Category Archives: Fantasy

GAIA’S CHILDREN – SEDRAPIA

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PART 1

PROJECT GENESIS

Logic is the beginning of wisdom; not the end.’ — Spock (Star Trek V)

 

Gaia stood in the clear space in the woods and looked around. A small smile played on her lips. She was content with what she saw. The tall cedars reached skyward, the ground was carpeted with soft grasses and sweet-smelling wildflowers bloomed everywhere she looked. The insects scuttled about, carrying food, foraging, doing what insects do. She could hear the birds moving in their roosts, waiting for the dawn light to appear in the west before they began their morning chorus. They had been here five turns and soon it would be time to wake the prototypes.  The terraforming project had gone well. They had successfully seeded this once, dying and decayed planet, she had named Sedrapia, with the best of everything.

‘Gaia, where are you?’  G’Brel’s voice carried clearly in quiet before the veda started.

‘Over here. Is S’Tan returned?’

The tall bronzed man strode towards her. A frown cast a shadow on his normally sunny face, his blue eyes were troubled, and he was stooped and looked drained.

He is looking older, she thought, this work is taking its toll on both of us. Once more she questioned assigning S’Tan instead of M’ikel to the project. One more turn and we will be able to rest.

‘No. He has been in contact, though. I am really worried about the tasks yet to be completed before the force fields are activated.  I have an uneasy feeling trouble is around the corner.  I am not sure we made a wise choice placing him in charge of H’Lel sector.’

There was a complaining tone to his voice, not one she was used to hearing.

‘I admit he lacks our experience, and he is young and headstrong, but earned his place on this project. How else will he learn and I need you here in D’Ene.’

‘Are you two talking about me?’ S’Tan shimmered into being before them, ‘that T’Port is on its last legs, just as well I won’t be using it again.’

‘They will all be decommissioned at the end of the next turn, and stored. Perhaps, one veda they will be used again.’ G’Brel nodded at S’Tan, ‘have you finished in H’Lel?’

‘All done and dusted,’ he laughed. ‘All the boxes ticked and everything in order. It should all come along quite nicely.’

“Are all the monitoring probes in place? You have no concerns?’ Gaia asked and she watched S’Tan carefully measuring his response.

He picked her up and whirled her around, laughing as he settled her on her feet.

‘Yes, they are and no I haven’t.  None at all, Mother mine. None at all.’

Gaia could not help worrying that was her role, and she pushed the nagging worries to the back of her mind. Determined not to spoil the mood and add to G’Brel’s concerns she laughed and linking arms they walked together through the woods to the camp.

Standing in front of the large mound G’Brel punched in the code on his pad and the side of the mound slid back silently. He and S’Tan wished her a good sleep and went to their own quarters.

Gaia moved directly to the central console, she was physically tired, but she never grew weary of watching the ever-changing scenes on the vids. Once the prototypes, she thought of them as her children, were revived and settled and the colony was established she could withdraw. She knew by leaving G’Brel in charge everything would be in good hands.  There was no need to worry about H’Lel just yet, a few more turns were required before it would be ready for settlement. It would be an excellent place for the new group of colonists that were already on their way. M’ikel was accompanying them, he would support G’Brel. Together with their knowledge they would guide and direct the prototypes and the colonists during the settlement process.

‘What will it be like in a millennia?’  She whispered to her big grey barge cat as it leapt up and settled on her lap, kneading the cloth of her tunic with its claws.

She could not quieten her thoughts they tumbled one on the other. S’Tan had much to learn, was G’Brel was equipped to teach him? Would he accept the guidance? He was wilful and dismissive at times.  All of the terraforming should have been completed by now, but S’Tan had insisted on completing the task his way. She had given him his way. He had a way of charming her and it was difficult for her to restrain his actions.

Gaia hoped she had not made an error in selecting him for this mission.  She did not make many errors but when she did the repercussions — well, she did not want to think about that now.  She stretched and yawned, releasing her aching muscles. Then she remembered a long forgotten conversation with Lord Acton and Prime Minister Gladstone, they had been discussing the misuse of power. Acton had said ‘power tends to corrupt and absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely.’       She hoped this was not the case with S’Tan. Somehow she could not quite quell the unease that came over her when she was in his presence. She sensed something she could not identify and it saddened her.

