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The First Shaman

A Story In-Tense

They landed on the nocturnal side of the planet.

of the past I

The sensors on the exterior of the Proto I sent a signal into the thinking machine. The thinking machine clicked and hummed, and it shot a stream of light into the receptor of a dormant mechanical man. The mechanical man gave a slight start upon receiving the stimulus, and then it moved to a viewing device and trained its scanners on the information coming in from without.

In a stoic manner, the automaton glided into the chamber of the entity-in- charge, Gyp the Skip, and it activated a silent stimulus that roused him from a state of prolonged sleep.

Gyp opened his eyes and blinked a couple of times, pondered for a moment, regarded the robot looming over him, then sat up, got on his feet, and walked unsteadily over to the viewing device. The machinery was buzzing and blinking, taking in and interpreting incoming information, translating it into language, and constructing images of the object that had triggered the external sensors.

It was a beautiful spinning planet of wondrous blue with an impressive cover of water vapor.

from the future 1

“. . . Kromma Gnonh, perhaps. On the day of his birth, his father will notice a strange light in his eyes, and he will raise his fists in the air and loudly utter the sound, 'Shahálamahán!' And that will be the name of the child."

“As Shahálamahán grows up, he will distinguish himself from the others, not by showing prowess as a combatant or by excelling as a hunter, but by demonstrating the ideas of cooperation, sharing, and compassion."

“When disputes lead to chaos and chaos leads to indecision and unproductiveness, Shahálamahán will arbitrate and save the hunt. Their migration will continue, and so he will have saved the tribe. When someone takes food from one of the elders, Shahálamahán will give some of his food to the elder. He will demonstrate compassion by studying the wounds of his fellow tribesmen and finding ways to improve their treatment and enhance their healing."

“By the time he is seventeen, Shahálamahán will be looking at others’ behaviors and their causes with an interest and curiosity which only he will experience. At times, he will disappear for sun-spans and septa-suns to be found on a small plateau high up on the big mountain. He will have a secret cave up there where he will spend much of his time contemplating the imagery of memory and imagination."

“The tribes-people will come to consider him odd and eccentric, but they will also find him of interest, for he will teach them things about themselves.”

of the past II

Gyp the Skip glanced at the time-marking instrument and saw that he had been in space almost five solar-orbits. He contemplated for a moment on the series of events that had brought him here. For daring to defy authority, he had been exiled from his world.

The Terra-Tribes was a conglomerate of planets on the perimeter of his home galaxy and included others from the neighboring system. Gyp had seen inter-galactic governments come and go, sometimes good sometimes not. One thing had become clear. Whenever ordinary citizens came into power, they changed … and so far as he knew, none changed for the better.

This time around, the government had taken on an authoritative and tyrannical character that many found burdensome. Some citizens griped and complained, and others, like Gyp, just tried to live freely. He spent his time taking from those who had plenty and giving to those who had little.

The other members of the Terra-Tribes refused him as a citizen as well. His kind simply was not welcome. The Planetary Council of Solutions handed him over to the Enforcers and instructed them to ‘control’ him. The Enforcers selected a penal planet well within the inner-planetary system, Bombaya Prymus, and they placed him there. It was community orientated, with good air and water. But Gyp the Skip was not one to be contained.

He found an old friend, Wrōg the Spinner, on Bombaya Prymus, and together, they escaped. The Enforcers had installed a manufacturing facility on the planet so as to provide vocational opportunities for the inmates. And they had been working on the design and construction of a new type of spacecraft, the Proto I. It would be faster than anything presently in use.

Gyp and Wrōg worked in secret, filling the craft with provisions, securing arms and ammunition to it, and installing other necessities that commissioned designers always tend to overlook.

They enlisted the assistance and companionship of a couple of like-minded females, one of whom had the foresight to erase all the out-flowing information about the ship, so only the ship’s brain contained it. The females might not have found Gyp or Wrōg of particular interest, but they were grateful for having been included in their escape.

Now he watched the figures turn into words on the viewing device. Predominant oceans . . . extensive mountain ranges . . . abundant and diverse flora . . . polar magnetic emissions . . . seasonal climates . . . patterned regional storms with electrical discharges and high windage . . . precipitous regions of rain, sleet, snow, and hail . . . good air and water . . . abundant and diverse fauna . . .

from the future 2

“Shahálamahán will become fascinated by the mental images in his dreams, the memory of his dreams, and ideas that will seem to occur to no one else. He will learn to draw and to use berries, plant roots, and other things from the earth to create colors for his drawings. He will notice the natural wonders and the natural beauty that others will not, and he will spend a great deal of time showing them, teaching them."

