“...if it is true that there are as many minds as there are heads, then there are as many kinds of love as there are hearts.”
-Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina
The Myth of Osiris –Yasar at Annil
“…but I double checked,” Yasar whispered.
There had never been a need. Scanners had always been correct.
He’d set down beside a river, a kilometer away, so as not to draw attention. Pads supporting the shuttle sank into soft sand. Boulders washed up from a recent flood littered the ground. According to scanners, the river bisected an ancient city, now, almost completely covered in silt.
He would walk the rest of the way.
Going to the cabinet behind his chair, he took a woven basket filled with fruit, an introductory gift for candidate species.
He looked down at the sand and shook his head. Something’s not right, he thought. He looked east then west, up and down the narrow river. “It’s not here,” he said aloud.
Appearing to be human, but with skin of a soft, green hue, he continued walking, scanning the river’s edge for ruins. According to previous readings, the ruins of an ancient city should litter the landscape.
He’d volunteered to come here. As Captain, he rarely made first contact. But there were six inhabited worlds in this system, the crew were busy at other planets. According to scans, all six were populated by groups of Adamu, or candidate species. Apparently, the civilizations had developed primitive technology, when a shower of meteors, comets, and planetoids plunged through the system, changing orbits and crashing into cities, rendering the worlds uninhabitable.
According to readings, scattered bands of Adamu remained on each planet.
Activating the light field projector in his eye, he checked. The field showed this was the correct location.
Superimposing images he’d received an hour ago, he saw a different topography. The remains of an ancient city, rusted beams from collapsed skyscrapers should be right here. He looked to his left. But, there were no ruins, no sign of settlement, just a river, a rocky outcrop at its center.
He sent a telepathic message to the shuttle, “Double check scanner, no settlement found. Send new coordinates.”
He stood for a moment, waiting for a response. The sun was hot. This planet, its orbit deformed by a meteoric shower, was now tidally locked to its sun. The only habitable region was the zone between continual night and constant day. The river he stood beside originated in glaciers to the west and evaporated in deserts to the east. The river had been called the Annil.
He waited, but there was no response. “Sisu, respond,” he said, calling his ship again. Still, no response. “Auset, are you there?” he tried again, knowing she was the only crew member still on the ship.
The heat made him dizzy. He walked to the shade of a tall boulder and sat down on the sand. “Sisu, respond,” he tried again. Suspecting implants to be defective, he sent a telepathic command to run diagnostics.
The process had begun, when he heard a high-pitched buzzing sound and looked sharply to his right. Narrowing his eyes, he saw a vessel approach, more like a small shuttle. It flew erratically, as if the driver didn’t know how to operate the vehicle. He stood, believing someone had come to retrieve him.
He realized it was his own shuttle, the one he’d just left.
Seeing a beam shoot from the shuttle to the boulder, he jumped to the side. The boulder split into pieces. It was a shock-wave blast. It deafened him. Another blast. He dove for a sand bar nearby, falling into the water, he rolled out of the way.
Straightening, but kneeling in water, he looked towards the shuttle in time to see, through the window, a man wearing a red robe and hood. Another blast shot towards him. Instinctively holding the basket up to protect himself, he was hit full on.
Vegetables and basket fragments flew across the water’s surface. The breath knocked out of him, he sank underneath, green blood oozing from nose and ears.
He was back home, at åyAm, at Temple with his wife, Auset.
She reached to his face, caressing his cheek. “My husband,” she whispered. “Awaken.”
He wondered, But, I am awake, my wife.
He felt her lips brush his face and slowly opened his eyes. Harsh sunlight blinded him. He coughed, expelling water and vomit.
His sister, Bast, wiped his mouth.
His head pounded. He lay in the grip of a metallic device binding his chest, head, arms and legs, a portable wetet. The women knelt on each side of him, chanting, their brown skin, golden in full sunlight.
“My husband,” Auset whispered again, her voice low and hoarse. Bending over, she kissed his cheek again. “You are alive.”
He sputtered, coughing, raising himself out of the contraption, sitting up. “Who took the shuttle?”
Bast and Auset looked at each other wordlessly.
“He’s been following,” Bast whispered.
“Who?” Yasar asked again.
“Calm yourself, my husband. You have been dead. You must rest,” Auset said. “Your body must heal, reanimate.”
“Who attacked?” he asked again, growing angry.
“Our brother,” Bastet responded.
“Who?” Yasar asked again.
“He blames you,” Bast responded.
Yasar looked at her with confusion.
“Seth blames you for his…condition. You are our leader, so he blames you,” Bastet responded, reaching up to his forehead to brush away perspiration. “He seeks revenge.”
Auset shook her head, and continued, “There are no candidates here. He hacked the scanners, planting false information. There are ruins in the distance, closer to the desert. But none here,” she paused, pressing a control on the wetet. “He drew us here, misled us…he planned to attack.”
“We must get you to safety, brother,” Bastet said. “He is still here. He is waiting.”
“Where?” Yasar asked.
“Above the deserts to the east,” Auset responded pointing to the distance. “We must leave at once.”
Yasar stood quickly, pulling himself out of the device. He faced east, looking intensely as if he could see the vessel.
“We are not equipped, my husband,” Auset said.
Yasar looked at her with anger.
“We are not equipped to fight him. We have no weapons. We must flee,” she continued.
“How can we fight our own brother?” Bastet asked, imploring him. “What is to be done?”
Yasar looked down at the sand, as if a solution lay there.
“It is me he wants,” he whispered, after a time. “You should return to the Sisu. I will face him.”
They looked at each other for long moments.
Finally, Auset continued, “He wants to destroy you. You must flee with us.”
“Go, and acquire weapons,” Yasar said. “You will need them.”
Auset remained on her knees. “I will not leave you, here.”
Turning quickly to look behind him, Yasar heard the same high-pitched buzzing sound he’d heard before. “Run,” he yelled.
The shock-wave from the weapon splintered the portable wetet and threw Yasar, Auset, and Bastet, sprawling, unconscious, meters from the blast.
The shuttle hovered over them and lowered itself to the sand.
A hinged door opened from the side and a figure, cloaked in red, his skin a deeper red with brilliant, white markings stepped down. Looking around him, he walked quickly to Yasar, who lay in the water. “Now,” he sneered. Reaching down, he grasped his unconscious brother by the wrist and dragged him towards the shuttle.
“This time, no one will revive you,” he said, panting with the effort of dragging his larger body. Yasar’s muscled body was heavy. “I will paint this planet with your blood,” he sneered again as he dragged him up the steps to the shuttle.