades was once again picked up and revitalized with new vigor. They were both older now, both nineteen with only months between them. The past year had seen them closer together than they had ever been as children.
It was this closeness and gravity that antagonized Tamuur now. There was nothing in his realm that he felt could satisfy her. Of all the toys, trinkets, gadgets, and drawings there was nothing worthy enough of her.
Perhaps he could build something. It was in his power now, all he need to was ask for the materials to do so. His nature as a tinkerer and, as the children called him, ‘wizard of machines’ was well known through the ship. Many of them would understand if he put an inquiry out for a few random things and bits- and they would expect something great to come of it.
Sighing, he turned to his sketches- picking up the stacks of paper he had liberated from deck 01. No longer rough and crude drawings, the sketches were now clean and refined. They were by no means artistic, but rather mathematical and without clutter.
He stared down at his first exercise in starship construction.
His grandfather had been teaching him up until his death weeks ago. In his wake, he had given Tamuur all he knew and possessed in the art of building ships. Tamuur had studied these religiously, interrupted only by Miriam’s visits and the occasional job the council asked of him. The drawing before him was the first exercise in this presently hypothetical art of making craft.
Smiling, he tried to imagine what the smooth vehicle would be like just outside the window of their great ship. It wasn’t just the structure though- but the principle. The ability to command the direction of the ship… the ability to choose one’s own destiny. The freedom of motion.
What an awesome gift to give to someone.
His mind started to race, thinking of the largest pieces of scrap material he could find. He had plenty of polymer now, from what was left of the infirmary on level 01. The next biggest problem now, was finding an engine. No such thing existed on the vessel. There were plenty of examples in the books left to him, but until Tamuur managed to find a way to the ship’s outer loading bay (He knew it existed from looking at other ships), he was not certain if such an engine existed on the whole ship. Failing this, he knew, he’d have to build one from scratch. It would be easier if he could see a real physical starship engine.
He stopped himself before he got too lost in his thinking. Perhaps starships weren’t the answer.
Footsteps outside his door drew his attention. Her voice asked, “Can I come in?”
Chuckling to himself at the reasons why she wouldn’t want to come in, Tamuur replied, “Of course.”
Miriam’s head, then slender body came through the tent flap door. She had a smile on her face as she asked, “Have you thought of your gift for the deliverance?”
Tamuur frowned playfully, “I’m trying to find something that isn’t related to machinery.”
Miriam, taking a seat on the bed beside him, smiled saying, “But it’s your craft Tamuur… everyone expects you to make something fantastic this year.”
Tamuur shook his head slowly, “I don’t think I can top last year’s creation of the dancing mice…”
Miriam laughed at the memory, “Maybe you should try for five this time.”
Tamuur shrugged. They were both referring to the palm-sized mechanical contraptions Tamuur had constructed out of dead hand scanners from the hospital. With a little constructive creativity, he had not only given them the power of mobility, but had also synchronized their motions to perform a dance. It was a hit, and Tamuur had heard the novelty was eventually given to the daughter of one of the council.
Miriam looked around at the walls as she said, “I heard they’ve found flowers in the garden areas.”
“Flowers?” Tamuur repeated.
Miriam turned to him saying, “Plants that are decorative… well… I guess they’re edible… I was told they were brought onboard for their medicinal properties… herbs, you know.”
Tamuur nodded. After salvaging the medical book he had some know-how in the practical medicines… but it wasn’t deep enough of an interest to pursue seriously.
She looked at him longingly.
“I Take it you want flowers then?” He asked with a smile.
“It would be nice,” Miriam replied, “But then, I know you’re a hard thinker. Surprise me.”
Tamuur intended to do just that- assuming he could figure out just how.
They had held him in observation for a year. Such things were necessary when considering the use of drugs- especially ones not prescribed.
He had been off the restraints after the first three months of his internment. They still wanted to watch him- per directive of the council. He had unknowingly poisoned his mother… Sajuuk knew what else he was capable of.
They had supplied him with writing things though in the form of an autotab. It didn’t take up space and wasn’t nearly as precious as the finite supply of paper. Though it was only one of twelve still left aboard, it kept him quiet.
In fact, more quiet than he had ever been in his life. The boy Silas would go for weeks without speaking… just writing or staring out into space when he was granted permission to wander in a confined area. Hardly anyone considered his writings- he guarded his autotab with an almost religious fervor.
Were anyone to notice though, Silas was still drawing. Still scrawling. The characters illustrated on the autotab would hardly make sense to anyone save the ancient cryptographers and calligraphers of distant Hiigara. They would say his writing is the mishmash work of several dialects and handwriting styles- hardly decipherable to anyone who wasn’t familiar with the methods.
But to Silas, it was more important than life itself. It had to be said, it must be said. The voice must not go quiet. The people must not maintain their hollow faith in a deity who abandoned them to the dark.
Miriam… a word he repeated. Miriam Miriam Miriam. Kadesh, Miriam. They were almost one and the same… she still haunted him whenever he slept.
Or rather, visited him whenever he slept.
She was a permanent fixture in his dreams, a fragile creature with a voice so devout he could not decipher what she was saying. Silas could only determine the intention of her sighing voice. Safety. Freedom. White.
The pill. He had craved the encapsulated miracle ever since Tamuur had deprived him of consciousness, and he woke up in this cell. It was the only solution now. It had purified his mother- sent her to reside with Kadesh. When he died, he would see her there- not in Sajuuk’s lathe where the liars believed their souls departed.
Only with the miracle could he hear her voice. Only with the Miracle could he lead his fellow man to truth. Only with the miracle could he touch heaven and be with her, Kadesh, the eternal soul of Miriam.
With this logic he smiled. It puzzled his keepers.
Tamuur was in lesson today. His teacher was old… older than even his grandfather, which some could claim was a miracle of Sajuuk in the making.
They called him Kamar, the maker of war. The secluded hermit of the ship was supposedly the only one who kept full knowledge of the ways of war. The council had prevented war from happening in the ship, kept internal strife to a minimum by a combination of peacemakers and firm rules. Perhaps, Tamuur believed, one way they maintained order was banishing war makers like Kamar.
He was here because an idea had happened to Tamuur weeks ago, when he remembered the old scribblings he made as a child. He recalled the death of one of their neighbors- the explosion and the flame. He also remembered (through his notes), how that ship had died. It had been an explosion.
Nobody on the ship knew a thing about explosives. They only knew the result- sound, light, and noise. Explosives were banned on the ship- anyone with a known weapon or warhead was put to death and the weapon sealed away. With law like that, knowledge of how they worked faded into obscurity.
With, of course, the possible exception of Kamar.
Tamuur, sitting cross-legged before the old officer, learned the truth in an instant when Kamar turned on the light.
Before both of them was an array of things- conical shaped shells, large round bombs, three hand-sized pistols, clips, ammunition, grenades… things of legend that Tamuur thought only existed in legend.
“You want to learn about explosives,” Kamar said on this day. It was the first when Tamuur was permitted to see the weapons.
“I want to learn how to disarm them.” Tamuur replied.
This raised Kamar’s eyebrows. The old man leaned back, “You plan on freeing the ship.”
This surprised the young man some. How could he know?
“I thought of it myself… as well as my grandfather and his father before then. Since the days of our exile we sought to disarm the ship and consider breaking free.”
Tamuur remained under Kamar’s intense gaze, then said, “Is it foolish to try?”
A smile lit Kamar’s face. He leaned forward, rasping, “Until this day, all who have been tried have been too old to attempt it. They learn too late, and aren’t as nimble. The traps that are arrayed across the ship are much, much too effective for these old hands to accomplish.”
Kamar leaned back saying, “I listen to what they say about you, Tamuur. You like to tinker and meddle… just the kind of child we have been waiting for to come along. I will teach you how these weapons work… starting with the deadliest.”
Kamar produced from the shadows a menacing looking weapon. As tall as the span from a man’s finger to his elbow, the device was a pole with a spherical implement at its center. Deadly finger-sized projections were positioned about the sphere, but not enough to imply that they were to be hurled. They had to have some kind of function.
“My weapons are inert,” Kamar said, “Those who imprisoned us perhaps left them in jest. Fortunate perhaps, so that a mistake won’t end us both. Now,” He leaned back, “Tell me how you would go about disarming this device.”
Tamuur examined it. He had no idea where to begin, or how explosives worked. All he could do was guess… and speculate based on what he knew. He studied the spines and saw in each of them a series of small holes. He saw the small glassy projections in each.
“These,” Tamuur pointed, “These are sensors of some kind.”
“Observant.” Kamar nodded, “They are laser sights. Once activated, the mine projects them along designated paths. Any interruption of that laser path will detonate the warhead. This is one of several trigger mechanisms, and it is the hardest to diffuse, as any interruption of the laser will result in death.”
Tamuur drunk all of this in, and prepared himself to learn.
The healer shook his head, “I don’t know if it’s wise today. He’s been acting rather peculiar.”
“How peculiar?” Miriam asked the healer, holding to her chest a batch of baked breads.
“He hasn’t spoken… he just stares.” Replied the healer, “stares into space. None of us have brought him out of it yet.”
“Perhaps I can try.” Miriam answered.
The healer considered her for a moment more. He then said, “I may regret this… you’ll have to leave the bread however. He’s on a strict diet.”
“It’s a gift.” She frowned.
“I know,” Replied the healer, “But we cannot give him anything outside the prescription in the manual.”
“I understand,” Miriam said, handing the parcel over. The healer took it and turned to the guards. After some words, Miriam was permitted into the space where Silus had been living for the past few months.
It was made from what used to be one of the operating theatres. The chair and other implements were long gone- all that remained were the round holes and empty gaps in the floor where they used to be connected. In their place, a cot, a desk, and a small dresser had been provided. Illumination was accomplished by an overhead light.
The room had changed some since she was last here. The furniture had been rearranged again, and writing was scrawled on the walls. Stained evidence betrayed the fact that this wasn’t the first time he had done it, but in spite of this he continued to graffiti the walls.
That’s what he had been doing, but was interrupted when the door opened. His lean form, sitting hunched over his legs, was bent over with one hand reaching up with the thick stylus in mid-character. His head had turned to let his wide brown eyes stare at her.
“Miriam,” He voiced, as if it was a homecoming. He turned, dropping the stylus, and slowly approached her. The guard beyond Miriam tensed, ready to leap into action if his charge decided to do something strange.
Cautiously, gently, Silas’ hands reached out and touched Miriam on the arm, then the face. She smiled at him.
He lowered his hand to say, “I missed you… I missed you greatly….”
“I’m sorry I couldn’t visit more often,” Miriam replied, “But I’ve been busy… the deliverance has been taking up all my time.”
“Deliverance…” Murmured Silas, eyes glazing over in thought.
Miriam smiled, “I had some bread to give you, but they told me you’re on a strict diet…”
“It’s fine…” Silas replied distantly, still staring into her face with a passive look.
Miriam’s smile flickered, and she said, “You’ve changed Silas… I hope you get better soon…”
The guard behind her cleared his throat. Miriam managed a smile and said, “I have to go… I’ll try to see if I can visit you later…”
She stared into his passive face for a moment longer before giving up and turning away. She was at the door when he said, “Thank you, Miriam. Bless you.”
The door closed with a heavy thud.
Silas remained standing, then dropped to the ground and fell on his side, shuddering. The guard outside couldn’t determine if he was laughing or crying.
He was like that for ten minutes, before standing and grabbing the thick stylus. He stabbed the wall with it, and started writing what was, to him, the apocalypse.
“It’s sad,” She said when she met Tamuur, “He’s so out of it now.”
They were both in the forum, seated at the foot of the statue, watching the children play Sctach.
Tamuur replied, “He overdosed on a medication. It was a hallucinogen, too. His mind-“
“I know,” Miriam said, “I know…” She shook her head as she stared out at the four children on the triangular field. She didn’t want to think of what became of the poet.
Tamuur’s mind blinked elsewhere for a moment. He wondered what it would be like with her, there, on the bridge.
“Have you figured out what you’re doing for the deliverance?” She asked.
She and Tamuur looked at one another.
Tamuur laughed, turning back to look at the children at play, “I think I have something.”
“You do?” She perked, “What is it? Who is it from?”
Tamuur puffed out a breath of amusement, then said, “You’re not supposed to tell.”
Miriam laughed, and then said when she recovered, “You have me there. Is it good?”
“Oh yes,” Tamuur replied, “It’s good. I assure you, it’ll be well worth it.”
Tamuur’s latest drawings were of the ship itself. He presented these to Kamar, when they met the next day.
“Accurate…” said Kamar, stylus to his lips as he considered it. He lowered the writing tool and traced a line, “There’s a door here, along the third level, that nobody knows of except few.”
“It goes to the bridge?” Tamuur asked.
“Yes,” Kamar replied, then grunted, “But it’s laced with dredgen mines.”
The image of the menacing laser-activated mines returned to Tamuur’s mind. In the end, they were next to impossible to disarm if placed properly. Kamar’s tone seemed to indicate this was the case. Tamuur, though, knew there must be an alternative.
“That isn’t the only way,” He proposed.
“Indeed,” kamar said, slapping his stylus down, “Engineering. There might be a way there, since both areas are nearly adjacent. A whole lot closer than we are to the bridge now.”
“There’s a catch,” Tamuur probed.
“The door is physically welded shut.” Kamar confessed, “Industrial hands by the look of it. Still, a ventilation shaft is right over it that may lead to engineering. I don’t have access to the plans.”
“I have a good sense of direction.” Tamuur replied, focused.
Kamar laughed, causing Tamuur to gain a look of confusion. Kamar leaned over and gently pounded Tamuur on the shoulder, saying, “You are focused… I like that. Tell me, is there any reason you want to do this suicidal thing?”
“Suicidal?” Tamuur replied, then shook his head, “I don’t believe that.”
“Good.” Kamar replied and pointed, “Because you need that kind of thinking to survive this. The furthest anyone has gotten is inside that vent. It is mined, but only with Caliphas. You remember how to disarm those, right?”
Tamuur nodded. The Calipha mines were wall hugging circular mines that detonated on interruption of the laser line. In areas of close proximity like that, it was going to be difficult at best.
“And all this is provided they did not hard-code something into the system to prevent any tampering,” Kamar replied, then looked at Tamuur, “Given this, do you still want to continue?”
Tamuur nodded, again serious. Not only was he going to finally be able to see engineering, but he was able to grant the greatest gift one could ever bestow on a people, let alone an individual.
The wings of Freedom. They were for Miriam.
The night came sooner than everybody expected really. Great plans were finally coming to a close.
The forum had been transformed. Tables were brought out of storage, and sheets were taken from empty tents and laid over the sea of tables. Candles, things so revered and previous that they were hardly ever seen most of the year, were brought to the center and lit. Food, prepared across the hundreds of tent homes and across a hundred styles despite the limitations, were brought to the tables also, with blessings.
People were gathering in the streets of the tent towns, many of them talking. Game floors were being established in the forum, and the dancing ring was already occupied. The musicians, producing their ancient instruments, came forward and rehearsed. Members of the council were public once again, adorned in their garbs of office, speaking to the people. Craftsmen of all kinds were about with their constructed goods, ready for barter and trade of what could be made and established in the society of the ship.
Miriam had half a table to herself. She baked bread for this event, and constructed small trinkets of metal links and bolts. Though heavy, they were fashionable in some circles of the ships. The dancers like them because of the extra challenge.
As Miriam helped her mother, she kept an eye out for the tinkerer. His table was open, but he himself was empty. His goods were absent too… the least he would have done was presented something to display, if not to sell. It worried Miriam.
Her gift was ready. It was packed and hidden underneath the table. She was eager all afternoon to present it to him, and wanted desperately to know his reaction. She was also looking forward to amusing her female friends and dragging the machinist to the dancing ring to prove, once and for all, that he was a terrible dancer… despite how mechanically skilled he was.
“Mother,” She asked, “have you seen Tamuur?”
The old woman, her blond hair long turned to grey, raised her head from her crafts. “No Miriam, I haven’t… I thought you of all people would know where he is.”
Though she smiled, Miriam’s face remained concerned. She looked out into the audience once more, her eyes finally resting on the empty table space.
“Tamuur…” she said softly.
“Are you sure about this?” Kamar asked again, “You have a woman waiting for you out there. Why not wait?”
Tamuur looked up at the old officer from behind his dust mask. They were both in the forbidden corridor, before them was the denied entry.
“You trained me for this,” Tamuur replied, “And I volunteered.”
Kamar fell silent, staring at the boy. “Don’t do anything stupid,” He finally said with a smirk, and slapped the boy on the shoulder.
Determination in his eyes, Tamuur turned and climbed up the narrow confines of the corridor to the open vent. He ascended, crawling inside the narrow passageway.
Claustrophobia hit him instantly. It was cramped in here. He would need to propel himself with his feet. This was an easy task if he were younger, but at mid-age, things were starting to get difficult.
He started singing to himself, softly, the song of dance. It was the tune he and Miriam were to dance to, he decided. Perhaps there may be time…
His first challenge appeared. The blue-white laser line was there, and at it’s end was the round mine that denied his path. Tamuur reached inot his left wrist with his right hand and produced the long metal wand. Shifting his shoulder to let the light play on it, he delicately reached forward and stopped.
Was he afraid?
Yes, he was.
He calmed down by blinking and taking a breath through the mask. This was a machine, no different from the machines that he had worked with hundreds of times in the past. It was a machine, though, with an explosive compound in it. Yet, that compound was useless if the detonator didn’t tell it to explode.
The laser line disappeared.
Tamuur plucked the small metal pin from the round mine and let it drop. The mine came free not to long afterward. Fortunate that, with this class of mine, it reacted only when a charge went through the two combined substances. It wouldn’t detonate if dropped or mishandled. He pushed the inert mine ahead of him as he continued down the narrow passageway.
He kept singing.
Miriam was in the dancing ring, but not staying with anyone. She averted the other boys’ eyes, glancing occasionally at the empty table where Tamuur was supposed to be. She kept herself occupied.
The boys saw it after nearly ten minutes and knew there was no hope in approaching her. Her heart was already set- and many of the young men suspected her gift for him was a marriage request. They also suspected his was a marriage band, and nervousness had prevented him from appearing. After all, wasn’t his only love machines?
Miriam whispered his name as the drums continued to beat, and the rattles continued to crash.
Humming the words, Tamuur continued.
The bend was the worst. If he were any taller it wouldn’t have happened, and he could have been stuck. He nearly was at the turn, but concentrated. By a miracle of Sajuuk, his own lean form allowed him to traverse the bend. He was now in unknown territory.
The stifling confines of the vent almost made him gag. He closed his eyes and imagined the wide open space. The dancing ring. Miriam, in her wide white dress. Her smiling face, those eyes… the perfect shape of her chin. All these beautiful things.
He opened his eyes and continued through the vent for the last remaining mine in the vent. He was singing the dancing song.
The poet was mad this hour.
Shirt off, a back laden in sweat, he had turned one portion of his circular wall into a great canvas. On it, he scribbled the longest scry he had ever done.
Proclaiming the glory of Kadesh, his strokes and penmanship matched the dancing song. In his mind he could see her again, and this time she was close to transitioning the ether and becoming real… embodied in Miriam the goddess.
“Kah-desh…Kah-desh….Kah-desh…” Silas wheezed over and over again, scribbling on the walls with the great stylus.
The circular crest was drawn on the floor.
The grill came off without a problem and clattered to the floor. There was no explosion, no sounds of a tripwire, and definitely no sudden appearance in the lathe of Sajuuk. He was alive.
