Renegade World Book II - Alliance Tested
Bounding across the packed sand of her clan’s land on Ganadn, she felt as if time slowed each time she arched her back and stretched her front legs forward, almost parallel to the ground. With her rear legs fully extended behind her, she felt as if she was flying. On and on she ran, her breath coming hard, but she felt no pain, only joy and serenity.
As she topped a low hill, she saw a tiny figure ahead in the distance. The figure turned and ran, running on two legs. She howled and gave chase. Though her prey ran fast, she was faster, steadily closing the distance. A female human. The woman’s gait gnawed at her thoughts. She launched into her final leap, her mouth open, but as she snapped her jaws shut, the woman dissolved into nothingness. Crashing to the ground, the last dream-thought came. The human was me!
She awoke in her bed. With her eyes still shut, she ran her left hand down her nearly hairless body and felt disappointment. I have human form. As she lifted her head from her right arm, she opened her eyes. My lodge. Nuve Speranse. Terra.
She sighed. This is the third night in a row that I have dreamed this same dream. Time? She heard the thought, Night is half complete.
Having no duties during the coming day, she stood and dressed, listening for signs that anyone else was awake. Hearing none, she padded noiselessly across the lodge and out the door. Outdoors, she knew her movements were being recorded, but she doubted her early morning walk would be considered suspicious.
She crossed the village, neither seeing nor hearing anyone. When she reached the gate, she slid it open, stepped outside, and then closed it. Though she wasn’t challenged, she could hear the guard breathing in the tower above.
As she strolled down the path, the location of every recording device appeared as an image in her thoughts. The Numane had installed many more recording devices outside the wall during the two years since their second group had come through the Prophet Avram’s temporal portal. Thankfully, her latest den was still in a dead zone.
Three-quarters of the night had passed by the time she reached her den, the third one she had dug. The previous two were no longer in dead zones. She removed her clothes and crawled across the den’s straw-covered floor. After piling rocks over her clothes, she lay down on her right side, shut her eyes, and meditated. Let the pain be moderate.
It was almost dawn when she awoke. She smiled as she stretched her front and rear legs. Much closer to my true form. She looked like a big wolf, at least from a distance.
Sticking her nose out of the den, she sniffed the air. No humans. No Idumeans either. She walked out of the willow trees that hid her den and sniffed again. I like the smell of this planet, the water, the vegetation, and even the animals. Her planet, Ganadn, was much more arid.
She walked down to the small creek and lapped its water. After she finished drinking, she trotted away from the wooded area that surrounded the creek onto the rolling prairie and then broke into a full run. I need this break, even if it is only for the day. I enjoyed my previous assignment observing Michelangelo, but this assignment has been boring, especially since I must remain quietly in the background while I monitor that Idumean whore.
I much preferred watching the Numane as a wolf. Prophet Avram had pulled her from her previous assignment when his temporal portal had been activated. Together, in wolf form, they had observed the Numane through their first winter and spring.
Later, taking human form, they had both slipped into Nuve Speranse during the Huegos Olimpiados. She had never left, pretending to be one of the girls who had come to Nuve Speranse looking for a better life.
Prophet Avram’s original directive was to monitor the original four Numane, learn about them, and find out why they came through his portal. She had been surprised when Lilith had shown up impersonating a human named Masaha'e, only her distinct Idumean pheromones giving her away. Prophet Avram had never heard of an Idumean who could shape-shift, so she had gotten samples of Lilith’s genetic material for him to study. Confirming she was Idumean, but with significant mutations, he theorized that the experiments performed on the Idumeans by her Azazelite captors were the causes of those mutations.
She had successfully gathered genetic samples from all of the Numanes, the first four as well as the second group, and the Prophet’s tests confirmed that they were all human, although some of them had more mutations than others. Two of them, Naami and Kamau, even had mutations that were similar to the genetic sequences that were only known to occur in some Ganadns.
Months later, she got two blood samples, one from the Numane named Paki and one from Mohkave. Prophet Avram was shocked to discover that their blood contained active non-biological technology startlingly similar to the cellular-scale devices that circulated through their own Ganadn blood.
When the temporal portal had been activated the second time, Prophet Avram had returned in the disguise of a human Cipsi shaman. After observing the second group, he left to follow the Numane woman named Naami, leaving Sarai to continue observing Nuve Speranse.