 

 

She woke to the soft pipping of the alarm, she must have slept. The concerns that arose still drifted in her consciousness.  Brushing them aside she rose from the console. Someone had placed a blanket over her while she slept. Picking it up, she tossed it into the storage basket beside the console.

The time of the sixth turn had arrived. She reached for the check sheets. They were gone, G’Brel must have taken them. She heard the two men talking, their voices were raised and strained.  Gaia thought briefly about interceding, and then she dismissed the thought as quickly as it arose. They needed to sort this out between them and without her.

Time to hit the showers, she thought, we will wake the Children this veda and life begins again. She would not allow their disagreement to interfere. She hummed an old tune, ‘Oh what a beautiful morning,’ she loved the classics, right now it fitted her mood perfectly.

 

 

PART TWO

THE AWAKENING

‘Apparently there is nothing that cannot happen today.’ Mark Twain

 

Reaching the compound Gaia stopped; this was the last time the three of them would stand here, alone. The sixth turn had arrived, now was the time to awaken the Children of Sedrapia.

She could feel the nervous fluttering in her stomach. What did the future hold for Sedrapia?  Her  large grey cat appeared at her feet wrapping itself around her legs as if to provide comfort, she bent and caressed its silken fur, barge cats had an emotional bond with their owners, it always knew when she need calming. Feeling better, she returned to her musing. They had seeded planets before, but not ones as badly damaged as this. This was special, they all deserved a second chance especially the planet. Once a beautiful blue-green giant, it had been home to many people of many colours but their hatred, corporate greed and hunger for power had almost obliterated it. Would this time be any different?   She hoped so.

The prototypes were also being given a second chance. Salvaged from the prison hulk ships they were, the unredeemable. Each had agreed to become part of the experiment, Project Genesis.  Their memories were altered, and they had been placed in stasis for the duration of the voyage. On arrival on Sedrapia, they would be released once the planet was developed enough to support them. It was easier that way.

Outside G’Brel was busy checking the stacks of building materials, He then moved on to the animal pens. The milk and burden animals were restless, snorting and shoving. They could smell the clean, sweet grasses and they were eager to feed.  Once released they quickly flowed out into the meadows to graze. Everything seemed so normal.

G’Brel saw Gaia watching, smiling he waved.  They were now green to go. The sturdy plasticrete settlement buildings stood waiting patiently. All the utilitarian needs had been provided food, readers, beds, clothes all awaiting the arrival. The replicators were well primed.

Everything was set, with one last check, she confirmed the headquarters were secure. That was one secret she was not yet ready to share; not yet. S’Tan sauntered across the meadow, answering her unspoken question, he grinned giving a thumbs up indicating the outer force fields had been set. Another secret they would not share. Freedom was always an illusion.

As a group, they walked across the compound to the row of seven tanks.  Gleaming and shining, they were blindingly bright. Behind the clear metal, the rainbow colours shimmered in the tanks and the outline of each captive could be clearly seen.  Standing in front of the stasis tanks, G’Brel looked at Gaia waiting for the signal to being the regeneration. They would revive the women first and then the men. The time had come.

Once at the control panel, he placed his hand on the second plate, then the fourth and sixth. The air was charged with a sense of excitement. The rainbow colours in the selected tanks stopped shimmering and coalesced into a solid light yellow. The forms in the tanks became more defined. There was a low resonant humming, and the light in tanks faded away. The blanketing fluid drained into the holding tanks.  The figures could now be seen clearly.

Gaia and G’Brel had personally chosen each of these people for their physical strength, breeding potential, and intelligence, psychological and genetic stability. Their many turns in stasis had not been a nothingness. Encased in a nurturing fluid, they were all recipients of subliminal learning programs; each one tailored to meet specific needs to ensure that their collective ability to survive on Sedrapia was optimised. Muscles had been electrically stimulated to prevent atrophy and to retain strength. Slowly each of the women opened their eyes. The name plate on tank two identified the inmate as E’Vee. Her bright blue eyes surveyed the scene in front of her, she smiled and signalled she was ready for the hatch to be opened. As G’Brel activated the hatch S’Tan quickly stepped forward and holding out his hand to steady her, he assisted E’Vee out of the tank. She stood quietly, breathing deeply and slowly. She accepted the robe, handed to her and once clothed, sat in the chair provided. She attempted to speak but no sound would come out. Gaia handed her a cup of cordrazine mixed with a sweet restorative tea, (cordy).

