Excerpt from OldEarth Georgios Encounter
Coming in 2018…
As they traveled the coast toward Olympia and across the sea to Syracuse, Georgios adapted to the sweep of the ship’s movement, lifting and carrying cumbersome boxes and coiling up thick, snake-like ropes that would trip his feet if he was not careful, rolling heavy tarp—things he would never have done back home. He smiled at the thought of his grandparents seeing him now. He could fold a heavy canvas better than he could have managed a blanket back home or toss a knife, hitting a post at a distance that would have amazed his own father.
A frown etched across his forehead. Perhaps his father would return unexpectedly, and they would spend the rest of their lives looking for each other. With a sigh, he surveyed his new world again, and his anxiety vanished like a mist. Surely, if his father did arrive early, he would wait at Patmos. Then, when Georgios returned, they would be reunited, and he would be a free man once again.
Seanan assured him that summer was nearly over, and they would have to hurry if they wanted to be on their way past Rome before winter. “We’ll get in and out as fast as possible.”
At this announcement, Georgios’s shoulders slumped, his gaze scraping the planks of the ship.
Seanan read faces like some read the stars. “What ails you, boy? We need everyone alert and able to make the ship’s repairs and exchange supplies in quick time. If we don’t keep our wits about us, we’ll lose more than we gain. We must keep the Roman authorities from asking too many questions or prying into our private affairs.”
Georgios glanced up. “Why would the Romans investigate us? What do we have that they’d want?”
“Don’t be a fool. If we’re not broken into during the black hours of the night, we’ll be waylaid by Roman justice and watch our things carried off by some rich merchant or a powerful senator who thinks that what is in a Roman harbor naturally belongs to them. And they have a tendency to claim much!”
Georgios shook his head. “But Roman laws apply to everyone! The Senators are supposed to defend the rights of the people.”
“Are we Roman citizens, then? Do the laws apply to us? And even if they did, could we argue the law in front of those who wrote it?” Seanan shook his head, his lips pursed. “Don’t lie to yourself. Even being the son of a Roman soldier wouldn’t protect you from the villains who gladly take advantage of those who know neither written law nor the ways of courts.”
Georgios peered across the sea as a wave lifted them high. “It looks beautiful though, doesn’t it? I’ve never seen such green hills—so many magnificent buildings. What amazing things men create when they have a mind to.”
Seanan tapped Georgios’ shoulder and pointed to the shoreline. “Don’t forget the brutes that nearly beat you to death. This is where cutthroats learn their trade!”
Crestas have long, soft bodies and tentacles, which they use to manipulate objects. Their eyes are large and watery, and they have a “brain sack” hidden behind a spiral shell. They wear a mechanical exoskeleton when out of their native element—water.
Ungle pulled himself from the murky pool and waddled over to the comfort room where an attendant waited with a warm robe. Slipping his long tentacles around the soft fabric, he clutched it to his middle and let the attendant pat his legs and feet dry.
A tinkle rang from a side room.
Ungle frowned and slapped his attendant away. “Who’s that?”
The attendant bowed his head; silence his only answer.
“No use asking a fool.” Ungle jerked himself free and lumbered into the next room. The chime rang faster, louder, and at a higher pitch. “Dark waters! I’ve got to get my ringtone adjusted—enough to set in coronary palpitations.” He sidled over to a holo-pad and tapped a wall console.
A Cresta female in a bright yellow exoskeleton and wearing heavy green eyeshadow appeared on the pad, her gaze searching. Once she sighted Ungle, she bowed in formal salute. “Superior Ungle, Mygen reporting from the Observatory Incision, orbiting planet Earth.”
One of Ungle’s tentacles swiped a dribble of water from his face. “You’re a day early—” He waved her anxious expression away. “But no matter. Better early than late.” Backing up to a soft, white chair, which looked very much like a sea sponge, he flopped down and grinned. “So tell me all the news.”
With two tentacles laced before her ample middle, Mygen stared ahead in studied concentration. “I’ve observed several sites and even come across a slave trader who seems to have adopted his most recent acquisition as natural offspring.” She frowned. “These beings have no scientific training whatsoever. They believe in everything—and nothing. They take each other apart with no hope of ever putting each other back together again.” Allowing her gaze to meet Ungle’s, her lips puckered in distaste. “Honestly, Superior, humanity is beneath our notice.”
Ungle struggled to his feet. “Ah, but that’s why you are an Inferior taking notes, while I am a Superior making the assessments. I was the very first Crestonian to visit Earth—and it was my testimony that persuaded our leaders to send out observatory crews. The Ingal Court reviews the facts every cycle, of course, but from the reports I receive, humanity has made significant scientific and cultural progress.”
He slapped the wall panel and tapped a series of codes. “Look here.” He pointed to a series of holograms: cave drawings, island dwellers, farms, a Greek ship at sea, Roman soldiers in battle formation, a senator giving a speech before a vast crowd, and Cesar Augustus upon his throne. “This depicts but a fraction of the cultures you will discover upon further study. But trust me, humanity is more intelligent than they appear.”
Mygen’s chin wiggled as she worked her jaws. “The slave I saw appeared intelligent, yet he allowed himself to be taken captive. He will surely die, like thousands of his kind, and humanity will never grow beyond their primitive need to exalt the individual.”
Ungle’s eyes twinkled as he faced the young Cresta. “How long have you been assigned to Earth?”
“The usual. Ten of their solar cycles. I have three other systems to visit before I return home.”
“Fine.” He waved a tentacle in her direction, spraying a few droplets in her direction. “Let us make a small wager. I believe that before you leave Earth, the slave you mentioned will become a free man.” Ungle chuckled. “But if you are correct and he dies, then you may return home as soon as you like.”
Mygen’s eyes narrowed. “And if he is set free?”
“Then you finish out your tour and return home to me.”
Mygen blinked. “To you? For what purpose?”
Ungle’s four tentacles flew upwards, like a child ready to catch a ball. “If I am as smart as you say, I’ll take you apart—and we’ll see if I can put you together again.”
Novels by A. K. Frailey
Last of Her Kind http://amzn.to/2y1HJvg
Newearth: Justine Awakens http://amzn.to/2pq0vWN
Melchior—Vengeance Is Mine http://amzn.to/2taeW2r
Coming in 2018…
OldEarth ARAM Encounter (In production)
OldEarth Ishtar Encounter (In production)
OldEarth Neb Encounter (In production)
OldEarth Georgios Encounter (In production)
The Adventures of Tally-Ho http://amzn.to/2sLfcI5
The Road Goes Ever On—A Christian Journey Through The Lord of the Rings http://amzn.to/2lWBd00