VIEWS: 0 PAGES: 46 POSTED ON: 5/21/2013
Sazarn Jaqolea brought his scout ship out of jump drive, his view screen was filled with vivid colors. The sphere of the planet before him showed mostly blue and white, but there were splashes of greens and brown as well. It was a beautiful sight and for a brief second he thought, this is one of the best things about being a scout pilot. Seeing new worlds was something he thought he would never tire of. It was even better when he got to land and explore. That was not likely to happen this time. The planet was primitive and restricted. The intelligent life here was not spacefaring yet, and was known to be aggressive and warlike. Not a good place to visit at this point. Automated drones observed from a distance but contact was prohibited. That was the reason he was here. There had been some readings suggesting that someone was involved in prohibited activities on the surface. Most likely the pestilent species known as the Dawlg. Known space had a number of space faring planets that tended to operate outside of the charter of the Unified Trade Compact. Most were poor, backward planets that felt they had a sovereign right to do as they please with uninhabited zones. The Dawgs were something different. They would invade habitable worlds as long as they believed they could get away with it. They were the reason the UTC deployed observation drones around primitive inhabited planets and their systems. The story was always the same, they would claim that it was a rebellious group working outside the control of the government. They would deny any knowledge of any illegal activities that any of their species was involved in. It was almost impossible to prove otherwise. Even though this was a very easy assignment, the young pilot was eager to prove himself. This was his first solo mission. He felt grateful that his commander had entrusted him with the technologically advanced fighter. He had trained for two years in a simulator on his home world of Ola before even getting to see a real ship. Then he had gone on dozens of missions with another pilot. He continued with his training in old non stealth fighters in the space around the moon of his planet. Even with all that, and the high marks he always scored, his superiors told him it would be a few more years before he was combat ready. This mission was simply to observe and report back. He was commanded that under no circumstances was he to engage in battle. Sazarn immediately went into stealth mode and established an orbit high above the atmosphere of the planet below him. First order of business was to link to the observation drone network and download the pertinent information. After going over the information, he set a course to take him directly over the geographic location where the activity had been recorded. Below in the atmosphere a powerful electric storm was concentrated at the co-ordinates given by the drones. This was typical Dawlg tactics. They tried to cover their illicit actions with atmospheric conditions such as this. The size and pattern of the storm was suspect. It was almost perfectly round and limited to a small area. It was not a natural weather pattern. Sazarn knew that somewhere in that desturbance was at least one Dawlg ship. Definitely a mining ship, and probably a carrier class ship as well. No illegal mining operation ever went unescorted by some kind of military presence. The typical Dawlg carrier held a complement of 15 small fighters. Sazarn was confident that he could take out that many, but he had his orders. He was here only to observe and confirm that there was illegal activities going on. He would try to ascertain for certain what kind of ships were involved. He took his ship into a lower orbit. This was risky because at least one Dawlg on every ship was a telepath called a Minder. These Minder Dawlgs were usually in control of two other Dawlgs. The Minders could sense the presence of an intruder, even though the Olan ships had stealth technology that made it impossible to be detected by their sensors. If he were to get too close he could be noticed. If there was indeed fifteen fighters down in that storm, working together, the Minders might get lucky and shoot him down. The Olan pilot got as close as he dared and tried every means possible to scan through the violent storm. His ship was far more advanced and faster than the Dawlg ships, but their ships were way more robust. The conditions that existed in that atmosphere would do damage to his systems if he were to fly through them. Unfortunately, his scanning systems could not pick up anything within the storm either. There was just too much electromagnetic interference. There was only one thing to do and that was to wait patiently in a high orbit and hope the ships below stopped their activities and came out of the atmosphere. He considered sending a probe into the storm but there was a risk that it would be detected. He also thought wishfully that he could just dump a load of plasma mines. They would be magnetically drawn to any metallic object below. If he hit the carrier and no fighters were able to escape he could get away with it. As he thought these things, suddenly an alarm sounded. All around on all sides he had targets moving in on his position. Coming out of the clouds below, a whole complement of Dawlg fighters. They had sensed him, they knew he was there and they were working in concert to pinpoint his postion. They had already begun to fire their weapons. He took evasive maneuvers. At this point, there would have been no problem getting away. His ship was faster, they couldn't get a lock on him, he could have easily escaped. Something about running away without a fight just didn't sit well with him. Since they already knew he was there, and he knew he could get away from them without damage, he pressed a button, releasing three dozen small plasma mines in a scatter pattern as he flew away from the planet. This was a strictly defensive move on his part, just to assure his escape. He hoped to take out at least two or three fighters on his way out. His mission was accomplished, he now knew it was the Dawlgs that were violating the restricted zone here. His rear scanners picked up the larger carrier ship coming out of the clouds below. It struck him that once again the Dawlgs would be getting away with their crimes. It would take him three days to reach his carrier, and then three more days for a combat squadron to make it back. By then, the Dawlgs would be long gone. That didn't set well with him. As an Olan warrior there had been a deep sense of justice and right instilled in him and something within him made him want to turn around and make these creatures pay. Even as these thoughts went thru his mind, scans picked up explosions behind