tagSci-Fi & FantasyGalactic Slut Ch. 02

Galactic Slut Ch. 02

bydweaver999©

Chapter 2

Abolitionists and Relics


"Can they do that? Can they destroy an entire world?"

"Possibly. I don't think they can do it right away. They didn't know about the artifacts until just now. They shouldn't have any assets in place."

"Are you sure? Why did they have a crystal slave here?" I looked down at Salinti's body. I had a fleeting thought about just how they had ordered her to die. "I can't imagine that they'd seed slaves just anywhere."

"That would mean they've known about Ralint and the artifacts for some time now. If they had, they would've already stolen them. No, I think they're trying to keep tabs on us. You're the first person to ever escape crystal slavery alive and intact. It may be that they've never had the controller die while the slave lived."

Brusjin may well be right. The only way known to free a crystal slave, prior to my method, was to surgically extract the crystal. The process always left some damage to the victim, at the very least, mentally. Even those were rare, as the controllers usually terminated the victims before rescue could be affected, just as they had done with Salinti.

Neither of us was very hungry after watching her die. We called the management and reported her death from unknown causes. The casualness of their response raised my hackles. Slavery always seemed to devalue sentient life. Salinti's loss was treated as an unfortunate monetary loss. We decided to check out rather than be given another slave. By nightfall, we were on one of the Ralinti air vehicles bound for Yelti, a sea port on the only major ocean on the planet.

Ralinti never seemed to develop the concept of winged flight, possibly because evolution produced floating as the dominant form of natural flight. The vast majority of flying animals and plants in the Ralint ecosystem generated internal bladders of hydrogen to produce lift. Their wings, such as they were, were only used to produce forward and backward motion. Couple that with an excess, compared to other worlds, of naturally occurring helium, and you have a society that uses zeppelins as the only form of powered flight.

The upshot for us was that the relatively short journey of 1500 kilometers would take almost two days to make. The airship, the Grolit Farsh, was luxurious. Anyone on Ralint who traveled by air, did so in high style. It was reminiscent of traveling on some of the great space liners; the Majestic, The Hyperion Queen, or the Yungeril. Impeccably dressed staff waited on our every need in lavishly elegant surroundings. There were no slaves on the airship, at least not that were owned by the liner. The company wanted to let its passengers know that the people serving them did so out of a desire to serve, not because they had to. It was on the ship that we met them for the first time.

We'd been flying for most of the day when one of the staff approached us.

"Excuse me, sir," the waiter asked Brusjin. "The lady and gentleman in the corner would like to know if they could join you for dinner."

I glanced over and saw an elderly Ralinti couple inclining their ears towards us. Both had groomed their age induced balding patches of fur to show off their advanced years, something that was unusual for this world.

Brusjin nodded their way and answered, "We'd be honored to share the meal with them."

The waiter replied with a, "Very good, sir," and left to escort the couple to our table. We stood at their approach.

"It's a pleasure to welcome you. I'm Brusjin Valenshenko and this is my wife, Susan."

The man introduced himself and his companion. "Coldrin Hashil and Breli Theron." Ralinti females didn't take their mate's surnames when marrying. "If I may ask," he continued, "what species are the two of you?"

"Questions are always welcome. We're both human. I take it you haven't met our kind before?"

"Actually, we have. Given the differences from what we've encountered in the past, I wasn't sure. Perhaps you merely looked human."

Brusjin frowned. "What differences are you referring to?"

"Forgive me, I don't intend to be rude, but where are your slaves?"

"Susan and I don't own any slaves. Are you telling us that you've never seen humans without slaves before?"

"That's true. My mate and I are well traveled on Ralint and have encountered aliens from several different species. You're the first aliens that weren't slaves or slave owners. Every human we've met has owned personal slaves."

The shock we felt must have been visible on our faces. The two looked at each other and I would swear the look was one of pleasant surprise. I knew that Ralint saw limited visitations from the Federation, but to think that only slavers were visiting the planet was appalling.

The female, Breli, spoke. "Is that so surprising? I mean, isn't slavery legal in the Federation?"