Tamuur the tinkerer emerged from the thin ventilation shaft and rolled. He found a pipe that circled the room, grabbed this, and pulled himself out of the narrow confines. For the first time, he looked around.
Engineering’s back wall was dominated by one of the vast engines. Only part of the huge cylinder was visible, the rest of the walls dominated by cables and lights. The floor also had cables winding across the floor, but these Tamuur could tell were recent.
Tamuur scaled the pipe until he found a landing. Releasing himself, he dropped onto an instrument panel and hesitated. No sound, no explosion.
He made it to the floor and cautiously crossed it. There were no mines here, and no evidence of explosives or booby traps. Even though Kamar said nothing about hidden mines, it didn’t diffuse Tamuur’s caution.
He crossed to the center instrument panel and stopped for a moment, taking in the vastness of the cathedral.
This was the heart of the ship, the capital of its workings. From here, one could determine any function of the ship’s mechanisms.
It was a church for his interests.
But he had come here for another purpose. If he succeeded, there was plenty of time to return and ply over the workings of this place. Now, he needed to cut the binds that held fast the wings.
The thick cables ran to a heavy yellow box that was out of place. It was attached to what was labeled as the central drive control column. This, he realized from his learning of ships, was the central direction system for the main engines. If it was rigged appropriately, the machine could interpret any number of things as a sign to overload the engines and destroy the ship.
Such was what happened before, with the other vessel.
The man of machines knelt down beside and examined this particular connection, observing the mysterious circular emblem with it’s horned bar at the lower part of the center. It must have been the mark of the makers- something to remember. He returned to examining the hook.
This wasn’t fused to the machinery. Unlike the door barring entry to this place, the control block wasn’t melded to the machine it held lordship over. This was the first advantage.
The second was that directions were clearly printed on the side, intact, for it’s deactivation. He squinted, remembering that this dialect was rusty. Then, with a note of humor, he identified Hiigaran writing underneath the alien scrawl, placed there seemingly for convenience. Tamuur read the instructions, and felt his heart sank.
Some kind of key was needed to figure this out. A key which, by all likeliness, had been lost to time. He would need to improvise.
Tamuur fished in his pockets and produced the thing he was looking for: a paperclip. Universally recognized for holding together the rare and finite paper, a small horde of them was abandoned up on the infirmary on level 01.
Tamuur quickly deformed the thing and shaped it right. He did the same with another one, and knelt beside the lock.
He finished reading the instructions. The key had to be turned and a button depressed in order for the assembly to be unlocked properly. This meant he would have to be a little creative in his solution- a key could be turned with one hand, but the lock was solved with two.
Having experience in a few locks already, Tamuur was a little disappointed with the simplicity of this one. It was a simple procedure to jam the clips in and hear the device click. He hesitated when it came to turning it… Not only would the clips have to be strong enough to turn the mechanism, but he would have to keep it turned as he somehow hit the button beside it.
Tamuur took a breath, and moved his hands. The lock turned, and Tamuur heard the click of approval.
Pulling the dust mask off with his knee, he jammed his nose into the button. He reached around with his free fingers and pried.
The mechanism parted, and Tamuur raised a foot to help pull the heavy plug off. In this complicated knot of positioning it did so, and fell to the floor with a satisfying thud. Tamuur, on his back, took time to breathe as he stared up at the bare ceiling.
Then he stared to laugh with joy. There was no going back now, but he had already defeated not one, but two tests of their ancient antagonists.
He would defeat the others.
Sitting down at her table, Miriam was sullen. She played with one of her trinkets in her hands, her mind pondering where the man of her affections was.
Her mother sat down beside her as she said, “You seem lost.”
Miriam turned to look at her mother, and then back at the trinket, “Nobody knows where he is, mother. I… I wonder why he hasn’t shown…”
“Have you tried his room?” Miriam’s mother asked.
“What?” She asked.
“His room!” Replied the mother, “Maybe he’s sulking, or nervous. Either way, go to him and find out what’s on his mind!” She laughed.
Miriam immediately got up and did so, if not to find Tamuur than to get away from the disappointing party without him.
Tamuur’s next test was not in the corridor. That was strangely silent. It was dark, but that didn’t come as a surprise.
The door to the bridge was unsealed. It also had a window.
Tamuur peered through the glass first, and with dread noticed the red laser lines arcing through the room. While he had avoided the nest of Dregden mines, there were at least four positioned in the octagonal command cabin. There were also Caliphs present… one, annoyingly enough, pointed right at the door which Tamuur was standing behind.
With some degree of horror, he realized he could not open the door without setting off that mine.
He returned to engineering and started to investigate. One staple of all ships was a fully stocked supply cabinet. All ships had them in engineering. It was a mandate in ancient times that all ships, transports, carriers, combat ships, needed to have the tools necessary to calm a fusion rocket engine. This ship could not be an exception, unless it was so alien and removed that it operated under different standards.
The supply closet, Tamuur found, was generously supplied. It had all the tools he came to expect it to have- right down to the thermal saw. He took this and the longarm- an extendable pole with a three-fingered claw at the end. With these things, he proceeded back to the door.
Setting up by the door, he peered back into the cabin and tried to decipher where the laser struck. Precision was everything… and luck. He hoped that was the only line focused on this door.
The laser cutter would take too much time, though it may have been appropriate in a situation like this. The Thermal Saw was much more dramatic, and even though it took up a lot of power it was still effective. Essentially a long paddle the length of a man’s arm, the blade would heat to extreme temperature and make anything it touched- metal, plastic, and people- melt under it’s extreme heat.
Tamuur held the saw like a blade in his hands as the metal warmed. From a dull red, the paddle turned to an angry orange. Tamuur could feel the heat rising from the blade and through his gloves- raw power in almost raw form. He stabbed this into the door and started to saw through raw metal. The door gave way like butter to a hot knife. It would be impossible to open normally now, but that problem could also be solved with the saw.
Once the section had been sawed out, Tamuur kicked it gently. The section fell to the floor with a heavy thud and cooled there. No trip lines had been activated, and a clear hole was available for him.
He allowed the saw to cool to acceptable levels before setting it down and taking the longarm. Chaing the hands for more delicate operations, he knelt beside the hole he had created to examine the interior.
Even though the chunk of door didn’t set off any trip lines, the dredgen lines did cross the floor between the door and the offending door-watcher. The longarm would have to be very steady.
Tamuur found his diffusion wand again and placed it in the closed fist of the longarm. Bracing by the door, he projected the telescopic hand into the room. With both hands he supported the sturdy engineering tool- finger closed around the trigger tight to assure the hand did NOT drop the diffusion rod.
The hand approached the mine, waving some before settled by Tamuur’s grip. With the silent tension, the wand closed with the mine’s surface. The trick was to find the small diffusion plate- roughly the size of a man’s fingernail, just beside the laser sight.
Tamuur didn’t have much alternative. A creative solution could be to cut into the door enough again to allow him permission to try to squeeze through. He could probably do it now even, but he would feel a lot safer moving if that mine was diffused. Carefully, at the speed of a crawl, the diffusion rod closed with the small pad just under the sight.
The laser line disappeared.
Taking a big breath of releif, Tamuur recalled the arm. With the arm safely recovered, he studied the hole he made in the door before stepping around and into the space provided. He looked about the room and counted about a dozen mines, all of them accessible, and placed as if by mandate requirement, not to cause serious menace.
Tamuur took a breath, and started working.
“Tamuur?” Miriam asked just outside the tent. The lights were off.
Gently she pushed past the flaps and looked around inside the dim surroundings of the tent. He wasn’t there on the bed, nor was he bent over work like she half expected him to be.
She scanned the room. Everything was more or less in place- the constructs were all in their proper places, all his papers arranged….
Sighing in disappointment she abandoned the tent and returned to the party and the dance. Her face became a mask then, an impassive face of disappointment. Where was Tamuur?
She reentered the dance ring, but there was no enjoyment there. It was just something to do, passing the time and waiting for the celebration to be over. In the dance she lost herself, performing the motions as her mind wandered separately.
Only when a firm hand grasped her own did she come out of it. The hand was familiar- the grip unique. She looked up into Tamuur’s eyes.
The man pulled her away from the dance, smiling. Several of the audience noticed and immediately started to gossip about what this could mean. Miriam, mindless, followed Tamuur as her mind whirled with the possibilities.
He was taking her to her gift.
They left the party, heading through the tent city before coming to a forbidden door. She didn’t notice as they passed into the quiet place.
“Where are we going?” She asked.
He only smiled at her.
They passed through a hall which, hours before, had been certain death. He approached the door that was once forbidden and opened it.
Miriam, as if in a dream, walked inside and finally realized where she was.
The room was lit again. Panels, consoles, controls and mechanisms were all functioning. Computers, which only existed in the medical ward and in myth, now hummed at her with the information they wished to present. She only noted the pile of deactivated warheads and devices in passing.
“Tamuur…” she breathed in awe, “This… this is…”
“The bridge.” He replied, standing by the helm station. The padding was dusty, but the light of the room made the dust and wear of the place almost nonexistent. No citizen had seen this many lights.
Silas looked up from his work. Something was wrong.
He looked over the lettering, the words, and the things he had written. It suddenly sprang to him that it was all wrong. The drawings were unworthy. The words were terrible. Everything was turning to nonsense.
With a sigh he realized… perhaps he lost her. He lost her voice. He lost Kadesh.
Sighing, he dropped the stylus and approached the heavy door. Hitting it three times, it opened to show the guard’s face.
“Can I go for a walk?” He asked simply, “It’s getting stuffy in here.”
The guard closed the door. Silas sighed and waited for the guard to get permission. As he looked at his drawings, they were becoming increasingly incomprehensible. He closed his eyes and put his fingers to his temples. No… this couldn’t happen… he had to remain focused. For her… for the Goddess…. For embodied passion…
The door opened. “Ok, come on,” The guard said with an annoyed tone. Silas grabbed his autotab and walked with the guards out of his cell.
He approached the window once again and leaned on the sill, staring out into space with his mouth slightly agape. He leaned and waited… waiting for kadesh to appear.
Seated in the helm station, Tamuur tuned to ask her the question. “Where do you want to go?”
Miriam shook her head, still in awe and surprise from the gift he was giving. “Where…where can we go? All we’ve known is… the ship…”
Tamuur said as he stared out at the stars, “We knew all this once. Our ancestors did… Miriam… we can go wherever we want now.” He looked back at her, waiting for her order.
She looked down at his face. Slowly she smiled, the realization of what this meant finally dawning on her. She laughed, laughed with pleasure and joy. She approached the seat and put her hands on his shoulder.
Her eyes scanned the heavens, and then saw it outside.
“There…” She said.
The trail of tears was leading them past a gigantic cloud. The hazy rose, now aside them, was illuminated with brilliant red and pink light. In the ever evening of the galactic light, the rosy nebula beyond looked as welcoming and placid as a crib to a newborn babe.
Tamuur nodded. The choice was appropriate. It was the most beautiful sight he had ever seen outside of the starship.
He hit the buttons and activated the controls. The course was changed.
There was no punishment. Tamuur had already assured there would be none. Minor course corrections yielded no death or destruction. Now this was the great change.
The huge square ship’s ancient thrusters fired. The massive ship pitched upward before beginning to roll. Miriam crossed to the windows and looked out at the long convoy of ships they were departing.
“So many…” She said as her hand touched the glass. She lost count as the massive free ship arced up and away from the caravan.
Tamuur maintained an eye on all the systems. There were no faults, no flaws, and no complications. Sajuuk, indeed, had blessed him. If it were not for the carelessness of their captors in abandoning a manual here, Tamuur may have abandoned the task for another day. Instead he found the detonation keys and command code pamphlet abandoned at the very station he was seated. Though faded, Tamuur had read them enough to free the ship from its virtual shackles.
And now they were free.
Tamuur turned, “Miriam…”
She turned also, looking at him intently. She crossed to him and took his hands. He turned in the seat, laughed with her at the loud creak it made, and welcomed her into his lap. In the silence alone, they shared their intimacy.
The guards were in a panic. One of them ran off to tell the rest of the ship the news. The sky was changing.
Silas, staring outside, saw the red and white fringes. His eyes, widened, started immediately to make out her face in the shape of the clouds.
“Kadesh…” He realized. He smiled at this, and pressed his face to the glass, “Kadesh you are real….oh….”
It all made sense now, his vision. By prophecy this had happened. It was all making sense now.
They had been delivered, by her Grace and Benevolence.
It does that to me every single time I post Legacies updates. I'm used to it. What works is doing a post right afterwards, then deleting said post.
BTW, really like this reboot of how they found the Garden. It has that mythic quality from the first attempt, but a really nice, updated version here. I also like how you got Silas to tie Kadesh and the Garden in one shot mentally. He's messed up just enough to do it, and still have the intelligence to do something about that connection later.
The characters also seem a good deal more real this time around, and less like a mythical revision. Tamuur's inventiveness still works here, and I like how you had him get training this time rather than just knowing how to do it.
Do please keep this up when you can--but one thing to remember. Creativity ebbs and flows. If you have problems getting ideas for more chapters, don't hesitate to take a break. I sometimes have to remind my fans of this in the Legacies threads. Just ignore the begging, and like Silus, listen to the creative voice.
as a huge fan of the Protectors of the Gardens
i find your story very interesting
i'm not much of a critic
so all i can offer is that i now
have a verylarge amount of respect
for your writings and imagination thus far
keep up the good work
Now this my good sir, is close to masterpiece, it is a far far cry from what was, the emotion, the power, the intrigue and more, I find a few spelling errors and a few gramatical quirks but those can be ignored by the sheer audacity and marvelous flow.
I'm with Greenstone there--there are some minor spelling and grammatical issues, but it is indeed a far cry from what you originally had under the name of "Children of Kadesh."
Definitely take your time, keep this up. Given atmawpn's slow posting to his Interstellar Odyssey, it's good to know there's more quality HW fanfic to read up on.
Short, but I needed a time-break.
There was mass panic in the streets that took hours to settle. They didn’t know who was the first to say it, but when news that the sky had changed and the caravan disappeared, many felt it fit the bill of the apocalypse.
Further, the stars had vanished. Instead they were surrounded by a milky red haze. Perhaps this was Hades, perhaps they were all dead. Perhaps their exile was only to become worse here, in this place of eternal torment. Perhaps Khelan-Jaat was not long in coming with his legion of daemons.
The council, wise sages all, knew the logic of the situation. Someone had changed course and abandoned the convoy. They were about to round up the usual suspects when the very man responsible presented himself to them.
The council convened immediately.
Tamuur stood at the center of the U-shaped gathering. Beside him was Miriam, and their hands were held. The twelve of the council all stared at the pair from nearly every vantage point. Some of them had furious contempt behind their eyes- others puzzled, and others contemplated.
At the door to what used to be, in ancient times, a workshop for cargo vehicles, the audience stood. They were all silent as they watched the trespassers were put on trial before this fragment of humanity.
Tamuur held Miriam’s hand tight.
“Why have you done this thing?” Abel asked. He was the president of the quorum, the oldest and wisest of the group. At his voice the council’s internal bickering fell silent.
“I did it for Miriam.” Tamuur replied, “And for the people.”
“Your actions could have destroyed us!” Protested Cain, the most religiously fanatical of the group. His face was contorted in anger- his was the most outrageous voice of the council. “Has you small mind contemplated the consequences of guiding our ship into the very heart of Hades itself?!”
“Calm yourself, or you will be held.” Abel immediately voiced. Under this, Cain backed down and sat. Being held was an immediate dismissal from this and the next three consecutive meetings- not wise for a person in power like Cain.
“I trained for the risk” Tamuur replied, “I alone take full responsibility for any punishment you wish to give. The idea was mine.”
Murmurs passed between the audience and some of the council.
Abel raised a hand, “I do not think it is necessary to issue punishment first, before we fully comprehend the result of your actions.” Abel lowered his hand and relayed, “You are a tinkerer. You are well known for your aptitude in all things mechanical, technological, and advanced. It is natural then for your curiosity to desire such things-“
Tamuur stared at Abel to say, “I did this act willingly, not out of stupidity or compulsion.”
This also let another wave of murmurs and uproar from between the council and the audience. Cain stared death at Tamuur, but the master of machines ignored it. Under such public scrutiny, Cain wouldn’t dare lift a finger against him.
Abel leaned forward, “I wasn’t meaning to imply that you were acting out of compulsion, young man. Rather, your passionate study of the machines on this ship has made you the best qualified among us to undertake such a venture. While we are divided as to weather or not we should punish you, we understand that what has happened, has happened, for better or for worse. For now, we should celebrate in our deliverance from the intentions of the ancient evil we left behind, and consider any punishment of your person for a later date.”
Cain’s gaze shot to Abel, but one of the three women of the council spoke, “What of his trespassing? It is punishable by death, is it not? Should we not consider this when we see him, now?”
“Yes, sister,” the elderly Abel replied, “But consider the measure of his works aside the gravity of his transgression.”
“He could have killed us.” Cain muttered aloud.
“But he didn’t.” Another one of the council said.
The table started to descend into heated debate once again. Under the arguing, Tamuur turned his head to Miriam. She looked back, hand still clasping his, wondering silently what kind of fate Sajuuk would deliver onto them.
Abel managed to calm the conversation down by banging the sounding sphere. Rapping the heavy globe on the table thrice, his call to attention was heeded and the room fell silent once more.
“Now then,” Said Abel, “As we have established…once again… that the subject is greatly controversial, I move that we put the vote to the people. After all, it is they who are affected most by Tamuur’s, dare I say, miraculous work. I say we put this matter before them in a public vote for the duration of tomorrow.”
There were nods of approval among the leaders, but Cain rose to protest once again. “No!” he declared, standing, “No! The people elected us to be their leaders, to take hold and understand the law and position of leadership. I say, as one of the twelve educated in the that law laid down since our exodus, that we exercise what was expressly written and execute this violator. Then we must find some way to reverse the damage before it is too late!”
Abel, rather than confront Cain, turned his head and asked, “Does anyone second this motion?”
Glances were exchanged, but nobody raised a hand. Perhaps it was too much, seeing Tamuur there with his woman holding his hand. Or perhaps it was indeed the lift of the miracle that convinced the council to stay their hand- at least for now- to let the people consider.
“Huhm… I didn’t think so,” Abel said, and then looked down at Tamuur, “Young man, I hereby place you under house observation for the duration of tomorrow, pending the outcome of the public survey. In other words, no wandering about the ship.”
Tamuur winced, “Someone needs to steer the ship in case something comes in the way.”
“We will have people watching.” Replied Abel, “In case something does occur… we will send for you. But, for the appeasement of some…disagreeing elements of this council, I insist upon confinement for now. That is not to say you are strictly isolated… but we want you in reach, should the outcome not be favorable to your person.”
Tamuur wanted to protest, but held his tongue. This was the first time he had to even think about religious fanatics, and felt Cain’s hard stare on him. “I understand…”
Enduring the stares, Miriam and Tamuur returned to the tent abode of the obsessive mechanic. Sitting himself down on the bed again, Tamuur sighed.
Miriam remained standing, looking down at him. After a moment, Tamuur raised his head with a smile.
“So,” he asked, “Are you going to be my keeper?”
She smiled and answered, “I don’t think they take volunteers…”
She sat down beside him and he drew her into an embrace. They held each other as they sat on the bed.
“I hope you liked your gift.” He murmured into her ear.
“For me?” She asked. She pulled away from him to look into his eyes. “You did it for me?”
Tamuur asked simply, “You don’t like your present?”
She laughed and returned into his embrace, “I….” She laughed again.
