Copyright (c) Victor Darnell Hadnot
"The shadows of time are not real, but the memory of time, is like a dream." Sally MacCloud
I hadn’t seen Icara in years. Not since I grew up and left the orphanage. So. It was a surprise to find her at the doorstep of my office. She seemed very disconcerted. I offered her something cool to drink and we talked. My name is Noviah, after growing up as one of the children of Mars, I became a Monk. I had always felt these unexplained deeply religious feelings when I was younger. Looking forward at life, not knowing what will happen next, the unexpected was always looming. Thus. When I suddenly found Icara sitting across from me. She began to tell me a tale that I frankly found almost too impossible to believe. Turned out that she was related to the Mayor of Diamond City. But that wasn’t the really amazing thing, she told me about a threat that had set her on a course to try and prevent it. Oh. She had all sorts of help available to her, being the Mayor’s sister, as it turned out. But. For some reason, she felt comfortable coming to me, after all these years. I wasn’t sure what I could do for her. After all, all I was, was a humble monk. But. In my course of training and studying, I had learned that listening, was often time, what a person needed. Whatever was bothering them, they were not finding the sympathetic ear that they felt that they wanted or needed, in order to find their own way. Icara was no different, in that sense. But. She wanted more from me than just someone familiar to listen to her, she wanted me to help her find and defeat a villain that I had long, since buried in my subconscious. She wanted me to help her kill Zarustra. She came to me because, like her, I had grown up knowing that Zarustra was indeed, very real. Too many children went missing because of that evil demon. And the point was that no grownup ever took us seriously, when we told them about the squid-clown.
I glanced out my window. "From what you have told me, there are a lot of people trying to help you. What can I do?"
Icara set her glass in front of her. "You can try. I know that you were brought up as I was. The problem with the others, is that they don’t believe that Zarustra is real. But. You do. You and I both know that this thing has been terrorizing the Children of Mars for centuries. It is time to put an end to his reign."
I was uncomfortable for some reason. "I’m just a monk, Icara. From what you’ve told me, you have all the right people on your side. I’m sure they will get to the bottom of this thing."
"Remember the three?"
I froze for a moment when she said that. "Yeah. The three kids that’s bodies were never found. No one really knows what happened to them."
"Mars is a big place if you want to do evil."
"A lot of red clay out there. Places where people used to mine for all sorts of natural resources." I agreed.
"A thing like Zarustra could make use of a situation. This is our time, Noviah. This is our time to try and stop this thing, once and for all."
I asked. "What’s changed?"
"Well. For one. We are older now. We both know the truth. And we can do something about it. Help me, Noviah."
"What about the others? The Mayor has a task team looking into leads and such."
"Then, we will be just one more set of eyes and ears. How long has it been?" she asked.
The problem wasn’t that I didn’t want to help Icara. Lovely Icara. I remembered how the two of us played when we were young in the orphanage. We made a covenant between the two of us. Three of us really. There was a boy named Chucky. I hadn’t seen the two of them in ages. Years. Back in the day, it was Me and Icara and Chucky. We were the Three Musketeers. We’d do everything together. In those days, you needed friends in order to survive. There were the horrors of just living in the institution. Children should never be forced to live like that. It damages them. Also. Forcing them into homes that are not right for them, damages them too. I guess there was no easy answer for castaway children. And that was what the Children of Mars were, we were castaways, kids that no one wanted. Given up, abandoned, lost to the system, the world. You’d think, that with all the levels of sophistication, the advanced technology that allowed people to live on Mars, that the social issues would have been solved. But. While you could have intelligent social robots and super domes, that allowed millions to live comfortably, on the surface of Mars, as if it was on the surface of Earth, you’d think, things like orphaned children would have been a thing of the past. But. It was only one of the many unsolved social problems plaguing mankind. We couldn’t get rid of war. We couldn’t get rid of poverty. Had Earth finally found the right idea? Outlaw greed and you solve a great deal of the social problems. Was money the root to all evil? Did it matter, that there was a distinction, the love of money? In my religious studies, more than one, of my professors, taught that money was a false god. Some went so far as to call it the anti-Christ. Well. There was more than just one version of the anti-Christ. All of it had to do with the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer. The rich never learned the lessons of the past, the lesson the French learned, when you put your foot on the necks of the poor. At some point, they will have nothing to live for and everything to die for. You can only tell the masses to eat cake for so long, and then, they make you eat dirt. I decided to help Icara because it was the right thing to do, to help a friend in need. We both looked up Chucky. He was a successful businessman living in Diamond City.