him. Knowing that the fighters could not really pinpoint his exact location just by their telepathic abilities, Sazarn brought his ship back around in a large loop toward the planet again. His computer told him that three of the fighters had been destroyed by the mines. That left only twelve. Perhaps he could take out a few more before he left the system. What would be even better is if he could damage or destroy the carrier itself. There were more explosions as he headed back towards the ascending carrier. The fighters were firing randomly into space, not even getting close to his position. The explosions appeared to be on the carrier. His heart beat a little quicker and he felt a rush of exhilaration at the fact that he had made a hit on the enemy ship. He sped around the perimeter of the formation of Dawlg fighters still headed outward from the planet in a rough circle. As he did, he was happy to see secondary explosions on the carrier. As he made a wide circle around the fighters, they changed their course and followed him. He began firing at those he hadn't passed yet and took out two more then veered off. There was now only ten fighters left. He had a definite advantage due to the stealth technology built into his ship. The Dawlgs desperately wanted to capture an Olan ship to get that technology, but so far had not been able to. Within each Olan ship was built an automatic self destruct mechanism. Not only would it destroy the Olan ship, but any other ship within the blast radius. Even knowing this, the Dawlgs still tried. One more advantage his ship had was its freeze field armor. The sensors on board would detect any weapon's fire that was about to hit the ship and would engage the shielding. This shielding was a field that stopped all motion on a quantum level. Once the field is engaged, nothing can penetrate it. It is absolutely reflective. This renders any enemy fire ineffective. The only draw back is the stealth mode can not be engage at the same time as the shielding. In fact all systems are shut down, and the drive is off for that brief few seconds. For the short moment the shield is up, the ship is visible, and moving only on momentum. Even with that, the advantages remained with the Olan fighter over every other type of fighter. Feeling very confident now, Sazarn turned back and went in a loop back the opposite of what he had been flying. As he did the Dawlg fighters nearest him flew in circles. Their maneuverings ability was just not up to following him. Two more Dawlg ships were hit with blast of hot plasma bolts, which not only vaporized a hole in their hull, but ignited the atmosphere inside the ships. In one case there was a secondary explosion as a fuel cell was superheated within. The other ship was just carried on by its momentum while inside the occupants were burned alive in their suits. Now the count was eight to one. At this point, knowing the history and battle tactics of the Dawlgs, he expected them to break off their offensive and run away. He was disappointed to see that they were still aggressively pursuing him. Perhaps, he thought, I need to take out a few more. Even as he thought this confidently, an alarm sounded again as fifteen more Dawlg fighters appeared out of the atmospheric disturbance. With shock he realized there was another carrier hidden in the storm. Even as that fact made itself known in his mind, one of the fighters got a lucky hit. No damage was done, the ship's shielding protected it, but now twenty three Dawlg fighters knew exactly where he was for exactly three seconds. Even Dawlg targeting computers are advanced enough to determine his flight path in those few seconds. Now, came multiple hits as every one of those ships began firing at his position. With each hit the shielding was up for another three seconds. With the steady barrage of hits the shielding stayed on. The ship was not damaged but it was being knocked around, now off course with no maneuvering. Within the cockpit, Sazarn was frozen, the intervals that the shield was down were too short for him to react. The ship was now being forced down toward the planet. The entire group of enemy fighters were swarming towards their prey. They were all firing repeatedly at the shiny reflective surface as it plummeted down into the atmosphere. As it dropped into the black clouds, the electric storm interfered with their targeting systems. Sazarn desperately tried to get control back as the ship tumbled uncontrollably toward the planet's surface. The ship was buffeted by the high winds and bolts of electricity. Fearing the freeze field would engage because of it, knowing he must gain control of the ship's descent he turned off the shielding manually. This left him vulnerable, but he thought at this point it was the only way he would get control. Even though the Olan fighter was far more advanced than that of the Dawlgs, the Dawlgs ships were built to be far more rugged, especially in an atmosphere. They could take the punishment of the electric storm that they had created to cover their actions on the surface. An Olan fighter was sturdy enough to hold together structurally, but unfortunately the shielding and stealthing systems were vulnerable to such conditions as they were being exposed to now. Within just a few minutes, both systems had been disable by electric strikes. That was the bad news. The good news was that the Olan warrior had brought his fighter out of its uncontrolled descent and was pulling it back up away from the pull of the planet's gravity. Within just a few moments, the ship broke out of the dangerous storm and back into the vacuum of space. Unfortunately, there awaited him there a swarm of angry bugs. Bugs is what the Olan, and almost everyone else in the galaxy, called the Dawlgs. That's what they looked like. Out of one kind of storm and into another, the Bugs seemed to have been clever enough not to go into the storm to pursue him. Once he broke from the clouds, they were on him. His ship was fast, but his path of escape was now blocked by nearly two dozen enemy fighters. Now they could lock in on him. He made a hard loop to go back down into the storm. Maybe he could use it to cover his escape another way. Just before he reached the dark clouds again, his fighter was hit from behind. Every Olan flight suit had an automatic shielding built into it. When a ship was disabled, it automatically did two things simultaneously. One, it engaged the pilot's suit freeze field shielding, and two, it engaged its own self destruct if the ship was still intact enough for there to be a chance its technology could be captured. The canopy of Sazarn's ship exploded and his body was expelled even as the self destruct went off. The blast instantly vaporized the ship, and sent the pilot, cloaked now in the