Tamuur’s hands slowly rubbed across her back- the fingertips pressing through the cloth and into the skin gently. “We can go were we want now. We can find a planet maybe… someplace like Hiigara.”
“The council might not let us.” She said. “They might decide to kill you.”
Tamuur’s hands stopped. “It’s out of their hands now. It’s up to the people if I live or die.”
“Are you scared?”
Tamuur hesitated about that. He wasn’t scared when he was diffusing the mines, nor was he frightened when he made it to engineering. The only fear he felt in that whole episode was when he may have been trapped in that duct with no way out.
But he thought of Miriam, and the fear had alleviated.
“No.” He replied, then resumed rubbing her back, “Not this time.”
Nodding, she sighed as she leaned her head against his shoulder, “I am.”
“Everyone knows who I am, all the favors I’ve done.” Tamuur replied.
“But you don’t know…” Breathed against the collar of his shirt, “What if councilman Cain says something? He is the religious center of the ship…”
“People might gamble better over their souls than allow me a little safety,” Tamuur sighed, “I hadn’t thought of that… But,” He looked down, “We aren’t dead yet. Sajuuk is still protecting us, even here.”
She raised her head to look into his eyes.
“You picked our destination, didn’t you?” He said, “It couldn’t be dangerous if you picked it, Miriam.”
She smiled, and then replaced her head against his shoulder. He leaned back and she followed, the pair of them laying back in the bed. After a moment of adjustment they fell asleep.
By the time of the ship’s next night cycle, the votes had arrived. Cain left the council chambers in disgust.
His aides following him, Cain ranted as he made his way angrily from the chamber. “That heretic is being released, all because the people think he brought them to salvation.”
“Sah,” One of the aides said, “We cannot go against the will of the majority… and we certainly cannot persuade the religious leaders to act against him. They all think he’s a miracle from Sajuuk himself… perhaps… even the chosen one-“
Cain turned and stared the aide in the face with a red mask of anger. Pointing a finger at the aide’s nose, he said, “Never open that implication to me again.”
The aide, shocked by the severity of his charge’s challenge, just stood on the deck as Cain and the other aide continued to walk.
“We need to find something to use against this heretic,” Cain said, “If common sense won’t defeat him, what will?”
“Sir,” The second aide said, “He is not one of the council. He cannot possibly be in a position to harm you.”
“Yet.” Replied Cain and waved a hand, “Didn’t you hear the awe, the reverence, they were granting to this boy? They forgave him of the most heinous transgression permissible under our common law. And the implications! We survived by a miracle, not by some exception in our legal system! It won’t be long before they elect him to council.”
Cain then had a memory hit him. “Wait, didn’t this delinquent have a partner in crime?”
“No, not the girl. There was a boy, when we were reviewing his history. Some child that’s gone insane or something.”
“Silas, sir.” The aide replied, “He’s been interned by council orders in the medical ward for negligent consideration of medication.”
“Negligent consideration…. Ah…” Cain said, “Well, perhaps we should ratify this little mistake at once.”
“Sir?” The aide asked.
Still walking, Cain changed direction to head to the lower deck. “It seems we are letting trespassers of the law go free today. As our delinquent “savior” has been excepted from the law this one time, so we must except his friend.”
“… I don’t think this is really wise, sir.” The aide said.
“You don’t?” Asked Cain, stopping on the stairway and saying, “Why?”
“He poisoned his mother, sir, unknowingly… I think,” The aide said, “There’s no telling what other kinds of accidents he’d cause if he was let loose…”
“But we allowed Tamuur to roam free, and he could have killed us all with his meddling in the forbidden areas. Yet he remains unpunished, while our promising child remains locked up in the hospital ward!” Cain waved his hands at the end of his statement, then continued his quest for the medical ward.
The aide, hesitating, followed.
Silas returned home after nearly a year in confinement.
His things were reorganized. Stumbling into the darkened burlap housing, he ran his hands through the dark as he tried to find something familiar.
Hands accelerating he swept his fingers under the mattress cover. They- they had to be here! The Miracles! THEY MUST BE HERE!
….To his dismay, they weren’t.
In a second wave of energy he flipped the mattress over. Nothing there in the dim light. He even went down on the springs, supported the thin mattress up on his back as his hands probed for it. He felt the floor under the bed.
The miracles were gone.
His eyes tearing up, he crawled off the bed and sat on the floor. When the white-robed man released him from his confinement, the one hope was that he could find the pills again in his room. He had more than just that one- he had plenty. Now he had come home to a home that wasn’t a home- a place that was no longer his.
He sobbed for a moment more, then produced the thing he had hidden under his shirt. The autotab, stolen from his ward in the medical area. It had everything- the stylus, the information nail, everything. It was fully functional.
But it was mechanical. It could break down.
His hands launched again, fumbling through the thick things. He opened the dresser and found it there. Yes. Paper.
He pulled it all out, taking a fist and closing it in the drawer to pull out a few styluses. He dumped them on the mattress, along with the paper, before reaching up around the seam of the tent. Ripping it open some to permit the ever-present light to enter, he returned to sit cross-legged on the bed with the autotab present and the thick ream of medical paper on his lap.
He started to transcribe. This time he would take his time, making the text ornate and including pictures. For a man supposedly mad, his calligraphy was beautiful. The pictures, also, were fantastic, and the first letter of every sheet was expanded by three and decorated ornately.
Functioning without sleep for 27 Hiigaran hours, Silas started to transcribe his Word.
Tamuur was given the news the next morning. It was delivered by a messenger who, after hearing no response from the tent, opened the flap to see if the occupants were in. Tamuur was wiping an eye, while Miriam was still resting beside him with her hand on his chest.
After clearing the sleep from his eye, Tamuur noticed the courier. The messenger smiled. “Cozy?”
Tamuur grunted. It was a communication, really, of the shortest form of ‘get out’ he could manage at the moment. Miriam sucked in a breath as she awoke, but kept her eyes closed. Tamuur vacated the bed, Miriam pulled the covers up over her.
Tamuur, rubbing his face still, came to the door and asked, “The verdict in?”
“You’re going to live, sir.”
“The council wanted me to tell you that the people are grateful for your past actions and decided to let you live, knowing that whatever you have done was in the best interest of the ship and the population.”
The courier smiled again. “Do you plan on celebrating?”
Tamuur, in mid-wipe of his face, stopped. “What?” The courier glanced into the tent. Tamuur half-turned, then realized what he was speaking of. He glared at the courier. Still smiling, the man made a short bow and hurried off.
Tamuur returned into the tent. Miriam was moving.
“What was that all about?” she muttered.
Tamuur, sliding into the bed beside her, gave her a kiss as he rode right next to her. “I’m going to live.”
“Oh,” She mumbled, “Good…” She clasped his head and gave him a kiss.
Chuckling, Tamuur grabbed the sheets.
Last edited by Norsehound; 31st Jan 07 at 3:20 PM.
lol nice. Living is good.
Good so far, I like the flow and your style of wording.
And as much as I enjoy the speedy updates, please don't burn yourself out. Half the forum will beg you but just ignore them and keep up the good work.
very nice. i look forwards to seeing more
The massive starship was hull number 407. In ancient times, it had been called the Araraht-Nahb. Its purpose, originally, was as a bulk transport vessel with the option to convert to a casual passenger carrier. In it’s current state, it was halfway between the two.
The compliment was something akin to 1,270 people in the hold. It had been designed for, at maximum, twice that many. Supplies, as the populace found out, were meant for only short range interstellar travel between ports.
The ship supposedly had a hyperspace module. Tamuur, their captain, believed in this until he went to engineering to see the core for himself. It was there, just as he believed it was. With it, he told the people, they had the power to determine their own destinies.
The council was hesitant.
They had already made one great leap of faith one year ago, willingly or not, when Tamuur himself delivered them from the trail of tears. There was a fear, rightfully so, of the ancient evil somehow learning of their escape and sending minions to destroy them. With this kind of risk, it was better to hide in the mists of this place, where visibility and sensor range were complicated.
So, for now, the Araraht-Nahb cruised in the center of the Nebula.
The bridge was lively today. They were watching the birth of a star.
The bridge crew, idle at their stations, stood by the windows and watched. The Captain remained seated in the helm chair, looking out the windows himself from his seat. He would have kept looking had a hand not gently landed on his shoulder.
Tamuur turned, and beheld a sight even more splendid than any stellar phenomena. He smiled, saying her name, “Miriam.”
Like the sun rising from the horizon, Miriam’s smile dawned. Tamuur was once again riveted to his seat as he beheld her- consumed in a feeling that nothing mechanical could ever replicate.
Laughing the feeling off, he said, “What are you doing here?”
“I came to visit you,” Miriam replied, waving her head as she leaned down to his face, “The great captain can’t be left alone with his machines, can he?”
“No,” Tamuur responded, “I forbid it.”
Laughing, she kissed him. Some of the crew turned to see their captain with his woman, chuckled, and returned to watching the nebula. One of them had the gaul to call out, “Get a room…sir.”
Laughter lit the octagonal command cabin and Tamuur smiled as he looked over at his officers. He had hand-trained all of them over the last year for their positions. This, now, was closer to a real bridge than he had ever expected. Miriam’s presence aside, it gave him a feeling of satisfaction to be in command on a working, functional, starship. Still… it felt like something was lacking. He inherited this ship, not crafted it. Somehow, he vowed, that would have to change.
Tamuur decided to take his officer’s advice and vacate the bridge with her. Maybe, maybe they might go back to discreet surroundings, but Tamuur didn’t think it was time just yet to announce a specific plan. For now he would wait, his surprise almost ready for her.
It had been finished.
He had it out and open. The thick text was stained at the edges with gold- when closed, it gave the outside of the pages a golden tint. The paper itself was worn and yellowed from sitting out for a while until the entire work was finished.
He was reading from it.
He had emerged from his self-imposed barely a week ago. Rumor had spread in the past year of his existence- a strange being that stole food and moved like lightning. Few knew his name- some say he was a feral resident released into the public accidentally when the ship departed the trail of tears. Others thought he was the curse of Khelan-Jaat, set upon them for departing from their intended exile. Still more thought he was just a neglected child, independent and wild from his many years of no attention.
Whatever the case, he was shirtless and cross-legged in the forum, with his big book in front of him. He was reading aloud from it, and some people stopped to listen.
“…cast out of heavens for our immortal sins- banished forever to a path no light will ever shine upon once again. With the haven of light behind, the turbulent path was laid out for feet to tread. The people were exiled on this road, away from the light and the heavens, to tread into the darkness.
But Kadesh took pity on the people, and called to them. ‘Come,’ She said, “come to my garden, my resting place. I will shield you from the wickedness and evil in the stars…”
As he read, those who had knelt closest to the writer listened intently. Their eyes were wide and they were unspeaking. Behind them, listeners of a causal interest were also quiet, but still listening with some interest at the words this crazy person had to say. At the back were the critics, some of them firm believers in the word of Sajuuk, and whispered to their fellows about how this blasphemer would spend eternity outside the lathe of Sajuuk when final judgement came.
Whatever the case, he was interesting… at least when judging from the crowd he was drawing.
Tamuur smiled as he watched Miriam’s curiosity blossom again.
Her hands ran along the metal walls. It wasn’t just because they were metal, but because she could have only imagined this kind of thing in a dream. She stopped at the center of the small room and looked around with her eyes wide. She looked to Tamuur, standing in the doorway.
“It’s ours?” She asked.
Tamuur nodded. “Captain’s quarters are usually delegated to the captain.”
Smiling Miriam bounced to Tamuur and gave her man a hug. “It’s wonderful!” She said to the fabric of his shirt, a smile hidden under the folds, “Our own place….”
Tamuur’s eyes scanned the bare room. He had cleaned it out himself, coming here on his off-shift to make sure the place was secure. After recovering some tools and removing some unsightly things, he had purged the room clean of dust, debris, and ditritus from age as best as he could. It was a bare room.
Miriam’s excitement bubbled not just from the fact that he welcomed her into his intimate places in such a formal way, but also because of what the room was; a room. Before, the only structures her life had ever seen were the artificial caves of the ship’s architecture or the canvas tents in the ship’s internal city. Like the council chambers, the medical places, and the cubbies and niches of former loading hangers, this was another cave. This cave had a door, and it was their own.
Tamuur laughed to himself as he suddenly realized that, yes, he and Miriam had gotten a room.
“When can we move in?” She asked.
“Anytime,” Replied Tamuur.
“Let’s do it now then,” She said. Tamuur stared at her. She shrugged in his arms, “I’m not doing anything today, are you?”
Tamuur took a moment to think, then smirked, “Aside from being captain?… They’d let me know.”
His hand slid down her arm and into her own hand, and together the two of them started off for the city.
The crazy person was followed in the streets. It was the children first, before some of the people followed him to talk about his reading. Holding the book, the boy responded to the inquires with generosity and seriousness of a man possessed by religion.
Hours after his first reading, news had spread like wildfire. Eventually, the news reached the council.
“Who let that madman loose?” Cain asked when an aide finished the story. This was in one of the larger tents, the shine to Sajuuk. Though attendance was not as high as, say, the ancient times of the exile, it still served as a religious center for the few devotees left in the populace.
“You did, sir,” Replied the aide.
“I did? For what… ah,” he suddenly realized, “This is the friend of our ‘captain’, is it not?”
“Well, then I-“ Cain started, but was interrupted when he spotted a council messenger approaching. “What is it?”
“Sir,” Said the courier, “Councilman Abel wishes to see you immediately.”
Cain resisted the urge to protest and got off the heavy chair he was seated on. “Very well,” he said in an agitated tone, “Lead on.”
The courier turned and retraced his steps, leaving the shrine and crossing a portion of the village before arriving at councilman Abel’s tent. Unlike Cain’s base at the shrine, Abel’s was a humble tent almost identical to the hundreds of other tents in the city. The only difference was that this one was larger by a degree, fitting for a man of Abel’s age and position.
The courier held the flap open and, after hesitating, Cain entered. Abel was behind the large metal table that served as a desk. Seated with him aside the desk were two other council members.
Abel looked up. “Cain,” He said, “We’ve been expecting you. Sit.”
Abel pointed to the solitary chair to his left. Cain sat down in it saying, “I hope this is significant, Abel, I have plenty of business in the shrine.”
“We’re well aware of your significance as religious leader.” Siress Bethel said from her place at Abel’s right.
“So it is with some irony,” Abel said, “That you release a man who goes among the people after a year of seclusion, apparently bearing his own religion.”
Cain frowned and waved a hand, “A mere upstart. Had religion been law, he would have already been crucified and his body burned to ash. At best, he’s insane.”
“Yet you released him.” Bethel said.
“Which, I might add, is the real concern for your summons.” Abel interrupted. Leaning forward, he said, “You were elected to this council by popular vote, Cain, some years ago when Councilman Yvell fell ill and passed away of old age. In your time you have served as a representative for the moral community of our population- specifically the religious sector. In your service, however, you have seemed to forget the fact that as an elected body, the quorum operates on a system of elections and votes.”
“Do you have a point?” Asked Cain.
Bethel leaned forward, “In other words, you seem to have forgotten that you cannot single-handedly overturn a decision created by the whole of the council. You yourself supported that edict, as the transcripts can attest to.”
Abel motioned, “Several of the council have pressed a vote of suspension against you, for this act and your behavior in the council on the day of our departure from the trail of tears- let alone all the things you have been accused of in between. The matter has been put to a vote, and we have decided to discharge you from the council.”
Cain stood, furious, “This is an outrage! The people elected me as replacement for Yvell, not your council or its rules!”
“But Cain, are you not a supporter of those rules?” Bethel put forward, “Given your zeal in demanding Tamuur be executed for his transgression.”
Cain could not find words.
Abel’s words occupied the silence, “Your duties as councilman have been terminated, immediately. While you still retain your position at the shrine and are no way under house arrest, you may no longer participate in council sessions, nor may you again influence the decision of the council or council activities in any official manner.”
Bracing himself inwardly, Abel asked, “Have you any final, formal statement you wish to make?”
Cain stared death at Abel, anger in his eyes and in his face. All he did was depart the tent immediately to return to the shrine.
“Well,” Bethel said, “I suppose we can expect some fire and brimstone sermons from the clergy for a while.”
The other councilman, Jussel, asked, “Councilman Abel, shouldn’t we detain the young man Cain set free? If he is a danger-“
“I had thought about that,” Said Abel and shook his head, “He doesn’t seem to have been reportedly doing any harm- to anyone other than perhaps Cain’s religious ego. Watch him for a few days… then we shall put the matter up for a discretionary vote in the council.”
The Captain and his woman were greeted by passersby as they returned to the city.
“Tamuur!” One woman called from her tent as they passed, “Are you full-time driver now or do you still take commissions?”
“I’ll have to check my schedule!” Tamuur called back with a smile. Miriam grinned with him as the pair of them walked down one of the city’s wide avenues.
There was a small crowd approaching from the opposite direction. Tamuur noticed and tried to see what all the fuss was about. He slowed and stopped when he identified the figure at its head. Miriam, too, slowed down.
“Wha…?” Tamuur trailed off.
The figure spotted them. Wide-eyed, he broke into a run.
There was confusion on the streets as the madman with the heavy book ran for the Captain and his woman. Tamuur stiffened, ready to act as he did those years ago when the boy tried to kill him.
Instead, Silas embraced Miriam, almost bauling her over at the force of his charge. Tamuur, having stepped back to avoid Silas’s charge, now stepped forward.
The incoherent speech of Silas didn’t make any sense to either of them. Miriam was too stunned to think.
Tamuur, however, wasn’t. “Silas?”
Silas lifted his head from Miriam’s shoulder to stare at Tamuur as if he weren’t even human. Miriam, collecting herself, pushed against Silas and separated from him. Silas’s wide, creative eyes stared at her.
For a moment, Tamuur wondered if Silas was still under the assumption that they were an item. In a normal person it wouldn’t be unusual, but seeing this- and remembering what happened before- Tamuur couldn’t know what his former acquaintance could know. It unsettled him.
Silas turned back to Miriam and compassion entered his face. “Miriam it’s been a long time…I missed you.”
Miriam laughed nervously, but she seemed to lean closer to Tamuur. Silas was frightening her, and Tamuur could see why. The man seemed still insane.
“Maybe we should get together again and talk… when I’m not busy.” He said.
“Yes,” Miriam said, nodding. She took Tamuur’s hand.
Silas saw this, his big blue eyes jumping down before returning to her face. Smiling again he said, “Later perhaps… tomorrow?”
Miriam was about to speak when Tamuur interrupted, “She’ll be busy Silas. We’re both relocating to the bridge… my quarters.”
The prophet once again looked at Tamuur as if he had walked onto the ship from space. Tamuur stared back.
The group Silas abandoned now caught up with him. Silas, noticing them with a glance over his shoulder, turned to smile warmly at Miriam. “Kadesh….welcome.” He said and made a small bow. Miriam, wide-eyed, didn’t know what to say or think. She looked up at the people now staring at her- some in reverence, others in contemplation.
Tamuur took her hand and pulled her away from the proceedings. He had enough. Miriam followed, grasping Tamuur’s hand as the two left.
“Behold the beauty of Kadesh,” Silas’s voice called from behind them, “Our savior from the wretched darkness of the black! Our goddess imbued…”
Tamuur didn’t care to hear the rest. He and Miriam were well out of earshot by the time Silas started to make meaning.
In Miriam’s tent, the woman embraced Tamuur. The captain held the woman tight, rubbing her back as he normally did in troubled times.
“He’s…” she was crying, “He’s….”
Tamuur didn’t say anything. He just continued to rub.
“I’m sorry…” She breathed, “I just… I remember the stories he used to write… before… before he started….”
