Return to main menu Return to the fan fiction menu Return to the chapter menu

In The Name Of The Mother

Part Three


City of Landen, Landen Habitat, Planet Motavia

"Technology means destruction!" shouted the man, pounding his fist on the council's table. "Our ancestor's ways almost destroyed us all. How many times must we be punished before we learn the lesson!"

Bran sighed and traced patterns on the table with his finger. The worst part of it was that the angry speaker didn't represent the whole Rysel delegation. In fact, that was why they had come to Landen. They were gathering opinions from the other cities of Mota. Rysel City itself was divided on the issue. Bran was hoping it wouldn't come up in Landen City, but every day that hope seemed pretty stupid. He could see Alec nodding and scowling across the table from him. Things were about to come to a head. Actually it was kind of a surprise it had taken so long. The talks had been going on for days and the thing was nobody really seemed to know why. Bran did. People had a lot of problems these days, and they needed an excuse to get them off their chests. Alec didn't need much of an excuse to start foaming at the mouth about the evil ways of the past.

If the council thought Bran's liberal attitude would balance Alec's conservative one, they were sadly mistaken. Bran had the courage of his convictions, but he wasn't nearly so impressive a speaker as the fiery Alec. He didn't feel the need to change people's attitudes, he just found it surprising when they didn't agree with him.

His opposite number finally stood up, knocking over his chair in the process. "The Rysellian is right! Super technology destroyed the homeworld of our ancestors. It ruined our minds, made us dependent. And in the beginning, it was our master, ruling us for the tyrant Lassic! Alis didn't know what she was doing when she unleashed the horrors of technology."

Bran rose. This was really too much. "You have a problem with Alis's killing Lassic? You think we'd be better off under his rule?"

"That's not what I meant," said Alec. "She was right to kill Lassic. She knew that technology was the enemy of the people, and she wanted to destroy it. She tried her best, and she went a long way to succeeding. She freed us from technology's grip, but the people were weak. They succumbed to the lure of technology and gave up their souls to it."

"Come on! You can't believe this stuff. It's true that our ancestors' culture fell apart, but that's because they had everything handed to them on a silver platter. Things are different. Technology to us means a plow that can work a field faster than a man. Without technology we'll never develop any kind of civilization and you know it. We'll be Motans forever. That's not the heritage our ancestors left for us."

"That heritage is worthless."

"That heritage is the stars, Alec."

"No, Bran, that heritage is guns and security robots and spaceships that crash and satellites that collide with planets and destroy them."

Alec had a point, of course, but Bran knew his real fear was the first item on the list. Alec had always been against big displays of technology, but he hadn't minded the small, useful things. Like needlers, which made hunting a lot easier. Until one day Alec had come home to discover that there had been an accident at home with his laser needle, and that his four-year old daughter, Shusa, was dead. It was a tragic accident, but Alec had taken it really hard, and had come out of it a passionate anti-technologist.

"We owe Alis a debt for freeing our minds from Lassic's tyranny, especially after we failed to live up to the bold dream she had for us. That's why I join with the speaker from the anti-technology faction of the Rysel delegation. I believe we should abandon the ways of the past and start a new life here. And we can start that by refusing to refer to our world as Mota. That's a name from the dark times of ignorance. Our world is now...Alisa!"

Not particularly inspired, Bran thought, but he couldn't deny its effect. About half the council and half the Rysel delegation rose to its feet in roaring support of Alec's statement. The others had much the same look on their face as Bran, a kind of "well we tried" expression.

Well, there wasn't much anyone could do, really. The anti faction was plenty vehement, but without a clear majority, things would proceed as always, although Bran had no illusions that he wouldn't have to put up with the name "Alisa" for a while. He really couldn't believe things had gotten so bad. Changing the name of the planet? It had been Mota since Alis's day. If it was good enough for her it should surely be good enough for Alec. But then the man didn't seem particularly open to logic right now.

Bran got up and slipped out of the room. Nobody noticed him, except for one or two who were also quietly leaving. There really wasn't much point in staying around.

Biosystems Control, Planet Dezolis

The ship was, at last, ready to go. It was a simple transport shuttle, the kind that had once flown administrators from Paseo to the colony on Dezolis, or Dezo, as the people knew it. Until an accident crashed two shuttles into each other, and Mother Brain had sent down orders banning spaceflight.

Laya approved of Lune's quick thinking. His realization that there was a loophole in the orders allowed his creator's plans to proceed unchecked. It was exactly the sort of thing that would never have happened under Orakio, she thought.

