Chronicles of Han Storm - Book 1
Using a host body, Han starts the process of opening the travel portals.
*** Forty-Three ***
It was cold.
I could not recall such cold in all my memories combined.
A wind was racing above the hollow in which I sheltered. White, icy flakes kept on falling on me. It covered everything I looked at.
Someone was screaming in a language I did not understand.
I hugged my arms around my body and asked for a ‘Download’. Knowledge of this language came almost instantly.
“Get your worthless hide out of that hollow and come help me with the camiels. We will never reach the market if you do not help. And if we do not reach it, we do not eat. You know that.”
Nothing made sense. My cold feet and face did not make sense. The word ‘camiel’ held no meaning. I did not recognize the voice of the furred figure standing over me.
I tried standing up, but the wind caught me and tumbled my body head over heels back into the hollow. In the process I lost a glove. My hand immediately started to freeze.
My body dug franticly in the white stuff I now recognized as snow. It found the glove, shook it out and replaced it over the iced hand.
*You will get us both killed. Tomotswe does not take kindly to stupidity.*
I suddenly realized that I was very far from home.
This was definitely no vision, and no dream either.
This was as real as my ailing body back on Creata. I knew it was ailing because I recalled the way in which I had left it.
It was running on empty and there were no reserves left to sustain it while I made my journey to The-Universe-knows-Where.
But I could not give my own body another thought. I had to deal with this body in which I found myself. I was in control of the motor functions, but sharing it with another spirit.
*Who am I?* It was a question that should have received a logical answer.
*I do not know who you are, but this is my body and I am called Kgaitso.*
Memories of Daijon’s uncomfortable invasion of my body fleetingly played in my memory. I was definitely in charge of this body, but had to deal with the owner’s spirit as well.
*Do I have permission to use your body in this way?* I asked Kgaitso.
*That is a strange question. Of course you have! I would not have allowed it otherwise.*
I was really at a loss here. I did not even know where we were.
*I am sorry. I came from a very far place where I had to leave my own body in a much undesirable state. I am still integrating myself with yours.*
“Kgaitso! Get out of that hole or I will beat you with the whip!”
*Allow me to handle this situation, then I will speak to you when we are on our way.*
I kept quiet, relinquishing control of Kgaitso’s body, allowing him to do whatever he must.
He scrambled expertly out of the hollow, somehow managing to keep his body bent against the wind and forced himself over towards three dark lumps in the snow.
He dug three ropes from under the snow and pulled on them.
“Nuka! Pika! Tiyen! Hup!”
The three shapes suddenly came to life. I wanted to step back, but Kgaitso was in command of his body and expertly raised the three Camiels to their feet. A shadow covered in fur came over, carrying what looked like a saddle of some sort.
“Nuka, shake!” Kgaitso asked one of the dark, hairy shapes.
The command had a surprising effect.
The huge animal shook its purple fur, ice and snow flying in every direction. Kgaitso, expecting this, turned his back to the animal until it was done.
Tomotswe brought the saddle over and laid it across the animal’s back, strapping it fast under its belly. Then he helped Kgaitso to load the other two Camiels. They also deposited their loads of ice and snow before being loaded with something wrapped in hides.
Kgaitso showed me a picture of more hides. It was a consignment of hides that needed to get to a market at a place that looked vaguely familiar from the picture I received from Kgaitso.
As Tomotswe mounted his Camiel, the high wind grabbed his fur hood off his head, giving me a clear look at one of the people of this place.
They seemed to be well-built people of average size. Tomotswe had a high forehead and intelligence was written all over his features. Purple-black skin was framed by long, stringy, black hair.
There was anger in his dark brown eyes as he grabbed his hood and pulled it back over his head, effectively burying himself within its warm comfort.
*I thought he would be older?* the question slipped through.
*He is old already. He turned twenty Duback years a few days ago.*
So that is where I was.
Suddenly, the vague familiarity of the place where we were going slotted in with my newest assignment. We were on our way to the site of the Planetary Portal.
I hoped to the Universe that it was still standing, allowing Kgaitso to see as I saw in my mind.
*If you are looking for the Holy Site, yes, that is where we are going. We were caught unawares by this early snowstorm. That is why we are hurrying to the market. We need winter supplies before the passes close, if it is not already too late.*
Tomotswe urged Nuka into the wind and snow. Kgaitso led the other two Camiels into his tracks, sticking as close behind Nuka as he could, using her huge body as protection from the ice and snow.
I allowed Kgaitso total control over his motor skills. He knew how to survive in this inhospitable place. I did not.
One could not see anything except the flurry of the snow and I wondered how they could possibly know where they were going.
Kgaitso was a very accommodating host and in tune with my uppermost thoughts.
*Nuka has made this trip many times. She knows there is shelter and food at the end of this stretch. She will lead us unfalteringly to the market.*
I turned my thoughts to my own memories of Duback, recalling a hot, sandy place with almost no water anywhere on the planet.