mirror surfaced freeze field, speeding toward the surface of the planet. Several Dawlg fighters also vaporized, many more were blown of course as the power of the blast spread outward quickly. The unseen second carrier did not vaporize, but the damage to its hull was devastating. The smaller mining ship on the surface sustained no damage, but now that their protection was basically gone, they quickly stopped operations and headed for space, careful to avoid the ruined warship that was now struggling to make it out of the planet's orbit. With all the confusion and destruction, none of the Dawlg ships were able to track the Olan pilot down to the surface. Sheriff John Hayson woke up with a start, as did almost everyone else in the small western town of Crystal Springs. The dawn had just begun to leak light into homes and stores of town, revealing in many places the presence of sparkling pieces of broken glass on the floors in front of the windows. Many objects had fallen to the floor as well. The sheriff's first instinct was to grab his gun belt that hung on the post of his headboard as he jumped out of his bed. Not taking the time to put his regular clothes on, he buckled the belt around his waist over the long johns he always wore to bed. He hastily shoved his feet into his cowboy boots. Avoiding the glass at the window, he headed for the door, ran down the stairs that went down the outside of the jail. He was the first one out on the street that ran down the middle of his town. Looking around he saw nothing that gave him a clue to what had happened that had blown out his windows and rattled the whole building He did see that the other buildings in town had suffered the same fate. Looking down the street towards the west was the mountain range in view. The sky there was dark with storm clouds and he saw flashes of lightning Could it have been lightning that had caused such damage? The storm was too far away to have been the cause. People began to stumble out of their homes down the street, looking around as he had done, looking for the cause of the destruction. Not finding any answers, most of them went back to their homes to survey the damage, while others gathered into groups to discuss the mystery. Some of them had seen him and were headed his way. He recognized the young school teacher Annabelle Stanton walking toward him, tailed closely by her little brother, Rodney. The sheriff was suddenly conscious of his undressed condition. He considered turning and running quickly upstairs to at least put some trousers on, but it was too late, they were already upon him. Just as Annabelle called out his name, he saw the wall of dust moving at an unbelievable speed towards them. He ran the remaining distance to them and grabbed her and her brother by the arm and pulled them to the side of the building, around the corner from the main street. Suddenly a hot gust of wind was rushing through the town, full of dirt and small bits of gravel. He yelled at the two of them to cover their face with something, while he pulled up the collar of his undershirt to cover his nose and mouth. She covered her face with a handkerchief while her brother buried his face in her dress. It seemed like forever, but it lasted perhaps two minutes. When it was over there was a silent stillness that lay over the whole town. Rodney was the first to break the silence by saying, “what was that?” The sheriff walked back out onto the main street and looked up and down. There were some folks that were laying on the ground. He called out to them, asking if they were alright. He was glad to hear each of them answer back that they were unharmed. Annabelle and her brother had followed him out to the middle of the road. “What just happened, Sheriff?” she asked. He shook his head, “I don't know Anna, at first I thought we had an earthquake, but that wind gust wasn't from no earthquake. Could be that storm goin on over the other side of the mountains. I'll have to go ask that crazy geologist over at the hotel later on. Whatever it is, it seems to be over with for now. I'd say best go back home and help your ma clean up what mess has been made.” “Actually, I was headed over to the school to clean up any broken glass that might be over there.” Annabelle answered. The sheriff still cringed a little inside at the mention of the school. His late wife had been the teacher there until she had gotten too sick to do the job. That had been three years ago. Annabelle had taken over at fifteen years old. Two years later his wife had died. That was when the sheriff had the apartment above the jail built. The house he had shared with his wife, where they had seen their children grow up, was too big, too empty, and too full of the painful memories of her suffering. It still stood empty, his plan was to sell it someday, if ever there was someone interested in buying it. The sheriff nodded to Annabelle and said, “I reckon that's a good idea little lady, you don't want any of those precious children to get cut on any broken glass.” He tipped his hat to her as she and her little brother turned and walked toward the school. Rodney turned back, looking at the sheriff once more, then, turning to his sister said, “Sheriff Long John, get it?” Annabelle looked back and then turned to her brother and said, “Rodney, that's disrespectfully.” The sheriff turned and headed to the stairs that would take him back to his apartment, thinking he would like to put a boot to that kids rear. He wouldn't do it, but he figured that the kid needed it. If that little snot didn't change his ways, he was going to end up spending time in Sheriff Long Johh's jail. Rainy Sky bolted with a start and rushed out of the cave his people had been forced to stay in for the last three nights. The loud noise woke up the whole tribe, all the men were grabbing their weapons and following him out of the cave. The sun was just starting to light the sky, but there were clouds above from the storm. The view of the sky was limited where he was so he began to make his way out of the small cleft the cave was in. just beyond that the cliffs ran into a small ridge. He climbed it quickly, followed by the other men. When they reached the top they observed a billowing black cloud high in the sky, expanding rapidly. The storm clouds seemed to be running away from the other cloud, and it was full of fire. Rainy Sky wondered if it was the monsters who came from the sky. A few days ago, the tribe had begun to see strange things in the sky. There were metal carriages that appeared, some of the elders said it was gods. After that the monsters had come at night and stole a man. The squaw and child of the man had tried to help but had been paralyzed and could only watch in horror as the monsters had taken him away. After that the tribe had