She was out in the open air, watching the huge mammoths haul the battered starplane out onto the launching pad. Lune and Alair stood behind her. They were dressed in clothes that Laya could only hope approximated Palman styles. They had always run to boots and tunics for warrior types. Female Palmans were not often warriors, but there were enough that Alair would not be remarkable for that. The real problem was the green hair. Palman hair just didn't come in that particular green. Lighter green, yes. But the constructs' hair was designed to be a giveaway, and so it would work against them.

Laya turned to face her servants. "It is time to go. The shuttle is ready to launch. It is not durable, but you will not be fighting in space. It will land well enough, and that is what counts. Your destination is a town called Aerone, in the 'habitat' Orakio calls Elysium."

She sighed. "I had thought the center habitat would be ideal, but it is a harsh desert land called Aridia, and is currently uninhabited. But Elysium should serve well. As you know, there are three systems of seven habitats each. Each system is arranged as a wheel, with one habitat in the center. Elysium is in the first system, the extreme western habitat. Three tunnels link Elysium with Aridia in the center, which, as I mentioned, is uninhabited. To the southeast is Frigidia. It is a very isolated habitat, with only one town, Mystoke. Northeast is Landen. It is heavily populated. I suggest you find support in Elysium and possibly Frigidia, then go to Landen."

"As you command," said Lune and Alair as one.

Laya reached for the box at her feet. "I have weapons for you. You may need them. Motavia does not have biological hazards that can threaten you, but Palmans are a different story. You may have to defend yourself. Yet I did not want you to appear threatening. So I decided on two weapons that are unique enough that people may be impressed by them rather than scared of them."

She handed a curved piece of razor sharp silvery metal to Lune. "This is a weapon called a slasher. It requires considerable skill, but it has great strength. Thrown thusly," and she demonstrated, "it will fly out to strike your enemies and return to your hand." She caught the weapon. "The slasher is not common on Motavia. It was once used by a class of people called 'guardians.' They protected the population from those who chose to misuse their authority. I can think of no more appropriate weapon to give you."

Lune received his slasher with a look of pride and awe. Laya pulled another device from the small chest. It was a curious contraption. Clearly a high-tech machine, it resembled a gun but had two arms sweeping back from its muzzle. "Your weapon required more thought. Your frame is unsuitable for the melee weapons most Palmans use, and I only had the one slasher ready. But I have remodeled this weapon to fire a short beam of energy, more focused than the needle-type guns that are still used on Motavia. It's based on an even more ancient weapon than the slasher. A bow. This will enable you to strike accurately from a distance."

Alair accepted the bow with less enthusiasm, but the way she held it said she was indeed prepared to use it if necessary. Alair was skeptical about the mission, Laya could tell, but the android was convinced her construct's attitude would mellow once she reached Motavia and began.

It was a simple mission of diplomacy. Nothing more than that.

Southwest of Landen, Landen Habitat, Planet Motavia

"It just makes me tired more than anything else," said Bran, flipping a rock into the river. "Why do these people have to make things worse than they really are?"

He was talking more to himself than to any of the other people standing and talking nearby. The people who had left had gravitated to the quieter outskirts of the city. The "debate" in the council chambers had rapidly degenerated into a self-congratulatory party.

Bran felt a hand on his shoulder. A man he didn't know, one of the Rysel delegates, sat down next to him. "Bran, isn't it?" he said conversationally. "Just wanted to say I for one appreciate your speaking out."

"Thanks, I guess," said Bran. "Didn't do much good."

"Never does with that type. I'm amazed how many of them there are."

"Me, too," said Bran. "Things...seem pretty bad in Rysel. Is that really how it is?"

The man shrugged. "Things are tough all over Mota, I guess, since the barriers went up. Even before that, really. You mean the tech issue, though. It's enough of a problem that we wanted to see how the other realms were doing, of course. I think we had hoped that seeing cooler heads in other places might have persuaded our own firebrands to settle down. I'm afraid we've made things worse. They're feeding each other's flames now."

He looked at Bran. "We felt a little unsure about whether or not to mention this, but I think telling you would be a good idea. As the leader of the pro-tech faction..."

"I'm no leader," protested Bran.

"You underestimate yourself, I think," said the other, smiling. "What I wanted to say is that some of the other lands have stopped ruling by council."

"Have they?" said Bran in some surprise. "We haven't heard."