Tamuur just hummed into her ear and she calmed down. Both their eyes were closed.
As Miriam tried to get over the fact that Silas had lost all touch with reality, Tamuur tried to comprehend how this happened. Silas was locked up- for good- or so he believed. He was a danger to everybody. He also remembered Silas’ parting words… what was he up to?
And more importantly, was he a danger to the ship? To Miriam?
Both parted and looked at the door to the tent. “Who is it?” Tamuur asked.
“Courier of the council. Captain?”
The courier entered and made a small bow. “Sir,” he said, “I was dispatched to find you. The council requests an informal meeting with you as soon as you are able. Councilman Abel wishes to see you.”
“Tell him I’ll be there at once.” Tamuur said. The couriour departed, and Tamuur turned to Miriam. She looked into his eyes, before the two of them together departed for the council chambers.
They both had questions to ask of their leaders.
Cain was particularly vengeful today. The sermon at the day’s end was of the kind that inspired visions of fiery hell and damnation. He went into vivid depictions of the fate of the wicked and the sinning- that their souls had no hope for salvation from the lathe of Sajuuk. Instead, they would go to the well- to the place where all other-worldly interplanetary souls went: all the ill-formed, the subhuman, the monsters of the universe. There, the sinners would spend countless eternity with the daemons and devils of the dark spaces between the stars. They would become playthings of Khelan-Jaat and other unspeakable masters of pain and torment. Cain continued with descriptions of the kind of things these deities of evil went on to perform in the well- causing some of the audience to cry. Such was the ferocity of his sermon that some bystanders converted on the spot, just to save their souls from the torment Cain outlined in his sermon.
Councilman Abel, when hearing upon the results of the sermon at the shrine, simply said, “In a way, I suppose Cain is a very convincing advertiser for his religion.”
Then the invited arrived. This was an informal session- many of the council members were present but not all were here. Further, it was located in one of the popular bazaars, not the chambers. Meetings like this happened, but only when they didn’t require the full attention of the council or the populace.
The guests arrived. The courier excused himself, and Tamuur and Miriam were invited to sit. “Sir,” Tamuur started, “before we begin… can I ask something?”
“Of course.” Abel replied.
“Silas,” Tamuur answered, “He is an acquaintance of ours… the last I heard, he was contained in medical indefinitely. I-“
Abel raised a hand, “I know of the story, young man. His release was not condoned by the council.”
Tamuur stared into the councilman’s eyes, saying, “You have to return him to quarantine at once.”
“The man hasn’t done any harm, has he?” Asked councilman Bayer, languishing on one of the chairs with a drink on the table by his hand. Motioning the other one, he said, “We’ve discussed this before, Tamuur, we don’t think-“
“Please,” Miriam spoke, “It’s for his own good… he isn’t in his right mind….”
“Lady,” Abel said, “All things have been considered. If we return him to imprisonment, with the attention he seems to be gaining, people will start to question our motives, and thus loose faith in the council. Already your friend appears to be stirring up a lot of attention across the populace-“
“All that could be prevented if he wasn’t released in the first place.” Tamuur said, annoyed. He sighed and said, “I thought that was the intention when he was interred- he is a danger.”
“We did not bring you here to discuss a controversial citizen,” Said councilman Nials, sitting errect in his chair.
“Indeed,” Abel said. He raised a hand, “Though I’m sure what we have to say may interest you.”
“Oh?” Asked a significantly less impressed Tamuur.
“Please hear us out” Siress Bethel spoke.
Abel nodded, then said, “With councilman Cain’s discharge from the council we are short a member. We would like to elect you to the council.”
This turned Tamuur’s entire expression around. Instead of annoyance and frustration, he was now confused. “Sir… me?”
“Yes.” Abel replied, then shook his head, “Many of us are old, and as you may be thinking, incapable of judging the younger generations. Besides, you considerable record since rescuing us from a set future seems to scream at your potential for leadership, not to mention single-handedly populating our vessel with a crew capable of maintaining the ship’s course. It has been decided among us, in this casual council, that you are the best candidate for the next member of the council.”
“Will you accept?” Bethel asked.
Miriam looked to Tamuur. The ship’s self-proclaimed captain hesitated, unsure weather or not to believe it.
Turning to meet Miriam’s gaze with his own, the two of them seemed to have a telepathic discussion for a second. They read each other’s emotions and it was done.
“I accept,” Tamuur said, turning to Abel. He nodded his head, “When will the voting begin?”
“We will send the motion to the people tomorrow morning.” Abel replied. “With your move to the command deck, many might see it as favoritism, however.”
“It’s only favoritism if it’s unjust.” Bethel said, then nodded to Tamuur, “This young man has been the hardest working able-bodied person in the fleet. No other man has dared to accomplish what he has done in the past year or so.”
The others of the council nodded in agreement. Turning this ship from a moving refugee camp into a mobile city would have been nothing short of miraculous if one didn’t consider the context.
But while the others smiled and nodded in approval, Tamuur and Miriam were wondering about the consequences of allowing Silas to continue in the ship.
The next day the ballot was cast to the people… with the expected results. Cain was furious, saying as much in the shrine before plotting the next equally motivating sermon attacking another subject Cain felt was inappropriate. Some guessed it would be Tamuur.
But as the day went on, more and more people seemed to be voicing their approval. Like deciding on his life, the votes about the controversial law-breaker seemed to be positive, noting his many glorious achievements since rescuing the people from bound fate.
…But there was another deciding factor in all of this.
“None is worthy of beholding Kadesh’s beauty, her touch! None is worthy of her attention, save for the devout!”
This caused Silas’ audience to back some. Silas had looked up, spread his hands, and made his proclamation at the beginning of today’s sermon. More had come to him today, probably (as some spectators guessed), to avoid Cain’s hellfire and brimstone sermon about death and how they were going to The Well.
Sitting cross-legged with the book open in his lap, Silas continued his sermon of the Goddess Kadesh, the great protector and saver. “She has cast her hand of fate into the void, taking hold of our destiny by bringing to us the physical manifestation of her beauty. Through the eyes of her avatar,” He then went softer, “she taught me wisdom… and what I need to know… to be her disciple …”
Silence filtered in for a moment as Silas stared into space. Some wondered weather or not his brain died on the spot, until he startled them all by shouting, “Those who understand the compassion and joy of Kadesh’s mercy are free and welcome to join! Those who do not, and mock Kadesh, will be removed from the garden at once!”
Slamming the book angrily, Silas stood and marched out of the forum. The audience looked at one another in confusion until someone stood up and followed him. Several others, through argument with their fellows or their own initiative, also followed. Eventually, they all went to the forward part of the ship.
They came to the door that started the entire journey. Many hesitated at Silas’s choice of location- the door that lead to the forbidden part of the ship. Some of them stopped and turned back, judging the man to be crazy. Others came up to the prophet.
“You’ve come.” Silas said with a glowing look on his face. Then he turned serious, “Only the most committed, the serious minded, are permitted passage. Those who cling to mortal law, or do not believe in Her Benevolence, are not worthy to pass.
“For the faithful, follow, and I will open your eyes.” Silas then turned and started down the hallway.
Miriam finished slipping the last of her knitting things into the bag. “I know you’ll be able to bring some sense to them.” She said.
Tamuur just nodded as he held some of her things. She turned around as she held the last of her handbags of things, looking around at the enclosure that had long been her home. She eventually found Tamuur’s eyes, and both of them smiled.
“I won’t miss my cabin,” Tamuur replied, “Never liked the tent. Too small.”
Miriam breathed a laugh and the pair of them emerged from the tent and started for the bridge once again. Heads turned, passing congratulations, as the pair continued for the back of the ship.
“So,” She said, “What’s the first thing you think you’re going to do?”
“Get some sense into the council.” Replied Tamuur and took a breath to say on it’s exhalation, “Maybe convince them that we can leave the nebula, strike out on our own with the hyperspace core we have. Maybe even see if there are others out there who are the enemies of our ancient captors.”
“But what if nobody is willing to help us?” Asked Miriam.
“Then we find a way to help ourselves.” Tamuur responded, “I’ve looked into my grandfather’s books… there’s a lot of stuff about weaponry in them.”
“Build warships? How?” Asked Miriam, “We can’t do it ourselves…”
“No,” Tamuur replied, “But maybe we can find someone, or something, willing to help us do that.” He stared into space as he said, “We’ve been victims for far too long already.”
When they reached Tamuur’s room, Miriam set her things down before deciding to sit on the bed. Tamuur remained standing, walking to the room’s closet and opening it to see if there was room.
“Tamuur,” she said, “Silas’ religion thing is scaring me.” Tamuur turned to her. “I didn’t want to say anything in the villiage,” she said, “But… the way he looked at me…like that…”
Turning fully to face her Tamuur said, “You can wait here if you like while I get my things.”
“No, no.” She shook her head, “You helped me with mine… it’s just…” She shook her head and sighed. Then she looked up at him, “It’s like he’s revering me as some kind of god…”
“That seems to be his way…” Tamuur sighed, unsure really what to say.
“He has other people believing him.” She said, then turned her gaze away, “I could feel it… they were believing him…” She hid her face in her hands, “I don’t know what to do…”
Tamuur came forward and sat on the bed beside her. He took her in his arms, saying, “If this offer to the council is genuine, I’ll see what I can do about it.”
“But you heard what-“
“I know,” Tamuur replied, “And I don’t care if I get discharged for it. Silas is too dangerous to be loose.”
“This will let us see her?” Asked one of the youth.
Silas nodded energetically.
Fifteen had decided to come to this holy place. Fifteen were now holding the sacred medicines that had once, long ago, given Silas the vision of Kadesh.
The fifteen took the medicines, pleasing Silas eagerly. All he needed to do was wait… and more could be granted the glorious vision of Kadesh in her ethereal form.
As big of a ship as it was, the Araraht-Nahb was almost a speck inside the greatness of the nebula. It didn’t surprise Tamuur at all to know that it took them a while to realize they weren’t alone in the vast fields.
Lights were spotted some weeks ago. Tamuur ordered the ship in the direction of these lights. Ancient sensors of the cargo ship had confirmed what he had suspected; it was another vessel.
He didn’t want to break the news to the populace just yet, but he believed that he may have no choice. The bridge crew were likely to tell their loved ones about it when the shift traded, and from there word would filter to the council, and eventually to the religious sectors. And to Silas.
With that note, Tamuur grunted in the helm seat. Despite now being a member of the council, Tamuur could not find the support to return the man to the medical ward. One of the big reasons was, unfortunately, that the doctor overseeing him had passed away out of old age. Since medical records were more word-of-mouth than by transcription, it meant Silas had a lot more credibility than before. The medicine incident had been forgotten to all… except Miriam and Tamuur.
On that note, the two of them had been living happily together in their cabin for the past two months. Though scandalous rumor surrounded the pair in good fun, Tamuur haddn’t decided when to propose to Miriam. Marriage was obvious- the two loved each other and made this plain every day.
Yet Miriam wasn’t happy- especially when more of these Silasian cultists continued to pop up. It was Tamuur’s worst nightmare that was starting to seem true- Silas’ insanity was commuting to others. Now he had heard there were annual ceremonies in the forum proclaiming the ‘Glory and Power on High’ of Kadesh, their protector and savior. They called this place the Garden, and there were other things they spoke of.
From his new contacts in the quorum, he discovered another assumption of his was correct; Cain was furious. Tamuur believed they were only seeing the beginning of the religious wars, however.
“Sir, there.” The man on sensors said.
Tamuur raised his head. Through the haze of the clouds, lights were visible. They were in an arrayed pattern Tamuur could not recognize from any of his ship manuals. There was no way of making a positive identification, either. Not even the ship’s native computers could identify the make of the vessel.
Tamuur could tell it was a freighter however. It was certainly not combat worthy, the bulky hull and bulbous projections seemed to advertise that this, like their own ship, was a freighter of some kind, a carrying vessel not meant for combat.
Tamuur got up from his seat, “Match course and speed, but discreetly.” He started for the exit from the bridge. Council needed to be called.
It took only moments for the emergency meeting to be summoned. They met in the ship’s officer’s quarters, now refurbished. It was a discreet place for them all to meet without being in the council chambers or within earshot of any troublemakers.
“Another ship?” Asked Bethel. Abel was absent due to an illness.
Tamuur nodded and said, “We can try contacting them.”
“Certainly not,” Growled Nials, “What if they are related to our oppressors?”
“Nials,” Bethel said, “That’s paranoia.”
“It’s safe, at least.” Nials answered.
Bayer waved a hand, “Oh why not? You say it is a ship. Military?”
“No.” Tamuur replied, “Not that my eyes can tell.”
“Well then,” Bayer said, “Perhaps we should contact them. What harm could they do?”
“Plenty,” Nials said, “If they are as tricky and deceitful as legends say.”
“You’re sounding like one of those upstart cultists,” Bethel said, then turned to Tamuur, “Tamuur, you are not only a councilman but acting captain of the ship. Do what you feel is best for the whole of the people. You have our support in this matter.”
Tamuur looked about the council to assess the truth of the statement. Many of the faces were sympathetic, but three he couldn’t be sure on. Nials was one of them.
“All right,” he said, “We will make contact. Break the news to the people, but gently. They may already know.”
“A ship?” The prophet’s voice said.
“Yes,” One of his bowed acolytes said, “A ship. Another vessel.”
Rising, Silas stood. His eyes were staring off into the wild, as if reading the air for instructions. Not looking down, he said to his disciple, “Send for the others. We must save the people from themselves.”
The acolyte turned and left. Silas stepped down from his chair in what used to be the ancient medical ward on deck 01. In the past couple of months, it had been turned, once again, into a shrine. Except this one was of a fanatic. Things had been discarded outside the opposite end of the medical ward- things unnecessary or too complex to be understood. Medical lights burned like candles in the artistically lit place. Even the grime seemed to fit in place with a moody, aged monastery.
He entered the special key needed to gain access to a sensitive area of the place. It used to be an operating room, but this too had been transformed. The table itself had been transformed into an altar, with Silas’ heavy book placed on it. Medical instruments were moved aside and transformed into holders for the various prism-lights. Dominating the center of the room now was a life-sized portrait of Miriam… deified by the artist.
Silas knelt before this thing to pray to Kadesh. He had long proclaimed the words of his Goddess, praising her for the gift of vision… the gift of truth. Now, it was time to repay this wonderful Goddess who had granted him so much.
Tamuur was tense on the bridge. They had just opened a hailing frequency.
The freighter ahead slowed, allowing the Araraht-Nahb to come alongside. The other ship was certainly newer- sleeker and more refined by the technology the people of the Araraht-Nahb were deprived of possessing.
“Sir,” Said the boy managing communications, “They wish to open a two-way feed….”
Tamuur hesitated. He, out of all people… out of all the council… the first to contact a being outside their society in nearly five hundred years.
Taking a breath, the tinkerer said, “Open. Feed it here.”
He reached up and rubbed off the video feed. In a moment, a screen before him changed from static to a face.
A human face.
Tamuur hesitated. He was almost prepared for anything over there… anything other than human.
“This is the freighter Bashaan-mimb out of the Port of Nalthor to…uh… Araraht-Nahb. You guys in trouble over there or something?”
“I-“ Tamuur said, swallowed, and started again, “I am Tamuur… captain of this…the Araraht-Nahb.” The next sentence he said after a breath came out easier, as it was the truth; “We are a refugee ship of over a thousand people seeking assistance. We have managed to break free of our course and seek some kind of asylum, somewhere. We were hoping you could be of some assistance.”
Tamuur watched understanding blossom in the other captain, then surprise. “Majan-ahnit! The Exiles! Ujedu, lockdown on all casual transmissions! It’s the Hiigarans!”
Confused looks crept into the room. Tamuur remained stern, wondering if this meant that the Bashaan-mimb had just decided to refuse.
Instead, their captain turned and nodded. “We’ve heard about you people. The exiles from Hiigara, right? Oh man… you must be…. Dear Sajuuk….” The man rubbed a hand through his long hair, then cleared it with a shake of his head. “We’ll render assistance. How many do you have onboard?”
“Nearly a thousand.” Tamuur said, a figure he had come to memorize since becoming a council member.
“Damn the suns,” the other captain said, “I think we might be able to render assistance. Any wounded or seriously injured?”
“No. We…” Tamuur took a breath, “We just need to find someplace to go. A home for us to settle on… something.”
“I can imagine!” The other captain said, then turned, “It looks like your ship’s been sealed up from the outside…. But we can still try hard docking on your closest facing. That is, if you’re up for docking maneuvers,” The captain finished with a smile.
Tamuur smiled back, saying, “If you can forgive me in saying I’ve never performed docking before…”
“That’s OK. Just keep on your trajectory and we’ll do the moving.” The captain said, “Gonna have to get some cutters to open your doors… just tell me there aren’t any booby traps down by your main cargo door.”
“Any there have been diffused long ago.” Tamuur replied. He added, “I look forward to meeting you in person, sir.”
“The same!” The captain answered, “I’ve heard a lot about you Hiigarans… and the war. Long time ago, but I never….heh… sorry… you guys are something of a myth nowadays. See ya on the other side.”
The comm. transmission ended.
“Other ship is moving into a position to dock.” Said the sensor officer.
Tamuur stood, saying, “Maintain course… I think we should organize a welcoming committee. I’ll be around.”
The comm. officer nodded. Tamuur patted the pocket of his garb to confirm that his custom-built transmitter was still there. Thanks to the plans unearthed in the fragmented database of the ship’s files, he was able to recreate one of the Araraht-Nahb’s personal communication devices. Normally used for inspection crews looking on the cargo, it had been repurposed as Tamuur’s contact device. So far only he had one, but he intended to replicate one for each of the council members.
There were thirty-seven of them. In the darkness of what used to be the primary loading bay, they waited.
Their prophet was with them.
They had armed themselves with an array of tools. Sharp things, things of violence. The instruments of the devout needed to protect their charges from the reaches of the unchosen, the unclean.
Silas waited with eager eyes.
Sparks flew from one of the corners of the large loading door. They were melting the solder around the door, intending on freeing it rather than taking it off it’s hinges completely.
Silas muttered to his followers, “This… is the garden… of Kadesh…”
“Me?” Miriam asked as she walked beside Tamuur. With the council behind them, Miriam shook her head, “Tamuur…”
“I’m serious,” Tamuur replied, “You’re wonderful and understanding with people. I couldn’t think of a better person to be with me, if formal negotiations are something to think about.
“And besides,” he said, brushing his hand past hers, “You give me a peace that few things do.”
The precession made it down to the mid-level of the ship. The rolling cargo door was there, long sealed in ancient times. In the bay were only a pair of barely functional shuttle vehicles, obviously left to neglect and abandon.
The door was already open. Tamuur expected as much.
What nobody expected were the bodies.
Miriam immediately recoiled on seeing them, right into Tamuur. He took her as some of the council, shocked, just took in the scene in absolute horror.
Bodies of men, badly bludgeoned or cut. Beyond them, crates of medical supplies, food, and other assorted goods had been stacked.
Miriam said a name. Tamuur, now impressed with a horrible notion, rushed forward into the alien ship to stop the violence. The council, looking between them, wondered what to do.
Miriam followed Tamuur.
Tamuur arrived too late. Rushing into the bridge, he came in to the rounded room to see Silas, naked from the waist up, standing with a bludgeon over the body of the captain Tamuur himself had been speaking to only moments earlier. Seeing this, Tamuur’s heart fell.
Then anger rose again as he realized who had caused this abomination.
Silas should be put to death for this outrage.