lost two more braves and one woman. Finally, Rainy Sky had led them to this cave in hopes that the monsters could not find them. So far they had been safe since then. Now Rainy Sky wondered if the monsters were angry and had decided to destroy the world. Even as these thoughts went through his mind a blast of hot air hit him, nearly sending him off the rocks and tumbling down the ridge. He held his ground, but then turned his back and covered his eyes as the dust clouds blew against him. As he struggled to stay in place he wondered if this is how the world ends. His bare back was pelted with small debris. It continued for so long that he had decided to go back down the ridge and had started moving that way when it susided and all was calm again. When the dust had settled, he searched the sky once more. The black cloud was now spread out above him. The storm had began to dissipate. The sun had broken over the eastern horizon in the direction of the white man's town. As he looked towards the nearest mountain peak he caught a glimpse of something shiny moving quickly through the sky against the dark clouds. He saw it hit the mountain and bounce off in an explosive cloud of rocks and dust. It was glistening wildly, headed down the mountain now, hitting several more times before disappearing from his view. One of his braves, Jumping Fox, asked him what it was. He answered he did not know. What he did know was that he wanted to find out. Something had happened this morning that was very strange, and he thought, dangerous. He wanted to know what it was and he thought finding out what had fallen from the sky was maybe the key to doing so. He scrambled down the ridge and ran to his horse. His braves, not questioning their leader, followed him. They ran their horses quickly around the ridge and over the dusty ground in the direction of the foot of the mountain. It took them almost thirty minutes of hard riding to reach the area where they had seen the strange object fall. Rainy Sky surveyed the mountain and saw the places where the object had hit the mountain, leaving gouges in the rocks as it had fallen. Tracing the path his eyes rested on a large rock at the foot of the mountain. He dismounted and lead his horse around the rock. There nearly buried in dust and rubble was the shiny object. He and his braves approached the object cautiously. He and one other man, Runs Through Water, began to brush off the dirt. The object was large, bigger than a man. Once they had uncovered most of it Rainy Sky began to get a strange feeling about it. With much struggle, he and Runs Through Water pulled the thing out of the dirt and dragged it from behind the boulder. Setting it upright, they discovered it was the image of a man. Even though the man was in a sitting position, they could tell he was a giant. This made Rainy Sky pause, wondering if they should not be near it. It had fallen from the sky and perhaps this was a god as the elders had supposed the sky carriages were. There was something about the thing that made Rainy Sky nervous. One thing was it had no face. The head was overly large, even for the large body. It was round and featureless. There were no eye, or nose or mouth. The surface, just as the rest of the image, was reflective and on the head, where the face should be, he saw his own image, distorted by the curvature of the head. One of the braves had a spear, Rainy Sky asked for it and he handed it to him. He took the point of the spear and poked at the image. It didn't break. Of course, he knew it had slammed into the mountain many times and not been harmed. The men who had followed him here had begun to murmur and say they should leave this place. Even though Rainy Sky was made nervous as they were, his curiosity kept him from walking away. He even began to consider moving it back to the cave. Perhaps it would scare away the monsters from the sky. This was the thought in his mind when the object change into a figure in shiny black. It stood quickly and towered over him, standing taller than any man he had ever seen. Even though Sazarn had been trained extensively on going though the experience of being locked in a freeze field, it was still a shock to him to come out of it sitting on a desert floor instead of being in his cockpit. To him, no time had passed. He had not even been aware of being locked into the freeze field. One second he had been in his ship trying to escape a group of Dawlg fighters and the next minute he was in a strange place, on the ground, surrounded by strange men in strange clothing. He instinctively jumped to his feet, and backed away from the group of men he was confronted with. Seeing immediately that some of them were armed with primative weapons, he pulled one of his two sword handles from his suit and activated the freeze blade. The blade was the same kind of freeze field that had protected him in his fall to this planet. It was indestructible and sharp enough to cut though the strongest metal. The alien closest to him held a spear. Sazarn perceived this one as the leader. The others were looking to him to see how he would react to Sazarn. The man hesitated for a moment, then slowly bent down and placed his spear on the ground. Having done so, he dropped to his knees and put down his head. The others followed suit. Sazarn lowered the sword and deactivated the blade and put the handle back on his suit. Taking note of the fact that the atmosphere was breathable, he pulled off his helmet and let them see his face. The leader looked up and saw his face for the first time. He looked amazed. He began speaking. After a brief moment Sazarn's translator spoke the words in his own language. Apparently this language was one of thousands the drones had recorded and translated. It had been downloaded into his translator automatically when he had jumped into the system. The words were, “Sky God.” He was about to explain to the man that he was not a god when he heard the distinct sound of thrusters. He looked around but couldn't see any vessel yet. He had no doubt what kind of vessel it was. Dawlg. He spoke one word to his new friends, “Danger” Rainy Sky hear the giant before him speak a strange word, but then he heard another voice coming from the giant's direction say the word Danger. That's when he lifted his head and listened. At first he could not hear anything, then, after a moment, far away he heard a roaring noise. This was the sound the monsters made in their sky carriages. He leapt to his feet and spoke to his braves. The monsters were coming. He hesitated, not knowing whether to run or hide or stand and fight. As he watched, the sky god put the round thing back on his head and covered his face once more. Then, instead of running away from the sound, he took two swords from his front and ran toward