After a couple of weeks of my new Serial Tuesday, I’ve decided that alternating sories there will be too confusing, as well as not providing me the proper motivation. So today I begin Serial Friday with the opening pages of Arcadian Journey Please feel free to offer any comment on either piece.
Two jumpships orbited the planet Arcadia, a brightly sparkling jewel set into the star-strewn void of her black night. Despite the high ideals espoused by the Green Brotherhood and the Children of the Stars, the conglomerates who owned the ships, could little disguise these predators. Though the Green Brotherhood had a marginal colony beginning to finally take root on the surface, both groups claimed the planet as their own.
Neither group took any account of the Eg’glis, a native race who had occupied the planet long before the cataclysm which sparked the Terran Diaspora. The settlers on-planet were not afforded this luxury. They’d been landed, literally lock, stock and barrel, with no knowledge they would be confronted by a native race. No-one on the planet ever discovered if this should be blamed on poor scouting, laziness or intention. Nor did they think resolving the question would change their fates. The need for habitable planets, breathable air and arable soil, had become too great to ignore any possible candidate. So far, they a achieved a tentative accord with their neighbors.
Most of the colony remained either unaware or unconcerned by the threat that orbited above them. Some already understood that they were the price which would be paid. The Children of the Stars had far more people and far fewer worlds than the Green Brotherhood. Only a matter of time now till more ships arrived and new settlers, different settlers would reach the surface. The Green Brotherhood settlers would be dispersed to other colonies. The rape of the planet and the destruction of the Eg’glis would begin in earnest.
Two people on the planet could not foresee the troubled future which awaited them. It is their story which follows. It has been told before, but bears repeating. As with all true stories, let us begin.
Once upon a time….
Guustavo Royale increased the length of his stride and speed of his steps along the road that led to Hopkins Crossing. He ignored the strange beauty of the local trees which lined the road on his left, their purple feather-like fronds swaying in no breeze he could feel. He remained constantly aware of the mown field of wheat on the right side. His wheat, protected with a prefab fence had been piled in neat bales awaiting transport to common stores. All helped with the harvest and shared in the bounty during the harsh winter when they could not plow. He saw his field without conscious thought. Yet today, on the way to this year’s celebration, it filled his sight and his thoughts. Perhaps, he and Eni should have waited.
Qyse, an Eg’li who lived in a small village near the farm, said a large transport had recently landed. Qyse didn’t know more than that, but from the description, Guustavo knew it belonged to the Children of the Stars. Usually called Silver Faces by the indigenous population; he thought children a more apt name. Twenty years of growing, of finding a new life and a new rhythm could be gone if these bully children succeeded in enforcing their claim to Arcadia. Stavo, as his closest friends knew him, had tried to study the history of the conflict between the rival conglomerates, but felt he wasn’t much closer to an answer than he had been. Still over a mile to Hopkins Crossing, he kept his determined pace, while his thoughts explored other paths. Eni, Enid Graves-Hart, the women he loved, would be in the front lines of any confrontation. They had argued about this before, though he knew this was simply part and parcel of his love.
He marveled at his luck. Just under a year ago, at the last harvest party, he noticed her as soon as he came in the door. Their eyes locked. Two people who had voyaged here in the same ship and lived in the same small hamlet since they were children, suddenly made a connection which neither expected. She glowed in his sight, her long, sky-blue dress, such a contrast to her mottled-green Peacekeepers uniform, and her long auburn hair unbound. Perhaps the uniform had blinded him before. No more. They danced to the fiddles and the harps, laughing, seeing themselves reflected in their partner’s eyes. Their friends laughed and pointed, happy for them. Stavo and Eni spun only in each other’s orbit. If they even noticed their friends, they didn’t care.
Stavo had had other cares for months, days, hours, as his wheat sprouted and grew to flower. Nearly everyone had helped with the harvest, moving from farm to farm. The harvest successfully completed, they danced and drank and laughed. For two people, it served as a new anniversary to mark their love. As the musicians took a break, Stavo, who had been dancing with anyone who would have him, went to grab a couple of mugs of the potent harvest brew andjoined Eni in chairs near the wall. Eni didn’t mind. On duty tonight, sharp in her all-black dress uniform she enjoyed watching Stavo’s exuberance and joy. She believed she could keep an eye on this crowd just as easily seated as standing. Stavo offered her the second mug, which she politely refused with a small shake of her head. He gulped long swallows of the cool ale, setting the empty first mug on seat beside him. He raised the second cup to Brother Dom, who had brewed it. Dom, the Green Brother who led their small flock, had been part of the ship’s crew. A talented man, ship’s engineer, and a horticulture expert they all relied upon. He stayed tanned and trim from the hard work he practiced while out consulting with each of them. The honorific, Green Brother, referred to his chosen relationship to all life, far more than any religion. This was something most of the settlers shared. Some had hitched a ride, making the best they could of an otherwise bad deal. But also, there were the self-righteous few whose nature kept them apart and out of favor. No one would challenge them if they carried there share of the load.
Brother Dom could almost see the heat rising from Stavo in waves, his skin flushed as each looked at the other and smiled. Helping himself to a mug of his own good ale, he remembered Enid and Guustavo as the children they’d been on the ship. Now, he approached the adults they had become. He congratulated them, urging them to enjoy the fruits of their labors. He knew a storm brewed on the future’s horizon, but now wasn’t the time to discuss it. He hoped he could prepare them all for the struggle which awaited them. His mind believed they could prevail, even against the Stars. Yet his heart foresaw disaster in the news he had received by ansible from Burgess the First, his order’s founding brother. Enough of that, he thought. Tonight was for merrymaking and watching love in full flower as village celebrated their third successful harvest and the joining of this couple on the last day of the harvest. Barely two days since, they hadn’t even agreed where they would share their union. Stavo believed his house and farm would win the day. To that end, he’d recently planted flowers along the walk to his door.
“You always make quite the pair,” Brother Dom said. “I could spot you in any crowd. Unlike some I know…” He glanced around the hall.
“No sign yet,” Eni said, sure she knew to who he referred.
“Green Brother, you honor us with your presence,” Stavo said in his most formal voice, inclining his head to the other man. Eni inclined her head in turn.
As if his words had raised the specter, Fargo North burst into the room. A large brute of a man who would rather fight the talk, he wore a most evil grin. Eni had never understood how he had been allowed to joined the Peacekeepers, though she understood why he had done so.
“They caught him,” North yelled in glee. “That caught that damned Ugly stealing Joy’s horse. They caught him and now he’s being held at Root City.”