The Conundrum of BR

Brazil is a complex nation. As a Portuguese colony it served as a base for plantation owners selling cash crops by slave labour, before being propelled to vast importance as the home of the Portuguese royal family. But the story doesn’t stop there.

We have to expand the ASTROCOHORS CLUB. We have been working on opening a separate department for Brazil for years. For years we have also had the buildings that the UBI secret service acquired. It is time…

The Wheel of Fire

In a literary context, a wheel of fire may refer to the chain of tortuous or dire consequences that result from a single action. The Wheel of Fire originates in Greek mythology as the punishment for Ixion, who was bound to a wheel of fire for lusting after Zeus’s wife, Hera.

The Wheel of Fire is part of the Aristotelian reading of a tragedy (e.g., plays), which includes the central flaw within a character. In Shakespeare’s tragedy Othello, the flaw in Othello himself is his vulnerability to jealousy and his tendency to believe Iago, who is manipulating Othello into believing his wife is unfaithful. As a result of this flaw Othello loses a loyal friend, murders his wife, and is driven insane before eventually committing suicide. In this scenario the Wheel of Fire begins with the action of Othello trusting Iago and consequently the other events occur.

The Wheel of Fire is most commonly applied to the protagonist within a tragedy (i.e. the hero) and may aim to provoke sympathy from the audience when the hero falls from grace (this purging of emotions is known as catharsis), though it also adds dramatic interest to the performance.

The Wheel of Fire is also the title of G. Wilson Knight’s book on Shakespearean tragedy.

In Shakespeare’s King Lear, Lear states: “But I am bound upon a wheel of fire, / That mine own tears do scald like molten lead”.


This article contains material from the Wikipedia article “Wheel of Fire“. Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply.

Me at the zoo | YouTube

If you only have one dimension available, things can get tiresome quickly. But maybe this coin has two sides. The creativity must not be limited. And that was exactly the idea when a couple of friends had something to discuss: Steve Chen, Chad Hurley, and Jawed Karim, who were all early employees of PayPal. Hurley had studied design at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and Chen and Karim studied computer science together at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign.

The inspiration for a new kind of video website obviously first came from Janet Jackson’s role in 2004 Super Bowl incident when her breast was exposed during her performance, and later from the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. Karim could not easily find video clips of either event online, which led to the idea of a video sharing site. Hurley and Chen said that the original idea was a video version of an online dating service, and had been influenced by the website Hot or Not. They created posts on Craigslist asking attractive women to upload videos of themselves to YouTube in exchange for a $100 reward. Difficulty in finding enough dating videos led to a change of plans, with the site’s founders deciding to accept uploads of any type of video.

Hurley and Chen developed the idea during the early months of 2005, after they had experienced difficulty sharing videos that had been shot at a dinner party at Chen’s apartment in San Francisco.

The domain name www.youtube.com was activated on February 14, 2005, and the website was developed over the subsequent months. The first YouTube video, titled Me at the zoo, shows co-founder Jawed Karim at the San Diego Zoo. The video was uploaded on April 23, 2005.

You never know where things are going. But maybe it is worth adding a new location to this story. So there is a new department of the ASTROCOHORS CLUB:

ASTROCOHORS CLUB Videos,

starting with a simple visit at the zoo. Because the elephants, you know…

But…

What will you do, when they get you?

What will you do, when they break you?

If you continue, what will you… become?


(c) 2005 YouTube

Parts of this article contains information from the Wikipedia article “YouTube“. Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply.

Walking Bombs

Finally a time of silence … of peace …
How long did he wait for it? He couldn’t say that. Jarmo Dorak looked at his own picture in the mirror.

Have you gotten older, old buddy? He asked himself. His brown hair – has it gotten lighter? His blue eyes, did they show he was almost 34 years old?
He hoped they don’t.