the mountain, using his swords to climb the face very quickly. Rainy Sky wondered if he should try to follow, or if he should hid behind the rock. He knew the monsters had the power to hold a man without touching him. He didn't know how a man could fight such a monster. He stood and watched and hoped the sky god was on his side. Perhaps the sky god could stop the monsters. As he watched, the sky god stopped climbing and stood still on a rock high on the mountain side. Within moments, a sky carriage appeared. Rainy Sky's heart began to pound. He wanted to run away but he couldn't pull himself away from the scene that was unfolding. The monster's machine now came around the mountain, even with where the sky god stood. As Rainy Sky and his braves watched, the sky god jumped the distance from the rock to the machine and landed on top. The sky carriage leaned this way and that, trying to make the sky god fall, but he didn't. The sky god made fire come from his arm into the top of the carriage. Once, twice, three and four times, then he jumped back off the machine as it flew off, flipping this way and that. Just then, another sky carriage appeared. Fire shot out of the sky god's arm once more, then several more times. Now the new monster machine exploded and began to fall from the sky. The first one was now flying straight toward the mountain. The sky god jumped and it was as if he was flying himself. He landed on a lower rock and jumped again. The sky carriage flew into the mountain and began to fall, rolling down the mountain side until it ended up on the desert floor not far from where Rainy Sky and his people stood watching. The sky god landed right in front of him. Rainy Sky knelt again before the sky god, bowing his head low. He looked up to see him take the round thing back off his head. Now Rainy Sky feared this god above the monsters from the sky. Now the god spoke again in a strange tongue. The other voice came from him, although his lips had stopped moving, and spoke in the people's tongue. It said, “I am not a god but a man.” Rainy Sky did not believe these words. “I saw as did these others, that you fell from the sky. Now we have watched as you defeated the sky monsters, shooting fire out of your arms. How is it then that you tell us you are not a god but a man? What manner of man does these things we have seen you do?” Sazarn wondered how he could explain to these primitive people the concept of advantanced technology. “I come from a world beyond the stars. On our world we have gained knowledge of many things that are not known here on this world. We fly between the stars. I've come to see whether the sky monsters are here and what they are doing. It's against our laws for them to be here. Sazarn watched the man digest this information. He knew it was probably easier for the poor man to believe he was a god than to understand that there might be a world beyond the stars. Nonetheless, the man seemed to except the answer he had been given. The man spoke again, “Many of our people have been taken by these sky monsters. Can you bring our people back?” Sazarn grimaced and hung his head. He knew the fate of these innocent victims of the Dawlgs. “I'm sorry for these people. I wish I could say there is hope, but I know from experience that these people are dead. The monsters have eaten them.” It was a horrible truth, but he felt that these people deserved to know. He saw the look of horror that came over the man's face as the translator spoke his words in their language. Another man howled like an animal and kicked at the dust in rage. Others spoke angrily, he heard words through the translator like fight the monsters, and take revenge. He held up a hand and they all fell silent, their anger still apparent on their faces. I know you are brave, and your anger is justified, but these monsters are too powerful for you. Your weapons can not hurt them while they are in their ships and at least one in every ship has the power to control your minds. You don't stand a chance going against them. I can't put you in that danger, you must go from here quickly, it's not safe for you to be close to me. The monsters won't stop until they have captured or killed me. They can track me easily because of the weapons I have. The leader was shaking his head. “We will fight with you. If we die, then we die. We will not let the blood of our people go without being avenged.” The rest of the men muttered in agreement, shaking their spears and other weapons. Sazarn could only shake his head. :”It is my duty,” he said, “ as a warrior of my people, to protect people such as you from these monsters. The only way I can do this is to get as far away as I can from you.” With that, he turned and began to climb the mountain once again. Rainy Sky watched the man fly up the mountain side with speed and grace he couldn't have imagined. This man from the sky was so huge, but he was faster than any man he had ever seen, faster than a horse. Again he doubted that this was a man and not a god. How could even a man from beyond the stars with wonderous knowledge that was like powerful magic climb that fast. Before he knew it the man was out of sight over the top of the mountain. Rainy Sky was still angry. He turned to his men and saw the blood lust in their eyes as well. He knew he need not say a word. He strode to his horse and mounted. His people mounted as well. It was a long ride around the mountain, he could only hope they could find the sky man and help him in his fight. Sazarn was face with a dilemma. It had hovered at the back of his mind since the moment he had found himself grounded without a ship to escape the planet. It was obvious this planet didn't have the advanced weapons he would need to stand against a large number of Dawlg fighters. He could leave his suit on stealth and try to hide out until reinforcements came to run off the Dawlgs or destroy them, but that left him with another problem. This problem troubled him more than the idea of death at the claws of the enemy. That problem was that he had disobeyed a direct order. He would undoubtedly be questioned with a truth ring. The truth would be known. He would be dishonored, his commission would be revoked and he would live in shame for the rest of his life. He would in fact probably be exiled from the City of the Wall, cast out to live a life of shame with criminals in a primitive environment, cut off from technology for the rest of his life. To an Olan warrior, this was a fate worse than death. He had one other choice and that was to stay here on this primitive world, hope to make a place for himself. He was obviously larger than the people here, but other than that they looked very similar to Olans. The only problem was the Dawlgs. The Bugs would hunt him as long as they could. They