- Publisher: Floating Boy Publishing
- Editor: Steve Lyons & Buckley's Books
- Edition: First
- Available in: Will be available in Ebook. Paperback & Kindle Unlimited
Continuation from – ‘Look Inside’ – Amazon preview
Endecca – 1 – JD
The night before his flight to the Memorial…
“I knew I’d heard that name before. That was the name of the rescue craft, you were piloting it, the Edward Rawlins, when I was on that disabled ferry in the Belt of Homid. It was the Edward Rawlins, wasn’t it?”
“To be fair, it was Raef at the controls, I was the engineer looking after the power-banks. But yes, you’re right, it was the Edward Rawlins,” Jez replied.
“I wondered at the time why it was called that, all the other fleet vessels are named after stars or celestial events, like your Solar Flare or Sam’s Stellar Nova, or they have code names, but that one was named after a person. What a lovely gesture,” she said.
“Fancy you remembering that after all these years?” he said. “So many things have happened.”
[>“You rescued me, that’s worth remembering, isn’t it?”<] she said straight into his thoughts. [>“You said you always would, and you did.”<]
[>“Hmm, yes. I did.”<] he replied and for a few seconds they silently smiled at each other.
Then Lucy broke the spell. “Here babe, I want to read some more,” she said…
# Our group is a mixture, not like those who were with security, or the technical guys who looked after the machinery. We comprise a couple of security girls, Jonah Fahl’s skin-skippers—Jonah did not make it. He was in the wrong part of the StarLink when the AtomSpheres vanished! Two young soldiers who have hitched up with a couple of girls, they have stayed with us too, though most of the soldiers followed their officer and went with the security. We have a couple of family groups as well. Then there is the Tolli’far delegation and the entertainments team, that’s us. And two shepherd lads and their aunt from Mii’een Tenn. We number forty-seven: twenty-two males and twenty-five females.#
As Lucy read this, her voice faltered slightly. She glanced at Jez, but his face remained impassive [>“Turney didn’t mention your uncle, or your cousin?”<].
[>“No.”<] Jez replied, [>“No, just Yara Beske’rahl. Zimba and Jas must have perished.”<].
Lucy waited for a while. She could see by his face that he had closed his mind and was in deep private thought, perhaps recounting happier times before his extended family was ripped apart. His eyes were closed, focusing on a time long ago on a different planet. She waited until his face lightened and he opened his eyes and his focus returned to the present. Jez smiled and brushed away a tear. Then she read on…
# We do not have our own collective name, yet, but we have occupied the part of the Logistics Core that houses the communications booth. So, we might pick up a name that reflects our location. Our chunk of the core landed upside down on top of a spring. The water from the spring has found its way up through the various pipes, conduits, and porous capillaries to the top of the core (it is the bottom really). It is a rise of about thirty-five metres. The water collects in pools and cisterns which were once corridors and rooms. Then it percolates back down. The ceramic structure has attracted indigenous algae and as the water passes over these algae, there is a reaction which heats the water. Certain passages, not all mind, have become steamy spas. At least we can keep clean, and we do not have to do it in cold water.#
“Now that sounds good,” said Jez.
Lucy agreed. “Hmm, yes, it does,” then she continued…
# There is an odd mixed bunch that has taken itself over to the east of the islands. They call themselves the Technos. There is one technically minded geek over there, and the others follow him like sheep. His name is Ybn Baold. He spent a bit of time with me when I was sorting the signalling gear. He has a girlfriend, Chloe Strumm, it’s an unlikely pairing. She wasn’t happy with him lending a hand. She made such a fuss that he stopped coming over and I’ve not had his help since. I think I’ve mentioned Ybn Baold before; he stepped in after Rawlins got killed. Merryman and Jessop sort of nurtured him.#
“You’ve made a note in the margin here babe, ‘(ask Mumma if Ybn is the son of the Baolds that she and Pop know. Not a common surname)’.”
“Baold isn’t a common name,” he said, “and Mumma’n’Pop are good friends with a family of that name, I’m pretty certain that’s the name of the boy they go to honour at the memorial. If you look further down the page, you’ll see that Jo Sachs made a comment too.”