A rumble shook the shuttle. Landing. The arrival. They had finally arrived.
“Commander”, said the pilot from his seat, “we are now in the parking position. Shall I wait?”
“What are your general orders?”
“To ask you if I should wait.”
Thanks for that exact answer, thought Dorak. He moved his hand around his chin.
“Well, as far as I know, there are many transports waiting, it won’t be wise to keep you waiting here. Contact VERI’S BASTION and let them know that you are ready to depart. I will inform you if I need a return transport. “
“Yes sir!”
The door opened and Jarmo got off the shuttle. The little ship had landed in front of a castle-like building made of sand-colored stone. A shipyard. In front of it lay a ship that was almost ready to sail. A sailing ship. But Dorak knew that inside the building was one of the most modern shipyards for spaceships. He walked towards the building. A guard stood near a staircase leading up to the stairs.
“Sir,” he said, “may I see your ID?”
Dorak took his identity card out of the pocket of his uniform trousers. Of course he was wearing the ASTROCOHORS uniform, but the guard had to make sure. He took the ID card and inserted it into an electronic reader. A few seconds later, the device confirmed the identity.
“Everything’s alright, Commander!”, Said the security guard and gave Jarmo his card back, “You can pass!”
“Thanks very much.”
The commander went up the stairs to a door. He opened it and finally entered the building. Inside was a large room. Dorak was in a kind of gallery, a path along the wall to the other side of the room, where he disappeared into a door. The shipyard’s construction hall was located below. And there was a small ship in it. It was in the shape of a rounded triangle. To be precise, all of the shapes on it were round, even the front went up in a round. It looked sleek and elegant. On the front there were some letters that read:

ATLANTICA
SCSV 1512

He could only see one side from where he was, but assumed that name was on both sides of the ship. A prototype. A development from other ships. Something completely new. “SCSV” stood for “Space Cruising and Submergence Vehicle”. It could fly in space, in the atmosphere of a planet, and it could even dive, swim, and submerge in water. At least in theory. But half a dozen technicians ran around and climbed onto the little ship. One repaired the hull with a welder. Sparks flew everywhere. Another was looking at a blueprint.
Suddenly Dorak heard a woman’s voice. He could not understand the first words, but thought they were spoken in a language of the continent of Europe. The next few words were in the common language so that he could understand them.
“No! No!” Said the woman, “That belongs here and that belongs there!”
Then Dorak saw her. Before she had stood behind the ship, now she came around, another technician followed her. She looked like she was under stress. The technician looked like that too. But she wasn’t a technician. The overalls she was wearing indicated that she was a pilot. And she had a hard hat on. After all, it was a shipyard and they worked hard here.
Dorak walked down the path to the other side. When he came through the door, he finally found another flight of stairs down. He went down the stairs and now entered the construction hall on the lower level. Up close, the ship looked even more impressive. But now Dorak saw the other side of it and saw that a part the size of 1 square meter had been removed from the fuselage. And there was a technician working there.
The woman came back around the ship. She looked at a data pad and again said something Dorak couldn’t understand. But he thought it was Portuguese.
“Excuse me,” he said.
“Yes?” She looked up and was surprised to see him.
“I’m Lieutenant Commander Jarmo Dorak from ASTROCOHORS CLUB,” he said, “Are you the officer in charge of the ATLANTICA project?”

Beatriz del Almeida

“Yes I am,” she said.
“Nice to meet you!”
“Nice to meet you too, Commander Jarmo Dorak.” Jarmo found the way she called him a little strange, but he didn’t let it show. “May I introduce myself,” she continued. “I’m Lieutenant Commander Beatriz de Almeida. I’m Brazilian. Almeida comes from my father’s family. He was from Portugal.”
“He was …” began Dorak.
“Yes, he’s already …”
“I am sorry!”
“That’s okay! Actually, both of my parents are dead. They died in an accident. It happened during a trip to Earth seven years ago.”
As she talked, she moved back to the spaceship. She gave the technicians some final orders and let them go on with their work.
“It’s noon,” she said then, without taking her eyes off the hull of the spaceship. “Would you like to join me for lunch? We could talk about the project. That was what you wanted to talk about in the first place, right?”
“Yes, that’s right. I accept the offer. Let’s go!”