“What is the meaning of this!?” Demanded Tamuur, stepping inside with a voice thunderous and high. Had this been a primitive time, one may confuse his stance and voice for a projection of Sajuuk.
Silas whirled, bludgeon in hand, and stared wide-eyed at Tamuur. The others, finished with their work, also turned to look up at the intruder to their ritual.
“Have you no sense at all!?” Tamuur raged, “These people were our allies! Friends!”
“They violated the garden!” Someone replied.
Tamuur stared at the circle to find the offending voice. Not finding it, he returned his gaze to Silas, who was now facing him with his bloody weapon lowered.
“Silas,” Tamuur said, “On the order of the council, I hear by place you under arrest.”
Silas just started to laugh. His followers laughed with him. Tamuur held his ground.
Recomposed, Silas said, “With what force, Tamuur? The only law I listen to is that of the Garden… her will. Not yours, nothing of the material, anymore.”
Tamuur, sternly, answered, “Does your Goddess command murder?”
Silas, suddenly furious, commanded, “My Goddess commands death on all those who stand in my way!”
Raising his bludegon, he rushed for Tamuur. It was with such speed and tenacity that his followers were stunned.
Tamuur dodged the swing, but just barely. He blessed the reflexes he had in being a tinkerer, and whirled to intercept the first containing Silas’s bludgeon. He caught the weapon in mid-swing, but took the punch of Silas’ fist to the face and doubled over. His hold on Silas’s fist released.
As the fanatic brought his weapon to smash into Tamuur’s neck, the only voice that could stop him echoed down the corridor. Silas froze, turning his head to look down the hall just outside the bridge door.
It was Miriam, running.
Silas, now wide-eyed, let his weapon drop and parted his arms to embrace Miriam. He did so, but she wouldn’t have it. She pushed him into the wall with as much force as a woman could, even before the prophet could close his bloody hands around her. The effect on Silas was more than any physical harm could produce.
She went to the slowly rising Tamuur, her hands coming to his shoulders. Wordlessly she helped him, guiding him slowly through the hall bloodied by combat. A handkerchief of hers went to Tamuur’s face to staunch the bleeding nose.
Slowly the disciples came out of the bloodied bridge, looking at their leader with blank confusion on their face. The drug was still present in their system… they were waiting for their prophet to respond.
Silas didn’t say anything.
The entire crew of the Bashaan-mimb, all one hundred and twenty, had been massacred by only a handful of religious fanatics. Many in the ship didn’t know how to take the news.
The lawkeepers of the populace were swift in carrying out Tamuur’s edict. After relaying it to the stunned council in the loading bay, the act was carried out. Armed with weapons even more refined than anything Silas or his fanatics could imagine, they herded the cultists through the ship, into their own, and brought them to the ship’s de-facto prison. Cargo containers once used for holding livestock, long ago, on the lower levels, now held the murderous fanatics. Their punishment would be decided in due time.
As for the Bashaan-Mimb… no decision had been made yet. The ship was still docked alongside. At least the bodies had been cleared- compassionate volunteers had gone aboard to do the deed. When Cain refused to hold ceremony, a volunteer did this also, and they were consecrated with a Hiigaran funeral.
Tamuur was in his room being comforted by Miriam. He didn’t say anything at first, just accepted her hands on his head. One of them pressed the bandages to his inujured nose, the other gently caressing the back of his head with her fingernails. She wasn’t smiling, either.
Both of them knew what they were going to say. ‘It was a mistake letting him out’. ‘We should have seen this coming.’ Tamuur knew where the blame rested: on Cain, and his decision to release the fanatic. With all the interned murderers in the hold, execution was not a far off possibility now.
“Is it ethical,” he said, “To take what they would have offered for us?”
“I don’t know.” Miriam replied.
The supplies just inside the freighter’s entry were fresh. It was obvious that the generous captain of the Bashaan-mimb would have given them to the exiles out of sympathy. The taste was sour in his mouth when the opportunity to take the entire ship’s stock was in his mind. It was a freighter, full of things they could use. Weapons, clothing, munitions, foodstuffs… it was a ship that had seen port far sooner than their own vessel ever could have hoped to have. Also on board that ship was information and knowledge that Tamuur could have easily wished to posses. It was in his power.
But it made him uncomfortable when he compared it to tomb robbing. The question though, was were they to put to waste the gifts and things that the crew of the Bashaan-mimb no longer needed, or let them remain where they were?
He knew the purpose of a freighter. They were headed somewhere, and whoever it was on the other end of this shipment would want their cargo. Since the ship wasn’t automated, it needed course changes and adjustments. It had to be manned to reach its destination. Unfortunately, with the crew dead, nobody save Tamuur could hope to understand it’s full workings, let alone crew the ship entirely.
Sighing against the bandages, Tamuur knew he had to send this decision to the council. It was no longer possible for him to decide on his own moral grounds. Besides, it was for the benefit of the people.
Tamuur’s hand found Miriam’s arm and gave it a gentle squeeze. She smiled a weak grin at this, again the conversation silently passing between them.
‘you stopped him. Only you could.’
‘I could not let them hurt you.’
In his mind, Tamuur once again considered marriage to this woman he loved. That too, was not a far off possibility, either.
The storm clouds had to clear, first.
Many eyes watched out of the side of the ship as the freighter pulled away from the side of the ship. Lifeless and unpowered, the Bashaan-Mimb started to drift out of line with the Araraht-Nahb. She tilted and turned, showing the passengers of the prison ship the top of the long freighter. Her lights were off.
Majestically her lifeless shape disappeared into the clouds. On the bridge, sensors tracked the lifeless hull of the freighter until she vanished in the intensity of the nebula. Once again, the exiles were alone.
The supplies were sitting now in the entry way passing from the loading dock to the city. They were the same supplies gathered near the Bashaan-Mim’s entry- the supplies they were willingly going to give. The council agreed on Tamuur’s proposition. Only one other selection of things had been brought aboard, under lock and key, and secured in the bridge. The weapons.
Now that they had returned to the galactic scope, Tamuur realized that there may be others who would wish to plunder the Araraht-Nahb as ferociously as their fanatics had done to the Bashaan-Mim. It was far wiser to arm themselves in case that ever came to pass.
But Tamuur wasn’t stupid. The weapons would be locked near the bridge, in the empty lockers originally intended for this very same purpose. Keys were found, and only Tamuur and several council members had them. The only significant risk Tamuur could think of now was if, somehow, Silas had released himself and his followers from confinement, attacked a council member for the keys, and proceeded to arm themselves while making demands.
nothing is more dangerous than an armed fanatic. Especially one who’s insane.
Tamuur was now in his room over his desk, things there that he had been working on for a while. The books of his grandfather remained in the shelf over his head- some of them open to a number of pages on fighter craft design. The small model he made years ago was also on the desk, mounted now, and serving as a kind of inspiration for the drawings before him. Tamuur rubbed his head with his hands in dismay at the fact that he would have to wait a little longer for these things to be realized.
He remained seated as Miriam came into the room. She was the only other person, besides Tamuur, allowed in this room. She closed the door behind her and crossed to Tamuur. “How are you feeling?”
“Better,” He replied, referring to the nose Silas gleefully smashed only days ago, “The bleeding’s stopped at least… and my headache’s subsided.”
Smiling, Miriam crossed to the back of the chair he was seated in and rubbed the man’s back. Tamuur sighed as she did.
“If we ever come across another ship,” Tamuur said, eyes closed as she rubbed, “Silas should be nowhere near it. Contact should be explicitly between myself, you, and the council.”
Miriam chuckled softly, then said, “No representatives of the people then?”
“We are the representatives.” Tamuur replied, “Even me. Remember, I was elected to position despite what Cain or any other religious fanatic might think.”
“Yes,” Miriam replied, smiling.
Tamuur shook his head slowly. “Religion is going to prose a problem. I think I’m one of the few council members who ever had to consider that.” He leaned forward and put an elbow on the desk to lean against it. Miriam continued to rub. Tamuur sighed and said, “It would be better for us if we could just minimize religion somehow, to erase the fanatics. Before this, the only problem we had was anyone who prayed to hard…. And they were happy just speaking in the shrine. Now we have fanatics like Cain, trying to undermine the entire social structure of our people… or Silas, who madly believes in some sort of deity he thinks is you.”
Miriam’s hands stopped rubbing. Tamuur raised his head and turned it to look over his shoulder at her. Her eyes were looking into the air, away from him.
Tamuur rotated in his seat and took her arms in his. “I know how much it bothers you,” He said. Squeezing her hands he said, “We can do something about it.”
“Like what?” Asked Miriam. She shook her head, “I don’t condone killing anyone… not even Silas, even after what he’s done.”
Tamuur remained passive as she dipped her head. “Then what do you think we should do?” He replied.
She shook her head, her face still pointed downward, “I don’t know… I just…” She leaned forward and Tamuur took her in his arms as she sobbed quietly. His hands around her back, he did his best to comfort her, even as his mind spun with possibilities.
Last edited by Norsehound; 7th Feb 07 at 10:52 PM.
Wow between this story and that map, I am really beginning to think that you are some kind of artist
Good job, and take your time we can easily wait if it means more of this quality.
Always loved the Beast out of all the HW species but i think this fan fic will change things.
Beautiful work man,9 out of 10 for impressive story, character development and also a very human plot(I'm extremely picky so take it as a complement ).
PS: Man i don't know to what degree a Higaran would call himself/herself as being human but it's all subjective so up to you.
Well done, again you are surprising with the quick turnaround of your story. I amquite pleased at the result.
Although I would have figured that the whole marriage thing was a moot point by now, they have been living together and all that, in a culture so religious as the Hiigarans Marriage would have been one of the first things, not this late in the game, Even so it is your story and therefore your discression.
very good writing
you have gotten me to officially hate a character
and that doesn't happen often
good job for inspiring emotion within a reader
Attention Readers; new content has been added to the last chapter (proceeding the ). I thought about using this as a new chapter, but I'm stubbing my toe.
Trivia: I am now at 79 pages.
This is brilliance. I haven't found myself bothering to read any fanfiction of any kind in a long time. But this had me hooked. I am looking forward to seeing more of this as it unfolds.
By looking at him, nobody could believe that Silas was a murderous fanatic. He was nearly comatose in the container, staring at the wall without moving.
Cain wasn’t moved to sympathy at all as he stared through the thick glass at the young prophet. This boy alone had caused much, much trouble for the people of the ship. His blasphemous teachings may have already imperiled not only the word of Sajuuk, but also the safety of the souls of the entire ship. Sajuuk would not tolerate other gods.
But it wasn’t enough to simply throw him behind bars… Cain needed to destroy this man, utterly and without mercy. This child must be made an example of what happens to blasphemers when they offend the will of Sajuuk. Cain turned away from the cell, wheels churning. If this boy could be made an example of, perhaps there would be enough pull to have other heretics removed before more damage is done.
For the first time in the history of the survivors, space didn’t move outside. From all relative positions, the stars were more or less fixed. The constant hum in the background was no longer there. For once, there was almost absolute silence.
Today, reverence was being observed.
The people stood around the forum for the ceremony. Those that had died in the past month were laid out to rest on the floor of the forum before the statue. Their bodies were covered in the leaves of the Halifah plant- the ceremonial greenery for this particular purpose.
Tamuur, by his own deduction, had guessed that such a plant was used to diffuse the pollutants in the atmosphere. It had become tradition it seemed, and a rather effective means of having large fires inside without the concern of the ventilation system. He said nothing now, however.
He was holding Miriam’s shoulders as she cried. Her mother was one of the many laid out of the dead.
Out of respect for her, and them, he had finally ceased the ship’s engines. It was a landmark event, given the fact that the engines had been running continually for uncounted ages. Now that they were off, and the majority of the ship was quiet, it gave special purpose to this particular ceremony.
Only one gift I want to give her… Tamuur thought as he held her while she bowed her head full of tears.
Cain declined this ceremony, as expected. He had business elsewhere. Instead, one of the high priests was performing the ceremony. He sprinkled the liifa pedals on the bodies, stopping to spread two handfuls over the body of councilman Abel. His passing was also mourned greatly by the people’s, as was Siress Bethel’s. The council was now short a few members…
The priest stopped lastly at Kamar. The hermit had lived to his last… and finally passed away after seeing so much. It was only now that anyone noticed his absence and brought him here to be lain to rest.
Tamuur would miss his passing.
The priest said the solemn words, and the fires were started. The populace watched on as the fire built, cremating the bodies of the dead. The loud thud and drone of the air recycles boomed overhead, as they always did, which became known to the people as ‘the thunder of heaven’. The lathe had descended, taking the spirits of the departed with it.
They all remained as the fires died, each one of them remembering the spirits and faces of the departed. Miriam rotated in Tamuur’s grip to cry against his chest. Tamuur thought of Kamar, the old veteran, and the last things the warrior hermit had said to him.
You did well… we are now free…
Tamuur wondered, with the passing of elders of the council, could it be that a more willing council would allow them to finally leave the nebula? The hyperspace module was functional- they had used it to transition from one side of the nebula to the other. All they needed to do was set coordinates and they were ready to go. Destiny was in their hands…
…but Tamuur had already taken destiny by the horns and wrenched them out of an intended course. It had been a risky proposition… and Cain was, in part, right for his caution. After the experience with the Bashaan-Mim, there was no telling what the universe was like outside the nebula. It could be that the exiles would be recognized who they were and destroyed immediately by their aggressors. It was one possibility Tamuur hadn’t considered.
All they needed were the tools… He had the plans. He had refined them over years- ever since he made his first concept of a space fighter virtually from scratch. With it were a new combat doctrine… and a new hope out of the nebula…. someday.
But they had no way to build, only modify. This ship didn’t have any kind of factory on it save the ones that recycled the air…
Once the fires died, the people helped gather the ashes and scooped them into an urn. It was carried down to the gardens with ceremony, solemn song chanted all the way down as the urn was brought to the lower levels. The ashes were spread over the clean fields, the old giving to the new.
This ceremony was performed bimonthly for the dead. In this way, they still supported the living after so many generations.
Miriam wanted to be alone for a while in the wake of her mother’s death, and moved for a while into her mother’s tent. Tamuur remained in the captain’s quarters- his bed empty of her presence. He spent the time either reading, drawing, or standing watch on the bridge.
Miriam, for the first day, just wept. Nobody came near the tent as they knew all too well the occupant and the loss she went through.
On the second day, Miriam started to organize her mother’s things. Things she knew would be of use to some friends of the family she packed into old containers and labled them. Things of personal value she kept- the ancient shells of a beach long ago forgotten, a tattered shawl that supposedly traveled with the family since ancient times. A mirror of ornate construction… little things, also, that she remembered from her childhood. Some things would go to cousins, while some she kept for herself to pass on to her children. She smiled at the idea.
On the third day Tamuur decided to visit her.
He didn’t find her in her tent- but did find a note saying she went to market. He smiled when he saw the little initials at the bottom- a heart had been placed there, with a smile. She knew he would be here.
Still smiling, Tamuur left the tent and crossed the open space of the ship for the markets on the port side. He cast his gaze around him, noting how little had changed since he first dreamed of flying this ship as a boy. The tents were still the same, maybe more patches on some, but there had been no great fire or disaster to strike the ship (not counting possibly the massive course change he himself orchestrated). Children ran by his feet and Tamuur reminisced for a moment the first time he could remember Miriam and himself running off together- that day where she unlocked the door for Silas and himself.
He pushed the thought of Silas aside. The new council members would also have to resolve that issue. Silas, Tamuur felt, should still be put to death- for his own good. Far better to go to the lathe than continue his life, seemingly, insane. Though Tamuur wasn’t religious by default, he still liked to believe that Sajuuk, in his benevolence, still rescued the strayed and the lost. Tamuur liked to believe Silas, at best, was among this category.
He spotted Miriam and hesitated in his advance, then quickened it. Miriam was surrounded by a trio of men… and even from this distance it didn’t seem like they were leaving her alone.
Clutching a prize plate she intended on delivering, the three boys were positioned perfectly to pin her against the kiosk she had finished business with. Tamuur could hear their conversation as he closed.
“…deserving of you. After all, he hasn’t even proposed marriage to you… it means he isn’t serious.”
“What do you know about him?” Miriam replied, “I’ve known him even before you were born!”
She stepped to move away but the trio shifted to block her. The one before her said, “It’s a sin to live without marriage, Miriam. Come on, surely you haven’t been thinking about other people… I mean, why haven’t you pressed him for marriage?”
“Because it’s my business,” Tamuur said as he advanced, “And hers. Not yours.”
Tamuur, now in his prime, had grown to be tall and imposing. He glared at the young men and reminded of his status by adjusting his robe. The three backed off, but remained near. Miriam leaned in Tamuur’s direction until he placed his hand on her back, giving her assurance. Tamuur glared at the three.
“What are you doing still here?” he asked.
“….we wanted to show our appreciation…” Said the third, as all three went on their knees and clasped their hands together. Bowing their heads, they said, “We wanted to show our gratitude… for Kadesh.”
Tamuur felt the shiver through his hand. Miriam pressed to get away from them. Tamuur obliged, turning his back to the three and walking with his woman away from the kiosks.
Miriam returned to Tamuur’s cabin.
“I just can’t take this anymore,” She said, depositing the plate on Tamuur’s desk and plans before moving to the bed and dropping down in it. She raised her hands to her face, “First mother’s death… and now the harassment. It’s getting to be too much!”
Tamuur sat down beside her and rubbed her knee. Her hands left her face and grabbed at his shirt as she sobbed against him. “I don’t want to be a goddess, or anything like that,” she said, “I just want to be normal…. Like things were before we came here.”
“No,” Tamuur replied, “Before Silas went insane.”
She sniffed against his shoulder. Tamuur sighed.
His hand found hers.
“Miriam,” he said, “Maybe it’s time we got married.”
“Do we have to?” Miriam asked, moaning. Tamuur looked at her tear-drenched eyes, and she continued, “I mean can you imagine the attention? Half the people down there will be worshipping me or calling me names because I’m not with Silas.”
“You’re exaggerating,” Tamuur said.
She shook her head. “No, I’m not. Those men… they told me they had a message from Silas, and they kept joking about it. Then they said how pretty I was and why I hadn’t Married Silas… they started attacking you, too. They said you weren’t worthy and didn’t have a vision. They…they said…worse things…” She broke into sobbing again and clutched his torso.
Tamuur held her back, staring at the wall with his plans. The fighter was there, all ready and refined after years of consideration. It taunted him now, for this was his vision.
All I need is the tools and materials. Without these, my vision is nothing.
He bowed his head to place it on Miriam’s and cradled the girl in his embrace.
Cain stood just inside the doorway of the cell. He was in his priest robes today… he had come down here for a purpose, after all.
“Boy,” Cain addressed the crumbled form on the far side of the cell, “Do you want to be let out of here?”
Silas didn’t say anything. He just remained seated at the back of the cell.
Cain huffed and turned his back, “I thought as much. In the end, your Goddess has failed you-“
“What is it you want?!” Silas demanded, now standing.
Cain, on the other side of the door, smirked as he turned to face Silas. “I want you to confess that your God is a lie, and proclaim Sajuuk as rightful lord over your soul.”
“Sajuuk is a lie!” Silas pointed, “He abandoned us! Kadesh took us in!”
“So,” Cain said, “You still have spirit. Good. You will need it.” He motioned for the door to be closed.
Silas stared at the door, for the first time bewildered by someone else’s enigma.