I allowed Kgaitso a glimpse of my early memories. His reply was most disconcerting.
*Long ago, the War left its mark on the sky. The Sun was shut out and Duback became a cold, icy place. Most of the animals and peoples could not tolerate the cold and perished. Only a handful of people survived, scattering to the only life sustaining regions left.*
*Did Duback stay this way, or have you seen any change lately?* I wanted to know from Kgaitso.
*We have heard rumours that the Sun is shining for longer periods in some regions. It is not good news for us, as it builds the storms even greater and our coldest period is lasting longer than usual.*
Kgaitso concentrated on leading the Camiels over a slippery patch before resuming conversation.
*Did you come here to help bring balance back to Duback? To make things easier here for people to live and not simply survive?*
I did not have the opportunity to give him an answer.
The two Camiels suddenly went into a frenzy. Kgaitso let them go and took a defensive position next to Nuka and Tomotswe. Nuka was nervous but did not seem as affected by whatever was causing the commotion.
Tomotswe had a spear in his gloved hands and Kgaitso produced a short club from the belt that secured his furred jacket.
We waited for whatever had spooked the Camiels. An image of white, medium-sized furry dogs came to mind. Luckily, they never materialized and when Nuka relaxed, both boys sighed with relief.
The other two Camiels returned on Tomotswe’s whistle and Kgaitso took up the lead reins again.
We did not communicate further as both Kgaitso and Tomotswe seemed on edge, ready to defend their lives if the dogs should return.
We walked in silence for a while longer. A darkness seemed to mark the dreary white landscape on the horizon.
*What is that?* I asked Kgaitso.
*It is the caves of the market. We will be there shortly. You must inhabit my body in peace until we have traded our goods. We cannot afford to make any mistakes.*
*I will not interfere* I promised. I was pressured for time, but also did not want to place my host’s livelihood in jeopardy.
The ‘Caves’ turned out to be a huge crevice in a cliff face. It faced away from the prevailing winds and the sudden quiet we entered after the wailing around our ears seemed eerie.
It was so quiet away from the wind that you could clearly hear the sound of human voices coming from within the caves.
Tomotswe led us past a child guard into the caves. He took us to an area that served as a resting place for people and animals alike. There was a huge fire burning in a heath, with a boy preparing food over it.
Kgaitso helped Tomotswe unpack the Camiels before requesting them to lie down. He found some fodder in one of the bags they had unpacked and each Camiel received a generous helping of limp vegetation that might have been some form of moss.
Tomotswe took up the burden of two rolls of hides and Kgaitso somehow managed to get himself underneath the third. He followed Tomotswe to the inner area where quite a few young people were sitting around goods, trading amongst each other.
Tomotswe found an open area between two other boys and unpacked his hides. Then he sat down and waited for customers.
Kgaitso took some of the hides and went to the furthest traders. At each trader was something his tribe needed and he bargained his hides for each item.
Some traders were apparently too expensive, wanting too many hides for an item and Kgaitso had to move on to the next person, bartering as he went. Some of these verbal exchanges met with success.
In the end, he managed to secure quite a few items, including salt and a bag of grain before returning to Tomotswe who seemed overjoyed with Kgaitso’s success.
Darkness suddenly crept over us and torches had to be lit. Tomotswe and Kgaitso packed up their hides and purchases and retired to the area they had staked out as a sleeping place near the cooking fire.
All the young people were relaxing after a hard day of bargaining, talking amongst each other. We joined them at the fire.
Some of the boys had taken off their furred jackets and underlying garments, keeping only their pants and warm, woolly boots on.
I watched everything from the eyes of a stranger.
The firelight danced off their purple-black skins. There was not a single older person amongst them. I had also not seen any women and children.
*Why did you call Tomotswe old?* I wanted to know from Kgaitso.
*He is one of the oldest grown people in this area. He is something of a leader amongst us.*
Kgaitso let it sound natural, but there was definitely nothing natural about this.
*Where are the older people, the woman and children?*
Images of pregnant young girls, probably not older than fourteen planet years invaded my thoughts. Orphaned young children and babies were looked after by teenagers. There were no adults around.
*There are no old people here. You are lucky if you live to see the age of Tomotswe. Woman and children are kept hidden. I am eleven and have come of age. That is why I am allowed to help Tomotswe. Our village is very far from here to, the South. This storm is mild compared to what we have back home.*
*And who is in charge of this Planet?*
*I do not understand the concept. This is Duback. It is where we live.*
I thought a moment. This young boy had no idea about planets, yet had accepted me as a spirit visitor.
*How do you know about what I am doing here? How do you know to speak to me with your mind?* I wanted to know from him.
*I learnt it in the writings at home. We all know about these things, but only some of us have the connection to the Higher Worlds. I am such a one. I was told that you will come. That you must be helped to bring a better life to all on Duback.
Will this really happen if I help you with this task?*
*Yes. I need to go to the old temple, to the Holy Site.* I completed my communication by including a picture of how I remembered the Portal to be in the days when I still travelled here. I was to be disappointed.