“On the walls of his cave, he will draw his people, and he will draw the animals and their movements. He will draw the tiny white flowers and the big gnarly trees."

“Shahálamahán will chant for his people, and they will listen. They will discover joy and learn to laugh through Shahálamahán. His father and the others will look into his eyes with wonder."

“When Shahálamahán does not go on the hunt, they will exempt him. There will be no one who understands Shahálamahán, but he will have their acceptance and a semblance of respect, for he will show them wondrous things about their world.”

of the past III

Gyp activated the awakeners for the others. Whatever they would do, they would do together. After everyone was freshened up, they enjoyed a little consuming, and they settled down with a traditional morning beverage. Gyp showed them the planet and did not hesitate to mention that his preference was to land and explore.

One of the women, Zaiklōhn, spoke up, “It’s such a beautiful planet, like a jewel in space. I don’t see how we could not want to stand on it.”

Tohrneido nodded her head, “I agree. I love to explore, and this looks like a place worth exploring.”

Wrōg had been watching the viewing device and listening. Now he took a sip and turned to the others, “What about . . .?”

“It isn’t civilized, Wrōg,” Gyp anticipated his question. “There doesn’t seem to be any infrastructure, the scanners have not detected any kind of construction or any generation of artificial energy. I think this could just be a nice walk in the park.”

from the future 3

“Shahálamahán will go up the mountain one sun-span with the intention of observing the hunt from a see-all perspective. He will plan to make a ‘visual memory’ of the hunt. As he reaches the pinnacle of his climb, his brain will be racing with ideas about the possibilities and the far-reaching implications of what he is about to invent."

“He will cock his head and squint his eyes when he notices how small everyone seems on the plain below. He will smile and chuckle to see his father’s animations in his efforts to instruct a plan."

“The bovine creatures will be on the other side of a hill and will not yet have seen the hunters. Shahálamahán will ponder deeply the phenomenon of their diminished size and the distance between the hunters and the bovine, which he can hold between his thumb and finger."

“He will be distracted in thought about this curiosity, and he will not notice the enormous lumbering beast approaching the bovines until they begin to scatter. And now, all other thoughts aside and his heart pounding, he will watch this monster descend on the hunters.”

So Much to Discover

They will not leave the fire when it is dark.

of the past IV

The Proto I circled the little moon a couple of times while Gyp fumbled with the controls. None of them were familiar with the operations or the aerodynamics of a disk-shaped space-vehicle. For that reason alone, they landed on the nocturnal side of the planet, in a cold rocky desert-like region.

Excitedly, they clambered out the port and down the steps unto the surface. Together, they inhaled long and deep, and then they exhaled quietly, almost reverently.

Tohrneido broke the silence with a whisper, “Ohh . . . that is delicious!” And then she spun on her toes in an expression of joy. When she looked at the others, her eyes were wide and shiny.

Zaiklōhn giggled with her friend, and Wrōg sort of grunted a chuckle. Gyp held back a few steps and studied his crew. He could think of no one he could ever want in his company more than Wrōg. They had run together and done so much over the cycles, aggravated the Monitors and helped many of the common people. They were of the same heart.

Wrōg was cautious, watchful, and he always had your back. But Gyp really liked him best because when Wrōg the Spinner got in the mood, he could tell wonderful stories.

The women he knew only from the short stay at Bombaya Prymus. Tohrneido the Spryte, from the planet Zygota, was reputed for her consistent craftiness. Time after time, she had outwitted authority agents and enforcers. She was eventually caught, as he saw it, because she had always worked alone.

Zaiklōhn La’ada, from Ódonath, was known to have killed someone in her past … and she didn’t like to talk about it. But Tohrneido had found faith in her.

Wrōg had been at Bombaya Prymus a little longer and had gotten to know them … his judgment was good enough for Gyp. He could readily see that they shared the traits of playfulness, curiosity, and the most important, a love of freedom.

“I think the sun will be coming around soon,” said Zaiklōhn, “That should be nice to see.”

They all nodded. They had already wandered a fair distance from the ship, taking in what they could in the moonlight, savoring the smells, and smiling at the little quiet sounds of the morning. Wrōg had climbed a small cropping of rocks and was scanning the landscapes around, and then he focused on one direction, towards the base of the big mountain.

