The Second Book of Hosham

On A Plain Darkly:

Oh how she has come to sit solitary;
the city that was abundant with people!
How she has become like a widow,
she that was populous among the nations!
How she that was a princess among the cities
has come a vassal.
And weeps bitterly in the night…

Lamentations 1 - {Aleph}

A streak of light and a low-pitched rumble. It woke Aaron from an uneasy sleep and he went outside of the tent to scan the predawn sky, but instead saw his father poking at the fire. “Did you hear that father? Did you see anything?”

“It was the Satan; he has come to claim his own. There was one ship flying southwest towards the Yelsig. I think it will land there. After you went to sleep, I saw a similar light in the sky. I stayed awake and turned on the communicator. I heard broadcasts from space and from the city. Lester Reye sent us a message—listen.”

Dobswell tapped a spot on his com unit’s screen.

“To Jedediah Dobswell, or anyone on the southern continent; listen, this is Les Reye speaking for the Liberty Council. We have been attacked and suffered many deaths. The city is destroyed. The attacking forces were the UNWG troops we expected, but they were under the control of an alien race called Rogons. Except for information we are getting from a few captured UNWG forces, we have no certain knowledge of their ultimate intent. They are not Guardians though we have no way of ruling out whether or not they are directed or in league with them. To this point the Guardians have failed to answer our messages.

“In spite of our losses the Rogon’s and UN have withdrawn from the area around Liberty City, at least for the time being. This message is a warning and an offer to help you, should that prove possible. Watch the video and you will see why, even with our differences, I make this offer.”

Reye’s voice cut out and Aaron watched the display screen that his father had turned so they could both see the display. The video was disjointed and episodic but totally convincing. Explosions, fires, UN troops and pictures of a captured alien inside of a cave somewhere. The possibility of it being some kind of a fake was negligible. Then the voice came back.

“We fought a battle in the asteroid belt with some success but in the end had to withdraw to an inconclusive ending; the Mayflower was boarded but is still under our control. If they go your way and you surrender, it is our belief that you will be taken prisoner. You saw how the Rogon’s treat prisoners. I can promise you nothing right now except that we will continue to resist and I implore you to send no communication signals that would be traceable to your location. We are working on a way to establish a secure link.

“This recorded message is being sent from an unattended site, well away from wherever we might be. It will keep repeating until the batteries run down. Knowing you couldn’t even get along with us in the city, I have little doubt you will not freely join with the Rogons and UNWG. Until we can establish contact then, speaking for the Liberty Council and all free humans on Alchibah I say: Good luck and God Bless.”

The communicator went silent for a few seconds then the message started repeating as Jedediah hit the off button.

“What are we to do father? And Brother Edwards, does he know of this?”

“Brother Edwards has gone to speak with the Agorah. I asked that he bring Agorah and Hosham here to talk with us and he just said. “We will see.”

What a strange new world Hosham thought fleetingly, as one of the sentries awoke him from his sleep. The Soessossins had used sentries ever since the Guardians took them to this world the Humans called Alchibah, but they were only for protection from animals at night. No one was in over all charge of the camp area as he was now. Agorah, the aging leader of the tribe Agorah had become strangely silent and withdrawn. The recent changes to his world did not sit well and the Guardians no longer offered guidance. Even his wives were affected by how coldly aloof he had become.

A long lived society, consensus driven; it was seldom that the leadership changed. Since returning from the Tulari, Hosham had been consulted by the others more and more often concerning the tribe’s daily operation. There was an inevitability about the process that a being more introspective than he would have pondered. As it was, Hosham slipped into his new role without fanfare or ceremony. In a deeper sense however it seemed that the Humans, with their new ideas, especially the concept of religion and a higher power, a reveled truth, were on the verge of sweeping away all of the old ways and replacing them with something that was both exciting though still disturbing and as yet nebulous.

The organization of the newcomers impenetrable, Jedediah Dobswell was the titular leader, though his son Aaron, without challenging his father had a greater moral authority that Jedediah differed to. Cotton Edwards’ role was inexplicable. It was almost like he was actively seeking to undermine the others, though not always and Hosham could tell there was more to it than that. He was bending everything to point where he wished it to end. The limited ability the Soessossins possessed, which let them see into the hearts and minds of others, showed that Aarons vision burned bright, and in as strong a fashion, Edwards vision burned dark.