In the transcript’s margin there was a pencil note by Jo Sachs, ‘(better check out the Praes~Eedan personnel files on these two. JS)’.
Lucy read the note, then continued…
# A couple of us visited the Technos, but they didn’t make us welcome. Chloe Strumm’s influence, we think. We didn’t try a second time.
As everybody expected, the Security people plus a few others are throwing their weight about! They started getting uppity while we were still in the sphere. We are not too worried, but we are monitoring their activities, just in case. They have even tracked down some of the mountain ponies that came with Spher’rios. They have started a breeding program as well; within a few years they will all be mounted. They don’t appear to wash!
Our group numbers eighty-seven now, but it’s a fluctuating number as people move back and forth between the different cores. We have a couple of pregnancies. Some have been off on treks, and a few have moved deeper into the forests. About a third of the main island is forested, the acreage would have been much more before the impact. The deluge seems to have reshaped the island’s profile. It certainly looks different to the images that were recorded as we came down.
On the higher ground there is a wild moor intersected by two rough tracks. It looks like carts have used them, but not recently. One track runs east to west, the other south to north.
A small group attempted to cross the sea to get to the north island. They made little round boats like the Otheren use. But a storm blew up, throwing up quite a spray, which caused blisters and burns. We have analysed the seawater; it’s brackish with a very high concentration of sodium chloride, nothing like the seawater on Mejjas, Mii’een Tenn or Sckeria, or any of our outlying planets. This water is also having a dire effect on the sea creatures that came with Spher’rios, especially the tarsen! In the early days we saw tarsen drinking the seawater, but it made them vomit. Some sort of chemical reaction is triggered when the water contacts their stomach acids. We could hear them calling; a deep painful bellow. Their breath steamed when they exhaled, it looked like smoke and with the sun behind it some thought they were breathing fire. We have not seen tarsen for quite some time now, but we are certain there are still some about.
We are not affected by their temperature extremes. The cold and hot on this blue planet are not the same as those of the Endecca system. It does get cold, but we do not feel the way we would at home; the same can be said for the summer heat.
But the hardest thing we have had to experience is that we are invisible to the eyes of the indigenous peoples, the Otheren as we call them; they just do not see us. We think it is the atmosphere, and we have made some studies. Someone reckoned it is to do with light refraction, metabolism, or perhaps our colours fall out of their spectrum. If they cannot see us, then we cannot integrate.
They can see us if we move quickly or if we jump or run. But you cannot have a conversation with someone if you keep jumping up and down. So, we just move amongst them at a regular pace and pretend we are not there. On the downside though, the indigenous animals can see us, so this invisibility is of no advantage when we hunt!
But the strangest phenomenon occurs when someone dies. If we have blood flowing in our veins and an electrical charge keeping our nerve cells sparking, then our bodies are robust enough to withstand the atmosphere of this distant planet. But the moment life ceases, at the very instant that the spark goes out our bodies degrade, and in a couple of hours they glow from within. The bodies of the dead brighten enough to give off light and a certain amount of heat! Then gradually they fade to dust and leave absolutely no trace.
Sadly, I have seen this phenomenon all too often. The entire process takes no longer than the turning of a day, twenty-four hours, and it is all over. The particles of the body just unravel, and we can see them spiral skyward. We say that they are going home. So, when someone passes, we lay them to rest beside a particular signal beacon; we call it the Passing Stone, hoping some of their spirit will attach to the mayday signal and find its way back to you. There are no graves for our dead! There is no need. The names of our people are written on the outer face of our Logistics Core. The only markers to their memories.
It happens too with the animals that came in Spher’rios. Which meant at first, we could not hunt Endeccan beasts or store their meat. But we have found a way of preserving the meat now. But we only hunt Endeccan beasts if times are hard; they are a link with home. When we hunt, we only hunt the indigenous beasts.#
“Does it say anywhere how the game tasted?” Lucy asked, but Jez made no reply. “Hey soldier, why you not answer?” she turned and found him dozing. “Come on my brave soldier, it’s bye-byes for you. We can finish this some other time. Go on,” and she ushered him to his bed. “I’ll tidy up, you go on without me.” She handed him his notes and the copies. “Here, take these and lock them away, they are not for the kids’ eyes. Now off you go, and I’ll be up soon.”