“Look, everybody,” he said, “There’s a light over there.”

from the future 4

“Shahálamahán’s father will tell the story when they have all gathered around the campfire that night. Shahálamahán will see how the use of gestures and their uncultivated language will not be enough to convey the nature of what they saw."

“Shahálamahán will have seen a beast several times the size of the bovines, with eyes of light. The back of the beast will be hollow. When the hunters attack it, other beings will emerge from the hollow back of the beast."

“These beings will be similar to his own people, but their skins will be very different, of a color unknown, reflective of light, like water."

“The hunters will attack the beast, because they will be angry of losing the hunt and they will be fearful of what it might do to them. A great battle will ensue, but the strange beings will have weapons of thunder and fire."

“As his father and brothers act out the story, it will occur to Shahálamahán that, in spite of the obvious power of the strangers, none of the hunters was injured. And then, his father will hold up the prize of the battle.”

of the past V

In the moments remaining before the sunrise, the Proto crew pulled out and prepared the surface transport, an amphibious vehicle that could negotiate any type of terrain they might encounter.

Gyp could sense an uncomfortable timbre in the others, and he understood it well. While it was true that much of their activity was of a mischievous nature and, mostly through miscalculation and guesswork, it often got them into legal entanglements, beings of their sort bore no ill will. They had all seen enough of exploitation and eminent domains, actions carried out in the name of system security. They had all opposed and resisted the encroachments of over-blown governments, mainly what they considered people in power.

They had all defended the innocents and the pacifists, the people said to be of little or no significance, the poets and other artists who expressed the truth. That is why they found themselves here and now.

Gyp addressed them in a soft voice, “Let’s make sure we’re all on the same wave, okay? I have not lied to you. The instruments really detected no sign of civilization here. That could just be a fire caused by lightning out there. But if it is more, if there are uncivilized creatures here in a state of unfolding, we will leave them alone. I don’t really want to make rules. I would much rather we just be of the same mind.”

He was touched when they answered in unison, “We are with you.”

from the future 5

“The beast will turn at the approach of the hunters, although their spears will not appear to hurt it. Shahálamahán will see his father courageously fling himself at the thing and engage with one of the beings on its back."

“He will not see his father knock the weapon from the other’s hand, and he will not see the weapon fly forward and fall into a fissure in the earth. The strange feet of the beast will cover it up with dirt as it passes over."

“Neither will Shahálamahán see that when his father is pushed off, he will drop his ax, and his hand, grabbing instinctively, will grasp an object from the other’s neck."

“Now, at the campfire, his father will show it to him, a shiny squarish thing of a substance unknown to them, with many strange markings on it. Shahálamahán will be entrusted with it, to study it and to try to understand it."

“In the midst of their enactment and the story-telling, the tribes-people will hear a sound like a shrill wind coming from the direction of their strange adventure. Looking away in that direction, they will see strange bright lights moving about. But it will be dark then, and they will not leave the fire when it is dark.”

of the past VI

Wrōg was ceded the operator’s seat; his first comment in position was “Oh, this thing is equipped with grips for steering instead of bars, and it’s multi-axled with separate transmissions . . . how is one supposed to . . . oh, okay, I guess that’ll work . . .”

Tohrneido and Zaiklōhn looked at each other uncertainly and then turned their puzzled faces to Gyp. Gyp tried keep a stern countenance but broke out in a grin and then a laugh.

“Don’t worry,” he said, “I trust him with my life.” And he went on laughing.

Having traveled well beyond sight of the ship, Wrōg tried to get close to the creatures they saw in order to get a better look and so they could capture some images. When they saw the bi-peds, Wrōg tried to steer away, but they were already too close, and the bi-peds were fast.

Gyp pulled out the incinerator, intending to scare them off, and he yelled at Zaiklōhn to throw out some light explosives just to make some noise. He had not expected any of them to charge fiercely and challenge him hand-to-hand.

“Wrōg, get us out of here now!”

Tohrneido jumped in to help Gyp. The bi-ped had a hold on him with one hand and a stone-ax in the other. It had already knocked the incinerator out of Gyp’s grasp.

She used a nerve pinch, and he dropped the ax. Then she elbowed his chest, and he fell backward, grabbing at whatever he could.

As they raced back to the ship now, Gyp was squatted in a corner, and he held his hand to his chest and took a deep breath, “Whew! That was exciting! Everybody alright?” They all nodded. “We didn’t hurt any of them, did we?”