*I do not know of such a monument. The Holy Site is the only place I know that looks right for what you are looking for. But then, I have never been there myself, and the tellings of this place does not include a monument.*
I would have to wait until daylight to find what I was looking for.
I started taking an interest in what was going on around me. One of the older children placed more fuel on the fire.
Although Kgaitso was hungry and waiting for dinner, he was very accommodating in helping me experience his culture.
The fuel was the dried dung of the purple furred Camiels. Camiels were kind animals with good temperaments. Their large heads and intelligent eyes made them look as gentle as Creata lambs.
They had slightly humped backs which were as high as Tomotswe’s head. Their long necks allowed for easy access to browse on groundcover or shrubs. With their overgrown, padded feet, walking in snow or sand was easily achieved. They really needed very little food or drink to survive on.
The furs Tomotswe traded this morning was from a woolly animal called a Garout. It was as big as a Creata goat. It was also adapted perfectly to the tough environment on Duback. The Garout was Kgaitso’s tribe’s main source of exchange. They bred the animals in the remote Southern regions.
Almost no-one ventured there. It teemed with ravenous wild animals, which was one of the reasons why many of Kgaitso’s tribe did not make it to maturity.
A white humanoid creature covered in fur, with a face full of teeth and small, bloodshot eyes, was particularly fond of human flesh and came up as a regular Hunter of Humans. A shiver ran down our spine and the thought was quickly turned to more important needs, like an empty belly.
Dinner was served and Kgaitso held out his wooden bowl to be filled with a type of gruel. Each person received a piece of what looked like hard, black bread. It tasted worse than it looked, but to Kgaitso it was a meal worth waiting for.
I tried to experience it from his perspective and soon found that the protein rich gruel, looking like lumpy oatmeal, was actually very filling. The black bread was salty and not something they were able to enjoy every day. A filling meal, in itself, was an unusual blessing.
After dinner, Kgaitso retired to sleep between two of his resting Camiels. He rinsed his bowl with some snow, then wrapped himself up in a Garout hide, the furry side turned inward. It served both as tent and bedding.
The storm did not abate, but grew progressively worse throughout the night. I could do nothing but wait, losing precious time on Creata, knowing that every moment I spent here brought my body closer to perishing without my attendance.
I allowed the boy to rest for a few hours, being fully aware when Tomotswe came to sleep. He used the saddle as a pillow and wrapped himself in similar garb.
It was almost midnight when I gently took complete control of Kgaitso’s body. I settled myself on Nuka’s broad back and kicked her until she stood up. She was quite surprised that we were going to travel without a saddle and bridle.
I was confident that her kind nature would allow me to steer her to where I needed to go with only the halter as a guide.
We moved off towards the entrance of the cavern. The guard that was supposed to be on duty was snoring as loudly as all the other boys. Nuka’s soft feet did not make a sound as we slipped out into the storm.
I needed all my own abilities to negotiate the storm of stinging sleet and pushed Kgaitso’s spirit totally out of the way.
I was in possession of an untrained body, but could still use my psychic skills of seeing in energy. Ignoring the sleet, I was able to eventually push Nuka to follow a pathway that led us to a sleet-swept, open area where I could make out the Planetary Portal in the middle.
I ignored Kgaitso’s desperate pleas to return to the cavern and the other men. I needed to open this portal now. I might not have another opportunity.
I stopped Nuka in front of the massive dialup which was similar in design as the one in Limïer. I did not perceive any danger (except freezing to death) so clambered from Nuka’s back directly onto the dial.
It took all the strength I could muster from Kgaitso’s undernourished body to align the dials for Creata’s incoming call.
Nuka’s grumble brought my attention back to this reality. The sleet was coming down harder and faster than before. Even Nuka’s thick fur could not handle this type of punishment.
Grabbing her halter with one hand, I swung Kgaitso’s tired body onto her back and shoved her, by kicking with my feet, towards the Portal.
I had to know if there was any response within it, but the furiosity of the storm did not allow me to see any sign of activation.
I rode the Camiel around the Portal but could not perceive an activation scanner. It was hardly likely that I would find one under these conditions.
Kgaitso’s body was starting to freeze so I released Nuka and gave her her head. She knew where to go and we soon joined a relieved Tomotswe inside the cavern.
He still wanted to scold Kgaitso, but I stopped him in his tracks.
“Kgaitso had been through enough for one night. Let him be. I will be leaving in a few moments. My task here is fulfilled. Be kind to your kinsman. He is one of my servants. He is to be your spiritual leader until my return.”
Poor Tomotswe almost fainted with shock. He fell to his knees and started mumbling something. I did not stop to listen. Going straight to Kgaitso’s bed, I lay down and placed this body into sleep.
Then I concentrated on my own body’s energy path and rushed home.
Copyright © H Gibson Chronicles of Han Storm. All rights reserved. 2009-2014