The closed council session was held in the regular chambers. Empty seats had brought the quorum down to seven members- all deaths within the past two months of the old guard. The paranoid had suspected it was intentional violence, but Tamuur’s only guess of the perpetrator was Cain. But all Cain had done recently was preach at the shrine… nothing else. He didn’t seem to have much of an ulterior motive…
Nothing had been accomplished since Tamuur had entered these chambers. Bickering seemed to be the only item of agenda. Tamuur held his silence as the remaining members of the council argued amongst themselves, mostly over who to elect for the remaining positions.
As favoritism accusations were flying across the room, a courier interrupted the proceedings by opening the door. Tamuur, attentive to such things, stood from his chair. Before he could protest, the courier crossed the room to stand before his seat.
“Sir,” He said in the silence, “The bridge needs you. Now.”
Tamuur immediately departed with wonder on his mind. If it was so desperately important, why didn’t the bridge contact him on his personal radio? Someone forgot? He excused himself from the council proceedings and followed the courier to the bridge.
When he reached it he had to stop in the doorway. The sight he beheld was just too much.
Hanging aside their own vessel was the curved, sleek form of a Hiigaran Carrier. The two-level bulbous construction was eroded, but underneath the brown on grey and white were the lights of activity. The landing bays were active, and lights dotted the small pyramidal conning tower.
It wasn’t the fact that he was looking at another ship that surprised him. It was the fact that this was a Hiigaran carrier- a relic from their ancient history.
He then noticed his officers. They were looking at him, and a comm. window was open. Tamuur approached the largest screen in the room and looked at the face of the man they had been speaking to.
The face of the man showed that he appeared older than Tamuur. His crisp jumpsuit uniform looked fresh and new, as well as the rank pins and buttons. It was, Tamuur thought, as if this ship and crew had been transported right from the end of the Hiigaran war. He shoved this impossibility aside as he faced the screen.
“You’re captain Tamuur?” Asked the face.
Tamuur just nodded and replied, “Yes… yes I am…”
After boarding the corvette sent to retrieve a diplomatic party Tamuur, Miriam, and several others of the council went aboard the mysterious carrier to greet the newcomers.
As he exited the corvette, the images of blueprints in his head transformed into reality. Only before this, a vast interior space crowded with ships exited only in his mind. Now white-on-blue lines transitioned themselves into reality- cold hard metal decks and active service.
The ship, he thought, didn’t look as old as it appeared on the outside.
Kertaan Johe greeted them at the hanger, and suggested a tour of their vessel. Along the way, he explained the story of their people.
The ship was called the Angel Moon, named for some far-off distant satellite of a world that had been reduced to myth. Their ancestors were the last centurions of the outer empire, and hid in the nebula after a fierce battle that claimed the lives of the rest of the fleet. They had been hiding here ever since, awaiting rescue as their hyper drive module had been damaged during the attack.
Tamuur considered all the possibilities as he walked on the tour. His mind whirled with opportunity; not just for his own plans, but for the Araraht-Nahb. Everyone was well supplied here, and food didn’t appear to be a problem. Most of the machines onboard, it seemed, were fully functional. He asked kertaan about this, as they were touring the massive manufacturing assembly in the nose of the carrier.
“The manuals left to us by our ancestors covered everything,” Replied the leader, “And where they couldn’t, the computers did. We’ve managed.”
“What about the people,” Miriam asked, “This ship is even smaller than ours… how do you-?”
Kertaan smirked, “Periodically, some of us decide to leave and we manufacture a ship to allow them to do so. It’s kept crowding down… most of the crew nowadays wants to leave. All that’s left are the traditionalists and the paranoid… and the few of us who just can’t let go of an old ship like this…”
Miriam and Tamuur nodded their heads in sympathy. Tamuur then spoke, “Kertaan, your ship is like a blessing for us. We don’t have any manufacturing capability on the Araraht-Nahb at all… and your ship is a virtual floating factory. If we may, can we use your facilities?”
“By all means, Captain.” Replied Kertaan, “We share a same origin. Hiigara.”
Miriam and Tamuur looked at one another, before Kertaan explained, “Hiigara is the name of the world which our namesake, the Angel moon, orbits. You have mentioned Hiigara to me as a destination you wanted to go, correct? They are one and the same. Your people are exiles from a world we ourselves only remember in myth. You can use our facilities without asking- after all, the military is supposed to service the civilians.”
Tamuur’s mind was churning as the corvette took the guests of the Angel Moon back to their vessel. Already Tamuur had thought of a number of things he could que on the carrier’s production list. Of them, new materials, machines… perhaps even refurbishing the medical center, or checking the condition of the ship’s air filters.
Of course, he also had his special task in mind…
Reguardless, Tamuur knew the Angel Moon was a blessing. It was a blessing they would be foolish to reject.
The first task of the new council was to elect Kertaan to the council, as representative of the Angel Moon. Next, they drew a list of needs from the carrier and sent it to them accordingly. Ships of the carrier were turned into large-scale freighters, and crewmembers from the ancient carrier ferried over with the supplies into the large loading bay, now turned into a makeshift hanger for component transfers. Of course, this didn’t include the special things Tamuur had in mind.
Within days the first supplies were brought onboard. Overnight, the medical center had been refurbished completely, and already patents were being seen to. Construction and repair supplies were brought onboard to inspect areas of the ship that needed critical attention. The engine was given another rating from the carrier’s sensors and it only confirmed Tamuur’s assumption that the engine was remarkably robust.
Even so, some things remained. The Tent City wouldn’t be taken down in favor of real buildings, nor would the exiles be emigrating to better ships built by the carrier. Deck 01 was also left alone, as well as other abandoned areas.
At the end of the week, Tamuur was ready to pitch his plans to the ship’s PDA. It was time for another change… one better for the people of the Araraht-Nahb.
Silas was asleep when the men came into the box and beat him up. He had no chance to defend himself in the dark as the marines bruised him, tattered his cloths, and bloodied him. This went on for a time Silas couldn’t count, before they dragged him from the cell. His eyes were closed in pain as they ran him over the metal. He didn’t know where he was going- nor could he. A sack had been thrown over his head.
He lost all sense of time, all sense of purpose. All his mind could think of was her hand- pressed against his chest- in refusal. His mind reeled with the symbolism… what had happened? Did his protector reject him? What sin had he committed for her to reject him?
The hands dragged him up to a stand and made his hands clasp a metal bar, before they pulled the sack away from his face. He opened his eyes.
Blinding light shone down from above, and the face of people surrounded him. He couldn’t discern the faces by the harshness of the light, but he knew they were people.
Looking around him, confused, he tried to find anyone he knew. Miriam… that person… his followers…somebody. There was nobody. He was alone.
A masked man approached, and it took only a second for Silas to identify him as a man of Sajuuk. He had on his belt a lathe, long held as the people’s symbol of salvation. He had the grey on his white robes, signifying the neutrality of Sajuuk. With the man’s stride and aura, though, Silas knew this man was hardly an avatar of that meaning.
“This,” Said the man, turning his back to Silas, “Is the prophet of Kadesh. The self-proclaimed seer and voice of the supposedly real goddess inhabiting this nebula. He is here now, as you see him, in all his reverence. This is the boy I promised you all I would free from the jails, to allow himself to defend his deity… his religion… and his life.”
Silas closed his eyes and bowed his head. Kadesh, they ridicule your name…
The man turned back to Silas and gestured with his hands, “Tell us, boy, the name of your diety.”
Silas’s head rolled with his eyes closed. He was chained to the bar now, preventing him from sitting. The man motioned to one of the guards and a whip descended on Silas’s back. The prophet cried out in pain as red mixed further with his white robes.
“You will speak.” The man replied, “Your audience is eager to hear you.”
Silas remained silent. The whip descended again, but he only grunted.
“Speak I say.” spoke the man, “Or is this all your religion is? Acceptance of punishment and ridicule- pure humility? It is difficult to accept your religion has any following at all.”
There are followers… so Borrabus wasn’t captured.
“Well then,” Said the man, “I suppose Sajuuk will smile as we beat you senselessly to a pulp.” He turned his back to Silas, “What we have before us is a heretic, a dissenter, a tempter! He would dare lead you all away from the lathe to parish in the well, to join him and his ilk in eternal torment! There is no salvation for people like these, no hope. Therefore, we-“
“Kadesh,” Silas said, “Will catch our fall. She will not allow us to go to the well.”
Murmurs rose in the audience as the speaker turned back to Silas. He held the lathe in both hands now, staring through his ceremonial mask at the chained and flogged prophet of Kadesh.
“And who is this Kadesh, that your followers be allowed to worship her?”
“She is… she is…” Silas stammered, but then he could see, in the mist, the face. Blinking, his eyes darted around at the swirling motes in the light. The feminine figure danced in the shadows. Kadesh!
“She is beauty… and forgiveness…” Silas said in a trance as his eyes stared out into space, “She is light and goodness… she is….she is the one. She is eternal… and blesses us, our chosen children, with the gift of life. Those unworthy suffer and perish, fooling themselves into believing that Sajuuk, he who shapes what is, still watches over them.”
“Sajuuk still watches over us,” The speaker said, “After all, has he not delivered you into our keeping, to be punished and die? Such is the fate of heretics.”
“The word will remain, as she is a living Goddess.” Silas replied, “You and your own may kill me, but the word will persist as smoke does before a blade.”
The assembled audience broke out in open discussion, but the man held the lathe and silently stared through his mask at Kadesh. Silas, beaten as he was, maintained that gaze. The man gestured with the lathe, and the whip once again lashed at Silas- so hard the audience’ conversations died.
Silas raised his head from where it had fallen in pain. His eyes looked out among the people. “Hear me,” He said, “I have seen Kadesh… her body walks among us. She has pushed me aside, rejected me, all so that I may come here to speak with you.
“Kadesh is benevolent and forgiving. She called to us, delivering us here to her beautiful Garden, so that we may be saved and join with her in the end times. Whereas our believe in Sajuuk is maintained by lairs and the old, Kadesh is here… she is real. I have seen her with my eyes many times… written her word in many ways. She is as real to me as your brothers and sisters are to you… and I know myself to be in communion with the Goddess.
The audience’s murmurs increased, and Silas shouted at the top of his voice, “And I know that all those who follow me will be forgiven of their sins, and given paradise eternal in the Gardens! Peace and safety will be yours to-“
The lashes descended, cutting the man off. Silas, collapsed, now slowly brought himself to a stand.
“Brave words, but of no substance.” Replied the man, who gestured with the lathe again, “Tell me boy, if you see this Kadesh, where is she? Sajuuk watches on us from on high, yet you imply your Goddess is with you even now. Show her to us, so that we can believe at least half you claims.”
Silas just broke a smile at the man, making him reel some. “Kadesh doesn’t appear to the unfaithful, or the doubters, or the sinners. Kadesh does not appear on command, nor does Kadesh appear on desire. Kadesh is Kadesh… she comes only when she wishes.”
“How is it that you can follow a transparent deity?” Asked the man.
“You follow Sajuuk,” Silas replied, “And none among your congregation can ever claim to have seen him. How is it you can follow a god whose power is never seen, and who’se form is never discernable? We are here, in the Garden of Kadesh. Her beauty is all around us to see.”
The audience broke once again into full conversation- louder than before, as doubt was raised on the last point. The masked man stared at Silas, as if ready to beat the boy with the lathe he carried.
Silas wearily raised his head, and could see in the shadows, Kadesh.
“Kadesh!” He proclaimed, “Deliver us from this evil!” Before fainting on the spot.
Far removed from the religious ceremonies in the Araraht-Nahb, something was finished on the Angel Moon.
Hanging suspended from the carrier’s launch cradles was the impossibly small white craft. It was about two-thirds the size of the ancient Hiigaran fighter aside it, pearl white, and dotted with thruster ports. Sitting by the launch gantry in his flight suit was the maker of this craft.
Tamuur stared in awe at his creation which, for years, had only existed on paper. Now it was real and before him.
All the models had worked. The small little things he had built and flown remotely in the carrier’s massive frigate bay forward had flown well and without problems. It filled Tamuur with joy- since he now had a purpose for this vessel, aside from its obvious use as a protector.
He mounted the helmet- a diamond-shaped mask with a single receptor at its forward face. It gave him a cardinal appearance, he thought, as well as total input from the ship’s many sensors. He climbed into the form-fitting cockpit, moving his feet and arms into the correct positions to make him sit upright in the fighter- leaning forward- with his face to the information hub. He nodded to the loading crew and the small hatch descended over him and locked with the shuddering sounds. Two hand-pats on the hull confirmed that he was all set to go.
Tamuur shed the skin of nervousness for this moment. He had not allowed anyone but himself to fly this ship for it’s first run. He knew Miriam would protest- which was why he snuck aboard the Angel Moon while she slept. He might be chided for it later- if it were not for the purpose of his mission.
“This is pod 01,” He commented as he flexed the thrusters of the craft, “Launching.”
The pod popped out of it’s launch cradle and blasted out of the starboard side hanger. The white dot zipped into space, faster than any fighter experienced before on the Angel moon. Watching crews yipped in delight at the success of the craft as Tamuur turned the sleek craft and approached the Araraht-Nahb. Slowly, carefully, he cut the thrust and pulled up alongside the ship’s bridge. He could see forms noticing him through the glass, and with a smile he activated the comm. array to the ship.
“Cyrus,” He said to the comm. officer, “Can you get Miriam on the bridge please? Just knock on the door.”
“Yes sir…” Replied the voice of his comm. officer as he left the bridge. Tamuur waited for a moment, watching the proceedings through the side cameras.
Then she appeared. Even from here, her radiant beauty was a sight to behold. She stepped up to the window, her voice asking, “Tamuur?”
“Miriam,” He replied, “Remember when Silas said ages ago that I could never be an artist?”
Miriam raised her hands to her face in surprise as she remembered that also.
Smiling in his ship, he said, “I made this for you, Miriam, as a present. I’ve done this crazy thing in coming out here all so that I can say…” He took a breath-
“Miriam, Will you marry me?”
Her reaction was visible even outside. She bowed in surprise, shock, and delight, and then pressed her face and hands against the window.
“Yes Tamuur… I will…. I was starting to wonder if you would ever ask.”
Tamuur smiled in his ship as he put in docking orders for the Araraht-Nahb. “I was starting to wonder if I would ever see this completed. I had this in my mind for you, and couldn’t move until it was completed. Words are not enough for you.”
Her laughter was the last thing Tamuur heard before docking his swarmer with the Araraht-Nahb.
They dragged Silus from the assembly. Bloodied still, Silas let them carry him. Kadesh… was all his mind was thinking.
I am going to die… and be with her… at last…
He closed his eyes At last…
Then he was dropped. He lain on the floor as sound pierced his ears. He wasn’t sure of what was going on, other than harsh language and violence. Then he was picked up again, not dragged, but carried.
Consciousness didn’t fully return to him for some time, when he became aware of his surroundings once again.
It was the church- the place where he had been made to see Kadesh. This was her shrine of worship.
Sitting up, he took note of the candles in the place. Motors hummed silently though he didn’t know what they were for. Paintings, scriptures, writings were taped to the wall in various places.
Were one to look at it, one could hardly tell that this was a medical room once upon a time.
Taking note of his awakening, the three apostles of Silas’s religion turned immediately and bowed before him.
“What is this?” He asked.
“My lord,” Said one, “We rescued you from your captivity. We could not allow the unclean to keep you any longer in their midst.”
“unclean?” Silas asked slowly.
“Yes,” Another said, “Kadesh told to us our purpose. ‘rescue him’, she said, ‘spirit him away from that evil place’. So it had to be done.”
Silas’ eyes lit with newfound vigor. She had been watching.
“My lord,” Said the first, Borrabus, “Far too long have you been deprived of sight.”
He extended his hand and Silas took the contents he dropped. Two red-and-white pills, gleaming back at him from their place.
If it seems I'm going too fast in terms of pacing, it's only because I'm a little eager to leave this era and move on to HW. Must be that I'm getting bored... and I've abandoned far too many fictions to allow that to happen.
I think you just converted me. Words cannot describe how oustanding this is! This is probably the best fiction of any kind, published or not, that i have read.
I dont know how to say it... words cannot describe whats going through my mind... Amazing!
Damnit this is so riveting. This is making me want to go an actually play through Homeworld (finally) so I have a better understanding of the whole thing. Silas' madness is a mental state to behold.
Top-notch work Norse, top notch.
One thing to watch out for that's starting to get on my nerves.
Is the man's name Silus, or Silas? I've seen both spellings about 50/50 and it's a bit exasperating not really knowing what his name should be spelled as.
Other than that I have no real issues.
I must say, the whole whipping scene was quite nice--I like how Silas was just crazy enough to try to counter the Sajuuk-talk. I have this nasty feeling that somewhere along the way we're going to see this reversed--the Kadeshi hauling out the punishment on anyone who dares speak of a deity other than Kadesh.
Guh... something I was afraid of. A quick word replacement found 51 instances (!)
It's Silas (Sye-laas). Hopefully I'll catch myself in the future >>;
I personally prefer Silas, so that's great. It feels like it's got the right connotations...a religious-zealot-ish name.
Thanks for clearing that up.
The month that followed seemed to flow by.
Upon hearing the news that Tamuur, their captain, at last proposed marriage to the woman he loved, the crew spared no expense to plan a formal wedding ceremony. This man had not only returned their own fate to them, but had provided for them once again the ability to make material things. No longer would they have to suffice with what they had.
Concurrent with the wedding ceremony was the construction of the fleet of Araraht. Tamuur’s space pod was only the first of many that were being stockpiled in the carrier- at least until the first of the great ships was engineered. More of the ships were being drafted from Tamuur’s plans and put into production. Behind the fighter pod was the fuel craft- out of necessity given the advanced engine’s significant thirst for fuel.
For these new ships, everyone admired their beauty. The smooth ships appeared to be the offspring of the Angel Moon’s curved design… ironic, given that the idea for the fighter pod was designed long before the carrier arrived.
There were….other developments.
“Missing?” Tamuur asked one morning in the bridge.
The operations officer, Nanjim, a transfer from the Angel moon, said, “That’s what security reported sir. He’s just ‘missing.”
Tamuur sighed and looked out the window of the Araraht-Nahb. Among the festive preporations for his wedding, Tamuur’s mind now returned to the mad prophet Silas. Now that they had production capability, Tamuur found the perfect solution to the problem without resorting to killing Silas: Exile. They would provide him with a ship, provisions, and a hyperspace core and allow him to go wherever he wished: as long as it was away from them. The news he was hearing about some underground cult didn’t give him any confidence that simply ignoring Silas would make the problem go away.
And yet, now, he had just been told that Silas had been missing for several weeks. Just ‘missing.’
He also knew the circumstances of where he was last seen.
Dismissing the operations officer, Tamuur returned to consider the helm seat of his great ship. The next problem settles on his mind: Cain. Tamuur shouldn’t be surprised- the religious voice of the council had grown from speaker of the religious party, to high priest, and now to fanatic. In a way, he was almost as bad as Silas was.
But at least Cain didn’t advocate jumping ship and killing the crew of the Angel moon, nor the Bashaan-mimb. Silas sighed at the memory of that freighter and their first encounter with another race. Such thing had yet to be repeated, but Tamuur took it as a sign of a blessing that it was only once.
“Tamuur?” Asked Miriam’s voice, breaking the spell.
Tamuur looked up at once at his bride-to-be. She was clothed in the fabrics and garb made from the Angel Moon’s textile factories. White and silver suited her, as her gold hair highlighted against it. She smiled at him from the door.
Tamuur, casual with the bridge crew, turned his head to them and said, “Um…I’ll be back.”
The bridge crew just smiled and chuckled as Tamuur left with his wife to their cabins. When the door was closed, man and woman embraced, and she asked, “So, Captain… are there any special preparations planned for the wedding?”