"Man, I haven’t see you in awhile." I told Chucky, who wanted to be called Charles, now.
Chucky seemed annoyed at the presence of the three of us together. "What is this all about? I have things to do, places to be..."
Okay. That wasn’t what Icara and I remembered Chucky being like. Icara explained the situation to him. Told him how I had come onboard with trying to find a solution. Icara said, "We were once very close. Do you remember?"
Chucky looked off. "That was a long time ago."
I decided to get in on it. "Doesn’t mean that we all have to let things drift. We can always strike up the friendship." I tried to smile, more for Icara’s sake than for the cold shoulder we were getting from Chucky.
"Look. If you really want to kill this thing. If you really want to kill Zarustra, you are going to have to get help from the Elves of Mars." Chucky told us.
"Why the Elves?" asked Icara.
"They have technology that can deal with the type of situation that this monster is. Humans and Elves rarely share knowledge, unless it is to one or the other’s advantage to do so. I know, I deal with them all the time, for business." Chucky was obviously not liking the reunion.
It hurt Icara. "I missed you, Chucky. We were all friends back in the day."
"We were all young and nobody wanted us." Came the blunt truth from Charles’s mouth.
"It doesn’t always have to be that way." I decided to say.
"Really, monk? Really? You two live in some fantasy world. Her. She’s some sister to the Mayor. You. You are some stupid ass religious freak. What the freak do any of you know?"
I hated to admit it but Chucky was right. I didn’t like the way that he went about saying it, trying to hurt our feelings. But. He had a point. Who was I? Just some poor slob who was raised in an orphanage. I had no real roots. Whoever my real parents were, they abandoned me long ago. The system, while trying to do its best, didn’t have its best taking care of us. There was a ratio of social robots caring for us to every one human. In hindsight, that wasn’t so bad. The robots were kind and intelligent, programmed to be as good a parent as any machine could ever be. The problem was that human beings needed human beings. And while the social robots acted and looked like the real deal, for the most part, they were not human, after all. Chucky gave us all the details that we’d need in order to get the Elves to help us. The problem with this was that they were a stuck up race of beings. They had obvious advance technology. But. They also had a very old fashion cultural ethic which didn’t allow them to interact heavily with other species. Even on Earth, Elves were elusive at best. Countless stories were told about them. Strange, how what was once dismissed as being fairy tales, became true. So many different legends from so many different cultures on Earth, and all of them had a grain of truth about them, it turned out. Mankind had been visited by beings from other worlds for longer than mankind had the ability or sense to record it. Well. The Elves of Mars were a picky lot. It was going to be hard to convince them to help out. But. Chucky told us before he arrogantly stormed off, that the name on the list was an Elf that would be willing to help us. Hmm. An Elf named Emma? Didn’t sound Elf like but them again, I didn’t know any Eves personally. Never really thought I’d ever have need to do so. That is how ultra conservative Mars had become. All these different alien species, sharing the same planet, in basically the same way, using basically the same technology, but worlds apart, when it came to cultural friendships. Oh. They all did business together, yeah, money, was the great uniting force. But. After that, nobody really had any time for the other one. Sad to think.
