Back to the Series & Stories Page · Back to the Omega Home Page
FORTITUDE FROM HEAVEN
by Matthew Rossi
The Neysar are the total creations of Chad Imbrogno, used with permission. The Lokar were inspired by Marc Singer.
Thou was that did preserve me.
Thou did smile,
Infus'ed with a fortitude from heaven
William Shakespeare, The Tempest
The time is out of joint.
O cursed spite, That ever
I was born to set it right!
William Shakespeare, Hamlet
The Maastra had been crippled by the Lokar attack, and so Eric had been forced to tow it back to the planet Kaar, the second planet that orbited the yellow-orange star of this system. The captain of the ship, the one Eric had mind linked with, was named Hgreal, and she had insisted that they also bring along the body of the Lokar that Eric had killed. So he had to drag a corpse along with a ship all the way here.
Now Eric lay down on the flat stone that was the only furniture in the room they'd cleared out for him, (They were terrified of him, and even Hgreal, who knew that he had never heard of these 'Harrakin' that she was so concerned about, was antsy around him.) staring out the hole in the roof (Apparently either it didn't rain here or the Kaartha like to get wet) at the blazing eye the star seemed to make. I don't really understand these people, but I could. I could read their minds...if I wasn't afraid to. But I am, I'm afraid of having too many minds in here.
Eric was so occupied in his thoughts that he didn't notice a man-shape standing in the doorway. After a few moments, the shape moved, and Eric saw it. Startled, he snapped to a standing position faster than most beings could see, but the shape seemed to have no such difficulty.
[Relax. If I were hostile, I'd have attacked you already.] Eric was AGAIN suprised (It seemed to be his day to be) as the telepathic voice got past his shields. [Yes, you have formidable shields...but they are all power and no finesse, and I have years of experience in breaching suchlike. Hgreal and the Kaartha 'Council' asked me to come talk to you.]
Eric looked at the grey cloak wrapped over the figure. [Who are you? How come I can understand your thoughts? I couldn't understand Hgreal's until I flash-read her.]
[She's an alien to you. Our minds are much more similar. You see..] He pulled his cloak aside to reveal black close-cropped hair and blazing green eyes. [I am possibly of the same race as you. My name is Tatris Hallatiris Harrakin, and I'm the leader of a group known as the Harrakin Rebellion.] Tatris smiled as the look of slight puzzlement on the boys face deepened into full-fledged insecurity and uncertainty. The boy certainly LOOKED Harrakin, and with the ease of the mind link to stand as more evidence, Tatris had a hard time believing otherwise...but the boy didn't know anything of the Harrakin other than what he had heard from Hgreal and her people.
[I...I mean, you do...I do...well, we do LOOK alike, but I'm not a Harrakin. I'm from Earth.]
[Is that so?] Tatris thought he understood. If those reports to his father's court he'd intercepted were true...but time enough for that later. [Come with me, and perhaps we can test the validity of that assertion. That one, and many others you may have. What is your name?]
[Eric Daniel Anderson.] There it is. The instinctive Harrakin response...with a non-Harrakiel name.
[Well, then, Eric Daniel Anderson,] Tatris smiled. [Let's go find out what you really are.]
As Eric walked with the alien man down acre after acre of red stone corridors and then down into deeper ones of metal and wiring, he noticed dozens upon dozens of alien races. It almsot seemed that every alien he saw was different...and they were all afraid of him. It was kind of depressing.
[Why are they so afraid? What ARE the Harrakin?]
[That is what you might call a 'long story', Eric. We EARNED their fear and loathing...it sometimes seems to this old man that the Harrakin are destined to alienate the universe. I suppose, in case you ARE one of us, I should explain it to you in brief. At least the simple parts, before we reach the quarters that the Allied Independent Worlds provided for the rebellion...and I'll even attempt to explain who THEY are.]
[The Lokar. You killed one yesterday? I will tell you how they came to be, and why THEY hate us. But first things first. Why do they fear us? We earned it...]
