“Part three of the plan is much more chancy. We need a particularly wicked desert wind storm combined with strong electrical discharges and heavy banks of clouds to blind any satellite sensors that may be operating. We think there may be some but we have not found them while passing out of the atmosphere. We do not think this world is under long-range interplanetary watch.”
End blog post #100
Start blog post #101
“I’m getting truly frustrated with all of this Yoba Four. The sensors are on Albaral. Why can’t you understand this? Why this blindness to what that thing is for? Even the women slaves here know this. What do you hold sacred about that construct that you won’t accept its evil presence as regards this world?”
“We’ve investigated it at length Antierra. We think you have become somewhat bewitched by the local legends and are looking for something to blame, something easy to find, visible, obvious, for the troubles of this world. We don’t believe you, or the people because there are no signals, no known kind of communication, happening between Albaral and this planet. What sort of probe would be working there that people can sense but our own sophisticated technology remains unable to pick up?”
“Maybe I can explain that, or at least point in some possible direction. Can your “sophisticated technology” discern between a ‘normal’ human and a Cholradil?”
“Pardon me?” She is genuinely bemused by my question and it’s as if lights are going off in that Cydroid brain of hers. “Are you saying the probes emanating from Albaral could be some sort of naturally empathic signals which our probes do not detect but some higher life-form long ago knew how to manipulate and some may be doing so now?”
“My Altarian teachers say, “Believe all things, believe in nothing.” It has served me well. I discount no possibility simply because it seems impossible. I just accept it’s something I as yet, cannot understand but if my mind has created the possibility in thought, that now exists in ‘real’ time for me. Thus Albaral is our information gathering and disseminating device. How it does it, and to what input it is responding, I cannot tell. But here’s a scenario that might interest your Cydroid mind.
“On Túat Har circa C-20, C-21 Earth time, it was possible for certain groups to own orbiting satellites and rent space/time on them to other groups who used satellite communication but could not afford to put their own in orbit, or opted for renting instead. Now think thus. Albaral is “owned” by some consortium on a distant planet, say Ditani and some group on Ditani have, as you do, a “plan” for Malefactus that has to do with total control and manipulation of the population; that depends for reasons known only to them and a small secret society group here, on promoting and maintaining misogyny as a modus operandi. The local group, and probably some locals also involved in the plan then “rent” space on Albaral, using its communication facilities to watch, record and warn of events on Malefactus. The probes are programmed to search for certain patterns and report immediately when a pattern breaks, weakens or strengthens. Thus they plot a course to make necessary corrections and maintain their delicate and deadly status quo. Perhaps Yoba Four, their hold on this world is not as strong as they’d like all to believe. Of course this is only one scenario.
“I realize there are a host of holes in my theory but it is still something to build on or work at dismantling to arrive at some truth. Still better than blowing smoke rings in the fog.”
“???” She has a comical quizzical look from raised eyebrows that makes me laugh.
“Just ask Cedric what that means. He’ll be delighted to explain it to you. It does not originate on Túat Har but from a place inhabited mostly by people we call “Dwarves” who are very fond of smoking pipe tobacco. Their world of tall mountains, deep ravines and countless streams and rivers bordered by giant ever-yellow torias, trees that rise to as much as five hundred to one thousand meters in the air, is regularly hemmed in by thick fogs for weeks on end. The dwarves are not affected by this as they do not guide themselves with their weak eyesight but use their feet to ‘talk’ to the ground, much as we do on Altaria. Anyway, interesting saying, as full of legend as is the dateless gloomy Dwarf world of Takkar. You should make a note to visit there some day.”
She nods non-committal. “I’m more interested in having time someday to record your tales in my mind. I find the way you move your information around, generating new ideas from contact nodes and particularly when you switch to your alter-ego Al’Tara persona, extremely seductive. I want to swim inside your brain and travel your neuron pathways to worlds I could never construct in mine.”
“Are you saying you believe I’m making this up as I go along just to get you to believe in my viewpoint?”
“I’ve reserved judgment on your stories. For now I must decide if this view of Albaral merits cipher time and how to analyze what you’ve forced me to consider here. The implications are somewhat frightening to us because this means our presence here, our “safe” comings and goings in the small ship we hide in the desert may already be known and our destination plotted by some group that may use us to establish a similar foothold on Koron. Our presence here may be putting our own world at risk… I must speak to doctor Echinoza before we do anything else.”