Sarai was frustrated that she couldn’t learn why the Numane had used Prophet Avram’s temporal portal or where or when they had come from. Though she was capable of listening to conversations at long distances and through walls, the Numane had not once spoken of the reason they had come back in time. From their actions, she could infer little other than the fact that they were teaching these people and slowly introducing technology.
She was very bored from pretending to learn the basic mathematics and science that they were teaching these primitive peoples. Though basic to her, some of this knowledge was unknown to humans anywhere on this planet. Even the most advanced Al-Andalus scholars and Chinese scholars she had known knew less mathematics and science than what they were teaching the advanced students here.
As the sun neared the horizon, she returned to her den and slept. Upon waking, she dressed and went down to the creek to check her appearance. After making a small adjustment to the skin around her right eye, she headed back to Nuve Speranse.
As she walked up the gentle slope toward the village, she observed the building activity. I’m glad we’re done digging ditches. All of the komandos had spent several hours each day during the previous summer helping the villagers widen and deepen the ditch that fronted three sides of the village wall. The forth side with its sheer drop to the river flats had no need of a ditch. From a u-shaped ditch not much more than a metre deep and two metres wide, they had created a v-shaped ditch nearly three metres deep and three metres wide. They had also built two drawbridges for the two gates and six log towers which were evenly spaced around the east, north, and west walls.
She grimaced as she walked across the drawbridge that spanned the newer, outer ditch. If anyone other than the Prophet Avram had given me this assignment, I would have walked away after the first day of digging. Many villagers and even some komandos had questioned the need for a second, longer ditch surrounding the village fifty to eighty metres outside the inner ditch and log wall.
And if that wasn’t enough, I had to carry bricks and cart dirt. A sod covered dirt bank stood behind the outer ditch, and triangular-shaped brick bastions, fronted by the ditch, jutted from the bank every seventy metres. Each six-metre tall bastion allowed defenders to shoot arrows at any attacker trying to cross the ditch and bank.
Workers lowered stacks of bricks down into the bottom of the ditch where other workers were building the foundation for the outer wall. They have started building the first section of the wall. She huffed. I don’t like taking orders from humans. They will certainly order me to carry more bricks. Manual labor is beneath me.
She huffed again. Why does Mohkave want brick-faced, dirt-filled walls that are five metres thick and five metres high? The log wall with its towers and ditch are sufficient to protect the village against attackers armed with bows and arrows. Michelangelo once spoke to Firenze nobles of a similar fortress design that he said would stop assaults with cannons, but there are no cannons on this landmass. Unbidden, images of ships with cannons followed by a map of North America and the West Indies flowed through her thoughts. Yes. Cristóbal Colón and others from Hispania have cannons, but… She paused and projected. The Numane used Prophet Avram’s portal to come from sometime in the future. They advise Mohkave. He orders fortifications built to stop cannons. Therefore, Prophet Avram’s fears that the soldiers of the lands east of Océano Atlántico will flow into this land and conquer its peoples are real.
She averted her eyes as she saw Paki and Rebeka Lee approaching her. Rebeka Lee waved at her. “Bone dia, Hantaiui.”
She looked up and mumbled her response. “Bone dia.” After she spoke, she averted her eyes again and stepped to the side until they passed.
I like those two. Had her assignment permitted her to interact with the Numane, it would have been much less boring. Instead, she spent her time listening but said little. She saw Paki glance back at her. I’ll wait and listen. She could hear almost twice as far as humans.
Rebeka Lee asked, “What’s Hantaiui’s story? I’ve never heard her say more than three words.”
Paki shrugged. “On the surface, she seems like a very quiet person.” He hesitated and then shook his head. “While that’s not unusual, there is something about her that I can’t put my finger on.”
“I’m not sure exactly. It’s just a bunch of little things that make me think there’s something more.”
“I’m sure she’s smarter than she lets on. I’m also sure she really dislikes Masaha'e.”
“Hantaiui fights defensively against everyone except Masaha'e. I’ve watched them spar, and I’ve spotted more than a few glares and smirks that seem out of character.”
Paki is even more perceptive than I guessed. I must be more careful.
“Did you notice her black eye?”
“That’s another thing. She heals really quickly.”
Mohkave listened to the approaching footsteps. They stopped. He opened his eyes a crack and saw a figure squat next to Ruhahde who appeared to be asleep. Though only the stars provided light, he recognized the man, a Cefe de Ekipo. The man hesitated then reached out and shook Ruhahde’s shoulder to wake him. Though the man spoke softly, Mohkave heard him tell Ruhahde that one of the sentries was missing.