A restaurant in an ASTROCOHORS spaceport isn’t exactly a glamorous place to be, but that wasn’t a “real” date anyway. Beatriz felt awful when she excused herself to go to the bathroom and saw those big black bags under her eyes in the mirror. The result of three nights of work without sleep. She worked pretty hard on the ATLANTICA project and because of her intense commitment, her superiors decided to give her a very special mission. As always, she looked in the mirror and started talking to herself again …

“Do I really look thirty-four? My friends say I don’t, but how can I trust them? They like me. I don’t really like that light brown color in my hair. I should have listened to my brother and kept the red as he did. It’s too late now! “

She left the bathroom feeling even worse. She felt older and even more tired. Still, she managed to resume the conversation and ask Dorak what he wanted to eat. They also found something on the menu. Jarmo wanted to be polite and asked if Beatrice would like to drink wine.

“Not for me,” she declined. “I’ve worked so hard these days. A glass would make me fall asleep for days … Sorry!”

“No problem.” In his mind he rebuked himself. What’s the matter with you? He asked himself. You act like this is a date. You don’t drink alcohol yourself, so why now?
He tried to focus his mind on something else.
“Are you telling me about the project?” He asked her. “Something tells me it’s busy. Is that correct?”
“Yes, that’s right and I’m glad you came because I was supposed to see you earlier, but I really didn’t find the time.”
“Well, then I’ll tell you what I know about this mission. Very little, actually. Our mission, in a few words, is to get the ATLANTICA up and running and to test it.”
“Yeah, pretty much that, but we have to do ‘something extra’, Mr. Dorak.”
“Please call me Jarmo. What would that ‘extra something’ be, Miss Almeida?”
“You can call me Beatriz, okay? We’re partners now, so … I’m telling you everything I know. ASTROCOHORS has some reason to believe that there might be a place on Earth that is hidden underwater Its location is not entirely clear yet, but scientists believe it is somewhere in the southern hemisphere. Geologists say volcanic activity has submerged large areas of land. Just think of Doggerland. “
“But … if it was a volcano, then there shouldn’t be anything left of the land masses.”
“Special laboratories have been searching the oceans for some time. They use special ships like the ATLANTICA. They found significant evidence that there is life in certain regions. And it is underwater.”
“I understand. In addition to flying, our ship is also equipped for underwater trips.”
“Yes,” confirmed Beatriz, “we also have diving suits on board for a wide variety of water depths. However, the armor for the extreme depths must be touched up again. Something is wrong with the energy generators. If someone uses such a suit, he is at the moment more som sort of walking bomb. “
“But wait, what exactly is that land mass we are supposed to find there?”
“I’m not sure yet. That’s why they want us on this mission. What I know is that this is the first time we are to use our ship underwater. We will be the first to dive with the ATLANTICA. Isn’t it great? Aren’t you looking forward to it? “
She was very excited. It was almost contagious.
“Okay,” she smiled. “I’ll tell you what I know. Have you ever heard of the Cita Nalur icosahedron?”
Dorak’s eyes lit up. “Now it’s getting even more interesting!” He said. “The icosahedron is said to be part of a network to which the temple of the wind harp also belongs. It could be a trace to the temple.”
Now Beatrice smiled too. “Yes, and what is hidden under the water is supposed to be Cita Nalur itself! And what do you say now?”
Jarmo was flabbergasted. He was silent. Then he hugged Beatrice. Simply that way. Quite spontaneously. He had to express his exuberance of emotion. Beatrice was surprised, but not averse. It had been a long time since anyone had hugged her.
Then Dorak broke the embrace again. “Sorry,” he muttered. “That … was the excitement.”
“That’s fine,” she replied. “With the enthusiasm we both have, we should have succeeded in locating Cita Nalur!”
“And to see what is true of all the legends and what is not,” added Jarmo.
The waiter came and brought them the drinks, chilled mineral water.
“Mineral water or not,” said Dorak, “we can toast with it. I think this is a great moment. And we have something great ahead of us! To a good cooperation!”
Jarmo and Beatriz raised their glasses. “To a good cooperation!”, Said Beatrice.
The glasses rang and both looked into each other’s eyes. Then they each took a sip.
“This is how we continued the story of the ASTROCOHORS CLUB,” said Dorak. “Maybe at some point we should open departments.”