"Yes, it is," I answered, "at least it can be. Federation law doesn't make slavery legal, per se, but legitimizes the slavery laws of the member worlds that have the institution. Most worlds don't have legal slavery."

"I see. I wonder why we've seen so little of the freedom you speak of."

"I believe it's because of the distance to your world, and if I may, the relatively primitive level of technology. Most people value their comforts, many of which are missing on Ralint."

With a gentle chuckle, the elderly male asked, "Why are the two of you braving the hideously primitive conditions here to grace us with a visit?"

"We came to assist your world in applying for Protectorate status in the Federation." Brusjin noted that Coldrin seemed unhappy with that idea. "Does such an action upset you?"

"I'm afraid so. Entry into the Federation would simply give slavery here another level of official approval, making our mission that much more difficult."

Brusjin and I smiled. We knew they had to exist, but hadn't expected to meet them. "May I ask what your mission is?"

"Merely the end of the institution of slavery on Ralint."

"In that case," I said with a smile, "We're on the same page. As a former slave myself, I'd like to see nothing better than the end of slavery everywhere."

"If you wish to abolish slavery, why bring another slave world into your Federation?"

"Because membership in the Federation will bring an end to slavery on your world. It's done so for every other such world. Exposure to the freedoms granted by the Federation charter and to the numerous worlds where slavery is absent and opposed on will give your abolitionist forces a powerful boost. Within a century, your world will have done away with the institution as well."

Now it was their turn to be shocked. As they looked between themselves and us, I saw something appear that I hadn't been aware of missing before; hope. It saddened me to think that these elderly abolitionists had reached a point where they had no real hope for the success of their cause. It was heartening, however, to know that they persevered in spite of that lack.

"Is there any chance of this protectorate status?"

"Yes, every hope. In fact, we're traveling to verify the existence of something that'll assure your world's entrance into the Federation under the most beneficial of terms."

"What would that be?"

"I believe you call it the Map of Heaven."

"There's that much interest in our religion?"

"Not, I'm afraid, in the religion itself, though there will be scholars with such interests. It's the artifact itself. Forgive me if this is insulting, but we believe it's a relic of an ancient star faring species we call the Progenitors. If it is, the Federation will move entire star systems to grant protectorate status before unscrupulous individuals try to steal the artifacts."

"Artifacts? As in more than one?"

"Yes, there seems to be five such artifacts on your world, which is more than have been found on all the worlds of the Federation."

Coldrin turned to Breli. "They must be speaking of the Five Hands." He turned back to us. "Do you know the history of the Five Hands?" When we both shook our heads, he continued. "According to our holy texts, messengers from God visited Ralint many thousands of years ago. The only records of those visitations were long oral traditions, until the prophet Velontin, acting on the instructions of God, penned the Holy Scrolls. The stories were then written down and began to spread across the world.

"You see, there had been five oral traditions, one that told of each of the visitations. Tradition has it that all five visitations occurred at the same time among the primitive peoples that lived then. Velontin brought the stories together as a unified whole for the first time. Did you know that there's never been more than one language on Ralint?"

I looked at him in surprise. "That's impossible! Diverse groups will always create diverse languages."

"Not on Ralint. The first contacts between the nations of the past were largely peaceful because they were always able to understand each other. There were dialect differences, but the language itself was always the same. Furthermore, each of the five nations believed that they spoke the language of God. There religious beliefs spoke of messengers who taught the founders of the nations to speak in a civilized tongue."

"That's amazing. If true, it would mean that an alien species contacted the five centers of civilization on your world and taught them all the same language. Phonetic drift would account for the different dialects. Where do the Five Hands come into the story?"

"Each of the messengers left an artifact, a gift of God. We were told to keep them safe for the times of the ending when they would bring the will of God to pass. The five hands, called that because each of the messengers was named Haond, are the Map of Heaven, the Tear of the Prophet, the Sword of Ralint, the Eye of Harmony, and the Jewel of Peace."

"Is there any meaning to the names?"