‘Your vocal cords need oiling my dear,’ she grinned. ‘Welcome to your new home.’

Tanks, four and six had been opened and Z’ura and A’Wan had been assisted in dressing  and were  seated with a hot cups of cordy in their hands.  Colour was replacing the pallor in their skin tones.  E’Vee tried to speak, her voice a soft rasping tone, she enquired when the men would be released.

‘Shortly E’Vee,’ responded S’Tan. ‘First we need to ensure that you are all fit and healthy.’

He reached out and held her hand. Gaia noted E’Vee’s hand remained in S’Tan’s grip a little longer than it should. She chided herself for looking for trouble where there was none.

G’Brel in his role of settlement medic stepped in and escorted the three women to the building that did double duty as a lab and an infirmary. It was mid-veda before they were pronounced fit to return to the compound. They were still finding their feet and wearing dark visors as their eyes were sensitive to the bright light. S’Tan was being particularly attentive to E’Vee.  Gaia took him aside, to remind him that she was in a partnership with Daman.

‘I can still appreciate a beautiful woman.’

‘Appreciate by all means, but off limits,’ Gaia responded.  S’Tan waved his hand, laughing as he walked back to the group.

Now there were six in front of the tanks. Gaia noticed that E’Vee divided her time between covertly watching S’Tan and watching the tank containing Daman.  Each tank was activated and the women gasped as the men were revealed.  G’Brel and S’Tan assisted from them from the tanks. Daman was first followed by Nattar, Beal and Chet.

To Gaia’s practiced eye, it appeared that the men had not fared as well during the transition as the women. They appeared weaker, gaunt, their skin sallow and it took longer from them to re-oxygenate. Once they were breathing normally they were escorted by S’Tan and G’Brel to the infirmary.

By the time they had all been checked out the veda  was over, the eastern sky was flushed with a spectacular sunset and darkness was on its way.  E’Vee volunteered to accompany G’Brel and S’Tan to round up the livestock for the dark period. S’Tan had attended to the needs of the beasts by feeding and milking them and E’Vee collected the eggs from the layers.

Earlier they had built a huge bonfire in the centre of the compound. S’Tan prepared the beast and all the produce came from the D’ene’s gardens. Burning fiercely the flames danced wildly, casting weird shadows against the darkling sky and the familiar smell of roasting meat and aromatic timbers settled jangling nerves.  They all gathered around it and for the first time in eons, song, laughter and voices rang out across the continent. It was a time of true celebration. They ate, they drank and shared stories. Daman was a talented storyteller and mimic. He regaled them with story after story till they laughed their sides aching and tears running down their cheeks.

‘Enough,’ cried G’Brel ‘save some stories for another time.’  S’Tan appeared less enthusiastic.

The feasting over the settlers, paired off, Daman and E’Vee, Nattar and Z’ura, A’Wan and Chet each going to their own quarters within the settlement building. Beal who was older than the others, stayed talking with G’Brel and S’Tan, he was explaining that his mate was dead. He could remember her name, but not how she had died. Eventually, they exhausted the conversation and retired, leaving Gaia by the fire. She sat still, watching as the embers as they glowed and died. The barge cat lay beside her snoring. She awoke with a start. She must have fallen asleep. It was time for her to retire.

Standing, she sighed, they had done well so far. It was too early to tell how these personalities would mesh, but it was an idyllic setting. That could not be denied. Before retiring, she stood upon the threshold of the hidden quarters. Gaia turned to face the compound. In her mind, she reviewed the veda. She revelled in the sound of laughter echoing in the of the rolling green hills and the brightness of the blue sky. The warm darkling breeze ruffled her hair, and her grey cat rolling on the ground at her feet played with the leaves dancing in the breeze. Catching them letting them go and catching them again. Like souls afloat in the universe, she thought.  Raising her palm to the reader, she felt its warmth as it scanned her print. The side of the mound opened and slide silently aside. There was no one left to notice her departure. She stepped into the safe confines of the control room, her inner sanctum and the door shut softly, but firmly behind her.