The Planet of Peril

Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash
Surface of Mars. Photo by NASA on Unsplash
Surface of Mars. Photo by NASA on Unsplash

It would have been an exaggeration to describe the planet Mars as “calm”. Scientists on Earth would have said that because the grid hid the events that were taking place on this desert planet from their prying eyes. Life had changed a lot since the climate catastrophe. Mars had previously been made up of large deserts, but it had gotten worse since the atmosphere was no longer renewed. The Martians had withdrawn to domed cities. The domed cities of Mars had always been epicentres for social unrest. And whenever the unrest increased, there was some high-ranking military member who willingly supported a politician. Then propaganda was carried out so that one could emigrate to other planets, one only had to conquer them. However, any attempt to conquer has so far failed. Not even the radical cult that followed the “Eternal” was successful. And in a world like Mars, that meant something.

The domed city Aresium was the capital of the planet. You could say that this was the most civilized place. But that was not an award. “Civilized” was a very relative description on Mars. The dome of Aresium spanned a large crater in the northern hemisphere of the planet. There was the city of Aresium itself with its tall buildings, several parks that were important for the preservation of the air and even a body of water. The water was also important for the ecological balance under the dome. The city had a whole authority that only dealt with the issues of balance.

Jarmo Dorak turned around. He stood close to a building under some sort of sun shield. He wore the black uniform shirt of STAR COMMAND, together with the trousers in khaki colours so everybody near him could recognize him as an officer of the space fleet. But he would have been recognized anyway.

Jarmo Dorak. Picture by ASTROCOHORS.com
Jarmo Dorak. Picture by ASTROCOHORS.com

Jarmo was still fascinated. He had seen inhabitants of other planets in the solar system many times before, but never had so many different ones in one place. They all looked like human beings from Earth, but what made them different was skin color. Of course, they looked like people from Earth, the ACELS had made them from Earth humans and adjusted their DNA. Martians, for example, were characterized by their extremely red skin tone.
“I shouldn’t be staring at her,” Jarmo said to himself. Perhaps the Martians felt that as an insult. And when they were offended, the Martians could get very unpleasant.

The dome’s waters sprang from various sources that were carefully monitored. And pretty much in the middle of the crater they ran into a large lake. The lake was the basis of life for many residents of Aresium. There were fishermen here, but also transport boats. Many goods were transported from one side of the lake to the other. Here, where Jarmo was, was the city’s residential and business district. There were large industrial plants on the other side of the lake. There was, of course, its own weather under the dome and, as so often on Mars, it was warm. The sun did not have the same power as on Earth, but there were fewer clouds. If any.

Jarmo sauntered down a sprawling promenade and reached a large structure that seemed to be made of something similar to wood. A pier, a large jetty that led from the promenade across the beach below into the water. The pier ended at a large platform. Here were small houses or stalls, to be exact. And a…
Was that a crane?

Although Jarmo had noticed the steel scaffolding and also that a lot of Martians were there, but now he realized why they were there. The crane had a winch, from which a rope was led over the boom, which hung down into the water. Jarmo had not seen it at first, but there was a person hanging from the rope! Not the way someone hanged someone to strangle him. No, the rope of the crane was wrapped around the person’s ankles, so that she hung with her head down in the water.
And that was why Jarmo had not noticed the person at first: she had been under water. Now he heard the crowd of Martians next to the crane yelling and screaming. Someone operated the crane and that was cheered on by the crowd.

Jarmo could only guess what the reason for this cruel spectacle was. But it was a very good guess. Because the person who was hanging on the rope was a Terran. And she had a dark skin, probably African roots, even if she did not even come directly from this continent.
Now Jarmo noticed a second group of people who stood aloof, but behaved completely differently. They were crowded together, talking softly. You could see that they did not like the spectacle, but they did not have the courage to intervene. That was no wonder, because all these people belonged to minorities. Green-skinned Venusians, blue-skinned Neptunians, people from Saturn and so forth. And Martian “Un-Pures”.

Jarmo had already heard about it: Amongst the Martians, a kind of “culture of purity” had developed. The pigments in the skin of an average Martians had to be red, then he was “pure”. But in the course of history many peoples had immigrated to the territory of the Solar System. Children from mixed relationships could be recognized immediately by a different skin tone or darker spots. It was simply a whim of nature, nature loved diversity, not monotony. The spots sometimes formed interesting patterns, may have different shades. But it led to exclusion. The darker and larger the spots were, the more the “pure” Martians looked down on others.

