Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Koreshi Chronicles: Chapter II - Moving Forward

03 Autumn, 1920

Jonas Breskathi sat facing the setting sun. A small breeze carried sand around in swirls over the endless dunes of the Western Desert. His face was frowning, but it eased into a smile and a slight squint for the rays of Helios when someone walked up behind him and stood quietly, waiting.

“Thank you for coming Lukas. Will you sit?” Jonas offered, knowing that Lukas would do as he pleased and did not wait on invitations. The young man settle down on the sand next to Jonas to watch the sun. “Torgath’s birthday is next week. As you know, it is our way for him to mark this with the Okaku. I would like him to initiate others to the Toweya, the Scouting.”

“You don't need my permission. You know how I feel about all this, but I also know how Todd feels about it so why ask me?” Lukas’ mask covered half his face, making it difficult to read his expression, but his tone was neutral. His resistance to the Koreshi culture had long ago passed from a heated opposition into a passive and analytical dissection. Jonas and Lukas had spent the last few cycles debating what differences lay in actions versus reason, in meaning and intention.

Lukas advocated that the means by which the Koreshi lived in the desert was a collection of skills which served only to survive and need not advance an ethos of any kind. Jonas tried ever so gently to counter with the argument that existence and survival were separate: ‘to eat a meal was not enough for it did not fuel the spirit’.

“In this case, I do need your permission. I would like you and Lyta to be his wards for three days. He will show you his skills and impart them to you. When you return, if you and Lyta show you have acquired those skills under his tutelage, we will celebrate his Okaku.”

Lukas smiled to himself. Jonas was appeasing him by using Lyta’s real name rather than calling her Hippartha. It was transparent, so much so that Lukas was meant to see through it and see beyond. Lukas knew it was Jonas’ way of showing respect to his beliefs. Once upon a time, he would not have seen the deeper meaning and only seen the superficial act and assumed it was a clumsy attempt at manipulation. He would have taken umbrage then, now he just smiled at Jonas’ ways.

“I’ll do this, though not for Todd’s Okaku,” Lukas said.

“I know, you will do it because it is worth doing for the knowledge it will bring you. And even if you won’t admit it, you will do it to spend time with Hippartha and Torgath. The three of you have grown apart and that saddens you and me both.” Jonas closed his eyes, there was a furrowing of his brow. Lukas knew this meant that the Thral was attempting to seek enlightenment through dreams or some such thing and rose to leave.

“Action without meaning is existence without intention. Suffusing deliberate action with motive guards against inferring significance from happenstance.” Jonas said as Lukas was leaving. The Thral rose gingerly and looked Lukas in the eyes before speaking again. “Draw meaning from life Lukas, not death”

Just as Lukas was redying himself to dissect this reasoning and engage in another of their countless theological and philosophical debates Jonas leaned in and hugged him, catching the younger man off-guard. Before he could decide how to react it was over. Jonas turned and sat again on the sand, looking to the horizon and the red-orange glow where the sun had set.


35 Spring, 1918

“It has been a cycle since the earth forces and their warriors have declared defeat. So why is it that they still wage war one all those whom they come across?” Matriarch Maraja was frustrated and as she tended to do in such circumstances, she was venting her aggression on the Thral.

Jonas knew she did not doubt the Great Cycle, the path of the Koreshi or the wisdom of the Thral. Her anger was from a lack of understanding, not a lack of faith. The Ratir had suffered greatly at the hands of the CEF in the last 6 cycles and resentment of the Ferah was only human. It was his duty as teacher, as Thral, to help the matriarch understand and guide her clan.

“The Ratir must brave the elements of the desert as well as the threats of the world and bring back that which the Ferah cannot provide for the Koreshi to pursue their destiny.” Maraja nodded and sighed. She knew that this division of responsibilities must be adhered to and that each had its own advantages and disadvantages. Still, she could not but question the suffering her caste had to endure. “Another clan, the Toreshki, were killed by fighting. My second cousin was lost to us. What purpose can such suffering serve, why could we not have waited for the end of this war in the safety of Junira Loresh?” the matriarch mused, knowing full well that it was moot now to ask such questions.

“We must strive to change what we cannot endure but endure that which we cannot change matriarch” Jonas said with a supportive smile. Sensing she had not yet emptied her soul of the sand it had accumulated he resolved to end this conversation by starting another. “Look at Lukas, he is an example to follow.”

“Surely you speak in jest Thral Jonas?” the elder said, shaken from her contemplation and doubt.

“I do not. Remember how he tried to escape a few cycles ago...”

“And so we should have let him.” Interjected Maraja.

“and now he learns all he can of our ways. He sees the wisdom in patience and abiding.” Jonas concluded.

“You give him too much credit and too much of your time as well. I do not know what you see in him that you waste so much energy on one so unfit.” Maraja was more exasperated than angry. She had many times before tried to make the Thral see that Lukas was not fit to stay with the Bethani clan.