Tohrneido glanced over, “I’m pretty sure we didn’t. But we got this.” She held up the axe. “And you left an incinerator behind.”

“We’ll have to recover that, won’t we?” Zaiklōhn seemed concerned.

Gyp nodded, moving his hand up towards his neck, “If we deem them as intelligent beings with the potential to unfold, the answer is yes. That brute got my medallion, too.” He became thoughtful. “We’ll have to take a couple of jet-rides out tonight and see if we can find both of them. And we can leave the ax out there for them to recover.”

Wrōg stole a look at him, “What kind of medallion?”

“Just a simple stamping of the Decápothegms. Some might consider that more dangerous than the incinerator.”

Zaiklōhn raised her eyebrows and tilted her head, “The Decápothegms of Uaniaue’e? Are you a philosopher?” She seemed genuinely interested.

Wrōg chuckled.

Gyp made a face at him behind his back but smiled, and he shook his head. “I’m no philosopher, dear lady,” he answered, “but I still believe. And so does Wrōg. It’s just that I knew a thinker once, and he taught me some of the readings.”

The women exchanged glances and looked at him with a quiet interest.

The Authority was not open to beliefs other than what they sanctioned. And when non-sanctioned beliefs evolved into congregations, citizens often disappeared.

Tohrneido spoke, “I think these creatures are intelligent and have potential.”

Wrōg glanced at her, “And what makes you think so? Not that I’m disagreeing.”

“I’m intuitive.”

To Dream of Tomorrows

There You are!

from the future 6 

“Shahálamahán will open his eyes one sun-span and watch the clouds above. And, as he has done so often, he will wonder what they are. But he will have other things preoccupying his mind. He will have had a dream, and now he must remember his dream and try to make sense of it."

“Will he really have seen a thinking machine, a mechanical man, and a flying disc? Will he really have seen his world from afar? Could there actually exist such things as weapons that throw spears of fire or weapons of thunder? Could there really be a beast with a hollow back in which beings like himself could travel?"

“He will have been up there on his plateau for a long time. Beside him will be the remains of the psilocybin beverage he will have drunk."

“His dream will have shown strange beings that will have come from beyond the clouds. An epiphany will dawn on him, something he knows he must share with the tribes-people."

“But first, there will be something else for him to do. He will have to remember those markings on the medallion about which he will have dreamed. He will find some flat stones, and upon them, he will begin to carve the markings from his dream. It will be difficult … rock upon rock … he will work tirelessly, unceasingly, keeping the image alive in his mind through hunger and thirst and sleeplessness, like a madman with a single-minded vision."

“And when he has finished, he will place the slabs on a shelf of stone, which he will also have made. There, he will stare at them often and for lasting periods, admiring his own work. And he will push his brain to the limits, trying to understand those markings … that he saw in his dream.”

of the past VII

Gyp the Skip, Wrōg the Spinner, Tohrneido the Spryte, and Zaiklōhn La’ada all sat in the main chamber of the Proto I. They had been unable to recover the incinerator and the medallion. They wanted to do the right thing, and so they had to decide what that would be.

Gyp took a sip of his beverage and continued, “As I see it, this planet, these people, are in a critical stage of their unfolding. These creatures need to be left alone. We are not conquerors or steadists.

“If we couldn’t find the incinerator, I’m guessing they won’t either. But if they do, what’s the worst that could happen?” He looked from face to face.

Wrōg responded with a crooked smile, “It’s ironic that we’ve provided a source of fire for them. If they figure out how to activate it, some of them will most likely get killed … in which case, they probably won’t want to touch it again.”

Zaiklōhn commented “Well, the more they use it, the sooner it will run out of energy. And if they don’t use it, it could keep for C-orbits, couldn’t it?”

They all nodded and sat in silence for a while, and then Tohrneido spoke up, “I think the longer we stay here the more damage we are liable to do. We have not even considered contamination yet. If we leave now, they will be alright. They are resilient beings.”

Zaiklōhn moved over towards Tohrneido and put a hand on her head. And softly but assuringly, she asserted, “She is intuitive.”

Gyp looked at Wrōg, and Wrōg nodded his head. But there was doubt written all over his face. “What is it, my brother. What troubles you?”

“I do trust these ladies,” said Wrōg, “with my life. The trouble is in me. I look ahead and I can see images of all sorts of disasters that will have been our fault. We have always defended those who cannot defend themselves from those who wield their power. And now, look at what we’re doing.”