“I have some things in mind,” He said, swaying with her as they held one another, “From having formations fly by the ship to leaving the nebula.”
“Leaving the nebula?” Repeated Miriam, surprised so that she stopped swaying with him. Tamuur halted her protest with a finger to her lips.
“Hun,” He said, using the name of intimacy, “We’ve been here far too long. Any punishment that was at us in coming is long gone. We have the ability to choose where we want to go, and now the capability of making a fleet to protect us.”
He lifted his finger and she continued in protest, “But… the legends… the fear….”
Tamuur smiled. “I haven’t forgotten,” he said, “And believe me, there are already designs for a ship that can make even legends wither and die under the firepower it can bring. We will be safe under our guns.”
Miriam leaned her head against Tamuur’s chest and sighed into it. She smiled, then said as she continued to rock with him, “I have a surprise for you.”
“Oh?” He asked, parting from her some. She took one of his hands and guided it down to her belly. Tamuur’s eyebrows jumped.
“Yes,” She said, giggled some, “The doctor confirmed it with some of the machines you helped bring aboard. It’s a boy.”
Tamuur, smiling, hugged his wife-to-be and laughed against her neck. “Sajuuk hasn’t struck us down for that violation yet, has he?”
“Maybe it’s meant to be.” She answered at his neck, then kissed him.
In their embrace, Tamuur asked, “What shall we call him?”
Miriam thought for a moment, then said, “Tobit.” At Tamuur’s silence, she said, “A contraction of Tamuur.”
“Tobit?” Tamuur repeated. She looked up at him with such a loving stare that Tamuur could not refuse.
“I’ll have to sleep on it.” Tamuur answered with a smirk.
Come the end of the month, anticipation was high. The forum had been decorated with ornaments and lights and whatever other creative things the team on the Angel Moon could accommodate. Candles were in use now, since there had been a template for wax designs on the carrier, and they now rested ready to burn for the ceremony.
Marriages were uncommon on the ship, sure, but marriages involving a council member were even rarer. This was mostly due to the fact that council members were usually of older age, and already married, but as everyone knew Tamuur was the exception to many things.
It was these exceptions that drive Cain mad. He was in the shrine now, contemplating his options.
As a servant of Sajuuk, sin was rife aboard the ship. If it was not that raving cultist and his growing popularity (especially in the face of the backfired public trial ending with his escape), then it was certainly Tamuur and his antics of bringing them off the path of salvation, as well as his breaking of the law.
But Cain could only afford so many enemies. He had two choices it seemed. He was approached by the people to perform Tamuur’s wedding ceremony. Cain noted to himself that Tamuur hadn’t personally done this thing, and rightfully so. Cain had the heart to make the people suffer in their sins for following this man.
But as bad as Tamuur may have been, Silas was far, far worse. At least Tamuur had brought more members into the fold- the other carrier vessel and the people aboard it. The only thing Silas brought to the congregation was damnation and heresy.
Cain would have to think about it. It wasn’t the last thing to consider.
Tamuur came into his room only to see Miriam’s bare back. He hesitated in the door and recoiled… he had seen her wedding dress….
“Tamuur?” She asked as she turned around, then sighed, disappointed, “You weren’t supposed to see it.”
Tamuur, his back to the wall and he himself just a foot away from the door, replied, “I have my eyes closed. I only saw the back.”
She giggled, then said, “I was just trying it on… I’ll get changed…”
He hit the door to close and sighed happily while leaning against the wall. Marriage…
Their common life together seemed to sidestep the entire question altogether. It seemed so, anyway, that night some months ago. It was general assumption of everyone that they were already married (with some notable exceptions). Tamuur sighed as he considered all the bad things that could go wrong… and then abruptly shoved them aside.
This is MY wedding. Mine and hers. I can’t spoil it by thinking of the negatives.
If he did, he would have died long ago in the very same crawlway some space above his head.
This, he reasoned, would be good. He could deal with the squabbles of the council, Silas and his horde, and the general notion of remaining in the nebula all later. He had a woman to wed- a wonderful woman who had supported him almost his entire life. He wouldn’t allow himself to tarnish it with his problems.
The door opened ajar. Thinking, Tamuur realized that it wasn’t enough time for Miriam to get completely changed….
A woman’s giggle compelled him to smile and enter, closing the door behind him.
Five days passed.
Silas was sitting beside the window on the first level, a hand brushing the glass over the small white spheroids.
This day… this day he had to make a change.
Bowing to the dust beside Silas, one of his disciples evaded his gaze. “My lord,” He said, “They’re beginning.”
Silas turned his head.
The fleet had assembled. The Angel Moon pulled up beside the Araraht-Nahb. Around the precession, fighter pods had gathered into ceremonial formations invented for this purpose. They were celebrating the marriage of the thinker.
The people had also assembled, gathering decorations, gifts, and festive feeling. Cake had been made and for this time the cooks of both the old carrier and prison ship combined forces. Recipes for the kinds of food were considered and rejected, only the best was presented.
It was, the council said, a good thing. Not just for their Captain Tamuur and his bride, but for the whole ship. It was a departure from the festival of Deliverance, as that annual celebration was bound in ceremony. Here, the people were not locked in their motions, not bound by convention. Here, they did something new.
Everyone- Tamuur not withstanding- had been surprised when Cain stepped forward and volunteered to perform the matrimony. Tamuur had reportedly hesitated about this, citing Cain’s hatred at Tamuur’s violation of holy law. Cain said he was willing to put aside such things for a happy union- as he had no problem with this aspect of Tamuur’s personality.
The tinkerer-turned-captain had other concerns, but they were not made public. But, finding him in the eve of the ceremony’s beginning, he was incredibly nervous. Never had he felt this way before.
It was odd, Tamuur told himself as he waited in the antechamber constructed for this purpose. With his silent ceremonial guard, his mind raced. He shouldn’t be nervous- this was just a formal acceptance of what already was.
Tamuur eased a breath from his face. He was in the ceremonial outfit- complete with the ceramic mantle over his shoulders and the robes that hid his figure. It was something the Angel Moon’s crew insisted on- based on the ancient Hiigaran dress uniform. It weighed heavy now, like the many burdens on his mind.
What did Miriam look like?
Distant words were spoken at the altar, and Tamuur stiffened with his guard. The doors to the antechamber parted, and Tamuur stepped forward with his escort.
He focused on a steady stride as the millions of eyes fell on him. He walked down the long red carpet, fabricated especially for this, with his four-man point guard. He stared ahead, knowing that he may stumble if he looked up too soon.
When he could see the altar in the corner of his eye, he looked up and saw her. His stride hesitated for that moment, but he picked up his pace while face reddened and he proceeded.
Never had he seen a woman so…decorated….before. She had apparently been gifted ornamentation from across the ship… either that or she had many, many heirlooms from her late mother that she decided to don. Either way, from necklaces to earrings, to the emerald pin in her hair… she looked fantastic. The white only made the colors of the jewels she adorned herself with stand out more. Behind her, tall and imposing, was Cain.
Time drifted as Tamuur mounted the altar beside Miriam. He found it hard to look into her gaze- even beneath the veil she was fantastic. Perhaps it was the makeup she applied- she never had makeup on before. Maybe it was the stare- that longing stare that always stopped him in whatever she looked as she did now. Maybe it was the proximity and the attention… the thousands of eyes upon them was something that never happened before. Maybe it was the fact that Cain, the man who hated him for his transgressions, was just off to his right. And the man was smiling! Tamuur didn’t think it was even possible.
But then, they had all come so far…
He returned to the moment. By ceremony’s command, he took Miriam’s hands. His mind was lost then, the words blurred in that moment. He could only understand Miriam’s eyes… and the intensity behind them.
I didn’t think it could be like this…
Miriam’s eyes turned. Tamuur turned his also.
There were interlopers.
A gang-chain of fifteen of them had come, chanting unintelligible words. They were ragged- none of them were dressed for the ceremony. They now held the attention of the masses.
The marriage cord was already tied about the hands of Miriam and Tamuur. Cain had proceeded without them.
“You may now kiss the bride.” He said close to the heads of the young couple. His head was grim.
Tamuur understood in that moment why Cain had done this. It was simultaneous with the realization that only one person in the entire ship would dare interrupt such a festive, happy event.
“Tamuur,” Miriam said.
Tamuur didn’t hesitate. The veil had already been lifted.
As he kissed her, a scream echoed down the hall, making their moment of intimacy brief. Both turned to stare down the aisle.
A figure was running. A figure that had once been Tamuur’s friend, in a time long forgotten.
Now transformed into a zealot of his own religion, Silas stared up at the altar from its base. Anger was on his face, and that anger was directed now at Tamuur.
It was the first time Silas had directly identified Tamuur in years. It was an odd feeling.
“YOU HAVE DEFILED KADESH!” He screamed, “YOU ARE UNCLEAN! YOU DEFILE HER NAME!”
Miriam paled. This again. It was the one thing that kept her up at night- the nightmare…
But now Tamuur was advancing, once again with violence in his eyes, “SHE WAS SUPPOSED TO MARRY ME! IT IS WRITTEN! IT IS PROPHECY!” His voice was hoarse from the shouting he was doing.
The assembly was divided. Many of them liked what this prophet was saying- but what was he saying here?
Silas leapt once again at Tamuur. Forcing to slip his hands from the bond, the two men locked arms as Silas once again sought to kill the holder of his woman’s affections.
Miriam just watched, stunned. The audience did, also.
Cain was incensed, but all he could do was hurl divine curses at Silas- not just for being a heretic, but for interrupting one of the population’s most revered ceramonies.
Silas had just turned this event into a circus.
Miriam, holding the cable of the union, remained in a stupor for a moment before deciding to take matters into her own hands. “SILAS!”
Silas- and his congregation- stopped. All eyes turned to her.
Silas ceased his fighting, as did Tamuur. Both men parted.
It was difficult to do so, but Miriam stepped forward and slapped Silas so hard he fell from standing. Maybe he allowed himself to do so- beholden by the mortal beauty of Kadesh. Either way, Silas fell- and fell hard. He hit the stairs of the platform arranged there and rolled to the harsh metal deck of the ship.
Miriam, still pale with anger, watched him as he descended to the floor. Tamuur didn’t know if she was approachable now or not.
Silas didn’t move after his tumble, but stared up at Miriam.
“Be quiet.” Miriam answered, “I’m not having this anymore Silas. What’s happened to you? You used to be such a poet… a dreamer… a writer and story maker. Now look at you- you’ve destroyed yourself with drugs and have turned into a monster! I can’t see how someone like you could think you’d be worthy of me. You need help Silas, and in a serious way.”
“M-My garden…” Silas murmured.
Miriam turned around to Tamuur, taking his hands. “Let’s go.”
“I Don’t care. Away from this ship. Away from him.”
Tamuur took one look over her shoulder at Silas, then turned his head as he took Miriam’s hands and guided her from the stage.
The way it was supposed to happen was that they would go down the center aisle a happy couple, showered with Aiia pedals and given warm blessings and gifts.
Instead, they departed by a side route. The followers of Kadesh would not permit them any other way.
Silas got up, but before he could pursue them, the couple was gone.
"It is the end times. We know this, because the author is finding trouble nearing the climax of the story..."
Well, book one at any rate.
Trivia: I am now at 101 pages... something never achieved before on a regular basis.
Last edited by Norsehound; 14th Apr 07 at 6:17 PM.
Why dont they just shoot him already.
there is no place like 192.168.1.100
This is amazing!
Norishound, i love you. You free this weekend? I'll wear something revealing, like a leotard.
I wonder what affect Miriam's rant will have on Silas this time, given that he somehow seemed to have forgotten that she pushed him away from Tamuur after her lover got a bloody nose from his fist. I was hoping for some sort of revelation on his part, but that got tied up in his being kept prisoner again and whipped.
I would hope that impact isn't lost on Silas this time? From Silas' perspective, Kadesh herself just ranted him out for his behavior--and I doubt he would dare ignore either this time. That would have to be the single biggest jolt to his faith, the way you have his character structured. Surely by now he can see, that from his perspective, Tamuur is the Chosen of Kadesh? Even if he's irrational, he's got to see Miriam isn't happy at all with him, and just wants him gone.
I also liked how Cain started showing more alliance to Tamuur out of dislike for Silas. A common enemy as it were. Perhaps he can make some amends to him on that topic and help deal with Silas. I can appreciate a nice character turnaround if the reasons for it are solid, and I think they are for him.
Anyways the only technical nitpick I see is some sentence structure that probably would've done with periods instead of commas. Sometimes you have one where you start on one tangent, completely different things come up in the second half of the sentence. Example of said case: With his silent ceremonial guard, his mind raced. This tended to jolt me out of what was going on by trying to decipher the sentence. It's nothing too major, but I tend to be a bit of a grammar nut at times...(Not a Grammar Nazi though--the dashes and semicolon can save your butt sometimes.)
Anyways, best of luck getting a climax to the story in. I have a feeling there's a little more to go here before you can jump to the HW1 era for the Kadeshi.
Again, don't worry too much if you have to take several days or even a week to do it. Your pace at this fanfic puts most of us writers in here to shame--even crobato would take ages between updates if I heard right. (He was already long vanished by the time I joined the forums.)
One thing you have to know is that Silas...has lost touch with reality. He's in his own little world accepting his own little things.
In this view, he sees only himself as being worthy of Kadesh. Like in the draft, he felt it was his right to marry Miriam simply on the basis that she looked attractive. Being pushed aside the first time didn't register with him, and probably neither will Miriam's little stint now. He's too far gone to recognize it- and his new followers aren't helping any.
Things should be winding down now. I'm at 106 pages as of this writing, and the only thing remotely homeworld I've touched are the derelict carrier, the prison ship derelict, and the swarmers. There's been no space combat or relation to anything in the HW universe other than the ships above and Sajuuk. Amazing how that works out, eh?
After Genesis ends (book 1), there's a small sampling of selections I intend to write that span the distance between the first generation and the 13th. They have little or no relation or common characters with the others, but at least one of them ties up a 'loose end' in reguard to the Kadeshi in the HW universe.
Vietchy they can't shoot Silas, wihtout him, the Garden of Kadesh will never be created.
In retrospect the way Nosehound puts it, Miriam dooms these people to be massacred by Sjet some 4 thousand years later...
This is great Nosehound. Keep up the coolness.
"I present to you the Phone Microwave! (name subject to change)
hmm i think the Garden will be created by one of his followers...let's face it Silas wants Miriam as his wife and that's all so he's using his so called goddess to convince his cultists to maybe try and kill Tamuur so he can wed Miriam but this story has so much potential i mean for Christ sake we could have a full fledged holy war between the Sajuukies and the Kadeshi before long(this would also satisfy Norse's lust for space combat and HW-ish things).
[ninja]Wouldn't the fact that the Kadeshi tech was way ahead of even what the taidani could use confirm that at some point, a twisted version of tamuur will become some sort of defender diety of science, technology, ships and even war? After all, he was her chosen, and he did do a better job of defending the godess with his ships and machines.[/ninja]
[added to 1.8]
Miriam managed to maintain her furious composure until she got to the cabin. There, she threw herself on the bed and started to cry. Tamuur watched her for a moment, wondering what he could do to help, before sitting beside the bed and finding one of her hands. Hers took his in an eager embrace, and she trembled with emotion as she continued to sob.
Sucking in some breaths, she said, “We have to leave. We can’t stay here.”
“Yes.” Was all Tamuur could say, nodding slowly as he did.
“I’m not ready to be someone’s goddess!” She protested, “I don’t want to be revered! I just want….want to be…normal…I want things to go normally!”
The context was wrong, but Silas knew what she was talking about. Reverence wasn’t the problem- but elevation to godhood was not something either of them wanted. It was fine enough to be just popular and well liked as mortals. Because of Silas, Miriam had been elevated to a goddess… and Tamuur, he suspected, was demonized in Silas’ canon and made out to be some usurper of heaven.
Tamuur looked away. Theology was not his forte, just mechanics. From the standpoint of an inventor, there was no solution for this problem… except to go somewhere else.
Exile for Silas and his party was looking all the more of an attractive option. But then, an alternative had reached Tamuur, something he was surprised he hadn’t thought of before. Instead of exile, exodus.
With a smirk he thought of the plan as thus: all the crazy people remain on the Araraht-Nahb, and all the sane people would depart on the Angel Moon. He hated to suggest it, but the Araraht-Nahb wasn’t really ideal for his vision of the future of his people. It was unarmed, unarmored, and virtually target practice for any kind of ship designed even for the remote possibility of fighting.
He considered these things, and rubbed a thumb across Miriam’s palm. She continued sobbing in the sheets.
“We’ll move.” He said, “Let’s move to the Angel Moon. We can’t stay here.”
“We can’t.” She confirmed.
Tamuur nodded again, slowly, as his mind went through what would be transferred, and what would remain. The door could be locked and sealed, just in case things had to be left here to return for in another time. He had to transfer his books, his notes, and the blueprints for ships not yet constructed. They would all have to be moved to the Angel Moon.
And yes, he remembered, even his journals he was just now starting to write. Journals, he intended, to leave for his son.
He nodded slowly while still stroking his woman’s hand. Today was only a confirmation of the journal’s existence. The fact that Silas attacked him might inspire others to do so, someday. If they came for him before his plans were completed, Tamuur wanted to have something to pass on to a child he may never see.
What scared Tamuur more than anything was that this possibility was starting to look true.
I figured a jump of three or four years was too drastic, so I'll just add this bit on to the last chapter and see about re-starting again from a more or less fresh start. I'll have to find the keys somewhere to restart this thing...
You are amazing. I cant wait to see what happens next.
DAMN IM ADDING THIS TO MY FAVOURITE STORIES LIST
Hell its good story you have given the charcters lives emotoins dementia(silas)
MORE MORE MROE MOREMOFRMEORMEOMREOM
There was a crisis.
Aboard the angel moon, an emergency had been declared. Someone was in trouble.
Wincing in pain, Miriam tried her best to keep standing as Tamuur helped her through the halls of the Angel Moon. Shortly after emerging from their room, a stretcher with nurses came to meet them mere feet outside their door. She was rushed to the hospital immediately.
She was very round around the middle when she arrived.
Tamuur could do nothing except wait outside the door to the ship’s infirmary. His mind was running through all the tragedies that could possibly happen to his wife and their yet-to-be-born son. Was the staff fully competent? Was maintenance on all the machines adequately performed?
Of course, the worst then suddenly occurred to him.
He would have to deal with it as soon as he was able. For now, he waited for word on his wife. Everything would be for naught if she were to die in childbirth.
He had not eaten in days.
They left him alone in the Shrine… few went up there to check on him, but as the months passed it seems the voice of Kadesh had finally evaded their savior. By then, however, new voices had risen out of the chosen of Silas…
In particular, Barabbus, the favored son.
While Silas the prophet was meditating above, his sons brought the word to the people. Chief and most vocal among them was Barabbus, a copy of The Book close at hand as he brought to the people the revelation of Her Gentle Kindness… the empathy that enveloped them all. In maneuvering fate, She had taken them into her womb… the womb of stars, to be reborn as stars, and share the luminescence of the universe.
‘What of the others?’ one had asked in the crowd.
There were no others, Barabbus preached.
‘The other ships!’ another clarified, ‘Other ships like ours!’
After a moment of thought, Barabbus interpreted the teachings of the book as thus: “The people on the trail of tears were the unworthy. They left departed for reaches unknown- our sad kindred in the stars never to be seen or heard from again. They are in purgatory… their journey lasts forever as they pay for their sins…
“…but WE, WE, the chosen of Kadesh, had been granted by her mercy freedom and eternal life in the uterus of her being. It is We, the cast out, who will become the Sons and Daughters of Kadesh by reveling in her mercy.”