The fact that he was escorted to Hosham rather than Agorah did not seem to surprise Edwards in the least. He started right in. “Watch this Hosham,” he said, playing a copy of the recording sent from Liberty City.
Hosham was watching for a second time when a steak of light flashed across the sky heading in the direction of the camp of Yelsig and the tribe of Yelsig. It was a second ship.

* * *
Shintok; maytok-S, cradled in the observation station watched the UN crew working at the modified controls of the skull ship. They worked efficiently, carrying out his orders and the ship was a direct extension of his will. The Sheen handling punishment details would have little to do if things continued as they were. The attack have a planet away had gone poorly; there would be an additional price to pay. ‘maytok-S saw the working of fate, and insofar as he had not been involved was little concerned. Nothing would go wrong on the southern continent.

Information, reluctantly provided by the new slaves—they would learn— revealed the location of the major Soessossin encampment, and also the knowledge that two claws worth of Humans were also down here somewhere. The honor of taking the first slaves from a new race would be his and another primary broodline established. The skull ship landed at the Yelsig’s camp and slave troopers went pelting down the ramp.

Yelsig, leader of the Yelsig, pressed the gemlike center of the pendant he wore as a necklace and symbol of his leadership of all the Soessossins, a leadership increasingly in tatters. Once again, as each time he had done the same for half a year and more, there was no response. What had become of the Guardians? Could it be true, as was whispered, that Jehovah, God of the Humans, had banished them to someplace else, someplace so far away that they were powerless to intervene, or even to reply?

An amplified voice boomed from speaking instruments controlled from the ship. “This is Major Putnam, UNWG, acting under direction of Master Shintok; maytok-S. You are directed to lay down all weapons and submit to his authority. The leader of your race and clan’s presence is required at once.”

* * *
It was dark inside the ship, little brighter than the night outside, the air reeked with the smell of oil and decay. The smell of too many living beings, cooped in too small a space, for too long a time. Yelsig’s spear was taken from him but he was permitted to keep the contact device. A scan of some sorts was performed, Yelsig felt nerves and muscles twitch, and then a pentagram of Humans, one in front and two on either side and behind, led him out of the entry compartment. They went down a short corridor, up one level and to a room, roughly ovoid and twenty by thirty feet in extent. The air here was both hot and humid and the smells even more pronounced. Yelsig, ordered to stand at the room’s center, watched as two large beings, shaped more like Soessossins than Humans, entered from the front and the larger came towards him and stopped only feet away.

“Kneel sslave,” hissed the voice. It was strangely high pitched comming from such a large creature.

“We have done you no harm,” Yelsig began, when with a small movement of a claw on the lower, larger set of arms, caused the second Rogon to point a small device. And though he did not see it activate, a wave of pain rushed through Yelsig’s body, as he lost control and collapsed to the deck.

“Lesson one. Obedience must!” When Yelsig could again will his eyes to focus, the Rogon held a two foot long object, ending in a forked point and looking similar to what the Humans called a ‘fork’, and with it touched the end to the top of Yelsig’s head. And here came a second shock as powerful as the first, but this time without the pain. Yelsig could sense no thoughts whatsoever.

“Say you—‘sslave to Rogon, sslave to Shintok; maytok-S’.”

Yelsig said nothing and a wave of pain that put the first to shame wracked his body again.

“Say you!”

Silence once more and the pain continued. Five times the procedure was repeated before Yelsig broke and said the words.

* * *
Hosham watched the streak in the sky fall below the horizon then turned back to Edwards and said, “So what are we to do now?”

“We pack up, break camp, and move out in small groups, no more than ten should travel together. These Rogons look to be a bigger problem than the rest of the Soessossins or the people left on the other continent. Send Aram and Ephraim to help the old man and Aaron.” Edwards handed over a small com unit. “Have Joseph and Micah travel towards the Yelsig and warn any they encounter along the way. Make sure all the rest of the tribe do the same.”

Hosham thought for a moment then said, “Agorah, our leader, is old and confused; he will not take us into the wilderness.”

“Then I guess you’ve just become new leader of the tribe of Hosham then haven’t you?”

“No…That can not be. We will become the tribe of Aaron and the Lord Jehovah shall lead us.”

Cotton Edwards went back to his tent, packed, and with the help of Joseph and Micah, got his wife Helen and the others on their way. Three hours later, when the skull ship arrived, there was just one old Soessossin standing where the camp had been, silent and alone.

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Colony: Alchibah is a science fiction blog novel.
Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental. Probably.

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Copyright (C) 2006 - 2011 by Jeff Soyer. All rights reserved.