Tohrneido reached out and placed her hand on his, “They will be alright, Wrōg. I promise.”

And then, Gyp saw a look come over Wrōg that he had never seen before, a look of softness, of complete entrustment, a look of surrender. And he smiled to himself.

Wrōg looked back at him and nodded, “I suppose we’ve done all that we can here. Much more of our presence will just increase the chances of contamination. There are citizens back home who could use our help. We belong there and not here.”

from the future 7

“At the campfire, there will be rejoicing. The smells of greasy smoke and roasting flesh will fill the air, as will the sounds of sticks on logs and happy chanting. Shahálamahán will have returned from his lair after so long."

“Tonight, Shahálamahán will tell them a story, but he will not tell all. He cannot tell all. As they gather around him in their compromise with darkness, Shahálamahán will begin to understand his place among them as a sentient being."

“It will be a crude and incomplete language that he will be using, but he will improve on it. ‘Do you know what happens to us when we die?’ he will ask. And of course, no one will know."

“He will look up and stretch his hands and his fingers toward the stars. ‘Those are the campfires of our fathers’ he will say. ‘They watch over us now. I do not fully understand it yet, but it has been shown to me that we will all reunite someday. And we must learn to prepare.’"

“He will show them the slabs, his eyes gleaming with excitement. ‘These are their words,’ he will begin.”

of the past VIII

Gyp and Zaiklōhn were at the controls. They had decided that a co-operator would be practical, and Zaiklōhn had shown herself to be talented as a tech. The lift-off went smoothly … and then they began to spiral, and the craft wouldn’t climb anymore.

Zaiklōhn took a couple of quick readings and made some calculations. “The gravity is dense. We need to lose some weight,” she said.

“Speak for yourself,” retorted Gyp with a slight grin and without looking over. He made a face and uttered a mild expletive to himself. Then he called Wrōg over, “We’re going to have to lose the akwa-splitr. It’s a real shame, I know, but it’s the heaviest unit we have on board.”

Wrōg and Tohrneido left hurriedly, and Zaiklōhn glanced over with a raised eyebrow, “More mischief, Skipper?”

Gyp gave her a pained look and said, “I feel like we’re getting stuck in a rut of circumstances. You don’t know how much I’m leaning on Tohrneido’s intuition.”

“Well, then, lean as hard as you must. She has never let me down, has never been deceptive … and she is a friend of the heart.”

There was a slight lurch, and the craft leveled off, quit vibrating, and began to gain altitude. On the viewing device, they both watched the big yellow cube descend rapidly and splash into a sea.

Akwa-splitr?” she asked.

He nodded, “A mechanical device designed to become active on contact with water. It uses a program of chemically induced sound waves that could make a large body of water like that one below separate into two. It’s packed in a material that could stay intact for several C-orbits, perhaps longer.

“Once the water seeps inside … well, someone may be in for a huge surprise.”

Gyp was thinking about this when Wrōg and Tohrneido returned, and he just barely noticed from the corner of his eye that they were holding hands. And his heart felt good.

Zaiklōhn turned to face the crew, displaying a wide grin. “You know what I just discovered?” she said. “This thing has a warp drive.”

Gyp and Wrōg looked at each other. “Well, isn’t that interesting?” said Gyp.

“Yeah,” added Wrōg, “That means we can stay awake for the trip home.”

The women both shook their heads. “I hope we see another planet like this,” said Tohrneido. “It would be fun to go swimming.”

And they all nodded. “Hey,” said Wrōg, “Put this plate on auto-drive; I have a great story for you. It’s about the first thinker. He will be of an ancient people . . . Kromma-Gnonh perhaps. On the day of his birth . . . . .”

for the present one

Moses pauses and leans on his staff tiredly. He’s been walking up-hill, and fasting, contemplating the things he has seen. Being a first-hand witness for the Lord has aged him and changed his appearance dramatically.

As he resumes his trek, he sets his sights on the big bush ahead, and it suddenly explodes into flame. He watches and shakes his head a little, and then, his face breaks into a wide sunny smile. “There You are!” he whispers.

He drops to his knees and then his elbows, and he rests his head on his upturned open palms. He hears a faint voice and looks up to see the flame turn blue and then white. “Come to Me, Moses. I have something to show you.”

Up a little higher, he finds the Decápothegms of Uaniaue’e, carved in stone.

r. nuñez, 9/2011

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