Tale of the spinward mar.., p.1
Tale of the Spinward March: The Great Khan (Tales of the Spinward March Book 1), page 1
Tales of the Spinward Marches.
Volume One: The Great Khan
By David C. Winnie
To Mom and Dad
And to the Eleven
Forever separate. Never separated.
Thanks to the following:
Cover art: Bogdan Maksimovic, (ceativepublishingdesign.com)
Book Cover Design: Creative Publishing Book Design
Author photograph by: John MacCalpin
I would like to acknowledge and offer my heartfelt thanks to some of my inspirations:
-Arthur C. Clarke
Thank you for opening my boy’s mind to worlds, universes, peoples and cultures unfamiliar. Through you I could close my eyes and see the Mules ships race through the stars, talk to Martians, understand other realities and witness the spectacle of a messiah.
Thank you for my favorite book of all time,
-J. Michael Straczynski
-Glenn A. Larsen
You brought me your visions, first to a thirteen-inch black and white TV and later to a 40Hi-Def for an hour each week. Thank you.
-Finally, a special thanks to my friend, mentor, Mom, (after my own Mom died) visionary and editor. The literary world knows her as J.R. Nakken; I am lucky enough to know her as Judith. Thank you for being strong enough to tell me the truth when the writing (and the story) was bad, and loving enough to support me through the painful years when I suffered through my writer’s block. Thank you for showing me there is a right way and a wrong way. Thanks for the goosebumps, the shivers, the hair standing on end and the “NO, NO, NO, NO, you cannot do this or that!” Thanks for the chuckles I got when you chewed me out with your editing notes.
You were right. I needed you.
Then I saw the Beast and the Kings of the Earth and their Armies gather together to wage war against the Rider on the horse and his army…” Revelation 19:19
Hard radiation wrapped the Enderii ship as it punched its way out of otherspace. It would be minutes before the radiation cleared enough for the sensors to give clear information. Doctor Boradt’s cilia flushed from red to violet and back again in excitement and anticipation.
This very well could be the system of the legend. It met the criteria. It had nearly spun its way out of the galaxy, soon to join the nimbus of debris that surrounded the Temple Galaxy, as his people called it. The brown star glowed bravely, a dying ember in a fire pit.
His trail to this star came from an obscure report he had found thirty years ago while studying ten-thousand-year-old records in the archives of Hecate University. A naval cadet scout ship had chanced upon the system, dutifully studied and cataloged it. They estimated it had once been a bit smaller than the average yellow star. Thirteen billion years ago, it had consumed the last of its hydrogen fuel and begun to consume its helium. It swelled, then collapsed on itself, now growing smaller and colder.
A ring of frozen planets spoke of an ancient civilization. Four gas giants whose accompanying moons also showed scars of former life passed. Two planets were closer still. The outer showed the same signs as the moons, but it was the inner planet that garnered Doctor Boradt’s entire attention.
It was in the right orbit for life to have developed. Sensors showed it was covered with water ice, so the planet had once had oceans. Rocky mountain peaks penetrated the ice, evidence of the land masses of eons ago.
The Enderii captain cleared its throat. “Well, slug,” the furry creature asked, “is this the one?”
Boradt waved his cilia in irritation. Of all the species this ship carried, the Enderii captain seemed to enjoy taunting him the most. And after he had been paid, quite well, thank you very much.
“We will know more when we move closer,” Boradt said, his irritation clear. “Mister 379, please set course for the inner planet.” The artificial being acknowledged and the ship entered the system.
Boradt blinked, stared, blinked again. Yes, the bridge walls were gone, replaced by walls of stone and fire. The consoles and rails melted into a pool of shimmering acid. He took a breath and gagged; the room was acrid and foul. A figure rose from the pool - Urethral, the Dark Lord of the Underworld. Urethral’s skin rolled and boiled as it burned, brilliant flames replacing the Vaudoo cilia.
“Leave this place!” Urethral demanded. “It is not for the likes of you. Leave or suffer my wrath.”
Boradt blinked once again. Urethral was gone. The whole of the bridge crew, save for the artificial life, wore countenances of incredulity.
“Quickly, what did you just see?” demanded Boradt.
“Graaarg, Lord of the Underworld,” responded the Captain.
“No,” insisted the navigator, a Sympodial. “It was Shierachan, Queen of the Damned.”
“I saw Veer-ko, the Dead Lord,” said the Ioman engineer.
“Curious,” 379 said. “I saw nothing. Ship, do you have any record of a visitor or visitors on this vessel in the last five minutes?”
“Negative, Brother,” the ship responded. “I do have queries throughout the crew. But I sensed nothing.”
“A mind weapon, then,” mused the Captain.
“It could be,” Boradt said. “But we are dealing with legends and gods.”
The captain waved his clawed paw and spat anger. “I am not interested in fairy tales and myths. I am interested in treasure and payment. Remember, slug, my crew and I are entitled to fifty per cent.”
“I haven’t forgotten,” Boradt responded. “Mister 379, the inner world, if you please.”