"I don't know. The Map is a flat piece of metal, resistant to damage from any source. It's certainly not a map of any sort, at least not a type of map I'm used to seeing. The Jewel is just that, a gem of unknown type that seems to pulse with an inner light."

Something in that description sounded familiar, but I couldn't place it.

[Crystal, can you check my memories, see if I've seen or heard of such a thing?]

[YES. WILL INFORM YOU IF ANYTHING FOUND]

Coldrin was continuing. "The Tear is called that because it's a silvery metal object that's shaped like a drop of water. The stories claim that it's an actual tear shed by the God. The Eye of Harmony is a crystal sphere, perfect as far as our scientists can tell, with three circular bands of color, much like your eyes."

Brusjin interrupted him again. "But, your eyes have vertical slits for pupils, not circles. Why would you call something so different an eye?"

"It may be because several animals have eyes such as your human eyes. I've thought it strange that a revered holy artifact has the features of a dumb animal. No offence." Our smiles let him know that none was taken. "Now, the Sword of Ralint has confused many scholars, at least until your Federation made contact with our world. You see, it looks nothing like a sword. It was only after we met your kind that we realized that it was shaped much like your hand weapons."

This reminded me of another oddity in Ralinti development. They never developed any weapon remotely pistol-like in shape. They had rifles and had developed weapons such as longbows in their past, but pistols never made an appearance. Not even a crossbow style weapon had been thought of. If their hands were unable to manipulate such weapons, I would understand why such things never came to be, but they handled Federation hand weapons just fine (there is a thriving market in older technologies to sell to protectorate and colony worlds).

Brusjin was excited and worried. I could understand why. This Sword of Ralinti may very well be a Progenitor weapon. That the Ralinti would call something they had no reason to think of as a weapon, a sword, indicated that the weapon was still functional.

"Do you have any idea why your ancient ancestors called it a sword? Did they believe it was a weapon?"

"I don't know. The reason for the name has been lost in antiquity. That's unusual in and of itself. The tiniest detail of the Hands has been passed down from generation to generation, and then recorded with a dedication to accuracy that would astound you." I'd have to tell him about the extremes that Jewish scholars went to in millennia past kept their Torah accurate sometime. Coldrin continued. "There's one more thing you should know. There is a prophecy about the Hands."

I nodded, expecting such a thing. Almost all ancient religions had prophecies embedded in them. That such artifacts would have a prophecy was no surprise. At Brusjin's request, Breli closed her eyes and recited the prophecy from memory, after explaining that the five stanzas were actually separate prophecies about each of the Hands.

"Take the Map of Heaven and keep it safe,
Until what will be days of yore have passed.
To guide the slave no more, alone, yet befriended
In her task to bring the heavens truth."

"Take the Tear of the Prophet and keep it safe
Until one of 583 shares the burden.
When his sadness comes to all he sees,
The owned will be no longer."

"Take the Sword of Ralint and keep it safe,
Until the bringer of order arrives.
The weapon of chaos will fall to the order,
To deprive them of that they treasure."

"Take the Eye of Harmony and keep it safe,
Until the end of evil is greatly desired.
Look upon the visions of the Gods,
To free the non-slaves from their bondage."

"Take the Jewel of Peace and keep it safe,
Until its brother find it anew.
Lost, then found, the home shall be,
When revolt comes to the immobile."

I asked, "Are those exact?"

"Of course. Only a heathen would paraphrase the words of a God."

"Amazing," Brusjin replied. "That each stanza, in spite of having been given to a different tribe, should have the same format in their initial line, speaks to their being given by one person, or at least by people who knew one another. Do your scholars have any idea what the prophecies mean?"

"Oh yes," Breli exclaimed with much sarcasm, "they know exactly what they mean. Each scholar has the true interpretation. Of course, you have to decide which truth you want to know first. People have been trying to fit the prophecies to current events ever since they were given. Most people don't take them seriously these days."

"What about yourselves? Are you believers?"

