Excerpt from OldEarth NEB Encounter—coming this summer 2018.
Earth @3000 BC
Only flickering flames of a campfire held back the blanket of black night. An owl hooted in the distance as the crowd huddled close.
Neb’s gaze rolled from the stiff figure of his grandson to the shuffling clansmen before him. “Listen to me, my people. I am Neb, your leader of long years and the father of Serug and the grandfather of Neb, son of Serug. I declare that all gifts bestowed on me shall be given to my grandson and that when it is his time to serve, you will follow him faithfully. I have seen a new land. You will depart from these woodlands and live on the edge of a mighty river. Your greatness cannot be measured. Your hands will reach out, and you will take for yourselves the power to rule all others.”
His gaze returned to his grandson. “I bestow the mighty bear spirit on my grandson, young Neb. And you will worship the god of horns, which Athaliah has made known to you. If you obey—you shall prosper. If you do not, a curse will fall upon you and future generations down to—”
A crash broke through Neb’s cavernous tones. Crackling, a great tree limb broke free and began its weighty decent from the upper regions. It fell through lower boughs crashing and tumbling. A message from the black sky landed in front of the startled crowd.
Neb stood glowering in silence.
Serug stared wide-eyed—nothing of this nature had ever happened before. Always, nature assisted his father. Though he had to admit, the flying locusts of old had dismayed them both. He brushed that thought away as he stood frozen—his mouth hanging open.
Young Neb had no such qualms. The youth strode up to the massive limb and tugged it while the crowd watched, mesmerized. As the smaller Neb hauled the branch to the fire, everyone at once understood. They reached out and began tugging it, thrusting it into the flickering flames. The ancient limb caught quickly, and the fire grew in fierce exuberance.
Old Neb smiled. He had forgotten what it was he was going to say, but it didn’t matter now. The incident only made his point that much clearer.
In a gesture not unlike the one he had used to the People of Seth on the night of their defeat, he motioned for his people to commence the meal. There were no more ceremonies. The future was set. Neb could leave the Earth, and his spirit would live on in the grandson who bore his name. He would never die.
Serug watched his clan set to the feast. His father had undoubtedly prophesied correctly, and he would lead his people to a Great River. But how long before his son felt the need to rule? Old Neb had thrust his father aside when he felt the urge. As he stood staring into the flames, Serug wondered just how much like his grandfather his son would be.
*Ingoti, from the planet Ingilium are large beings, ranging from six to seven feet tall. They are never seen outside of their bulky techno-organic armor and breather helms, leading some to believe that they are in-fact cyborgs and that the “armor” is built directly into their bodies.
Ledgerut tugged on Kinrus’ arm, a glowering gleam in his eyes. The two Ingoti scouts slipped away from the primitive scene and made their way back to their hidden vessel.
“Blast that idiotic Gerrog. If he hadn’t played up the whole ‘They’re a threat to planetary security’ thing, we’d never have missed the Collective Symposium. I was looking forward to reconnecting with some old friends.”
Kinrus shrugged good-naturedly. “I’ve got to admit, I can’t see what the Magisterium was worried about. Babes—that’s what these beings are. Babes in the wild.”
The two tromped through the dense woodland in silence until they came to a cliff edge. Tapping a metal plate on the back of his hand, Ledgerut signaled their ship. Soon, a small spacecraft rose from the depths and hovered in space before them.
Kinrus frowned. “Bring it in a little closer. I’m not jumping that distance.”
Ledgerut tapped the plate again and watched the shuttle door slide open about three meters from land. He straightened his shoulders and glanced at his companion. “You’re worse than a Cresta hatchling—so timid!” He stepped to the edge of the cliff and settled into a leaping position. “You know the rules—no footprints leading to the spacecraft—ever.”
“You could bring it in a little closer—higher—and I’ll jump up.”
A tromping, crunching sound thrashed through the foliage and froze the two in their tracks. A tusked wild hog broke through the underbrush, snorting in fury.
With a graceful bound, Ledgerut leaped the distance and landed just inside the doorway. He extended his hand. “Hurry up or you’ll—”
The wild boar charged.
Kinrus skittered forward and tripped.
Before Ledgerut could reach his companion, the bore had ripped into Kinrus’ exposed neck and clamped on, snarling and snorting.
Whipping a Dustbuster from his arm pocket, Ledgerut jumped down and ended the brief struggle.
Kinrus’ arms flailed as Ledgerut shot a stabilizer into his arm and wrapped a thin strip of auto-healing fiber around his neck.
With calm, systemic motions, Ledgerut drew the ship closer and heaved his mate on board. When they were both settled in comfortable seats, Kinrus’ half closed eyes rolled over to his companion.
“Maybe I was a little hasty.”
Ledgerut scanned the directional console on the chair. “How’s that?”
“Perhaps they aren’t such babes after all.”
Ledgerut grunted. “So they deal with fierce animals. So what? No species survive without a few natural trials.”
Kinrus groaned as he turned his head to stare straight at Ledgerut, his eyes red and haunted. “But they’re not natural. That creature’s eyes glowed with evil—like the human.”
“You mean the old man—the one called Neb?”
“No, the child—the one who’ll take his place.”
Ledgerut’s hand hovered over the panel. He shivered.
Kinrus nodded. “Yeah. Me too.”
Novels by A. K. Frailey
Last of Her Kind http://amzn.to/2y1HJvg
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