We shot the tubes across the Martian surface and under landmarks. It was a sunny day on Mars, no dust clouds or other strange Martian weather. Mars didn’t have weather like it had on Earth, though, Earth’s weather had gone through such drastic changes, it was a miracle that anyone was still left. Lot of the places on Earth was just like Mars. People had to live in domes because of the erratic weather. "I’ve never been to a Martian city before." Icara confessed.
I acted like I had, but I hadn’t. "Oh. You’ll be fine. They are all God’s creatures."
"What was that?" I stared out on the Martian surface as it whizzed pass at hundreds of miles per hour. Out there, I saw old mining domes, little towns and villages, from a time now long gone. Were there still people living out there?
"Why does every living things in the universe have to be attributed to God?" She was serious, I was shocked, I thought everybody knew.
"Well. God created everything." I answered back boldly.
"So. God is a cosmic-terra-former? He creates entire universes? Much like we go to other planets, that can’t support human life, and build domed cities and such?" Her eyes were big with wonderment.
Man. I hadn’t realized, but I had an opportunity, to save a soul. "Well. If you take religion and ascribe scientific theories to it, I suppose so," I smiled at her confidently in my faith.
"No one ever taught me about God. Not really. Oh. I’ve heard about different so called gods. But. There seems to be so many. Then there is the official religion of Earth and Mars. Technoligion."
"Ah." I said. "The false worship of technology. Where mindless people have decided to worship technology as their god. How sad. I can tell you about Jesus Christ if you’d like."
It was interesting. Telling her about the Son of God. In the time I lived in, most people believed in what was obvious, and technology seemed to solve all their problems. Even if technology, or rather, the perversion of the process, was the cause of most of our problems. From medical to political, to social. Mankind had dug himself or herself, whichever way you want to look at it, into a ditch. There was no going back. Those who longed for the days when people had little to worry about, except farming and herding, those days were over with. There was an ancient Earth expression. Be careful what you wish for, because you might just get it. The same could be applied to praying to God. Be careful what you pray for, you might just catch him in the mood to give it to you. Mood? You ask. Yeah. Well. From my religious point of view, as a monk. I have discovered that God, has a definite personality. Understand his personality, analyze his persona, and you can build a really good relationship with him. Try and project your own desires and agendas onto God, and you are doomed eventually to fail. Me? I’m a loser. No point in pretending that I’m anything other than that. But. I got lucky. I discovered that while I had this thirst to seek out the spiritual, Jesus Christ found me wandering in the spiritual wilderness. I say this, because Technoligion is just as satisfying and more accessible than believing in some ancient religion, that for the most part, doesn’t make any sense. In sort, you have to suspend what you know about how the real world works, in order to believe in God. Why? Why do I say such a thing? Because the world we all are born or cloned or manufactured into, doesn’t know God. The world we live in requires proof, for everything. If your five or six senses can’t detect it, then it doesn’t exist to you. The problem is that God exist outside of our ability to sense him. So. It requires faith. What is faith? The scientific religious definition is that it is a sense. You know. Just like you have sight, or hearing, taste, smell, touch? Well. Faith is a sense like those. But. What faith is, combines all your physical senses into one sense. Did you know that your ability to think is a sense? Yes. Emotions are a sense. When was the last time a social robot, as advanced as they are, now days, felt anything it wasn’t programmed to feel? But humans, we feel all sorts of things. Some we understand, and most we don’t.
The Elf man stood opposite Icara and myself. The room was large and void of the normal clutter of technology, one might find in a human situation, similar to that one. Elf technology resembled at its best, art. They had taken science, long time ago, and elevated it to an art form. That was why, back on Earth, in the old days, when primitive man, saw the so called Forest People, doing things, it looked like magic. When in truth, it was science and technology at play. The Forest People had managed to integrate science and art, in order to sustain a healthy lifestyle. Something that humans, even to this day, were having trouble attaining.
"Why do you need to see Emma?" The Elf man finally asked. Man. What a stuck up bastard they all could be.
"I need to speak with her about providing a way to kill Zarustra." Icara blurted out.