Ruhahde stood up and asked the man to explain what actions he had taken so far. He closed his eyes as Ruhahde started towards him. Ruhahde shook his shoulder. “Ando despertar todos.”
He stood as Ruhahde quietly woke the other four cefes. Each of them woke their team members, and they all prepared for an attack.
A few minutes later, there was a shout as one of the sentries found his missing team member still unconscious. They revived him and brought him to Ruhahde.
Shahaka spent the next morning promoting the idea that the Sutaio were responsible for the attack on the sentry and were planning to kill them all before they got to the peace talks. During lunch, as they listened to all of the nervous conversations, Ruhahde whispered, “I think you need to tell your brother. Otherwise, he might cause a battle before we can even start the peace talks.” Shahaka hadn’t been in favor of a treaty, convinced that the Sutaio were responsible for his father’s death in addition to the attack on their two villages.
After lunch, Mohkave maneuvered his brother out of everyone’s hearing range, explained what Ruhahde had done, and told him he needed to quit blaming the Sutaio.
Shahaka looked momentarily perplexed. Then he grinned. “Brother, you are devious.”
At dusk, as they made camp, Shahaka began doubting himself out loud, saying that after thinking about it more, it was likely the Hahenumanoc who had snuck into camp. As they ate, Shahaka continued to promote his theory to those who sat near him.
Ruhahde rolled his eyes, but Mohkave just shrugged as he finished his last bite of pemmican. Ruhahde turned to the woman who sat on his other side. “Ekipo tri have guarder keste naite.”
She stood and brought her closed right fist to her chest. “Ekipo tri have guarder. Ekipo tri anda trinufar.” Ruhahde brought his fist to his chest. “Bone.”
Ruhahde watched the Assiniboine woman roust her team members for guard duty. “They will be tired just before dawn.”
Mohkave nodded. “I agree. I plan to test them just before the sun rises.”
Mohkave woke up an hour before dawn. Listening to the sounds of the camp, he couldn’t hear anyone moving. I’ll inspect. The silence could be good or bad. He quietly slipped out of his new sleeping bag, still not believing how warm the lightweight bag had kept him. Fully dressed, except for his mokasines, he quietly put those on. Though the moon was not visible, the stars were bright enough for him to see his breath. He pulled his dark, knit cap down further.
I hope this goes well. She has shown that she follows orders, and the four men of ekipo tri seem to follow her orders. The cefe and her four teammates were all from different peoples.
He had slept with his back next to a fallen tree. Peeking over the tree, he scanned the area. Three of the sentries should have hidden themselves near the perimeter watching overlapping areas. The other two sentries should walk the outside of the camp. He knew two sentries occasionally crossed the camp, making them less predictable. Their dark clothing made them difficult to see. He crept across the camp. There’s one. The sentry saw Mohkave and extended his lanse, but as he recognized Mohkave, he signed, I see you. Mohkave nodded in response, and the sentry continued walking.
He crept across the camp until he saw another sentry walking away from him. From somewhere behind him, he heard a single hoot of an owl, and the sentry turned. Alerted, the sentry scanned the area until he spotted Mohkave. As soon as the sentry came close enough to identify him, he made the signs for I see you and then continued walking the perimeter. Three out of five do exactly as they were taught. Two more to check.
Last night, while inspecting the shift before this one, Ruhahde had snuck up on a dozing sentry, choked him, and dragged him out of camp. Another sentry found him missing and alerted his cefe. To his credit, the cefe had not hesitated to alert Ruhahde before searching for his missing team member. Other than Mohkave’s brother, they hadn’t told anyone else that it was not an enemy who had choked the sentry.
At dawn, new sentries took over, already finished with their breakfast of dried corn and pemmican. They stood watch while the rest of the camp ate and then formed up. Each person was dressed exactly the same. They wore jaketas de les komandos, buffalo skin jackets that were waist-length in front but hung just below the buttocks in back. Each jaketa was the same color, a grass-like pattern of browns and tans. Their caps, kilts, leggings, and moccasins had the same pattern and colors. Each jaketa had a patch on its left breast containing a letter followed by a five-digit number. Except for Mohkave and Ruhahde, each person’s patch started with the letter “A” and three ones. The last number was the person’s position within their ekipo. A “1” signified they were the cefe, the leader of the ekipo. A “2” was the next most senior member of the ekipo, and a “5” was the junior member. The next to the last number was the number of their ekipo within the peloton.
Ruhahde’s patch contained “A10000” designating that he was Cefe de Unite Une, leader of unit one, to which this peloton belonged. As the leader of unit one, only Mohkave—Cefe de les Komandos—outranked him.