would no doubt run away when other Olans showed up looking for him. That would take days, even weeks. The message he had sent when he had discovered the unusual atmospheric disturbance would take at least three days to reach the nearest Olan carrier ship. Then it would be at least three days before anyone got here. Then it would take an undetermined amount of time to hunt down and destroy the remaining Bugs. Until then, the Dawlgs would be hot to capture him, just for his suit. There was also the danger of a Dawlg telepath probing his mind if he were caught. Sazarn stopped and rested on a rock on the opposite side of the mount as the aliens. He hoped that they had gone back to wherever they came from, but he had a feelingo they had not. His options were grim. He knew in his heart what he had to do but he was hesitant to go through with it. He was going to have to get rid of his suit, destroy it, and then, even worse, he was going to have to wipe his own memory to insure that if he was captured by the Bugs, they would get no information from his mind. Olans were trained to be able to withstand the probing of a Dawlg Minder for a short period of time. This kept the Dawlgs from being able to know what an Olan would do in a fight, or from being able to take control of their mind. Unfortunately, if captured, even the Olan mind conditioning would have its limits. At some point the Bug's would be able to dig into his memories. They would gain some information that would be harmful to the security of the fleet. Sazarn could not let this happen. It was an unhappy fate, but he knew that he had brought it on himself. He had been too eager to prove himself and now he had brought shame on himself instead. He had lost a highly advanced piece of machinery when his ship had been destroyed. That was an expensive ship. Now he was putting the security of others at risk. Even these primitive people were in danger by his presence. He had little chance against the Bugs without his suit, and with his memories gone, but as it stood, he saw he had no other choice. It was the right thing to do. He would lose all knowledge of his life before. He would retain his engrained training, he would instinctively know how to fight, this gave him a small fighting chance. To his left was a sheer cliff. He figured it was high enough that he could throw his suit off after engaging the self destruct. His suit's power would not cause near the destruction that his ship had, but it was powerful enough to kill him if he was anywhere near it when it blew. He scanned the sky for any Bug ships first, making sure he wasn't vulnerable. He then began to take off his outer suit. The suit was really a weapons system in itself. On the arms it had plasma weapons and that was its main weapon, but it also enhanced his own strength and speed. He could jump farther and run faster, and lift many times the weight he would normally be able to lift. Besides that it was equipped with the stealth technology, and the freeze field armor. Without these things it was doubtful he would survive. He took the translator box off and set it on the ground, as well as the two sword handles. The power supplies for these were small enough they wouldn't be easily detected. Once he got all of his suit off, he reconnected his boot, gloves, and helmet onto it. Now on the back, he opened the casing of the power unit. He set the timer on the self destruct for three minutes. That would give it enough time to fall to the base of the cliff and give him enough time to get behind some cover. After setting the timer he activated the self destruct and threw it over the cliff. The explosion was powerful enough to shake the ground. Within seconds a plume of smoke and dust flew over his head. That explosion might draw the Bugs he knew. It was time for him to try to find a place to hide where he could safely wipe his own memories. He had his sites on what looked to be a cave on the face of a cliff on the next mountain. It would have been a short easy trip in his suit. Now without it, it might take him hours. He began his grueling trek, every watchful for enemies from the sky. Jack Jackson was a geologist to everyone who knew him, but he was much more. He did hold doctorate degree in geology, that was just one of many areas of study he had mastered. He was finishing hitching up his horse to his small wagon. He was setting out to go investigate what had happened out in the desert. As he worked on the last few straps, Sheriff John Hayson walked up and stopped on the other side of the horse. “Going somewhere Doc?” he asked. “Yes sir, sheriff.” he answered. “Going to investigate the cause of the unusual phenomon we experienced here this morning.” The sheriff nodded, “That's good. I was gonna ask you what you thought it could have been.” “Not sure yet sheriff. It may have been some sort of volcanic venting.” he lied. Of course the good doctor's whole existance here among these humans was a lie. The body he wore was a lie. In the fulfillment of his true purpose he had to lie all the time to cover up what he truly was. It was nothing sinister, he was merely an observer. The sheriff nodded again. “If you want to wait a bit I can get a couple men together and I'll go out there with you.” “Oh, no, that's won't be necessary. There's really nothing they could do. Besides, it might be dangerous for those who don't have the knowledge of such matters. If it is a volcanic vent, it could blow again any time. I know how to approach and observe without as much risk. I would hate to see someone hurt or killed because of their lack of understanding.” “Well alright then. You be careful out there, and I would appreciate it if you would report back to me when you find out anything. I got a whole town wondering what's going on.” “I will definitely let you know my findings when I get back.” The doctor climbed up into the seat and grabbed the reigns. He tipped his hat to the sheriff and set the horse off with the snap of his whip. The road out of town toward the desert went over a small hill. When he had reached the other side and was out of sight of the town he dismounted the wagon and stepped in front of the horse. Holding his hand to his mouth, he spit up a small red ball. He held it out in front of the horse with his palm flat. The horse sniffed it and then licked up the tiny red sphere and swallowed it. The doctor praised the horse patting its neck and rubbing its nose. He waited for a few seconds and then, speaking in its ear he said, “follow me.” With that he turned and began to run. The horse had no chance to keep up with him. Even without the small wagon to pull, the horse was not fast enough. It was fine, because the horse and wagon were just for show. It wouldn't do for the people of the town to see what he was capable of. An