“Where is doctor Echinoza if it is proper to ask?”
“In the south with my sister. He was in a dangerous mood so she decided to go on a tryst with him. It always brings him back to us.”
“Why does he stay here if his mind is being perverted so?”
“His choice. He wants to conclude a plan to which he has dedicated his life. He wants to understand this power that manipulates the minds of the people here. He also hopes to introduce some antidote that will destroy this mind-virus. His dream parallels yours Antierra. That is why you fascinate him so. I will trance-call YBA5 and they should return within 3 or 4 days, depending on his state of mind. She won’t return with him until he’s back to his normal self.
“And meanwhile?” I ask her.
“You choose to do what you must, what you can. Return to the training and sleeping compound, talk to the principals and their supporting groups as much as you can or dare and get everyone prepared for the great miracle of Hyrete, our great escape. Get them excited about it while cautioning them to remain calm. I’m sure they’ll know already but the young ones are always dangerous in such matters.”
Our conversation is interrupted by a loud booming noise and crashing from farther battlements. More of the keep crumbling, no doubt, but what was the boom we just heard? We look at each other and she motions me to silence, bowing her head and ‘trancing’ to members of her family in the keep. She is expressionless during whatever information sharing they do. When she speaks again there is a touch of sadness in her eyes.
“A small but very well armed mobile land force has attacked Hyrete. To what end, we do not know. Many people were crushed under the falling stones. I feel terribly constrained that neither you nor I can go over and help in the rescue. Only three of ours can be involved since they are…” Another loud bombardment, the certain explosion of small concussion missiles hit the old walls and more crumbling can be heard. We hold each other and wait it out. I can now begin to ‘feel’ the additional pain added to this place’s burden of suffering. It comes at first as a constricting of the heart, then a throbbing in the head. Yoba Four cuts the stim cube she must have retrieved from Cedric and gives me a half, storing the other for some other time. I take it without hesitation and regain some of my composure.
She continues, “Only three of us are cleared as legitimate staff in this place. The rest, we are nine in all now, must exist in hiding. What we could do with our medical expertise and healing powers now.”
We hear footsteps coming towards the doctor’s office. Yoba Four disappears instantly inside some secret passage and I stand by the door, head bowed.
A guard in a brown uniform stands in the door as it slides open to admit the human. He looks around. “You gora, where is doctor?”
Without lifting my head I say, “He not here. I wait, nothing. He gone, not tell. Please take to compound now, I frightened here.”
I hear another guard in the yard. “The ignorant gora won’t be any help, I told you. Let it go back to its compound and see if we can find more defenders. Told you last week we should have patrols at the old perimeter. Shit. You, gora, follow guard.”
I meekly and quietly step behind the two men who take me to the compound. Once there, I am handed to a trainer who happens to be Hudu. He takes me in hand and asks if I need to eat. I nod ‘no’ and he locks me in my cage where I’m confronted with a surprise. Both Tieka and Zel are there. We quickly huddle together more from joy than need for comfort. I may certainly enjoy my moments with Cedric, Cydroids and Balomo for the challenge to my intellect but this is my family. I belong in this cage with these women.
Now we can talk, since by signal and touch I’m assured that all those around us listening want to be included in our plans and want to help in any way possible. As simply and briefly as possible I relate some of what the Cydroid told me about the planned escape. I can sense the excitement among the listeners, especially with Zel and Tieka. A dangerous point where hope can rise too fast and blow the top off its human containers. I strive to bring down their enthusiasm to a safer level by listing the many real dangers those who choose to escape will certainly encounter before they reach any safe zone, and even then they will not be entirely safe.
I force them to consider this, emphasizing that only by a miracle would all of them reach their destination alive. I speak of the carriers which, if found, may be overloaded and crash, or succumb to the action of sand and wind in the desert storms. I speak to them of the many hundreds of kilometres to cross with no access to cover or water. Of roaming tribes of black people who hunt down trespassers in their territories and ritually kill them to eat. Of giant snakes in the badlands beyond the borders of the desert. But the gravest danger remains the possibility of discovery by computer sensors and being chased by Hyrete police, Elbre military forces or worse, hunted down by bounty hunters. A shiver passes through me as I remember, so vividly, my first encounter with these hunters of human beings. The group gathered around me feels my pain and remains silent.
End blog post #101