In The Name Of The Mother
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
"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
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
"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
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
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
It was a simple mission of diplomacy. Nothing more
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
"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
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
"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."
"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
"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
"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
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
"Elysium Habitat. The town called Aerone."