“And you do not give him enough. He has in him greatness and the spark. And you are not so wicked and heartless as you pretend to be elder. You know that Hippartha would suffer to see him go by our will.” Jonas spoke softly, a smile on his lips, appealing to the matriarch’s instinct which were at odd with her responsibilities.

“And it is your wisdom we defer to, Thralan. It is why we endure his presence.”

“And it is because of him that you punish Torgath. Do not look at me so Maraja, you know in your heart that he is protected by your clan and yet you push him away.”

“He irks me. And I am not the only one Jonas. He is odd and petulant. He dares correct us who are of the blood on what makes a true Koreshi.” She said with annoyance.

“I have a solution which will benefit both him and you. Send him to be with Ipshar, prepare him for the Okaku”

Matriarch Maraja turned to gage her clan teacher. She liked this idea and found that the Thralan had spoken it in earnest.

“Very well Jonas, I will follow your wise council. Now, if you could only find so satisfactory a solution for Lukas.”


40 Winter, 1917

It was his fifth night in the desert. He was using his water sparingly and his food would keep him alive for a week still. He knew his way, having both learned to navigate the stars at night but also the prevailing winds and terrain by day.

As he shivered alone in the great expanses, he reminded himself he must drink more. On their first attempt at escape he had brought too little water. The second attempt was hampered by too much weight. Now the heaviest thing he carried was his conscience.

That day he had had hallucinations under the beating blows of the sun. Many had died of dehydration with water still in their canteens he reminded himself. Now shivering alone he dozed off and as with the visions of the midday, he saw his father.

“I didn’t leave her” he heard himself say defensively. His own voice waking him. He could die of exposure if he did not take care, but the threat of death was not so frightening as the quickly fading memory of his father chastising him for leaving his sister. ‘just a dream’ he thought to himself. He knew he was saving her, he would find a policeman, a army unit a marshal of some kind who would right this wrong. He would save her.

She had come with him on the first ill fated escape attempt and on the second as well. He vowed he would never give up but she refused to come this time. He still dismissed it as the effects of shock or possibly the brainwashing of the Sand Riders. The same brainwashing that had ensnare Todd, that weak-willed idiot.

‘I’m gone Lukas. Where are you going?’

“To find someone to help father”

‘You don’t need help Lukas, you’re strong. But Lyta needs you, she need her family’

“I’m going to go back and get her father, I won’t leave her.”

‘We never go back Lukas, we are Lassanders, we go forward.’

“I won’t go back, I’ll continue on.”

‘You left her. One never leaves family Lukas. She’s with her family, but were are you?’

Lukas woke with a start, tears in his eyes and the sound of his father’s voice still driving a stake into the pit of his stomach. He looked out at the endless sky and the black horizon. He had no family out there, probably no home to return to, no fortune and no prospects. He was an orphan on a war-torn planet and the only family he had he had left.

He collected his satchel and started retracing his steps. He could catch the Bethani in two days time if he made steady progress. He was not going back tot them, he was moving forward with his life; his, Todd’s and Lyta’s.


22 Spring, 1912

“Wake up Lukas” Donavar said softly, his hand gently shaking his son’s shoulder. “Did you forget to go to bed last night?”

Lukas rubbed his eyes and looked at his father by the dim morning light. “Yeah, I guess i fell asleep working on this family history project. I just didn’t want to give up until I finished”

“That’s my son, stubborn as his mother. You know you two almost killed each other in child birth?”

“Yeah I know. I was just working on this family history project. I was so interested I guess I just forgot to go to bed.” Lukas said defensively until he saw his father’s smile.

“So where are you in our long history. We can trace our lineage back all the way to the fifth century on Terra Nova. That’s a long an noble tradition and lots of ground to cover.”

“Yeah, I was stuck on the reconstruction period, the information gets really hard to follow for a couple hundred years and then there’s the name change. How is it we know we landed on Terra Nova called the Urquharts and then the the history sorta falls apart around one thousand and then in the sixteenth century the same family comes out of the WFP with the name Lassander. I don’t get it?”

“Your great-grandfather was quite the family historian, he though it was an important marriage which broke the line of the Urquhart name but records are hard to find. His sister though, you’re great aunt Beatrice, she had some more colourful ideas. In fact, her notions sound like something from your friend Todd’s novels. bBt She was schizophrenic and had hallucination her entire life which medication never quite controlled. The long and short of it son is that the name changed but the spirit of this family never did.”

“OK father, like the family motto says: Nun, nunkam re...”

“Nunquam Retrorsum.”

“Never retreat right? That’s because we had some kind of military history, that’s what my teacher says.”

“He’s probably right, but it can mean a lot more than just that. It means never let your family down, never shy away from your responsibility, never be afraid and never stop trying to be better.”

Lukas nodded gravely, listening to the sage words of his father. Donovar Lassander just smiled at his precocious son with pride.

“Go get yourself ready for school Lukas, you have many things to learn and the sun is coming up.”

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