Ruhahde barked, “Andos, kadensia normal.” The cefe of each ekipo echoed Ruhahde’s command to move out at a normal pace.
They walked in the standard formation for travel across the prairie land. Three loosely spaced ekipos walked behind each other. Ekipo kua walked to the left of the three ekipos, and ekipo kinte walked to the right. No ekipo was ever more than fifteen paces from another or less than ten. Within each ekipo, the five members stayed four or five paces apart, normally in a cross formation with three in the center and one on each side. If the trail narrowed, they shifted to a single file. In either formation, the Cefe de Ekipo always walked in the center of the ekipo.
They were traveling light this trip with no burros to carry additional bows, arrows, or provisions. Each person carried a small backpack with provisions, a sleeping bag, a small hatchet, and a knife. All five members of the center ekipo carried bows, and one member in each of the other ekipos carried a bow. Everyone else carried a lanse. Collapsed, a lanse was a fifteen-cm double-edged-alloy blade attached to a one-metre carbon fiber composite shaft. The shaft could be locked out to a full two-metre length.
Mohkave and Ruhahde each carried a composite bow, a lanse, and a knife. Shahaka, only a reserve, carried a traditional bow, a hace, and a traditional stone knife. A hace was an over-sized hatchet, ideal for one-handed fighting and throwing, but with a handle just long enough to use two-handed if the need arose. All fully qualified reserves earned a hace, but only active members earned a composite bow, a lanse, and an alloy knife. The haces that reserves were issued were made from an alloy of copper and silicon, more durable that the traditional axes made of stone but not as good as the haces issued to the ekipos. Active members were also beginning to be issued jaketas protektores with soft body armor, and kapeles protektores with hard and soft armor, but they had left them behind for this trip.
Ruhahde walked behind the lead ekipo—ekipo une—while he and Shahaka walked near the rear. An hour into the walk, Ruhahde yelled, “Kadensia rapido.” Each of the cefes echoed the command, and everyone broke into a trot.
Shahaka grunted. “After the battle, I couldn’t run even this fast.” Shahaka had taken an arrow in his leg during the battle with the Sutaio and had limped for over a year.
“Good that you healed.”
“I know. I wouldn’t have passed your crazy tests.” All reserves had to prove they could walk at kadensia normal for eight hours with only four short breaks. They had to trot at kadensia rapido, about twenty-five percent faster than normal, for four hours with three short breaks.
An hour later, Ruhahde yelled again. “Kadensia mas rapido.” Again, the cefes echoed his command; everyone sped up into a slow run, about fifty percent faster than kadensia normal.
“You and Ruhahde test me, little brother.” He grinned at Shahaka but didn’t tell him that, in fact, that was the plan. Reserves had to be able to sustain this pace for an hour. Active ekipos were able to sustain it for two hours.
An hour went by, and Shahaka was still staying even with Mohkave’s right shoulder. Ruhahde dropped back to run next to Mohkave’s left side. While a determined Shahaka looked straight ahead as he ran, Ruhahde signed.
Mohkave glanced over at his brother. I don’t want to dishonor him, but he looks like he can run longer. He nodded his response to Ruhahde’s signs. Their plan was to tire Shahaka, hoping that he wouldn’t have the energy to make as many demands during the negotiations to come.
While the treaty was to be between the three Sutaio villages and Alianse Prime, Shahaka had pled his case during a Numankake council meeting. Mohkave and Shahaka, two of the council’s ten village chiefs, had debated. The council had disagreed with most of Shahaka’s arguments, but they agreed with Shahaka that he had the right to attend the treaty meeting. Ohxakonike, who represented the Numankake as one of the members of the Alianse Prime council, was forced to include Shahaka.
Ohxakonike had met privately with one of the Sutaio chiefs to smooth the way for the treaty discussion and to explain that Shahaka’s demands were not shared by Mohkave, himself, or the Alianse Prime council. Last week, a messenger from the chief had informed Ohxakonike that the chief had set up a private meeting between Mohkave, Shahaka, and someone else who had agreed to help persuade Shahaka to back off. That meeting had been set for tonight, ahead of tomorrow’s formal meeting. The messenger did not know the identity of the other person.
Shahaka’s pace was no longer even, dropping behind Mohkave a few steps and then catching up. Ruhahde should slow the pace soon. Right after his thought, Ruhahde called out the command for kadensia normal. Sometimes, I think we hear each other’s thoughts. A few minutes later Ruhahde called out again. “Terminos. Ekipo une, guarda.”