The Monster and the Magic Light

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The Monster and the Magic Light

 

The darkness was falling across the landscape, the howling winds and pounding rain made the cave a welcome shelter. Amber was glad of the protection it offered. She poked her head inside. She drew back frightened by  the lack of light.  The cave smelt mouldy and there were  many other strange smells she could not identify. It made her sneeze.  It was dry inside and  she decided going inside was  better than remaining out in the storm.

Once inside the cave she ran her hands along the wall. It was warm to the touch and the roughness of the rock scrapped her soft palm. She could hear the drumming of her blood in her ears.   She fancied she could feel her heart  beating  in her throat. She could not deny she was frightened.

She started to gather up the scattered branches and dried leaves. These had been blown into the cave by the wind, and found their way into the dark brooding mouth of the cave.  Amber began by placing the branches and leaves methodically, building the foundations of the holder of the light.  She was thinking of her mother, she had taught her well. She had been the clan’s keeper of the light. Now it was Amber’s time.

Looking skyward, she muttered a brief prayer as she had been taught. Then with a shaking hand, she withdrew the box that held the magic light from the  pocket of her bag.  Lifting it slowly she  reverently  raised the top.

The glowing light was alive, and  it spilled into the darkness of the cave.  She thanked the Gods for keeping her safe. Using the proddle she placed some of the light in the middle of the dry leaves and remembering what she had been taught she blew until the magic light became strong and cast long dancing shadows on the cave walls.  She waited to make sure the strength had been shared and would grow. Passing her hand through the light, she felt its warmth and received its blessing.

Carefully she withdrew the proddle cleaned it and wrapped it securely.  Her proddle was a very old, a carved piece of bone with a hollow scrapped out at one end, it had been the property of her foremother. She began to trace the scrolls and whirls carved into the intricate patterns on the bone, she sang the song of thanks for light. Finishing her duty wrapping the proddle in fur she replaced it and the lightbox in the skin bag she always carried.

Amber was scared she had never been far from home on her own before, the tears rolled down her cheeks and with a dirty hand, she brushed them away. She could do this. She wasn’t a truddle anymore she was an adult.

Hearing soft noises behind her she sighed. The magic light would keep her safe, She sat as close as she could to the light, poking the branches into the glowing light to keep it growing. Amber knew she had to keep it fed if she did this she would be protected.

She was hungry her stomach was growling, she had some berries and dried meat in her bag. Finding her water bottle and her food. She finished eating her sparse meal and was replete. Comforted by the glow and the crackling light and her head drooped and her eyelids closed but only for a minute.

She became aware of a whishing sound. Her eyes flew open the sounds were coming closer. Then there was a whistling noise like an unhappy bird.

A stomping, swaying shadow danced eerily on the cave wall. It was big and like nothing she had ever seen before. It stopped, she held her breath one hand at her mouth to stop from crying out.  She could feel her breath coming faster and faster, she started to feel dizzy. It started moving again.  The long shadowy bits at the top seemed to rock from side to side, faster and faster. She was mesmerized and could not move.

The smell became stronger and she started to cough. It smelt like the latrines before the sweet soil was thrown in them. She started to gag the smell was overpowering, her legs had turned to jelly she was trapped. The whistling became louder and louder until she could not hear herself think.

The grotesque shadows grew larger and larger on the wall and she could not look away they came closer and closer. The smells, the noise, the slishy, sliding sound of something being dragged towards the cave opening. She was sobbing now, the magic light was not protecting her, and she could feel an icy cold enveloping her.

She pushed more sticks into the magic light but it flickered and died leaving only a red glow at its core.  She sobbed, by the Gods she was alone with nothing to protect her.

She sat there in the dark, stripped of any protection, the hair on her arms and at the nape of her neck bristling. Suddenly she felt a grab at her hair, it was twisted, and her head wrenched backwards. The fetid breath was icy cold on her face, and that smell was the last thing she remembered as she fell into the darkness.