By the time Lucy had made the house ‘Lucy Tidy’, Jez was tucked up and fast asleep, and his clothes marked the trail he had taken. She gathered up the flotsam and was about to put them into a drawer when she found his scattered notes. “Jez, Jez, Jez,” she tutted, but she could forgive him the most heinous of crimes when she looked on his sweet, relaxed face. “Never mind babe,” she whispered. “I’ll sort it.” But as she gathered the sheaf of notes together, curiosity got the better of her and she read instead.
The next part of the transcript was short, garbled, and she got the impression that Brad was under some kind of heavy pressure when the signal was released. It was also ten months since the last broadcast and not the planned six. Evidently, something was wrong…
# Mayday, mayday, mayday. Brad Turney.#
‘(C&K Corps.—Voice a hoarse whisper. Speaker appears anxious for the duration of broadcast. DP.)’
# I can’t hang about; they don’t know we’re here, and that’s the way I want to keep it. Tenka is keeping an eye and Bill Roop is just down the passage. We’re all armed. There’s been a bit of a turnaround. The Curitymen kicked out Jessop, Wayne Merryman is their leader now. They range about the moor in mounted gangs demanding protection offerings, and they even lay siege to our Logistics Core and to survive we had to sneak out. We now live deep in the northern forest, and it has not stopped raining for six days. The weather is grismal.#
“Grismal? Jez uses that word.”
# The Technos are calling themselves the Ferions, now; a play on the word Spher’rios. It is all Chloe Strumm’s doing, and now she’s even building a myth around Ybn Baold. I think I said in a previous broadcast, that after Ted Rawlins had his accident, Martyn Jessop took young Ybn under his guiding wing. Well, everyone knew that Ybn was Jessop’s favourite and Jessop was the master of Spher’rios. So for her myth to work, Ybn had to break free from Jessop’s power and in doing so, inherit Jessop’s talents. So Chloe, with the help of Wayne Merryman, they lured Martyn into a trap, then ritually sacrificed him to release his power.
Chloe Strumm and her followers are weird and dangerous! But I don’t think Ybn is.#
‘(C&K Corps.—Another voice broke in here, distant shouting! DP.)’
[-“What a horrible place Jez’s brothers are in!”-] Lucy thought and shuddered.
# I must go. I will make contact again when I can, I will write everything down. We are going to hide this equipment. Hope to speak to you soon.#
[-“Oh dear. As if they haven’t troubles enough”-]
She quickly turned the page…
# Septemer 12. Six years ‘n tweny-nine days since Spher’rios landed—still no contac with’ome. We bin out in the wildernez, but weeze ome now. Weem wizer too, weem fighters now, weem too trustin afore. Weem back, weem back to stay. I’ve writ all in a recort on birch-bark rolls. Weem foun’ nother way in; but weem never usin that wayz agin. Weem seen things weem rather forget. Those lanes be foebitten now.#
“Wow,” she gasped, “that’s nearly four years in the wilderness. Gosh.”
In the margin there was a pencilled note…
‘(Magic; the beginnings of a dialect, ‘weeze and bin’. Awesome!! A shortening of some words. A merging of others, e.g. ’stillno & with’ome’. Also, a detectable softening of vowels, i.e. contact is now ‘contac’. JS)’
‘(What did they see they would rather forget? AH)’
“This JS guy is revelling in their misfortunes, it’s just an experiment to him, he doesn’t care a jot about the people. It must be that Jo Sachs; the one Jez doesn’t trust.” Lucy stopped for a little while to listen to Jez sleeping peacefully. She leant across and pulled the covers over his shoulders. “I wonder what they did in those intervening years?” she whispered. But he was away in the land of nod. She read on.
The transcript was typed in the usual way with Brad’s name at the top, but it didn’t follow the previous pattern. It was less formal, there was a jovial feel to it.
# Hi, Brad Turney speaking. Weem back! We kicked ass and threw out the filthy Curitymen ‘(another change. JS)’. I’ss good t’be ome, but we’d still be out there withow the symbrae.#
“Jez said something about symbrae earlier.”