And now there had come a Terran whose skin was completely dark. An abomination for the “pure”! Such things were extremely rare among the Martians. Apparently that was reason enough for the mob to go crazy. Now you could even understand, what the crowd was yelling: “Mag’a! Mag’a! Mag’a!” It was a Martian word meaning “Eternal”. At least some of them supposedly were radical cultist. The rest were just followers.

“Please sir!” Jarmo Dorak turner around. He had been so focused on the crowd that he had not noticed how a man approached him. A Martian with a green pattern on the skin.
“Please, sir!” The man repeated. “I see you are also appalled by this. Please do something, we can not do anything without exposing ourself to the wrath of the crowd! She comes from your world, right?”
The Terran nodded. The young woman was about his age, about the end of her twenties. She had curly dark hair and wore nothing but a bikini. Apparently her clothes had been ripped off her.
She has just been pulled up again. You could hear her all over the pier gasping for air. The Martian operating the crane shouted: “Down again, yes?”
The crowd yelled. Maybe something like “Yes!” It was not understandable and it did not really matter. A button was pressed. The winch released the rope. The young Terran fell like a stone into the water. With a slpashing sound she disappeared between the waves.
“Get them up again!” Shouted the man who operated the winch. “Then she’s allowed to breathe again, and then let’s see how long she can stand underwater! They say Terrans are good athletes, let’s find out!”
Jarmo now knew he had to act quickly. But he too had no chance against the crowd. He had to do something different.
He winked at the Martian who was standing next to him. Then he ran from the pier down to the beach, under the construction.
He took off his clothes. He left his underpants on and hoped that the water would not be too cold. Above, the crowd screamed. He took his multifunction tool from a trouser pocket and went a few steps into the water. Not too cold, he noted. He went into the water and started to swim, always making sure to stay under the pier. The crowd up there should not see him.

Then it happened!

With a splash, the woman fell into the water and sank immediately. Jarmo did not understand that. Yes, her feet were tied up, but why did she sink in the water? Jarmo took a deep breath and went under.

The water was fortunately clear enough so that he could see. He saw the woman sinking to the bottom. Desperately, she moved her arms. Jarmo realized that the rope tied around her feet held a weight that pulled her down. And either she was not a good swimmer or just too exhausted, so she could not make it back to the surface.
Jarmo swam up to her. He realized that she was startled when he touched her feet. He took his tool and cut into the rope. It was tiring, but he managed to cut right through the rope.

He noticed that a large part of the rope lay loosely on the ground. The guy on the winch had given a lot of rope. He obviously wanted to make sure that the woman was really on the ground of the lake. He grabbed the woman and pulled her away under water until both were under the pier. Then they showed up. The woman gasped loudly. Jarmo hoped the waves were louder. He hoped the Martians on the pier wouldn’t hear them.
“Can you hold on here?” Asked Jarmo.
The woman was still breathing frantically, but she nodded her head.
“Why?” She wanted to know.
“I have to do something else.”
Then he dived again.

Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash
Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

Underwater Jarmo grabbed the lose end of the rope and swam toward one of the pillars that held the platform of the pier. He put the rope around the pillar and knotted it. Then he swam back to the woman and surfaced.
“I’ll take you to the beach,” he said to the woman. Then he took her under her arms and dragged her to the beach in the cover of the pier.
Arrived in the shallow water, she simply remained face down. She was completely out of breath. Jarmo saw that her face was not in the water and let her breathe first. For now, they would be safe here. Then he saw how the rope tensed. The crowd wanted to see the woman pulled up again. But as the rope was now tied to the pillar, nothing moved. Then he heard the engine of the winch howl. The guy upstairs had given more energy. And then it happened: Since the rope did not come loose, the crane was torn from its mount. He fell forward and smashed into the pier. People screamed and ran off in panic while the front of the pier slowly collapsed.