The Elf man seemed pissed off. "Why should we provide you with a way to kill one of our own?" Really? One of their own? Wow.
"Are you telling us that, that demon that has been terrorizing human children for centuries here on Mars, is some kind of deranged Elf?" I as filled with contempt.
Emma just appeared as if from nowhere. If I had been some stupid human, way back in the day, I’d been impressed. All her appearance really meant, was that there were other Elves in the room, obviously cloaked. "I will help you. Your point is well taken." She was the typical Elf woman, very beautiful. Most human men could not resist a typical Elf woman, they were so sexy and beautiful. I was no different. I got a rise just looking at her. The Elf woman moved gracefully over to Icara. There was something there but I couldn’t figure out what. "So. Sister. You have come back to us." What in the freak did that mean?
"I am here. But. I am not here." Icara responded to the alien woman. Was I the only one who didn’t have a clue as to what had just happened? Why was I the one always in the dark? Did Chucky have good reason, as to why he was acting like such an asshole, after all?
Icara had always been a mystery to the rest of us. I guess in part because of the way she came into the orphanage. It was kind of sad really. How we all ended up, the Children of Mars. Some of us, were lucky or not, to have known their parents, before being sent to the institution. Don’t get me wrong. In many cases, it was better than being homeless. Now the Homeless of Mars. That is another story for another day. Yes. You’d think that after all these years, a century passing, that things like that would have been fixed. But. That is what happens, when you let the top one percent of the population, control and run the entire world. It is fools play. Oh. Earth finally figured out what was wrong with it. The problem was that about time they all woke up to the truth, it was just about too late. The planet had been raped by business. Much of the once jewel of the solar system, was now no better than Mars. Exposure to the direct atmosphere was near toxic in some locations. Couple that with very high levels of radiation, which affects every living thing on the planet, then you can see, why in order to continue to live on the planet, the inhabitants had to adopt many of the pieces of technology, used to inhabit other worlds. It was ashamed, because, when I used to look in history books, when I was little, I used to imagine what it must have been like, to live on a world, that openly provided for all your needs. Man. Did they screw up that planet. Then. To justify it all, propaganda spread that Earth wasn’t our original home after all. That we too, like everyone else, came from the stars. Okay. That still didn’t give them a right to destroy the entire planet, for profit and gain. Right? But. Those who control the wealth, also, control the history books. So. Money became the enemy and was outlawed.
Icara and I were shown to a room where we could rest and gather ourselves. It was a nice place, lots of, what looked like fine furniture and artwork on the walls. I gathered that this, Emma, Elf was semi-important to the others. But. What was Icara and Emma’s connection? I wasn’t sure as to how to approach the subject. So. I just jumped right in.
"You know that Emma person?" I blurted out.
Icara was standing by the large glass door that looked out onto the Elf city. As advanced as human cities were on Mars, the Elves had us beat by a mile or more. They truly blended art and science and nature to make for a very pleasant living environment. They all probably wondered why we messed up Earth so much. "What? No. Not in the sense that you are thinking. But. My past does have its roots in Elf culture."
Okay. Now I was really mystified. "How so? Are you an Elf?" I kind of joked.
She looked back at me with those big eyes. "Yes." She pulled her hair back showing me her pointed Elf ears. Funny. I hadn’t noticed them before.
Now that was just crazy. I happened to know. In fact all Diamond City knew that Icara was the sister of the Mayor. "How can that be? Is the Mayor an Elf?"
"No. Just me." She was serious.
"But. I don’t understand. If you are an Elf then your brother has to be also. Unless the two of you are half brother and sister." I found something to eat on a table. Some strange fruit I’d never seen before. But. It tasted good.
"My life is complicated, Noviah." Her voice sounded like music at times.
"Okay. Coming from the orphanage, you can imagine that you come from anywhere. I get that. Believe me when I say, I do understand. But. These people, these Elves, they act like they know you in someway."
