“...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 legends, the heroic hymns on which our cultures are based -- the origin -- tales shrouded in mystery, it all began here.
The Nine touched down here.
From another universe, voyaging from another dimension - they arrived.
They stepped out onto a ruined planet, uninhabited -- cities long buried – a tidally locked world.
They stepped out into Sharru Kurru, into our universe.
Here at Kataru, the holy planet of the First Ones -- this world would be their Gateway – their Gateway to Sharru Kurru, to Kaspum, and ultimately, to Earth itself.
As Adrahasis teaches us, “Setting foot on land, their Gateway opened, and the story of our species began.” It began at Kataru, at a river, lost to time, lost to shifting sands and pulverizing glaciers.
It began at the holy river Annil.
“I double checked,” Yasar whispered to himself.
Scanners had always been correct.
The shuttle was a kilometer away. He set down a distance away, so as not to draw attention. Pads supporting the shuttle sank into soft sand. Rocks dislodged by a recent flood littered the ground. According to scanners, the river bisected an ancient city, now covered in silt.
He would walk the rest of the way.
He carried a woven basket filled with fruit, an introductory gift.
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. “They’re not here,” he said aloud.
Appearing to be human, but with skin of a greenish hue, he continued walking, scanning the river’s edge. The ruins of an ancient city should litter the landscape.
He’d volunteered to come. As Captain, he didn’t plan to make first contact. But here, were six inhabited worlds. The crew were busy. According to scans, all six were sparsely populated by groups of Adamu, candidate species.
Activating the light field projector in his cornea, he compared earlier scans with what he saw. This was the correct location.
Superimposing images, he saw a different topography. The remains of an ancient city, rusted beams from collapsed skyscrapers should be right here, at this spot. But there were no ruins, no settlement, just a river, a rocky outcrop at its center.
He sent a telepathic message to the shuttle, “Resend coordinates.”
He stood for a moment, waiting for a response. The sun was hot. This planet, its orbit deformed by a meteoric shower, was tidally locked. 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 would be called Annil.
There was no response.
“Sisu, respond,” he said, calling again. Still, no response. “Auset, are you there?” he tried again.
The heat made him dizzy. He walked to the shade of a tall boulder and sat down on the sand. “Sisu, respond,” he whispered again.
Suspecting implants to be defective, he sent a command to run diagnostics.
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.
Yasar 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 shallows, he looked towards the shuttle in time to see, through the window of the cockpit, a man wearing a red robe and hood. Another blast shot towards him. Instinctively holding the basket in front of his face, he was hit full on.
Vegetables and basket fragments flew across the water. The breath knocked out of him, he sank underneath, green liquid oozing from nose and ears.
He was back home, at åyAm, at Temple with his wife.
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 chest, head, arms and legs, a portable wetet. The women knelt on each side of him, 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 towards each other.
“He’s been following,” Bast whispered.
“Who?” Yasar asked again.
“Calm yourself. 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.
“Sutekh blames you. You are the 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…planted false information. There are ruins in the distance, closer to the desert. But none here,” she paused, pressing a control on the wetet. After a long moment, she continued, “He drew us here, misled us…he planned to attack.”
“We must get to safety, brother,” Bastet said. “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, searching for 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. “What is to be done?”
Yasar looked down at the sand, as if a solution lay there.
“It is me he wants,” he whispered. “Return to the Sisu. I will face him.”
They looked at each other for a long moment.
Finally, Auset continued, “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.”
Turning quickly to look behind him, Yasar heard the same high-pitched buzzing sound. “Run,” he yelled.
The shock-wave from the weapon splintered the portable wetet and threw Yasar, Auset, and Bastet, sprawling, unconscious, from the blast.
The shuttle hovered and lowered itself to the sand.
A hinged door opened from the side and a figure cloaked in red, his skin crimson with brilliant, white markings stepped down.
Looking around him, he walked to Yasar. “Now,” he hissed, reaching down. He grasped his brother by the wrist and dragged him.
“No one will revive you,” he said, panting with the effort. Yasar’s muscled body was heavy. “I will paint the land with your blood.”
He dragged him into the shuttle.