[The Harrakin do not know what world we were born on...we are not SURE, at any rate, although my brother came back from his age of passage swearing that he had found it. I will talk more about why that is important, and important to YOU, later. Our earliest legens speak of it as a world with a blue, beautiful sky, waters to match it, green plants teeming from every corner. It was so lush that water fell from the sky at times. The prey never ended, and we revered it. It was paradise. Stability and peace. We long even now to return and reclaim our home.
Then the Wreaxakt came. They came from the sky and tore us asunder. They spread plague, and took half of those who survived. With no regard to family, tribe, or age, they tore us from our bretheren. And then they took us away from the world of our birth, ripped us from our mother. We were lost.
And then the Wreaxakt, who are long dead at the vengeful hands of the Harrakin, began their hideous shaping of us. Their first experiments became the Neysar, and were dumped along the way...they would plague us later. Then those still remaining were brought to a desert world, burning with the fever of the radioactive rocks that made up its core, a world of drought and disease and sickness and death, and they bade us breed. And they took our sickly children and experimented on them, and gave us back the survivors, and bade them to breed. The cycle began, and eventually we began to spread.
We became strong. The Wreaxakt expected us to become so, for we were to be their slaves, and strong slaves can do more work, plus when they die you can eat them, whereas broken machines are inedible. But they made a mistake. One of us was more than just strong, he was wise...and he had the sight into skulls. Telepathy. He was an abberation in their process, and the first of our new race. He linked all the Harrakin together, speaking to the others with this strange accidental 'gift' that the masters had bestowed upon him. Soon, we were ready.
Thus came the Blood-Tithe. We destroyed the Wreaxakt on that world, and inherited their machines. Our leader absorbed their knowledge, learning how to work the machines, and indeed how to improve on them. While by the standards of the Harrakin of today he was weak, then he was strong enough. He was named Harra, and we named ourselves after him, the father of our race. We prepared. We bred.
After that, when Harra's grandsons had taken over (This was before our lifespans expanded) the Wreaxakt returned to this far flung corner of their dominion...to find it teeming with Vengance- Crazed Harrakin. We burnt the brains out of their skulls, crushed their bodies with our bare hands. And then, we began the expansion.
We built weapons using the science we had torn out of their twisted skulls. We improved on them, using as parts the remains of their labratories and their ships and their battlesuited soldiers. The war claimed half our race yet again. As before.
This was the second death, the time where the Harrakin chose to go insane. Before this, we could have lived out our lives, but knowing that the Wreaxakt were still alive, we could not rest. We were split on this issue.
Most of us followed the preaching of Harra's great grandson Harrat. He said that we must increase our numbers and destroy the Wreaxakt once and for all. A small minority, led by his sister Lokar, argued that Harrakin should forget war and mate for love, not mere breeding. She argued for an equal society.
She was, of course, driven out along with the few Harrakin that would follow her. And then, like a child driven mad by misfortune and bullied to rage, we began a genocidal war with the Wreaxakt, and though AGAIN half the race was lost, we destroyed them. We killed them all.
When this was done, we were small in numbers. The beginning of the Caste system was in place, the Red-Orange-Yellow stratification of our society of Telepaths. We had the 'Wreaxakt Dominion' under our control. But we had 'neighbors', which we felt was a euphemism for enemies, who might dispute our place as master of these systems. Besides, they were not Harrakin...why should we leave them in place to plot against us? Harrat had a solution: Using the genetic machines of the dead Wreaxakt, we cloned our entire race. Over a year, one billion Harrakin became two billion.
But the clones were not perfect. They were not telepaths...they were psychokinetics. They were not Red-Orange- Yellow...They were Violet-Indigo-Blue. While the levels of power were roughly equivalent, and the mind-taping had worked, cloning was deemed inefficent. And unnecessary. So the stratification was almost complete. Each level (Red, Orange, and Yellow) had its clone brothers added to it. (They became Red-Violet, Orange-Indigo, and Yellow-Blue.) Oddly enough, if a Red and a Violet bred, the offspring would be either an Orange, or an Indigo, or more often stillborn. This continued, with increasing stillbirths, between the Oranges and Indigos, having Yellows or Blues. Sometimes.