"That is because they do. I came from the Elf people." She went back to just looking out of the glass door. Her thoughts seemingly a hundred miles away. Icara was my friend from way back. But. At that moment. I just realized, that I knew very little about her at all. And for reasons that I’d later discover, it scared me.
We were allowed to get a good night’s sleep. In the morning a few Elves came and provided Icara with fresh clothing. When I saw her next, she was dressed in their kind of clothes. We were taken to a dining hall where a group of Elves gathered to eat. It seemed to be some kind of a celebration. From time to time, one of them would stand, give a long speech in Elf language, and then turn to Icara. For the most part, she was a class act, she could have just left me and gone on off with her new found Elf clan, or whatever they called themselves. But. On more than one occasion, she declined their invitation, to remain with me. Of that, I found her behavior reassuring, I guess in her own strange way, she considered me a true friend. Maybe, because I dropped everything in order to help her. I was like that, from back when we were children, Chucky and Icara could always count on me, when in a jam. After all the hoopla, we were escorted to a large room in which strange scientific goings on were taking place. Strange Elf science it seemed to me, because none of it made any sense. Most Elf technology was based on Quantum Kiki Mathematics and made use of the millikilonano. This might as well have been an imaginary object for all intents and purposes. There was this theory called Water Theory. It stated that at the millkilonano level, mega-super-quantum objects didn’t even exist, that at that level, pure energy was the only product and it behaved like water. Under certain conditions, it behaved like a solid and under others, it acted like a liquid, still on other occasions, it acted like a gas. All, sending out vibrations, which at macro levels, relative to Quantum Kikis, were the foundations for all the things we can see and experience. I wasn’t a scientist and could have cared less, when the Elf scientist explained it all to Icara and me. What we were interested in was how to kill Zarustra, and that came in the form of a strange Elf box, with all sorts of ancient writing on it. Incantations and spells. In the old days, it would have been considered witchcraft, but, in modern times, it was Elf science. Turned out that there were certain words when spoken or written, that could activate certain cosmic buttons or switches, things built into the very fabric of the universe. How this stuff was built into the universe was beyond my understanding, but, it helped to explain how some people and beings, could perform miracles. It was all just super advanced science. No magic after all.
Emma agreed to escort us out of Elf City. "You must have all sorts of questions concerning the things that you have experienced." The gorgeous Elf woman gazed at me.
I shrugged. "So long as that magic box works to kill Zarustra, that is all that matters to me."
Emma interjected. "Zarustra can not be killed. He is immortal. But. He is not invincible.
The box, as you call it, will trap him in it. Once he is in it he can never escape."
I said, "Oh. Like the footstool that will eventually trap the devil and all the fallen and the damned."
Icara seemed embarrassed. "You’ll have to forgive him, Emma. He is a religious man amongst the human culture. He sees the universe through that perspective."
I didn’t like Icara making excuses for me. "Hey. You are the one, who asked me to help you. If I suddenly offend you, I’ll just go back to my academic life as a monk and university professor. At least in that environment, I have earned, respect."
Emma gestured. "No. You are right, Noviah. We have been treating you as if you were somehow inferior. You have a right to see things as you do. And you are not that far off in an odd sense. But. The device does indeed work and your understanding of the concept is correct. Obviously, we are not God. And the device, can not entrap the vast number of beings, that the Footstool of Christ will be able to do. But. It is based on the same concept." I looked at Icara with an air of justification.