# I’ll give yer a quick rundown on whaz bin going on. Oh boy i’ss good t’be home, but urghh. They Curitymen ar’a filthy bunch. Th’place reeks, tiz grismal too. I’ss gonna tek weeks to clenz! Good job we got lots o’running water in this place.#
# We fled the forest fustoff, but zoon had to go deeper ’coz o’the Curitymen. Theym a bullyin bunch!#
‘(C&K Corps.—Another voice. DP.)’
# Ah, but theym gone now.#
‘(Brad agrees with other voice. DP.)’
# Oh yeah, theyms gone o’right.#
‘(C&K Corps.—There’s laughter. DP.)’
# Zoon weem bin huntin in the forest and the ‘my’eenwalkers’ # ‘(do they mean mindWalkers? AH)’ # … Were mixin’ wit their anzestral partners, the symbrae.#
“AH, is that the Hy’llett bitch?” Lucy wondered.
‘(The symbrae, are they Homidian peoples? AH)’ …
# Young Peiite became a master with the sling.#
[-“Young Peiite? That’ll be Jez’s Peiite. He would be twenty-one. Well, he was still there then.”-] She read on…
# The symbrae were werry fust, unnerstanable spose, but the ‘walkers’ werable to break down bounries. In time we all merged to an alliance, huntin partners. But all this time the Curitymen were soilin our boodivul giisticor.#
‘(Names and words are changing, merging, a new language is forming—(exciting). Curity has derived from Security. And Logistics Core has been broken down into Giisticor. There are unfamiliar words too, like grismal. JS)’
“That’s not a new word, Mr JS, grismal’s an old Devii’rahl word,” she scoffed.
# Weeze allies. Got our own leaders, mind. Yarg for the Symbrae. And I speaks for the people. Our nummers are small now, but weeze had a new arrival since weeze ome. A new birth for a new beginnin. Greta ’n’ Miike give life to a baby boy. Peiite would’ve bin so proud. They’ve named their new born after Miike’s lost brothers. They are calling him Tomii-Peiite after the brother who wuz lost in the disaster and o’course, after Peiite.# ‘(Greta? AH)’
Jez woke to the sound of sobbing. “That you Luce? Hey sweetheart what’s the matter?” But her sobs were deep, choking her voice. Whilst she tried to find her words Jez eased himself into her thoughts, [>“What is it sweetheart?”<].
[>“It’s Peiite, oh Jez I’m so sorry.”<]
[>“No need to be sorry Luce, he’s been gone for thirty years. It hurt when I first read it too, but at least he had six years more than anyone ever thought. And don’t forget Miike, the randy old goat. My Peiite might have gone, but his name lives on. It will always live on.”<]
He pulled her close and cradled her head. “Come on Luce, no more sobs, go to sleep now and dream of sweet things. Forget the past. Your Mum’s coming tomorrow, Sam and Cristi too. Hanzii ‘n’ Jixa will be here by tomorrow evening, An’gea too. And I am meeting Meeko, Lisahl, and Mumma’n’Pop at the Memorial Gathering. Everyone will be with us by the evening. Think of that, and all that shopping you girls are going to be doing next week. Think of that instead,” he said with a smile.
He tucked her in and then stepped out onto the balcony. It was still raining, and the wind whipped around his bare flesh, yet he didn’t feel it. The thoughts of his brothers living full lives somewhere else still filled his head, and he let those thoughts roam free, out across the wet hillside.
[>“You two would have liked this place,”<] he whispered across the mindPlain, [>“even though you were never here, there are places on this beautiful mountain where I always feel close to both of you.”<]. For a moment he paused, then called out across the mindPlain, their favourite playground, [>“You lived before you died, Peiite. Made a name for yourself; won the respect of your peers. You did that, and Brad Turney wrote it down.”<]. Jez smiled and stared out into the darkness, shaking his head gently from side to side. [>“And what of you Miike, you got your girl, had a son. How many more children did you and Greta have? Were there triplets? Are you still out there, or your descendants perhaps?”<]
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