This led to a experiment. Yellows bred with Blues. At first, this did not have any effect...but eventually Hallatiris was born. The first Green. My ancestor.]
Finally the two of them arrived in front of a vast door. Eric had been in the odd position of being bored and captivated at the same time. While Tatris' delivery had a LOT to be desired, the subject matter was something Eric wanted to know. However, now more than ever Eric was desperate to believe that he was not a Harrakin...and he had a hard time understanding how he COULD be. He lived ALL HIS LIFE ON EARTH. Life isn't some OVERMAN comic where aliens can just drop you off in a cornfield and NOBODY CARES. Somebody would have known. He hoped.
[So what's the deal with you? What are you rebelling against?]
[We are rebelling against the insane need for conquest. The Harrakin are a powerful race...why do we NEED to conquer anything? We live long, long lives, and even the Reds are powerful. What's the POINT of endlessly searching for the Homeworld? I could not stand to see us continue in this way, and searching out a group of like minded Harrakin, I attempted to overthrow the Emperor. My father. But I failed.]
[Indeed. So I and my daughter fled, along with those who would listen. The Alliance of races that the Harrakin have attacked needed soldiers who understood Harrakin tactics and could fight on their level. And so they took us in.]
[How many of you are there?]
[Several Hundred Red-Violets, Twenty Orange-Indigos, and Ten Yellow-Blues. My daughter and myself are the only Greens.]
[This is like Nietzche's dream race.]
[Who is Nietzche?]
The starside orbital path of Kaartha. Out of a stargate rips one of the largest ships ever made...an immense mountain of metal that glides its way out of the void and re-enters our space. On it, gibbering thought voices roil and boil about, in a whirling screamsong of chaos.
<Here are we are, the world of skirmish past.> Were Eric Anderson aware of the Lokar ships approach, he probably would have dubbed it 'Finnegan's Wake II' or some such title, for the mental bleedover from the ship was insanity rolled up in a ball and rolled away from any overwhelming questions...the Lokar have no true purpose save chaos. And possibly revenge.
<Not as such...but Harrakin here. And more will comeling fights attractive.>
<Then set the sky afired and spin.>
The Lokar cruiser, a block of steel constucted by madness, roared silently as it headed along the orbital path to Kaartha.
[So this is the stranger?] Eric found himself staring into Sharra eyes helplessly...they were the same burning green light as his own, but there was another fire there that attracted attention and respect. [Looks like one of us to me. What's your name?]
[Eric Daniel Anderson.]
[Hmmm...you were right, father.] Sharra turned away and began to set up some sort of device, pulling connections together and linking systems. Eric looked around the vast hall that the Harrakin rebels had dug out of the rock and outfitted to their taste. The Harrakin themselves were trying hard to pretend that they weren't looking at Eric, and were failing. Eric himself was just as fascinated by them, by the human appearance of them. So far he'd seen lots of aliens, but these didn't seem alien. They looked human, if stiff and formal. Kind of like Republicans, Eric thought to himself, interstellar Republicans with big guns and psionic powers.
[What are you all doing here, anyway? I mean, you explained that you rebelled, but what good does hiding out underground on some little planet in the middle of space do?]
[What my father probably failed to tell you is that despite his royal blood, his ideas of non-agression unless provoked hardly stirred the Harrakin Heart. He is outnumbered...and until he manages to convince others of the rightness of his cause, he must hide from Grandfather.] She finished a connection, looked at the intricate series of hoops and wires, smiled harshly, and turned back around. [Take off your clothes, Eric.]
[Don't worry, Eric.] Tatris looked rather amused, and his mind voice was tinged with humor. [This is a medical scanner. Sharra has converted it to do a high resolution genetic anomaly and comparison search. It will compare your genes to mine and hers, and seek the similarities and differences. If you ARE a Green, this will tell us.]
[But why do I have to get naked?]