It was very complicated, how it all was suppose to work. The Elves used a mathematical concept called an InVar(X). It all had to do with anti-matter. The Elf box somehow was designed to trap the squid-clown in a state of void. Oblivion. After a great deal of sleuthing, Icara and I finally came up with a location where this evil clown might be hiding out. I tried to caution her on the fact that this killer was beyond dangerous. I mean. I’m not a coward or anything. I don’t consider myself a coward. But. This Zarustra was serious business. He’d been kidnaping and killing for over a century. Anything or anyone that can serially kill for such a long period of time had to be extremely dangerous. I tried to speak some sense into Icara’s mind. I told her that while it was good that we were making progress, it might be wise to let the others know of what had transpired, in order to coordinate an effort. In truth, I didn’t want either Icara or myself to end up a victim of this demon. While my monk training had covered years of religious study and I was a professor at the university, teaching religious studies and such, I didn’t feel that what we were about to embark upon was adequately covered in my past training or experience. The church had long since abandoned exorcisms and such as ways of the past. The ignorance of a time now long gone. Most of what was once called magic and mysticism, was now called advanced science. When a primitive people experience science that is beyond their ability to explain, they fall back on myth and secular religion. Often times, missing the whole point of what they had just experienced. If a person brings someone back from the dead. Do you go and worship idols and such? No. You try an understand the science involved in the process. Religion had evolved over the centuries. What was once religion and science, became blurred, there was a strong convergence between the sciences and the arts. Instead of them being fractured, they had become one field of knowledge. Psyligion. That was what had evolved out of the ashes of the last few centuries of so called neo-enlightenment. There had been many Dark Ages in the history of mankind. But. In each of them, coming out of the darkness, produced breakthroughs, and Golden Ages. Mankind was once again experiencing a Gold Age.
"I don’t trust anyone but you with this technology." said Icara.
I shook my head. "Maybe I’m not the one, Icara, that you should put all your trust in. I mean, I’m just a humble monk. What do I know?"
Icara seemed determined. "You know enough to be my friend when I really need one."
Hmm. She had a good point. "Yeah. But. This Zarustra could end up killing us both and then going on a killing spree with the orphaned children. We need insurance."
Icara wasn’t void of the concept. "You might be right. After all. If we do end up dead. Someone needs to know what happened to us. So that they can fight on."
"Yeah. Fight on..." Why was I agreeing with her on that point? I didn’t want to die. Not by the hands of that piece of crap.
"Okay. I’ll call a meeting with those who matter the most. We’ll both let them know what is going on and what we intend to do."
I said. "What about the Elf box?"
"We are not to let anyone use it but us. In truth, it must be me." she said.
"You? Why you?"
"All I know is, that is, what Emma explained to me. Something about bio-metrics. The box can only be activated by an Elf and in that, they have managed to isolate my biological energy, so that it can only be activated by me." She suddenly came over to me and cupped my face in her soft warm hands, then kissed me on the mouth. Our eyes focused on each other’s for a long moment after that, we could feel each other’s breath, then we kissed again.
After having the so called experts and trusted friends together. Everything getting laid out on the table and all sorts of opinions being put forth, Icara and I managed to break away from the pack and ventured out on our own. That was the plan from the beginning. While the others, pretty much made a big deal of everything, setting the focus on their efforts. Icara and I were free to pursue our own agenda. We first had to charter a craft that could fly us to the far side of the region. We’d be venturing into the Badlands. It was the area where development had long since dried up and most of the people had abandoned their little towns and villages for the safety and security of the super domed cities. We managed to find a pilot that was crazy enough to go out there. It wasn’t a place where you’d want to live. Yet. The Homeless of Mars, they lived out in the Badlands. What it was, was that the people who fell between the cracks, they would move out into the abandoned areas. It wasn’t safe and the utilities were all but non-existent. Domed towns and villages that had been left to rust away, out on the vast and distant Martian landscape. We finally came up to the village that we were looking for. It was a mess. The dome looked like something very large had crashed into it a long time ago and it had been half-ass repaired. It looked dangerously close to falling in. The locals must have done their best to fix it so that they could live in the village. The area we wanted was just off from that village. A small mining facility that had long since gone dry. That was were we’d find Zarustra, or so we had been told, by the ever so informative Elves. I remembered wondering why they hadn’t just gone out there, themselves, and killed the bastard? But. The Elves were seriously stuck up. If it didn’t directly affect their way or life and their city or people, they couldn’t give a crap. As the craft flew away, leaving Icara and myself on the open exposed surface of Mars, I watched our last chance to change our minds, fly on off. What in the freak was I doing out here? We wore special suits that protected us from the terrible freezing cold and provided us with air and warmth. We found the entrance after studying some old maps we had managed to find. Then started the long journey into the belly of the mine. It was old and obviously not safe. The feeling was that it could come crashing in on us at any moment.