“That’ll be a lesson to them,” Jarmo muttered.
“I do not think so.” The young woman had said that. She slowly raised her head and looked at Jarmo. “Thanks for getting me out of there.”
“Never mind,” Jarmo replied, holding out his hand. “I am Jarmo Dorak.”
The woman took his hand. “Aisha McClure,” she said. She straightened her and looked down at herself. “Where did these barbarians put my clothes and my glasses?”
Jarmo also got up. “I do not know,” he answered. “I came only when you were already on the rope.”
“I can not walk this way!” She said indignantly.
“Up there were some people who had nothing to do with the mob, I’ll ask them, maybe they saw something.”
He wanted to leave, but Aisha grabbed him by the shoulder. “Hey!” She said. “Although that’s a nice sight, but you can not walk the streets like that either!”
“Damn, I did not think about that anymore!” He walked over to the spot where he had taken off his clothes. At that moment, the Martian came running, with whom Jarmo had previously spoken. He had big towels with them.
“Fast, fast,” said he. “The evil ones are gone, but they’ll be back, and then they’ll want to know what happened.”
Aisha and Jarmo wrapped themselves in the towels.
“We bring you to our homes,” said the Martian. “You can warm up there.”
“Did you happen to find my clothes?” Aisha asked.
“Yes, we did, and your glasses are safe too, we saved everything.”
Jarmo smiled at Aisha and she smiled back.
“Hurry now!” Demanded the Martian.
“What an adventure,” thought Jarmo. “I only came here because of the library.”

New Worlds to Conquer!

Surface of Mars. Photo by NASA on Unsplash
Surface of Mars. Photo by NASA on Unsplash
Surface of Mars. Photo by NASA on Unsplash

Jarmo Dorak was a young man in his twenties. To be exact, he was 29, but he looked younger. And although he was rather young, he was the chosen one to open up this new section of STAR COMMAND. The new section was named STAR COMMAND CLUB. Let’s start with that. And at the beginning of this report, Jarmo Dorak is in a shuttle that was launched from the ENDEAVOR spacecraft to fly to the surface of Mars. Actually, the new department should just be founded. The CLUB, which should spread knowledge and understanding among the peoples of the solar system. Especially on earth. And the CLUB should look for new recruits.
The departments at STAR COMMAND headquarters had agreed. And also the branches on the different planets of the solar system. However, one has to say that the Martians were somewhat peculiar. Since the last conflict, they had returned to their religious roots and paid much attention to ceremonies. Ceremonies were important. And they insisted that a ceremony be held at the Pyra Oracle on Mars.
“Where exactly are we going?” Dorak asked the pilot.
“Does the ‘Valley Without Hope’ sound familiar?” Asked the pilot back.
“Not that I know.”
“Today it’s called the ‘Valley of Liberation’. From here the resistance that brought down the last Mars dictator was started. There are a few caves there.”
“The caves also have a special name, am I right?”
The pilot laughed. “Of course they have a special name,” he said. “They’re called the ‘Blue Sorceress’ Caverns’. The Blue Sorceress reportedly destroyed the Kagnaszax jewels there, robbing the Mars dictator of a valuable source of power.”
“I don’t understand it anymore,” admitted Jarmo. “‘Valley Without Hope’, ‘Valley Of Liberation’, Blue Sorceress And Now Jewels? Jewels Of Ka .. What?”
“Kagnaszax,” repeated the pilot. “There is a large library in the capital, Aresium, where you can read all of it. It’s actually quite interesting. But you should get ready now.”
“Get ready?”
“The spacesuit. We have to go out into the atmosphere of Mars. You should put it on, there’s just enough time.”

The sight was overwhelming. A large pyramid towered over the valley. There was something in front of this pyramid that reminded of the Gize Sphinx. Jarmo remembered reading something. Originally there was a large stone block above the entrance to the caves. After the fall of the Mars dictator, the rock was redesigned. The resemblance to the Sphinx was not accidental.
Dorak and the pilot had just got out of the shuttle when a Martian in space suit came up to them. Jarmo activated the communication unit of his suit.
“Greetings to you!” He heard the Martian’s voice over the radio. He spoke in Galstan. His voice was a little high, but he had no accent. “I assume that you are Jarmo Dorak from STAR COMMAND?”
“I am,” Jarmo confirmed. “And who are you?”
“A humble servant of the oracle of Pyra,” said the other. “Call me Hellgge.”

At that moment there was a flash of lightning in the sky. Jarmo looked up and was amazed. A shuttle had started in the distance. An old transport shuttle that was supposed to bring material into orbit, maybe a satellite. It was an outstanding spectacle.
“Yes,” said Hellgge the Martian. “Always fascinating. But we don’t have much time. If you would follow me now?”