[For Harra's Eyes! I'm trained in this, I have seen DOZENS of naked beings! Besides, if your equipment isn't the same, it may be a clue that you AREN'T one of us.] Sharra looked down at Eric's crotch without a trace of emotion. [Believe me, I'm sure we can handle it.]
Eric would have turned a bright shade of red if he wasn't totally in control of those responses. Instead, he dropped his jacket swiftly, untied and kicked off his boots, tore his shredded T-Shirt off (Remnants of Kali...last train to Earthsville) and then unbuttoned his Levis 501's and dropped them around his ankles. He stepped out of them in his underwear, and then gave Sharra a querelous look.
[Yes, those white garments too...but I've already seen enough to say that your apparatus is the same.]
[Your mating organ.]
[Eric, we don't take mating personally, but I am sorry if Sharra's bluntness is a little confusing for you.] Tatris looked like he was going to laugh himself sick.
[Let's just get this over with.] Eric removed his underwear with the strained dignity so common to disrobing in front of strangers, and then stepped forward. [How does this work?]
[Stand inside in...place your feet here, and here,] Sharra pointed and Eric followed her advice. [And now place your hands on the upper loop like so.] There were two pads in the shape of a palm, and Eric put his hands there.
[Now...this.] Sharra touched the black box she'd hooked the wires and loops to and a crimson glow shot through the device...and played over Eric. [This will take a few minutes to complete the scan.]
Another stargate. This time space bent in an orderly fashion, warping and twisting as if of its own accord. A large ship, diamond shaped, slid from the opening. It was half the size of the Lokar vessel, but it was not alone. As its silver hull bent light into itself as a recharging system, another ship, exactly the same, slid forth into space. And another. And another. Soon, there were thirteen Harrakin cruisers floating, like Sharks in a bathtub, unopposed in a far orbit of the Kaarthan sun. Alone, one Harrakin cruiser would be destroyed by the Lokar behemoth. But thirteen Harrakin ships tilted the odds, and the crews of those ships knew this. While Harrakin are many things, merciful is not one of them.
[Is this the system the Emperor sensed?]
[The Lokar are here...as is the child. We are to take him alive. The Emperor has spoken.] High Taar Jakleth Hallatiris Harrakin 'spoke' from his command chair. He was ambivalent about this mission...while he enjoyed battle, he was uneasy about a possible fight with his own kind...and the Emperor, his Grandfatherr, had refused to tell him why the child was important, not that Jakleth had pushed the issue. You don't push the Emperor. EVER. His mad uncle had learned that lesson...and he was there to teach him it all over again.
The ships moved as one on a course starward.
Eric was pulling his pants back on, ignoring the stares of the Harrakin who were trying desperately both to see him naked and pretend that they weren't. The females especially, Eric noticed...I know what it feels like to be a woman at a construction site. It feels like this.
[Interesting...very complex genome. It'll take me a few hours to completely scan this...]
[But what is it?] Tatris looked at the screen. [Is it Harrakin?]
Eric wasn't sure he wanted to know. What if it was? What does that mean to me? I don't know anything about this race except that they like to kill and they drove their own into space to go nuts...is that all they are, or is there more?
[Well, comparison to the Lokar corpse indicates that he's MORE like US then THEM...That's all I can say.]
Before Eric could digest that, or even ask what it meant, the room shuddered like a 1942 Ford when the clutch is popped. The equipment and many of the Harrakin were thrown to the ground. Eric and the other Harrakin capable of it used their flight to stabilize themselves.
Eric looked around. [Was that a quake?]
[This planet's not very tectonic...] Sharra was cut off as the sound of energy weapons discharging penetrated the stone of the chamber. [Harra's Eyes, we're under attack!]
[Harra's Eyes? That's a swear?] Eric felt himself getting quesy as the madness wave of the Lokar began to stab into his chest..and it took nearly all of his newly-discovered telepathy to hold it off. [It's the Lokar. We've got to go stop them.]
Eric vs. The Lokar vs. the Alliance vs. The Harrakin! Is Eric a Harrakin? Will Eric ever go home? All this, and a guest star that may surprise you.
Back to the top