"This is crazy." I finally told Icara, while talking through the communications channel, in my suit.
"Yes. It is." Was her calm response.
"Okay. So. We are in agreement. It is not too late for us to just turn around and head for that nearby village."
"You are free to go, Noviah. I have no desire to see you killed. You’ve been a good friend. The others I turned to, well, they tried to help. But. The real help I needed, was someone who totally believed in me." She had managed to make me feel like a heel, for wanting to turn around.
"Okay. I’m in for the long of it. But. We find this Zarustra thing. Kill it. And get the hell out of here." I really didn’t like being there. Everything about it scared the hell out of me.
"We will kill him." She seemed so confident. "All has happened before and will happen again." What did she mean by that? Was that some kind of karma thing or something? The study of Psyligion taught about stuff like that. Not that I was a Psyligionist or anything. I wasn’t. I was a Christian. But. I had studied Major Religions of Mankind. It was all part of my well rounded religious education.
"What makes you think that all of this has happened before? I don’t understand?"
If a person has faith in the face of disappointment, then, they really do have faith. It is not a big thing to have faith when things are going well. It is a big deal to keep on believing, when things haven’t gone the way you had hoped they would. I often tell my students that believing in God doesn’t meant that you don’t have doubts. No. Having doubt is how we stay alive and keep our edge, otherwise, you might blindly walk into situations that are stupid, and easily avoided. No. All doubt means, is that you believe in something else. If you didn’t, you wouldn’t have doubt. So. The trick is to understand what it is that you really believe, and pursue that line of commitment. God wants us to be true to ourselves. If we are lying to ourselves, how can we be honest with anyone else? If you are a nice person, then, be a nice person. If you are a prick, then, be a prick. But. Be honest about it. That’s all God ever wanted from us. When Adam and Eve disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden, telling the truth, that was the cure for sin. No. Not telling the truth to each other, but, to God. You are to confess your sins to God, not to a person, who will eventually, say something at some point in time, because you know that the will, and compromise you. No. Confess to God in secret and God who sees in secret, will reward you openly. It is a faith that I live by. Has it gotten me everything that I wanted? Not yet. Do I hope that before I die that God will make sense of everything and reward my lifetime of prayer and worship? Yeah. I sure hope so. But. Thus is the life of a lowly monk. You just have to keep on going and hoping. Yeah. I’m not stupid. I can see all those people who worship Psyligion and Technoligion and all other sorts of religions, both old and new. And yes. They do seem to have something going for them, because, they are doing alright. So. Believing in Jesus Christ is about believing, when your back, is up against a corner. You just have to divorce your concept of what you see and hear and know to be real, and take that leap of faith, and believe that what God has taught you, is sound, and true, and in the end, God’s word, which is also Almighty power, will prevail. So. Those are the principles that I live by and those are the convictions that I pass onto you. Because in the end, what we do and who we are, is but one part of the whole being. What we believe, deep down inside, is just as important, if not more so.
The cave had all sorts of twists and turns, and before we knew it, we were lost. "I’m not sure about all this, Icara."
Icara stopped. "You think we made a mistake?"
"I’m not sure what we did. I mean, killing this serial killer, is important. But. Look at us, we are lost? We don’t know our way through this maze of tunnels and stuff. I’m not even sure I remember how to get out of this place. And there is the obvious danger, this place can come crumbling down on us at anytime."
Her eyes lit up. "Yes. Yes it can." I wasn’t sure I followed. "When you looked at the map, there was only one way out of this mine?"
"The way we came in."
