This is a stand alone short story.
based on a starting point posted on Sci-Fi Ideas: http://www.scifiideas.com/inspiration/starting-point-the-return/#disqus_thread by Mark Ball Jul 12, 2015
As always, the story is taking place in my Galactic Chronicles Universe. I have tweaked and adjusted the “Starting Point” to make it fit.
The year is 5020 (Old Terran Time ). For now, a little over 2800 years Earth is part of a large mega society simply known as the Union.
The Starting Point
As Noah turned onto the familiar path home, his ears caught a sound not altogether unfamiliar to him, but which had not been heard in those lands since many years past. There was a peculiar blackness rising from the valley. Smoke. Thick, heavy smoke and it was coming from the village.
Noah dashed along the road as quickly as his tired old ankles would allow, and as he reached the crest of the hill, his most feared suspicions were confirmed. The valley below was a scene of total devastation. The village was ablaze. Not a single building was untouched by the flames, and even some of the farmhouses that dotted the surrounding hillside were alight.
Kaleb and Lola Fizman were about a nearby field where they had been tending their flock, accompanied by their daughter and grandchild. They did not turn to greet Noah from his long journey but instead were transfixed by the horrific scene. As Noah approached them, Lola Fizman fell to her knees and began to sob for her daughter, whose husband was Goodwizard of the village temple and had surely been caught in the violence.
Who could do such a thing, and why? Noah knew there could be only one answer: They had returned.
Tears of frustration rolled down his wrinkled cheeks, while his hand cramped around the walking staff, wishing it would be a weapon potent enough to fight back. Strong enough for revenge! Moses felt ashamed of himself and his emotions. He was a man of peace. His eyes fixed on the thick column of smoke, he wondered how many had been taken this time. Kaleb the shepherd of the Fizman tribe came running as he noticed Noah. “Elder Noah, what are we going to do? I am sure they will come this way as well.” “We must hide in the mountains.” “We hid the last time, they found us never the less. They have beasts that can find our scent, even better than dogs. You know that!” Noah almost screamed. “What else can we do?” Lola still on her knees with her eyes full of sorrow, stared at the Elder. “Maybe the way of the Elders and the Goodwizards are wrong after all.” Her face of sorrow, slowly changed as her tone became sharper with each word. “Maybe we should...” She hesitated to speak the dirty word but then she spat it out. “ Fight!” Seeing the burning village; a sight he had seen last when he was a young boy. He remembered the pleading screams of his mother, as she was dragged away by them and his father doing nothing, except telling everyone not to resist. He pulled her up. “Swift, gather everyone of your tribe. We are going to the Valley of Descent.” Kaleb, whistled and signaled his dog to gather the flock. Noah who suddenly had an idea growing held him back. “You must leave the sheep and all your livestock behind. We must travel fast and unburdened.” Kaleb, not entirely convinced to simply leave his livelihood behind, not knowing what the Elder had in mind said. “They didn’t take everything last time. Maybe they overlook us this time. Did they take sheep back then?” “Everything! Sheep, chicken, pigs, dogs, and cows. Many men, women and children.” Kaleb, never known to be the sharpest mind, pointed towards the burning village. “Maybe it is their punishment for living so easy. Giving honest shepherds only a small part of what a sheep is really worth. They cut it up and offer it to others with much profit. Is it not said that greed is one of the evil things that cause violence? We have eighty sheep. Maybe we should go and give them forty and they will be pleased and let us be?” Moses, on one hand, did not find any flaw in Kaleb’s argument. Especially in terms of their religion, but his memories and the sight of the burning village made him realize, Kaleb, his father and he were wrong. Lola hefted one of the curved shepherd knives, it had a wicked sickle-shaped razor-sharp blade, slicing with ease through the throat of a sheep.”What about Oraht, the husband of our daughter? What if they want one of our grandchildren?” Kaleb was not certain anymore. “Oraht is a Goodwizard and maybe...” She turned to Moses. “What is there? What is in that valley that will help us?” “It is where our Ark is buried, the ship that brought us here. There are things that can help us against them!”
The being did look somewhat like a dog, Oraht thought. It did move like a dog would if walking on its hind legs, Elga the wife of community leader Pascar had a dog that could dance on his hind legs when Elga played the flute.
He and twenty other men of the community sat with their hands fastened behind their backs in what once was a Pascar’s pigpen. It stank of pig feces but over it, all hung the stench of the fires that still consumed the village. They were guarded by this upright walking dog-like being. It wore some kind of armor suit, while it carried a weapon across slung across its back. It held a long stick in his right. The stick caused a painful sensation every time it made contact with one of the men. The dog-like being was not alone, but not all of them looked like dogs. Some of the intruders looked like the people of Arat, others looked like nothing in Oraht’s world.
Pascar, naked and dirt-caked as him, leaned over. “I see you are awake. They have taken the children and women already. What will happen to us?”