observer must be looked upon as just another person. They must blend in to their surroundings. Only recently the doctor had become blood brothers with a local Indian chief called Rainy Sky. When their hands had been clasp together and the blood had mingled, a small amount of tiny crystals had been transferred from his blood to the chief's. Even though it was a miniscule amount it was enough for the doctor to sense things that were happening to the chief. All morning he had picked up that there was something important happening with his blood brother. Not only did it spur the natural curiosity of his kind, but as an observer he felt obligated to investigate what was going on. There was something very unique happening that needed to be witnessed. Whatever it was, the chief was involved with it. He was now using his connection to the man to lead him. It looked like he was heading to the mountain. Sazarn's trip across the rocky terrain was becoming exhausting. The heat of the sun was something he was not use to. He had been in space for a long time and had become accustomed to the regulated environment of his suit. He had also been in a gravity that was much lower than that of a planet, while aboard the carrier he was stationed on. He was already feeling the effects, which is why when he came to a deep crevasse, he stopped to rest. He scanned the sky as he had dozens of times on his trek. Satisfied that it was all clear, he sat down. The gap in front of him was too wide for him to jump. He looked up at the cave and considered that even though it might be deep enough for him to hide in, it was high up on the sheer cliff. Not only did that make it hard for him to get to it, it also made it highly visible. If one of the bug ships came along while he was climbing, he was done for. This crevasse on the other hand, would make an excellent hiding place. It was deep and it was too narrow for any ship to go into. The bugs would have to get out of their ship and crawl into it. That gave him a better chance in the narrow passage. The way the wall on the other side of the crevasse slanted slightly towards the wall on his side he couldn't see the bottom. He could smell fresh cold water though and it reminded him of how thirsty he was. The undersuit he was wearing recycled his sweat and deposited the filtered water into a small pouch on his chest. He took the tube and drank of it. It bore a small trace of salt. That was necessary, but it wasn't the best tasting. All the more reason to go down instead of across. He took his sword handles out of the pockets he had carried them in and reached over the edge with one, held it against the rock face and activated it. With the blade sunk deep in the rock he had a secure hand hold. He let himself over the edge and with one hand grabbed the sword handle. Holding on with that hand he reached down with the other sword handle and activated it. He continued this process, lowering himself down, slowly. As he got lower his arms began to burn with the stress of taking most of his weight. There weren't many footholds. On top of that his hands were now sweating, making his grip slippery. The other side was getting closer, and he considered now whether he should risk trying to switch to the other side. It was slanted slightly and he thought it might be easier to traverse. He decided to try. Holding on with one slippery hand, he turned his body and reached his other hand out towards the other cliff face. Pointing the sword handle at the rock, he activated it and the blade pierced deep into the rock. Now the difficult part. Deactivating the other blade, he now hung by one hand between the two walls. He held out the free sword handle and reached as far as he could toward the far wall and once again the blade dug deep into the rock. He was now closer. He repeated the process and soon he was up against the rugged surface of the other face. Here he could get a foothold. It was a relief. He held his body against the cliff, resting his arms as much as he could. He was not sure how much further he had to go. His arms were shaky and his palms were beginning to feel a little raw. After a few moments he felt better. He continued his climb down. Now the wall on this side was beginning to flatten out. Soon, he found himself struggling more as the wall rounded over and slanted the opposite way. Now the walls were spreading apart. Although the space below him was dark, he could see that there was a pool of water below him. It seemed deep, he hoped it was deep enough. His arms were giving out. He got a little further down and knew he had reached his limit. Looking down he made sure he was above the water. With all his strength gone, he deactivated both blades and fell into the water. Rainy Sky and his men had reached a small creek that flowed out of a narrow passage between two cliffs. They stopped and watered their horses, dismounting and getting some water for themselves as well. The chief felt a sense of frustration washing over him. As he looked up at the mountain they had just come around, he saw no sign of the sky man. How could they help the sky man battle the monsters if they couldn't find him? The terrain to ascend the mountain was getting even steeper. The next mountain over on the side he was facing was a sheer cliff. He wondered if he should just give up and go back to the cave. Something told him that it was not the path he should take, but he was at a loss to know what was the right path. It was then he remembered his grandfather. When he was a child and his grandfather still lived, the old man had taught him many things that had helped him when he had become chief. One of those things came to his mind now. He had told him when he could not find the path, he should stop, quiet his heart, and listen. He should listen not with his ears, but with his heart. At times like this, the Great Spirit would sometimes show you the way, if you only know how to listen. Rainy Sky called now on that Great Spirit. He chose not to chant out loud for fear he would not hear the quiet voice speak to his heart. He shut his eyes, and shut out the sounds of the wind, the water, the drinking horses and concentrated on his own heart. After a moment he opened his eyes. He looked down at the water of the stream and followed its course down a gentle slope into a fertile green valley. There in that valley were trees. The chief stared at the trees for a moment. What he felt was that he should go there into the woods and wait. He hesitated, questioning the logic of it. The sky man was far above on the mountain, how then did it help him to go into the trees? He stopped himself from this line of thinking. As his grandfather had told him long ago, when the Great Spirit speaks, you must have the courage to listen, even though it doesn't