They scanned the worlds and moons as they passed. Foundations for buildings, road beds. But no buildings. No satellites. No vessels or hulks. Nothing outside ordinary space debris. Truly, if this was the home system of the legendary Terran Empire, where were its remains?
Boradt selected the inner world to start. The ship entered a polar orbit, angling each orbit slightly so the ships sensor array could map the petrified globe. Boradt and the students he had convinced to accompany him studied the icy world below for hours, matching what they saw with the collection of maps he had purchased or stolen. The artificial, 379, interfaced with the ship, orientating the sensor suite when the scientists asked.
For three days, the ship dissected the frozen hell below them. On the fourth morning, Boradt sent them all to bed while he stared at the piles of data they had gathered. The answer was here, he was certain. Did the data support his feeling? He couldn’t be sure. He had searched for so long. This was the end of the journey. He felt it. Deep in his founal gland, he knew it.
He had found Terra. Homeworld of the Mighty Terran Empire.
“There,” he finally said, pointing. “That mountain range there.”
There were five in the landing party: Boradt, the Captain (“to make sure you don’t try and cheat me out of my earnings”) and three students of Boradt’s. The ship landed crookedly on the uneven surface, rocked in the barren planet’s stiff wind.
One assistant stayed behind as they exited the ship in their extravehicular activity suits. Boradt’s, since he was a Vaudoo, had a small hover unit and manipulator arms attached. The rest, as bipeds, stepped on the icy surface.
“What are you doing here?”
A Biped stood there, just a few meters from the ship. Female, it appeared. Wearing a golden jacket, the skirt a rainbow of color, cream trousers and boots
Or the lack of breathable atmosphere.
“I did not give you permission to land. In fact, I told you not to come at all!” Brilliant emerald eyes glared at them. “Why did you not heed my warning?”
The captain started forward, then froze. “Ah, you expected to find treasure here. Would you have stolen from me? There is a price to be paid for stealing in the Law, is there not?” Her green orbs stared at him. His suit disappeared. He had no time to scream as he froze immediately, and vanished nearly as quickly.
She shifted her gaze. “You two are standing on my world. The Founder banned aliens from my world.” The two assistants and the shuttle disappeared without fanfare. Though he couldn’t see the Enderii mothership, Boradt knew it was gone as well.
She turned her gaze to Boradt. He could feel her probe his mind. “You, on the other hand, are seeking the most valuable treasure of all,” she admonished, “that of knowledge. Why are you seeking the Terran Empire?”
Boradt found his voice. “Because it is legend. There are signs of it throughout our galaxy and stories that tell of the great Empire which once ruled. I have followed those stories since I was a boy, believing when others mocked me. I have traveled long and far, Lord. Tell me, is this the legendary world, home of the Gods of Terra?”
“Ah! You seek redemption and validation for your life’s quest! The reward you seek is academic acclaim! You want your peers to revere you for finding the home of Gods!” She roared as a thunderclap, growing hundreds of feet tall, her fists shaking to the heavens. “Ego!” she raged. “Hubris! That is what my masters warned me about. The younger races might come here seeking their gods to fulfill what they thought were their dreams, when what they seek is only validation of their egos!”
She clutched him in her mighty hand, shaking him as a vicious cgormatth would shake a hapless pupa in its teeth. Her mind filled his and he wanted to scream.
“I am the Guardian, assigned by the Last, to guard the World and the Temple of Angkor Khan. Do you truly wish to see the splendors of the Terran Empire?”
“I do,” Boradt croaked.
“Very well,” she said. The world began to melt away. “I warn you though, Legends are not always what they seem. To meet the Last, you must see the truth of the First…”
They were in a great cavern, the ceiling sloped and peaked into the dark. “Behold!” cried the Guardian, “The birth of the lies!” The walls shifted and melted away…
The Third Millennium early years begat the pathway to the Terran Empire. The dust of the World Trade Center had barely settled when dozens of wars broke out across the globe. Ancient feuds based on race and religion turned into wars and unspeakable horrors upon the innocent. Refugees ignored borders as they fled the conflicts. Economies strained and collapsed supporting the war machines and trying to provide necessities for their populations. Vigilante groups, under the aegis of nationalism, performed horrendous acts of violence on the refugees.
The Americas fractured into a hundred separate states. Africa saw empires rise and fall; whole tribes were slaughtered in the name of race and gods of a dozen names. Europe collapsed.
“There was no limit to their greed…”
Russia and China engaged in a bloody war over Siberia and its immense resources. In 2119, Uighur separatists in western China obtained four thermonuclear devices. Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Canton disappeared within hours of each other. The ever-fragile world economy collapsed.
“…No limit to their lust for power…”
The winners in this new Dark Age were central and southwest Asia. Mongolia declared itself neutral during the last Sino-Russian war. After the two armies fought to collapse, they withdrew, leaving the whole of Northeast Asia and all its riches to Mongolia, along with megatons of abandoned military equipment. The Mongols put it to use swiftly, invading China in 2125, placing its boot squarely on the neck of the population.