"The towns have been isolated from each other for a while. It's only natural that the towns would start looking at their little areas as...kingdoms."

"Kingdoms?"

"That's right. And in Rysel we're about to do the same. Find a neutral man and make him the leader. Then we can settle these issues."

"What does this have to do with me?"

The man shrugged again. "I suppose I thought maybe you might apply for the job."

"King of Landen? Don't be ridiculous. We've never had kings."

"That's not entirely true. We've always been led by somebody. First Lassic, then Mother Brain."

"These are my role models? No, thanks a lot, but I don't think Landen's ready for a king, and it certainly wouldn't be me in any case."

"You could do a lot of good for your people.   You're better than some other candidates."

That gave Bran pause. "Well, you're right there. I suppose I'd rather be king than have Alec and his types in charge."

"Something to think about, then. Times are changing, Bran," said the man, standing up. "It's a time when a man in the right place at the right time could do a lot of good. And I think you know what the alternative is if no one puts a stop to all this."

"Yes," said Bran slowly. "Violence. War. But I don't know. I don't like the thought of anybody forcing choices down on people. They'd be at his mercy."

"Our people are always at somebody's mercy, Bran." said the man quietly. "Or have you forgotten that this isn't our planet? We're lucky just to be alive. It'd be a shame if what finally killed the last of us was civil war."

The man walked off. Bran continued to stare moodily into the river, until he finally realized he hadn't even asked the man his name. He jumped up, intending to go track him down, when he noticed the people were trickling back into the city. Bran abandoned his first plan, and followed the others back home.

With all of that, he never noticed the low metal dome that had gently raised itself enough out of the water that its cameras could relay the events on the bank to its master.

Nurvus Central Systems Command, Planet Motavia

The screen cleared, and Orakio contemplated what he had just seen. So the Palmans were reverting to a monarchical system from democracy? An interesting social development.

There were other, more local developments. Twenty Mieu units, virtually indistinguishable from Palmans, unless you took into consideration the low probability of twenty female Palmans with identical slim builds, long red hair, and metal spikes protruding from the bases of their fingers.

Orakio had been forced to modify himself, but he had only gone as far as the Wren units. His skull-like robotic head had been covered with synthetic skin, and had opted for red "hair" made of tough synthetic fibers. A good compromise, he thought, red for the combat Mieus and black for the maintenance unit Wrens. And his red hair would be worn short like a Wren.

He had considered various types of clothing and had settled on the Palmans current style of tunic, trousers, boots and cape. He refused to cover any other part of his body with skin, so his hands, and the sides and back of his head, betrayed his true nature. That was fine with Orakio. This was not a disguise, it was simply an accommodation to Palman preferences for clothing.

A sword rounded out the outfit quite well, he thought, and it was a long, heavy sword made out of a dull black metal. The contrast between his sword and the silvery steel of Palman swords would be nice, and they would be impressed with the size of the sword, although of course since Orakio had access to much higher technology than Palmans did, they would be let down if they were to find out how much it actually weighed, despite its formidable look.

Yes, it was high time he went back up into the world he ran with all the efficiency he could muster. Time to make sure that events were proceeding as they were supposed to. In a way, Laya's interference had been a good thing. He might not have known for some time of these disturbing anti- technological sentiments on the surface. That must be corrected. If a culture was to grow and thrive, it must use technology. The dissidents would have to be corrected. Orakio was positive that Mother Brain would be in full agreement, although she had not responded to communications from him.

This Palman, Bran, was the perfect spokesman for him. Not someone interested in power, but in a position of authority, respected even by people from other habitats. Bran would be of great assistance to Orakio as he eliminated the troublemaking faction. And Laya couldn't help but see, after such an effective demonstration of peacekeeping and cultural assistance, that Orakio was most certainly on track carrying out Mother Brain's commands. Motavia would be a shining example of a perfect society once he was done. Just a few weeds to take care of first.

His silent planning was interrupted by a quiet but insistent beep from the monitors. A Wren moved instantly to identify the problem, but he was still too slow for Orakio.

"What is the problem?"

The Wren turned to face him. "Motavian airspace has been violated. ID sign is the administrative shuttle Camineet, registered Motavian-Dezolis transport. Life signs detected on board."

"Where is it landing?"

The Wren took microseconds to receive the command and to answer, but it seemed to Orakio as though the Wren hesitated before replying.

"Elysium Habitat. The town called Aerone."