While the rest of the ekipos drank and ate, ekipo une walked the perimeter. Ten minutes later ekipo dau took over the perimeter so that ekipo une could eat. Just short of another ten minutes later, each cefe alerted their ekipo to get ready. When Ruhahde called out the command for kadensia normal, everyone already had their packs on and was ready to go. I no longer doubt Joe and Raul when they say the relojio will prove as important as the lanse and bow. He had seen the benefit of coordinating an attack at a specific time when his ekipos were not close enough to see or hear each other, relying only on the relojio, a pocket watch issued to each cefe. Fully-jeweled mechanical watches as accurate as these wouldn’t be available in Europe for another four hundred years.
Three hours later, Ruhahde commanded them to stop, knowing that they were close to the place where they were supposed to meet the Sutaio escort. Without being told, ekipo dau took sentry duty. Speaking in Speransen, Ruhahde asked, “You think we tired him enough?”
Mohkave watched his brother lie down. “He looks tired. Whether he makes fewer demands…” He shrugged his shoulders. “I wonder who we meet with tonight.”
“You think the Sutaio have someone who can change Shahaka’s demands?”
“Despite all of my arguments and all of Ohxakonike’s arguments, Shahaka has conceded little. I doubt anyone can convince him otherwise, but we’ll see.”
One of the sentries shouted, “Alerta!”
Everyone drew weapons and positioned themselves but waited for a command. He and Ruhahde jogged toward the sentry who had called the alert. Six warriors stood a respectable distance from the sentry. In the Sutaio language, Mohkave called out, “Who commands?”
One of the men stepped forward. He pointed to himself. “Teeton. I command.” He pointed to Mohkave. “You call yourself Mohkave?”
“Yes. We come in peace.”
Teeton hesitated as he scanned the ekipos. “If you come in peace, tell your warriors to lower their weapons.”
“Ruhahde, posision formal.”
Ruhahde yelled, “Posision formal,” and everyone except for Shahaka moved to posision formal.
“Shahaka, lower your hace.”
“I distrust them.”
“With only six warriors, they have not come to fight. They have come to take us to the village.”
“Six that we see. More may hide around us.”
“On my honor, I have only brought these five with me.”
“You speak our tongue.”
“A little.” He glared at Shahaka. “I know you, Shahaka. You killed my brother.”
Shahaka glared back. “I killed several of your warriors during battle.”
“My brother had only ten winters. You killed him before the battle when you raided our land.”
“I never kill women or children, but you almost killed—”
“The warriors you led killed my brother!” His anger went from a glare to a crazed stare as he stepped toward Shahaka.
Shahaka didn’t move. “You lie, but your warriors killed my father.”
A bad start. Mohkave stepped between the two men. “Both of you hold your tongues until you calm down!”
Ruhahde stepped in front of Shahaka, looked him in his eyes, and said, “Walk with me, Shahaka.”
Shahaka appeared to think about pushing Ruhahde, but instead, he stormed away with Ruhahde following him.
One of Paki’s sayings pushed into his thoughts; Make honey from rotten tomatoes. He turned back and faced the man. “My brother has a hot head.” He laughed. “So you and he seem much alike in that way.”
“He and I alike? Never.”
“I believed you when you spoke of your honor. Believe me when I say that my brother has honor.” He held up his hands before the man spoke. “He hasn’t always chosen friends who have honor. But since the battle, he learned which of his warriors had little or no honor. He banished the worst from his village.”
“I have friends who can describe the warriors who killed my brother.”
“And I can describe your warriors who tried to kill me, my mother, my sister, and friends when they raided our fields winters ago.” He held up his hands again. “As I can describe the warriors who chased after women and children fleeing a battle.”
“How many winters should we count back as your people tell the stories of our raids against them and my people and tell the stories of your raids against us? Five winters, ten winters?” He shrugged and paused. “One hundred winters?”
Naamah Schmidt, the leader of the renegades from the future, has a plan to change history. Her protege, Mohkave, works to build the young alliance, Alianse Prime, so that it is strong enough to survive a war that will not come for generations. But his alliance must first survive internal dissension and a more immediate threat of war.
With Naamah gone to execute the second phase of her plan, will Mohkave and the rest of the renegades from the future stick to her original plans for changing the future of this timeline?
And what of the aliens who manipulated the original timeline’s future chaos. Will they cause chaos in this timeline as well?