Mongolia’s smaller neighbors, Tibet, Nepal and Bhutan, allied themselves with the growing power of Ulaan Baatar. In the southeast, Viet, Khmer, Laos and the Kingdom of Thailand unified, then joined the Mongolian alliance.
“They created themselves brave words, like freedom. No matter…”
Not all of Asia could accept the New Order. The Hunan population of the former China chafed under the Mongolian law. By 2130, war erupted between the remnants of the Chin, as they renamed themselves, and their Mongolian overlords. It was a mismatch. Mongolia had modernized its Army through its alliances in North America and Imperial Japan. The war was short and decisive. The remains of the Chin found themselves a conquered people under a ruthless and brutal regime.
“There were moments sublime…”
India and Pakistan had fought ten wars since the mid-twentieth century and were preparing for another. Both the Mongolian Empire and the Sultanate of Ottoman/Persia had offered to mediate. Both combatants had their nuclear forces armed and ready to attack.
On a beautiful spring day in 2345 A.D., the Sikh Prime Minister is said to have watched the sunrise from his home in Delhi. He was certain it would be the final day of the conflict. Either Pakistan would concede or both nations would die under nuclear fire.
He sipped his tea and studied the red sunrise. In his soul, he knew he didn’t want to die today, nor did he want to be responsible for the death of millions. He made his decision and picked up the phone.
“My friend, there must be another way,” he told the stunned Prime Minister in Islamabad. “I offer we allow the Mongols occupy Kashmir, then meet with both the Empire and the Sultanate to finally negotiate a permanent solution.”
“You would do this?” asked the amazed Paki leader. “Allow our Asian brothers to facilitate negotiations?”
“With your friends leading the talks and our mutual friends holding the territory, I pray we will find a solution.”
“…Moments of hope…”
Thus, after three hundred twenty years of unease and war, the bulk of Asia was at peace. Imperial Japan and the Kingdom of Korea joined the talks, which quickly became negotiations for a new, vast union. The smaller nations in the southeast eagerly joined. The Philippines, the Pacific island nations and finally, Australia, joined the Pan Asian Alliance.
The new alliance brought pause to the warring planet. Europe’s countries sent observers, then ambassadors. The Americas, now calling themselves by an ancient title, Occident, had formed forty nations. The largest, Cascadia, sent observers, desiring to find a way to reunify a fractured continent.
“…Moments of brilliance…”
The burgeoning alliance was abated by three significant events at the start of the twenty-third century.
First was the development of Space Fold technology. Travel through space was limited by light speed. No matter how massive the drive, no matter how clever the designs, simple physics couldn’t be overcome in normal space. .99 c was the normal space speed limit.
Theoretical scientists in Bern found the solution. They proved that if time/space were folded, then entered, travel through the otherspace could reach distances in less time than travelling at light speed. The downside was the amount of energy required to fold space and make the transition. Giant vessels, known as rail fold transports for their appearance, were built. The ships were mile and a half long skeletons, with power plant and fold drive engines at one end, the command pod and sub light engines at the other. Ships would fasten to the skeleton between the pods and be carried through otherspace.
…” In their enlightenment, they discovered allies who fed their hubris…”
Secondly, scouts found Rea-galle, a trinary system of fifteen planets. Fourteen of the worlds orbited normally around one or two of the stars. But there was one world that orbited all three of the stars in an unusual and unpredictable orbit, a small, clouded world, three quarters the size of Earth.
Scouts were discharged to the
They called themselves the Mithranderer. Their world, Mithranderer, was a living being, conscious and self-aware. The blue skinned people lived in commune with their world. At the age of sixteen, they would adorn themselves with a stone offered by Mithranderer and spend their lives in service to the intelligence who ruled their world.
For reasons of her own, Mithranderer had taken a liking to Earth. She dispatched representatives to study the new world and in turn, encouraged human students to study her and her people. She took a particular interest to the Mongols, viewing them as natural leaders of Earth.
She asked the Headman of the Khalkha to commune with her. Tsao Khan, son of Quziea Khan, journeyed to the misty world. There he met with Chamenade Meyer, a wise appearing blue woman with long, steel-colored haired. She wore a white robe, exposing the stone of Mithranderer on her chest.
“Mithranderer has studied your world,” Chamenade told Tsao. “The past, the present. It is with great certainly she tells me your line will take your people to walk among the stars as gods. But, that is contingent on the second son of your great grandson. Should the elder survive, then you are doomed. It is that second son who is the future of your people.
Terra faces many wars, Tsao Khan, Son of Quziea Khan. You have made enemies of the others. You will do well to prepare for war.”
“What others?” pressed the Headman.
“The Galactic Council is aware of you, for one,’ “she responded. “Mithranderer sees great wars with them and soon. The second war I see will be the arrival of your great, great grandsons. Most assuredly, after the boy of the fountain becomes a man, I see the future of the newest gods of our galaxy.” Without another word, she shimmered and disappeared.
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