"So. If we just set the Elf box off. Let the mine cave in. Zarustra will be trapped in here forever." Hmm. It wasn’t our original plan, but, in light of our lack of a sense of direction. It seemed like a good idea.
"We have to be careful. We don’t want to get trapped in here ourselves." I told her.
"We activate it remotely. Here. I think we are deep enough in the mine, so that if all hell breaks loose now, most of the mine will cave in. Either way, there will be no getting out."
I nodded and we began to set the plan into motion. We finally found our way out of the mine. I was so glad to see daylight, "Okay. Let’s get as far away from here as we can." We walked on the Martian surface in our protective suits for a long time, then, Icara stopped. She looked at me. Then she set the explosion off. It was a really big explosion. Really big.
We wandered around in the Martian desert for I don’t know how long. There was a lot of danger in the Martian desert. Since the early days of settlement, all sorts of rogue robots wandered the desert. Very deadly machines. Some by design and some had been modified to be killing machines. The ones that were modified were the most dangerous. Martian Marauders used them to trap and track tourist and other dumb ass people, who decided to take unscheduled trips to the Martian ruins. Long ago, ancient ruins were discovered, left behind by ancient Martian inhabitants, long since gone. For Icara and myself, we were sitting ducks. Two people, no weapons, no food or other supplies, our survival suits had enough air for 30 days. That was more than long enough to get to the nearest dome. But. The closest dome was about a 7 day journey on foot. We’d have to cross vast amounts of red clay. Then there was the unpredictable nature of Martian weather. While not as colorful as that of Earth, it did pose serious challenges, when it decided to act up. We were on day five of the journey. While the days were piss-ass cold, the nights were even worse. Even with our well equipped survival suits, the nights proved to be the most challenging. So far, those killer rogue robots hadn’t taken notice of us, or, they had been programmed to hunt for larger prey. After all, who wanted two foolish people, wandering in the wilderness? And. At the rate we were going, we probably were going to die before we found our way to safety, as relative as that was. But we kept on going. Telling each other stories about life after the orphanage, you know, playing catch up. We finally made it to the edge of the closest dome village. It was rusted and very old, it was amazing that people actually lived in it, but they did. Icara and I walked about the place until we found someone who was willing to help us. We first got ourselves something to eat and drink. Then. We took a much needed bath. Not together, we had become close, but not like that. Finally, after answering a bunch of questions, as to why we were out in the Martian Wilderness, someone decided to give us a ride to Diamond City. Turned out that they were going in that direction to make a supply run. When we got back, friends and for Icara, family were glad to see us. They had put out all sorts of alerts, trying to locate us. No one thought to look for us in the wilderness. Icara finally told her family what we had done. They were all shocked that we actually went out there, by ourselves, to hunt down a serial killer, specially Zarustra. The Mayor and his wife, offered to let me stay in one of their many guest rooms, for a few nights, before heading back to my part of town. I turned it down. I really didn’t feel comfortable in their world, you know, rich and stuck up. Though, they did try very hard to be friendly and polite, I could see it in each and everyone of their eyes, I was being accepted, because Icara valued my friendship. After all, out of all her so called friends, I was the only one, stupid, or crazy, or brave enough, to go with her. And. She seemed to actually admire that about me.
"I want you to stay in touch," she whispered to me at the end of a formal meal they threw for the two of us, mostly for Icara, who was I kidding.
"Sure. We’ll stay in touch." I promised.
She took me to the side. "I’ll always be in your debt, Noviah. What you did, going with me and never giving up on me. That was brave and showed me what kind of friend you really are."
I looked about at the others mingling and small talking. "You seem to have lots of friends, Icara. I’m happy for you."
She reached over and kissed me on the mouth. "I mean what I said."
"Sure." I knew that as time went by, her world and mine, would go back to the way that things were. Though we were raised by the same social robots in the orphanage, we grew up to be worlds apart. I often thought about her, how she was doing, along with the Children of Mars.
© Copyright 2017 Victor Darnell Hadnot. All rights reserved.
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