Perhaps as a plant among the audience, another voice asked, “What of Sajuuk? He Who Shapes What Is? What is he to the Goddess Kadesh?”
Barabbus turned to find the origin of the voice and spoke, “Would any benevolent God on high abandon his children to suffer as we have, before Kadesh’s arms took us in?”
“Then how do we know it is not Sajuuk, rather than Kadesh, who has delivered us?” Asked the voice.
Barabbus answered, “Because he who has spoken with Kadesh, the prophet Silas, tells us that the glories we experience are in her name. Had Sajuuk been the force behind these miracles, wouldn’t the shrine be first to proclaim them? Instead, they denounce the miracle of our freedom and cower behind their ancient, dead, religion.”
This caused an uproar that ended the sermon. While voices rose to defend the religion of Sajuuk, many did it out of fear of their own souls. What disturbed a few in the audience, however, was that an equal number of voices rose to defend the new religion. It either meant the souls of the ship’s population were in spiritual danger, or that the Shrine of Sajuuk was loosing its grip on control of the populace.
Tamuur’s thoughts were interrupted by the screams. He raised his head and looked to the large doors of the ship’s infirmary. These were not the screams of pain, or of despair. Rather- these were screams he had never heard before.
As if on cue, the door opened. One of the nurses, clad in her teal medical jumpsuit, only smiled and waved him in. Tamuur, leader of the people, stood and entered the room.
The complex medical machinery had been rearranged and moved aside- there was little need for it now. Tamuur, eyes in awe, approached his wife. She noticed and smiled at him as she held their child. With no words, Tamuur completed his movement to the bedside.
Miriam looked down at the little baby in her arms and said, “Tobit… this is your father, Tamuur. See? Tamuur?”
Both of them knew that the baby wouldn’t be able to see for a while yet- his eyes weren’t open. But Tamuur leaned down enough to the bed to have the baby touch his face.
In that moment, all concern and worry for the machinations of people left his mind. The universe outside ceased to exist- all that was, was in that moment. Any thought other than the gentle peace of this sight left his mind.
Tamuur was a father. A father! He had never thought it would, or could, be like this. This thing in Miriam’s hands was his child. The very child that, someday, may inherit his position.
Though a creeping thought of warning crept up to him, Tamuur suppressed it. He would not let that fanatic or his minions soil this moment, of all moments.
Tamuur’s hands reached around his wife and son in an embrace.
A day passed.
There seemed to manifest on the ships a tense silence… as if a word unspoken was lingering in the air and on everyone’s minds. The people moved about differently now, as if some great secret had been said and was supposed to be kept.
Things happened when some of the lights started to fail in the great hall of the tent city. It was a bad omen, some said, while others dismissed the mumblings of the old and the insightful. How could there be anything wrong?
The lights gave the impression of evening in the city, as if the ship were now shrouded in the uncertain dusk of a closing age. Things happened now, leading many alien scholars in the future to speculate on what happened during this time.
In a secret place, Barabbus called together the congregation. They met in the agricultural levels, where the farmers had been dismissed or subverted into faith. At the center of the group’s attention, Barabbus waited silently as the few trickled in and spoke in whispered voices.
When there was enough, Barabbus turned and nodded to a figure.
A man stepped forward. He had his face shrouded behind a mask so that none would know his true identity. Barabbus knew him, though, and his place in the world that surrounded them. “You hold the keys,” Barabbus said.
“Yes.” Replied the masked man, and held up a small metal token.
“You will give it to me.” Barabbus said and held out his hand. The masked man placed it in his hand, and Barabbus closed and withdrew the fist in a quick manner. Looking up, he said, “The time of holy ascension is nigh. Soon, my brothers and sisters, all will be made to see the light of Kadesh. All will be saved from the heresies which they throw themselves onto.”
“What of the other ship? The false moon?” Asked a voice.
“They too, will know the enlightenment of Kadesh.” Barabbus said. He looked about the circle and said, “We shall move soon. Listen for the signs.”
Silently they departed, all knowing in their minds the parts they were to play.
But Barabbus waited a while, standing in one of the dark corners as he watched his followers depart. Two of them, however, drifted closer to him to engage in hushed conversation.
One dipped his head, “When will we move?”
“Soon.” Barabbus said, “When it is night and all are asleep.”
“Are you certain we will be able to pull this off?” Asked another.
“If we are certain, then we cannot fail.” Barabbus answered.
“What about Silas?” Asked the first, “Shouldn’t we bring him out to make a sermon before we launch the uprising?”
“That fool? No. He has served his purpose. All we need now is make sure all of our acolytes follow the word of Kadesh blindly… as long as we are the ones speaking it. Now, away, I will signal you when the time is right.”
The three shadows disappeared within moments, all of them counting down with eager anticipation the moment when they could seize the Goddess for themselves.
Tamuur was on the observation deck in the conning tower, staring out at the other ship. Night cycle was going to rotate into being sometime soon, but Tamuur wanted to have some things settled before he would return to that ship.
Miriam wanted him to stay, but Tamuur knew he had administrative duties to attend to. He had been favoring the Angel Moon for far too long, and left his duties on the Araraht-Nahb to abandon. If he was to take pride in being the leader of his people, he couldn’t show that he had abandoned them.
But what to do about Silas and his cultists? Tamuur didn’t know the extent of the mad prophet’s influence, nor what it was capable of. He decided to try to think of a plan of action to have before he went back over there.
There were some possibilities. Perhaps he could allow the cultists to remain on the Araraht-Nahb, while the rest of the population boarded the Angel Moon and set off elsewhere with it’s newfound fleet of defensive spacecraft. It seemed like a logical solution, perhaps he could even get Cain on his side for that idea.
But how to propose it to them… Tamuur had great reluctance to approach Silas again, but perhaps he could do it if he knew it was the last time he was ever going to see that madman. And while the thought was cruel, just abandoning the cultists to fate, it seems that’s what they wanted. Tamuur would be more than happy to let them worship without interference from the rest of the population.
He tapped his stylus on the tablet as he tried to think of what he would say to the cultists. He frowned.
A figure approached him and Tamuur looked up, then smiled, as he saw Miriam approaching in a flowing white gown. Perhaps another thing taken from the inventory of the Angel Moon… their slice of heaven, when compared to the hell that the Araraht-Nahb seemed to be turning into.
“It’s almost night,” She said, despite the ever-glowing exterior of the nebula, “You should be thinking about getting to bed.”
Tamuur smiled, but sighed and put a hand to his head saying, “I have a lot to think about.”
Miriam’s expression dimmed a little when she thought of what Tamuur had been thinking about, but she brightened again for his sake and said, “Joan is looking over Tobit now… but I know he’s ready for bed.”
Tamuur laughed, and with a mutter got up out of the seat, “I have a feeling he’ll know what to do with himself when he’s older…like I am.”
Tamuur stumbled and Miriam caught him. Smiling, Tamuur said, “Ah… dizzy…”
“You stood up too fast.” Miriam said, still with a smile, then leaned closer to him to say, “Your body is telling you to get some sleep.”
“But my mind has a lot to worry about.” Tamuur answered.
“Well,” Miriam said while shrugging, “I suppose it’s time to listen to your body and let it tell your mind to go to bed.”
Tamuur smiled at her, and then lowered his head to kiss his wife gently on the lips. With her he walked from the observation port to the sleeping quarters deep inside the ship.
Some in future generations may say that Tamuur would regret letting his mind go on the issue of the cultists and following his wife to bed. But perhaps that’s what he wanted in the end, to please his wife…
On the Araraht-Nahb, night was represented by half of the lights being clicked off in the giant cargo space over the city. There was still plenty of light to constitute a day, a dusk at best, but there was still enough darkness for those in the tents to sleep.
For others, there was no sleep… just an urge to be satisfied. It was a hunger.
Just outside the bridge, a key was being turned. They moved silently and deliberately as if they had practiced for this all their lives. The darkened figures clustered around the cabinet, eager to trade their clubs and crude farming tools for real implements.
Nothing could prevent the groaning of the cabinet door however, and all heads turned. Down the hall, a head peeked out from the bridge. “Hello?”
Three men fell on the officer in an instant, and as he screamed, others in the bridge turned their heads and started to panic. Of the eight in the bridge, hand-picked by Tamuur, one of them turned and tapped the buttons to initiate the distress call. He was about to speak into the pickup, when another one of the bridge officers slammed a sharp metal blade into the man’s neck, then again into his back. That officer looked cooly at the dead man as the other cultists came into the bridge and secured it of the defilers.
The rebellion had begun. Behind them, the weapons locker had been opened and impliments were being passed out. They now had the means to preach and punish in the name of their Goddess.
Tamuur had barely been asleep when unfamiliar sirens rang in the room. Tobit started crying immediately, and Miriam’s eyes snapped open. Tamuur was already out of bed and slipping on a robe.
“Beloved,” She said, “What’s going on?”
Though Tamuur wanted to answer her sweetly and kindly as her husband, he had no choice but to answer her in the harsh, commanding tone that he needed to deal with The crisis. “I intend to find out.”
He reached the door and paused in it to look back at his wife, who worriedly stared up at him. His eyes softened for a moment, before he tore himself away from her vision and hurried up the length of the ship to the bridge to get some answers.
As he walked, he learned that the claxon was the carrier’s ancient general quarters siren. It was sounded in times of crisis, when all hands were to report to battle stations. It was the first time Tamuur had heard the claxon ringing.
Silas was virtually comatose in the temple. Only one was there to watch him, assigned to this task to write down any insights Silas had to offer. The deciple for this watch was a woman called Lilith, who seemed more interested in decorating herself this night than anything the prophet had to say. As she arrayed her hair, Silas was laying down in the circular place which, long ago, was an intensive operating ward. His eyes were open.
Beside him and scattered across the floor were the last of those pills. He had been taking them almost nonstop for days now, trying to find some answer to questions he could not voice or rationalize. He just stared…waiting.
Lilith looked up from her place in the room, then smiled. Perhaps there was some use this prophet had for her after all… She stood and walked for the archway into the room.
“No,” Silas murmured.
He rolled on his side, his back to the doorway. He didn’t want to face what he heard was coming.
His head spun.
“No!” He grunted.
Lilith stepped into the room and smiled. “My lord,” She said, “May I ask something of you?”
Silas didn’t hear her, or perhaps he did, for now there was another thing in his vision. Voices were talking to him…voices unwanted. He clutched at his head.
Lilith knelt down beside him and started to stroke his hair with her long fingernails. “My lord,” She said, the rest descending into murmurs.
The voices were crowding Silas’s head. He couldn’t think, he couldn’t reason.
“N-NOOO!!!” He roared, ripping the air and slashing Lilith’s seductive face with his fingers. But he wasn’t to attack her, he ran from the room with wide eyes. He had to escape them.
Escape the voices.
A few precious rounds were used to get everyone’s attention. All needed to hear the sermon of Kadesh.
The cultists had gone through the city, using the sounds of weapons in the air to draw their attention. They had gathered everyone to the circle, where they would witness the living word of Kadesh.
They had built something. Using discovered beams and twine, they had bound the false preist to the rack for everyone to see. Cain, bludgeoned into awakening and dragged from his stead, was now lashed to the huge rack above the crowd. His arms were splayed and his legs bound together, while his torso was left to hang as he suffered.
Barabbus, the Speaker of Kadesh, stood before them with a whip he had made out of medical tubing. Stabbed into this tube were shards of metal.
The other cultists had brought a transmitter with them and were setting up the equipment. They had a message to give, and give it they would, to both the congregation here and the unbelievers on the false moon.
Barabbus had no emotion as he watched the proceedings. He had a job to do.
He glanced between the two disciples under his command and they nodded amidst the crowd of cultists. They would be the first cardinals under his rule. Only they knew the true extent of Barabbus’ plans.
When all was said and done, the cultists nodded to Barabbus.
Tamuur made it to the bridge as the blue-suited crew moved about their stations. They had rehearsed this for generations, and were on the dot as their ancestors had instructed them to be.
But there was a problem. There were no enemy vessels in the space surrounding them. They were not under attack, nor was there any preceived attack against the ships. Despite both fighters and pods being launched, there was no sign of the enemy.
Tamuur saw all this as he entered, and asked, “What’s going on?”
“There’s a distress signal from the Araraht-Nahb…” The executive officer said, but winced, “But there’s no audio. I’m just getting the signal but no transmissions.”
Tamuur winced, then asked, “Have you tried raising them?”
“I have, no answer.” Replied the officer.
Tamuur turned to the comm. panel and tried to raise the Araraht-Nahb, “Araraht-Nahb, this is Tamuur. Odin, do you read? Odin?” After no response, he glanced at the XO and leaned up while looking at the panel, “That’s odd, there’s eight officers on the bridge. Surely-“
“Sir!” The comm. officer said, “I’m getting a feed from the Araraht-Nahb!”
“Let’s see it,” The XO said.
“Children of Kadesh,” Barabbus declared, “We welcome you to this celebration of awakening. For all those here, and all those aboard the false moon, we bring you a message from the Goddess Kadesh… a call to obedience and servitude in her name. Observe here, we have one of the two greatest heretics of our time… the false Preist Cain.”
The camera focused from Barabbus to Cain, bleeding from the face and mounted upon the metal rack.
“This man claims to be following a deity called Sajuuk, a name that has become synonymous with heresy. For if the deity Sajuuk were as benevolent as he claimed, why were we cast into the void for all our lives, and our fathers fathers made to suffer the eternal march of the trail of tears?
“It was Kadesh, however, that drew us into the nebula. Through the actions of her avatar Silas, we were brought into her benevolence and made protected by her divine glory.”
“It was,” Cain rasped, “Tah-muur.”
Barabbus paused for a moment, then turned and in one motion brought the lash down upon Cain. The jagged whip cut a scar across the man’s chest, making him groan aloud in pain.
“You will not deny the glory of Kadesh through Silas,” Barabbus said plainly, “Such is heresy that shall be punished.”
“But it is the truth,” Grunted Cain.
The lash descended again.
“There is no truth except the word of Kadesh.” Replied Barabbus.
“But he’s right,” Someone in the crowd spoke, “It was Tamuur that went into the bridge and changed our course, not-“
That person was seized and brought forward. It was a woman, perhaps eighteen years of age. She was manhandled through the crowd and brought before Barabbus. They forced her on her knees.
“What do you mean to say to me?” Asked Barabbus.
The woman, quivering with fear at the sight of the whip, shook her head, “I said nothing!”
“You said something.” Barabbus said and made a subtle gesture. The guards grabbed her and forced her head up. She grunted. “Speak.” Barabbus said.
The woman, shivering with fear, spoke, “Si-Silas didn’t do it! I-It was T-Tamuur…H-He fr-freed us f-from the t-trail!”
Barabbus nodded, then made another gesture. The guards released her.
“You speak heresy against the will of the Garden. This shall be punished.”
The guards started to beat her with their new weapons. She cried and screamed, and the assembled crowd of people backed up some from the proceedings. None could leave because of the fanatics with the weapons.
All of this was being captured and relayed by the video feed.
On the bridge, people were cringing from the barbarism that was giong on. Tamuur was stunned.
“Sir,” The XO said, “Orders?”
Tamuur looked at the man, then asked, “Are any of you compitent in inter-ship fighting?”
“Some of us had ancestry in the marines sir.” Replied the XO.
“Gather the best of your men and prepare to join me in the hanger.”
“Sir,” A woman on the bridge said, “You’re going to go against them?”
Tamuur looked at her and said, “How many innocent people do you think are over there?”
The bridge crew exchanged glances.
“We have to do something,” Tamuur said, “we can’t just leave them over there.”
“But against them?” The woman asked.
Tamuur said, “You’re all descendants from the crew of a military space ship. For the most part, the Araraht-Nahb consists of civilians who’ve had no military training.”
The bridge crew looked at one another again.
“Half hour, in the hanger.” Tamuur said and left the bridge.
The woman was a bloody mess, but still breathing, when they dragged her back into the crowd. There was silence and tears from the assembled audience.
“This fate awaits the unfaithful of Kadesh.” Replied Barabbus, “All those who do not believe and speak her name in reverence will meet the same fate.” He turned back to Cain.
Cain glared back from his place on the mount.
“Now,” Barabbus said, “You too, preist, may be saved… as well as those misguided members of your congregation… if you bow your head and accept the will of Kadesh.”
“The will?” Cain muttered, then managed to utter a laugh before saying, “Will? What do you know of Gods and dieties? Though Sajuuk is a harsh-“
The lash descended again, but Cain continued despite the pain. Rasping, he went on, “hash God…but he…he makes us grow. We are his children, and we grow through the things in which we suffer…”
The lash descended again.
Cain slumped on the mount, but after grunting and struggling, he raised his head again and spoke, “I realize this only now at the end… Sajuuk is a father… he treats us harshly, but for it…we become…better-“
“Enough, Heretic.” Barabbus said, then lashed the old man again and again.
“STOP!” Someone shouted.
Barabbus turned, and saw the defiant one approach, manhandled by the guards.
“So another one wishes to defy the word of Kadesh,” Barabbus said.
Tamuur was impressed. Soldiers donned in ancient combat armor, armed with fully automatic anti-personal weaponry, had assembled in the hanger. What he had, in ancinet Hiigaran terms, was a full squadron of power-armored space troopers. From their stance and their aura, he guessed they had been trained well. In the minutes of arming up himself, he learned that the marines here were a cult of their own- the cult of Sajuuk. They took up arms to protect their fellows, ceramoniously, from the few pirates and marauders that came to sack the ancient carrier.
Ironic, that Tamuur was asking the cult of one deity to fight another. On that same note though, Tamuur estimated they were horribly outgunned. But at least they had fighting experience and superior protection on their side.
Tamuur had never fired a weapon before, but knew the principles of how they worked. Aim and shoot. He was no sharpshooter, but he supposed with a fully automatic weapon it didn’t matter. As he armored himself up, he reminded himself of his one mission: Kill Silas. Even if he wasn’t directly behind the display going on in the Araraht-Nahb now, his death might make the cult leaders loose legitimacy in the eyes of their congregation. Silas was not invincible.
Before he put his helmet on, a hand stroked the back of his head. He turned around and saw Miriam standing behind him, in her nightgown, with a look on her face that struck a dagger of reluctance into his heart. Were it not for the concern of the people on the Araraht-Nahb, he would have disarmed and remained by her side right then and there.
No words were said at first, he just gave her a hug. He wished he could do it outside the armor- to touch his skin to her own, but the only satisfaction from this was giving her the profound kiss.
No words were said between them until the last, for perhaps both of them knew what the future was going to hold for them. Tamuur and the other marines crowded into the corvette, ready to assualt the Araraht-Nahb and free the population from the tyrrany of a cult.
His helmet still off, Tamuur proclaimed to Miriam not a false promise to return, nor a bid for luck.
Instead, he declared, “I love you always, Miriam.”
The doors closed, leaving Tamuur only the vision of Miriam through the glass. She made a gesture with her right hand over her heart… a sigil the two of them shared since the day after their wedding.
Tamuur nodded, then closed his eyes and turned away. This had to be done. He sealed the helmet over his head and prepared to descend into the hell that was Araraht-Nahb.
Last edited by Norsehound; 8th Oct 07 at 5:54 PM.
Stop it here? Please say it aint so! It feels like reading a sentence that stops halfway through!
stop it there Dont you even DARE think about it or i will... uhhh do something to you
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