“I don’t know. I only remember what Old Moses has told me about the last time they came. They will take many, kill many and only leave the old and sick.”
The Jooltar slaver snickered in the eerie high pitched, almost insane sounding way his kind was famous for and exposed his formidable fangs. “The Syndic was right, there is a planet right here at the edge of Freespace full of primitive humanoids. A continent full of villages, each brimming with humanoid primates.” He snickered even louder. “For the Polonium, they will pay me at Alvor’s, I am going to get me a bigger ship and take what I had to leave behind.”
The being he was talking to, had a rigid body shell and a long snout. It was Karthanian. Terrans sometimes saw similarities with seahorses. The Karthanian flickered his long black tongue into a thin tubular glass. On doing so gathering some of the thick brown syrupy liquid inside. The Karthanians called it Slobber and it was consumed both for nourishment and pleasure. Only after the third flicker, the Karthanian put the glass tube down. “I suggest haste. These are indeed the fringes of Freespace, but what are a few light-years here or there to a Union battleship captain, eager to pulverize a few pirates. Do I have to remind you how they feel about slavers?”
The Jooltar stopped snickering and sounded not as loud and confident as before. “We are far from any Union system.”
The Karthanian gestured to the glass of Slobber, and then towards the planet displayed. “I think I let you have this all for yourself. The profit seems genuine. I thank you for considering me as a partner, but pass on this one.”
The Karthanian pirate returned to his ship, where his first mate waited at the airlock. “No deal?”
“The Jooltar is raiding a colony of humans.”
“I think these are Earthers.”
“Let’s get out of here while we can. Those are my orders.”
Moses, accompanied by all the members of the Fizman clan was walking as fast as his old feet would carry them along the worn-out path that connected the Sandman village with the Rosenheimer village. When he was young he could walk the entire distance with only taking one break. Now he simply had to stop every now and then. He hoped the Sky Demons had not yet attacked and raided Rosenheim. There he planned to get donkeys that could carry them a tad faster, on the two-day journey to the Valley.
Just as he and his entourage were about to reach the peak of the hill from where they hoped to see the other village. Noah heard the high pitched whistle of something strange and not of this world. A heartbeat later, a pointed black thing streaked across the sky. A cold hand of fear grabbed his heart and a sickening feeling spread across his stomach. He was certain of the sight he would see in a few moments. His throat constricted as he saw the flames and the smoke, Rosenheim too was burning.
In his despair, he didn’t see it at first, but Lola pointed it out. “Look one of the flying monsters is burning too!”
She was right. Not too far from their group and right next to the path, was the twisted mass of one of these flying machines, that brought the intruders and transported their loot away.
He noticed two beings stumbling away from it.
Moses was a man of peace and abhorred violence. Just like he was taught, just like his father, but he did not hold them back, the young adults of the Fizman clan, led by Lola. As they stormed down the hill. Shepherd staffs and knives no longer tools, but weapons indeed.
Oraht watched helpless, as two of the alien intruders, ripped two men to pieces. The scene was as horrifying and frightening as it was revolting. The short but powerful jaws of the dog-like intruders sank into the still moving bloody heaps that once had been neighbors and friends. The wet tear and the dull crunch of bones were sounds Oraht would never forget, he was certain. However in all this horror and agony, something new grew deep below his stomach, it was a cold rage. He was raised as a man of peace, to abhor violence and that there was nothing that justified it, not even self-defense, but his old conviction was withering and peeling away with each act of horror he had to witness.
Then they came for him...
Moses reached the burning village and Valtar, the old community leader. The man was sod caked and his robe in shreds, but he was smiling. “Moses, we have chased them away! The sky demons can bleed. Their Thunder throwers can be used by us as well!” He held up an alien weapon. “I took down their flying thing with this!”
“They will come back with more and bigger ones. They will drop exploding things from far away and kill everyone. My father told me that it is better to let them have what they want. A few of us dying or abducted is better than all of us dead.”
“Your father was wrong and so are you. Who is to stay behind and live and who must die?”
Moses sighed. “I am reciting what I held for the truth all my life, but I am no longer sure if my father was right. They are back and that means they will return as long as we let them. I am on the way to the Valley of Descent.”
“What good will that do? The legend of the Ark that brought us here might be buried there, but how to find it? What will it hold that can help us?”
“Things like that.” Moses pointed to the Thunder thrower.
“You put your hope on something that might be there or not. Why not talk to the speaking altar and ask the spirits of the past for help?”
“Because it is forbidden. The talking altar is of the evil side. Besides my Grandfather had it ordered destroyed.”
“And my Grandfather disobeyed yours. It is hidden in a cave not too far from here. It still speaks”
“Then your Grandfather might just be the reason these Sky Demons came in the first place, looking for that altar.”
“Do you want to take a trip to the Valley search for something buried thousand years ago, while these Demons raid and destroy every village? Or take a chance that the speaking altar might grant us help?”