Hellgge brought Jarmo down into the valley. Between the paws of the sphinx was the entrance to the caves. After the atmosphere of Mars became thinner and thinner, the entrance had been fitted with a pressure door. The Terran and the Martian entered an airlock. After the air pressure was equalized, both were able to take off their spacesuits and put them aside. Then the inner door of the airlock opened. Now they were finally able to enter the oracle’s cave.
“Everything visible has to go beyond itself and enter the area of ​​the invisible,” said Hellgge. It sounded like a mantra. Or a prayer.
“May the forces of forty-two be with you,” answered someone from the back of the cave.
Jarmo had trouble recognizing something. There had been a lot of light in the airlock, but the cave itself was lit only by a few lamps. Then he recognized another Martian wearing a wide robe. He seemed like a priest.
“Is that our guest?” Asked the priest.
“This is Jarmo Dorak from STAR COMMAND,” said Hellgge.
“Greetings to you, Jarmo Dorak from STAR COMMAND,” said the priest. “I am Tornagg, ordained high level priest and protector of the oracle of Pyra. The Council of Elders sends you to us, right?”
“Uh, yes,” said Jarmo carefully. “We want to create a new STAR COMMAND division and the Council of Elders wishes the oracle’s blessing.”
Tornagg laughed. “The blessing of the oracle?” He said then. “Know, stranger, that no one receives the blessing of the oracle! This ceremony is about something else.”
“Forgive my ignorance,” Dorak apologized. “But the records of this ceremony are somewhat incomplete.”
“It doesn’t matter,” said Tornagg. “The ceremony is not for reading. It has to be experienced.”

The priest pointed to a niche in the wall. The niche was lined with what appeared to be glittering blue dust.
“At this place, the Blue Sorceress destroyed the jewels of Kagnaszax and liberated my people. But the magic of the jewels is still working. Stand in front of the niche.”
Jarmo did as ordered. “Now look!”
Tornagg threw a small crystal into the niche. In that moment…

Photo by Jeremy Thomas on Unsplash
Photo by Jeremy Thomas on Unsplash

…then it was over. Jarmo Dorak felt strange. It seemed that no time had passed while simultaneously he had the impression that a lot of time had passed. He checked his pocket computer. Half an hour. But he could not remember details. Just… something… feelings. And a message.

“You remember what the oracle said to you?”, Tornagg asked from behind.

Jarmo turned around. “Yes…”, he said slowly.

“Well, then you may go on with your life”, the priest replied. “May the Force of Somebody be with you on your task. Now STAR COMMAND CLUB will always be welcome here on Mars. Remember that!”

“Yes…”

Jarmo walked a few steps. The message from the oracle became clearer in his head.

FIND THE WIND HARP AND YOU WILL FIND THE CUBE OF KNOWLEDGE.

But why should I find this cube?, he thought, and suddenly the answer to his question appeared in his mind: BECAUSE YOU WILL NEED IT. GO FIND IT!

Jarmo was shocked. The oracle was still talking to him! Now he remembered pictures of strange places. Somethin like… a way… to the Wind Harp? Who knew?

He decided to make a report. After all, Katerina was waiting for his message. He decided to take care of the Wind Harp later…

FOREWORD


We may congratulate ourselves that this cruel war is nearing its end. It has cost a vast amount of treasure and blood. . . . It has indeed been a trying hour for the Republic; but I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. As a result of the war, corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed.
I feel at this moment more anxiety for the safety of my country than ever before, even in the midst of war. God grant that my suspicions may prove groundless.

U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, Nov. 21, 1864
(letter to Col. William F. Elkins)

A fanatic is one who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject.

U.K. Prime Minister Winston Churchill

Be careful when you fight with monsters, so you don’t become a monster yourself. And if you look long enough into an abyss, the abyss also looks into you.

Friedrich Nietzsche, German Philosopher

There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge’.

Isaac Asimov

There must be something worth trying for
Even some things worth dying for
And if one man can stand tall
There must be some hope for us all
Somewhere, somewhere in the spirit of man

“The War of the Worlds”, Musical Version by Jeff Wayne
(lyrics from the song “The Spirit of Man”)