What was it all about? Jarmo Dorak paced up and down his room again. They had been very kind. They had gradually given him access to the Internet and other information. But not more. He still couldn’t get in touch with the outside world. Yes, he no longer had a family, but there were sure to be friends who were worried about him. He had found it was six years since he disappeared. He had to catch up these six years first. And he couldn’t believe what had happened on earth. One of the biggest countries on the planet on the brink of a civil war that was forced by fanatical gun enthusiasts. The climate change. The pandemic. And it was precisely this moment that the curator had chosen to let Jarmo fall back into this reality from the “between space”.
The people at ASTROCOHORS had said they would need to consult. Then they would make a decision. Oh yes, he had completely forgotten that with the other catastrophes: The blockade of the solar system by an unknown force that called itself the HIGH HAND. The solar system was thus cut off from the rest of the galaxy. And as before, the earth was on its own. With all these crazy people … Jarmo’s mind whirled back and forth again. They wanted to make a decision. But about what? Okay about him. But what exactly should this decision concern? Would you finally let him go? Or should he stay here in the ATLANTIS base, locked up in this room? Just what he’s the last … He counted in his mind. August September October November December. Five months! It’s been five months. He had tried to distract himself like they had said. He had done research about six missed years and penned a few reports, just as he had done in the “between space.” “Computer!” He called into the room. The ATLANTIS base computer was specially configured for him. He couldn’t address the system directly. Everything he asked for was checked beforehand by a monitor program. That’s why he couldn’t address artificial intelligence by its real name – ARNOLD. The computer beeped in response. “Play me a song,” ordered Dorak. “The Song of the Language of Shakespeare …” The computer beeped again and shortly afterwards a strange song could be heard, parts of which Jarmo sang softly along.
“Hello, you bloody anglophonians, from London to L.A…. Among you are very few who speak a foreign language, but we do… The language of Shakespeare you can smoke in the pipe…”
He sat down again. Wasn’t it New Year’s Eve today? Would they at least wish him a happy new year? As far as he understood, the fireworks were off this year anyway. But then he heard a noise. Was there someone coming?
The early light is breaking
The morning sun is waiting in the sky
And I think I'm gonna break away
And follow where the birds of freedom fly
I need to give, I need to live
For the world is slowly turning
And the lights of love are burning in my eyes
Caravans, oh my soul is on the run
Overland, I am flying
Caravans moving out into the sun
Oh I don't know where I'm going
But I'm going
- Mike Batt: "Caravan Song"
The ASTROCOHORS CLUB headquarters was still busy. The large room in which all the activities of the organization were monitored was filled with noise. People and aliens who sat at computer terminals and had conversations. Conversations around the world and between the planets. For the first time in a long, dark time, something like hope seemed to arise again. “Can someone get McClure for me?” Someone suddenly called through the noise. Immediately the noises muffled. What? McClure? What was going on? Why should you contact them? Seconds later her picture appeared on one of the screens. “This is McClure,” she said sternly. “Woe if that is not important!” “It’s important!” Said one of the communications officers. “I join you!” The officer pressed a few buttons. Two images were now placed in parallel on the large monitor in the room, with Aisha McClure on the left, who had been monitoring the operations over the past few weeks. The face of an Asian woman appeared on the right half. “This is Commander Soraya Mahdar!” Said the Asian. “Can you hear me?” “McClure here!” Said Aisha. “I can hear and see you. What is it?” “Good news from ASTROCOHORS ONLINE! We did it!” “Done?” McClure couldn’t seem to believe it. “You finished too?” “Yes, we …” The rest of the sentence Commander Mahdar had to say was drowned out in a cheer. The officers in the great room expressed their joy. “Quiet!” McClure called over the communication. “Quiet please! Commander, please repeat.” “We’re done. Communication is back. However, we’ve lost a few of our employees.” “Oh.” McClure looked down. “Not all of us made it either.” “Then let’s be silent for a minute,” replied Mahdar. “Without the sacrifices that have been made for the cause, what we have now achieved would not be possible. So let gratitude flow into your hearts.” Mahdar looked down too. Everyone in the room stood up, bowed their heads, and said nothing.
After a minute, McClure broke the silence. “We need to inform the Admiralty,” she said. “We do,” confirmed Mahdar. “And we can tell you: ASTROCOHORS CLUB is fully operational again!”
Captain Bill Stryker went into the office of Admiral Jeanette Piqué. He looked worried.
“Do you think this is a good idea?” He asked. “You don’t agree?” She asked back. “Well, I know we have to do something. This Earth thing ist getting out of hand..:” “Oh, that’s an understatement, Captain! ‘Out of hand’? The Earthlings are gone completely crazy. If we go on supporting this area of the planet, we have to do it right another way.” “What do you suggest?” “We have to re-organize it. The Secret Service reported a group of promising Terrans who were on the case of this Scarsdale Manor thing.” “Scarsdale Manor?” Stryker seems shocked. He’s read something about in secret reports. “And they…?” “Just did it.” Piqué’s response sounded casually. Just like she was talking about the wheather. “Earth just had the season’s tipping point” She went on. “Midsummer. How symbolic. Maybe a good opportunity to rearrange everything. We already have the Battlefields up in the front. But we need more! We should not only gather knowledge, we should bring it right to the people. Build an Academy! And there’s something on the front line. We need to cover this. And we need a special team.” “But all this can’t be done in one day!” Stryker exclaimed. “Of course not.” Piqué nodded her head. “It will take several days. We will put on the task one by one.” “What to do first?” “Well, at first we will assemble a special team. A fellowship, if you will.” “The Fellowship of the Ring?” “Oh shut up, Stryker! Are you crazy? Do you think I want these people to run around, wearing rings that have an inscription saying something like One Ring to bring them all and bind them in eternal Frienship?” “Would be some big rings” Stryker murmured. “To answer your question: No! We will use something more suitable. These people will channel the positive engergy and bring it together. So I think… Canalis Tremendum is a good name.” “If you say so.”
“Prepare the ship. We will travel to Earth! And everything else will be sought out on the way!” “Yes, Ma’am!”
To be continued right here: CANALIS TREMENDUM – The Gathering
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 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.
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.”
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…
…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!”
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…
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