make sense to you. The horses and men had finished drinking and the men all stood watching him, waiting patiently for his leadership. Without a word, Rainy Sky mounted his horse and headed for the stand of trees. As geologist Jack Jackson neared the mountain he was drawn to, he heard a noise. At first he thought it was thunder. The storm had dispersed already and the sun was in full force without a cloud in the sky. That meant it couldn't be thunder. It was a constant noise that was getting louder. He stopped and began to search the sky. In the distance he saw what looked like a metal box flying in the air. Incredible,he thought, this must be a craft of the monsters that were plaguing the tribe of Rainy Sky. The doctor was not afraid of these creatures himself, but they were definitely a danger to his human friends. He didn't want the monsters to spot him and follow him where he was going. The doctor needed camouflage. His skin began to secrete a red substance that soaked through his clothes. His hands, face and body were totally covered with it. As it poured out of his pores, it congealed into a gel. The gel then turned from red to clear. After a moment the substance turned the color of the desert floor, in fact projecting on one side the very image of the desert one the other side, effectively making the doctor invisible. With that done, the doctor continued on his way. The Minder was already angry. With the destruction of the carriers, it was trapped here on this planet. The small ship it piloted now was not equipped with jump drive. It would take a life time to get back to its home if it even could carry that much fuel. Its only hope to escape was if it captured the Olan. If it was successful then it could send a message and a jump ship would come for the Olan. Few other Dawlgs had captured a live Olan, it was a prize greater than gold. Yes, they would come for the Olan, and then the Minder would have a ride home. The Minder had been seaching for the Olan's mind without luck. It would not give up, even after the ship ran out of fuel, it would continue on foot. There was plenty of edible prey on this world, it had tasted many species and it knew they were good. It could survive here for as long as it took. Now below on the surface, a lone creature ran at incredible speed. The Dawlg could not believe this could be anything but an Olan. They had technology that helped them run faster than was normally possible. The Dawlg scanned for an energy signature but found none. Perhaps they had found a way to mask the energy signature. The Dawlg probed with its mind but what it sensed was stange, like grasping at wisps of smoke, there was nothing substantial. All the Dawlg had was a visual. It changed course and began to follow the creature, getting closer as it engaged the thrusters to catch up with whatever it was. The creature stopped and stood still. The Dawlg was glad for its good luck. The good luck turned to bad as the Dawlg watched the creature disappear. This must be the Olan, it had engaged its stealthing technology. Somehow the Olans had developed a way to mask both their suit's energy signature and their own thought patterns. This would make it nearly impossible to track him. The Dawlg was not discouraged in its hunt. The Olan was there, he was within the Minder's grasp. All the Minder had to do was figure out some way to detect where he was. The Dawlg set its course for the spot it last saw the man. The Olan pilot dropped thirty feet into the cold spring water below. The pool was deep, three times as deep as he was tall. Even so his feet touched the bottom before he stopped. Using the bottom he pushed upwards, then kicking he swam to the surface. He had to put his sword handles back in their pockets so he could use his arms to tread water. The water only reached the skin of his face and head and hands. His inner suit was water proof, and whatever water that made its way to his body thru the hole of the neck was quickly absorbed by the same mechanism that soaked up his sweat. Even so, the water cooled down the suit and therefore his body temperature. The water on his raw hands and burning face felt good, as did the cold on the back of his neck. After enjoying just for a moment the pleasure of the cold water, he swam to the side of the pool and pulled himself onto a large smooth rock. Now was the time for the hard thing. The hardest thing he had ever had to do in his life. He looked around at the cavity he was in. it was almost a perfect circle. The water here was crystal clear. He took a chance and dipped his hand in and put some to his mouth. He had no equipment to check its purity, to make sure there was no toxins or anything that could harm him. The water tasted good, especially compared to that which was filtered through his suit. He figured if he couldn't drink the water of this world, he was a dead man any way. The calmness of the pool was contrary to what raged inside him. The pool itself reminded him of the contemplation pool back in the City of the Wall. There, as a part of his training, he had spend many hours in contemplation and prayer. He had recited over and over again many mantras that would help him condition his mind, both against the abilities of the telepathic Minders, but also to harden him in times of difficulties. Even now those mantras echoed in his mind as he faced this life changing procedure. I am the Wall. I stand tall and strong. I am protection from all harm. Though the sun warms me I am not burned, though the cold chills me I am not hurt. Though the wind blows against me I am not moved. No weapon can pierce me, I am impervious. I am the Wall, why should I be afraid? The word helped calm him, gave him strength. He continued staring at the depth of the water, almost in a trance. Even as he looked deep in the pool, he situated himself into a position where he was sure not to slip into the water once he was unconscious. Not moving his gaze now, still letting the words repeat over and over in his mind, he pulled a small box from his suit. He pressed a button and six metal arms extended in a curve from the bottom of the box. A blinking red light appeared but he ignored it. Pressing another button opened a small compartment on top of the box. Turning it over he dropped a small pill into his hand. He put in his nose and sniffed in deeply. He then put the box on his head, the metal extensions fitting the curve of his skull. He waited, counting the seconds that it would take the tiny nanite machines to reach the righ areas of his brain. Once he had counted the proper amount of time, he reached up and pressed a third button. The machine on the top of his head would wipe out his memory in just minutes, but first it knocked him unconscious.
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