"Yes, though we're not fundamentalists," Coldrin replied. "I don't believe that the prophecies were intended to be taken literally. I believe they were intended to give guidance in living worthy lives. For example, the stanza concerning the Sword, speaks of the evil that order represents. Ordered societies are stagnant, the lives of their people meaningless. A little chaos goes a long way. Every ordered society will resort to the lure of the individual, specifically, the individual who sets himself up as the leader of all. Yet, that very idea of individuality will bring down such a society as the people under the leader embrace their own individual lives, hopes and dreams."

"I want to thank you for sharing with us. It's a pleasure to meet fellow abolitionists." Brusjin raised a glass. "To the end of slavery on Ralint." The couple shared our toast. One of the oddities of the universe is that the concept of the toast is universal. Even a species as alien to humanity as the amoeboid Rax understood the concept of sharing a consumable in honor of someone or something (though their consumables had little appeal for me!).

Breli and Coldrin returned to their table and the rest of the evening passed uneventfully. My sleep was interrupted, however. One of the things I still needed to get used to was the fact that Crystal didn't need to sleep, and in fact, didn't sleep at all. Its method of resting the mind was, if you can believe it, working math problems in its head. It says it's aware of our surrounding while I sleep, though not visually, since I sleep with my eyes closed. This feature means that It can wake me when It thinks there is a need. Apparently, there was a need tonight.

[YOU MUST AWAKEN. IMPORTANT DATA FOUND]

[Crystal? What is it?]

[MEMORY SEARCH COMPLETE. DATA HAS BEEN FOUND]

My thoughts were still trying to organize. Being woken by Crystal wasn't the same as waking under the effects of a slave collar.

[Memory search? What are you...oh, the Jewel of Peace. Have I seen it before?]

[NO, NOT THE JEWEL ITSELF. SOMETHING SIMILAR HAS BEEN SEEN]

[I've seen something like it before? I recall now, I thought the description sounded familiar. What did I see?]

[THIS ENTITY PRIOR TO IMPLANTATION]

It keyed something in my mind and I remembered.

I saw the dual crystal brought in on an antigrav cart. A technician wearing thick gloves cut the crystal along the joint, separating the smaller from the larger. He carried the smaller piece over to me and set it on my chest. There was a shooting pain as it sank into my body. I could feel it squeezing between my ribs, migrating up my neck and down to the back of my skull. There was a dull throb and then my body went crazy.

I remember now! Crystal was glowing with an internal light. It seemed natural at the time, as I knew that the Voratex crystals were actually alive. Was it possible?

[Crystal, is the Jewel of Peace a Voratex Crystal?]

[UNKNOWN. POSSIBILITY EXISTS. COMMUNICATION WITH UNJOINED CRYSTALS ONLY POSSIBLE IN LINE OF SIGHT.]

[So, we won't know until we see it.]

I had a thought, a very depressing thought.

[Crystal, how long can a bud (that's what they referred to separated crystals as) remain alive without joining?]

[VARIABLE OUTCOME. DEPENDING ON ENERGY SOURCES AVAILABLE]

That made sense. Crystal didn't eat like I did. It took a small portion of my body's energy to keep itself going. From what it's told me in the past, bases draw nutrients directly from the soil they're sitting on and convert it to energy. Buds are fed from the bases until they join. In theory, a high energy field could keep a bud alive for an indefinite period of time. I had the impression that old age was something the Crystals were unacquainted with.

[Crystal, what do you want to do? What if the Jewel is a bud?]

[BUDS MUST JOIN. THAT IS THE LATTICE. UNJOINED BUDS HAVE FLAWED LATTICE STRUCTURE]

Oh my! I'm not sure stealing a race's religious artifact was such a great idea, even if the artifact is actually a sentient being. To not free it, however, would be to condemn it to a life of loneliness and lack of fulfillment. This bud, if that was what the Jewel was, was essentially a slave to the religious system of an entire planet. Too bad this planet viewed slavery as an acceptable way of life.

Thank you Dani for the great editing job. Let me know what you think, I love getting feedback. Yes, I know, for the second time ever, I've written a chapter with no sex in it. The story comes first.

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