Book 4 – The Beta-Earth Chronicles Book Series
Joline: One day looking over the horizon-deck of our Barbara Blue, I thought of my lost sister, Bar. For one moment, I wondered what she might think if she looked down from the skies over Tribe Renbourn. From the quiet clouds feeding occasional gentle rains onto the foaming, rocking blue waters of the Philosea, she’d see one of the strangest, most magnificent sights in Betan history. As our fleet, our “rag-tag” fleet as Husband described it, sailed east across the Philosea, 60, 70, 90 ships would sometimes be a swelling entity all together, sometimes be streams of smaller fleets seemingly independent but parallel, and sometimes scattered armadas when boat-Captains decided to linger in ports or at island landings at their will.
That day, I thought, the view from where I stood on our ship was just as dramatic as any overhead eyes. After all, my vision was combined with the smells and feels of ocean winds and waters. Some days, we all saw and smelled smoke rising like gentle ladders to the clouds from ships of burning engines. Sometimes, we heard sky booms and saw vapor trails from fast-moving wingers racing above us, no doubt looking down to see what they could see. Many days, wide-sails with proud Alliance signs were filled with the winds and we looked through our glass scopes to see who was nearby.
Some decorated sails we knew well, many our friends from Biol, Oyne, and Persis. We smiled seeing their new flags bearing the Half-Moon sign Husband had made the emblem of the first peaceful resistance to a government gone mad. We waved at friendly sailors climbing up rigging or waving at us from watch-nests atop sturdy masts, especially the cargo-ship Alnenia’s father, Sikas Ricipa, had loaned our tribe to carry many of our support-hands. Other ships in the distance we saw rare. We knew their leaders only by Two-Way or EV-com contacts. We knew every ship in the fleet was filled with fearful refugees, many wondering if Alman submersibles would rise to the surface to demand some ships be turned around.
Others worried the powerful Alman Navy might make attempts to capture individuals the new Alman government might have reason to want. Men especially feared their homeland might insist on reclaiming them. But, in the main, the Alman Navy was conspicuous by its absence.
“Perhaps,” Alnenia mused, “they prefer to leave us at the mercy of the elements and possible raiders.”
Only as time passed did this unease seem to slowly vanish like the flocks of seabirds winging overhead. Of course, many of these ships were small and designed not for long voyages. Many such had been provisioned in quick time and lacked for food, water, and long-distance navigation equipment. Cargo ships had been hastily converted into passenger vessels. Sometimes we lingered to allow these stragglers to keep close to their protective neighbors. Some days, we all paused as if we were one body to allow ships heading other directions to cross or cut through our path.
“I would never have imagined,” Husband remarked, inhaling the sea air he loved, “that there could be traffic jams in the middle of an ocean.”
We had many such. All these disparate exiles cast their fates away from the country that had given us all one choice – bend your mind, your soul, your will to one Lunta, one vision of Olos, one cruel woman with double-powers or leave. So many left. For reasons even the prophets said not, many followed the Duce of Bilan, My Husband, the blind alien of Alpha-Earth to wherever he and his tribe might go. And on this, the third arc of our voyage, we knew not where we went.
To our east, we knew Rhasvin ships were forming a buffer on their coast as if to say, “Sail on, sail on, but sail not here.” We knew Arasad ships floated like barracuda to our west as if hoping for at least a few morsels of tribute. But mostly the world watched and wondered.
At the moment I stood on our deck and thought of sister Bar, my womb was too full of the present and the family around me to wonder too much about the doings on other ships or in remote lands. Instead, I allowed my imagined cloud-spirit of Bar to narrow her vision, pointing her fleshless eyes downward at her namesake, our pride, the Barbara Blue. She’d have seen a very different husband from the tortured animal she’d first met in the Bergarten see-through cell, the abused teacher in the Balnakin School, the haunted husband and father who’d been blamed for the deaths of thousands. Now, if she looked closely, she’d see a man on the deck of his ship playing games with children of nine mothers, including her own daughter, Becky. If she looked close, she might amaze to see a father and his tribe in happy play, a tribe seemingly unconcerned that, once again, our family was homeless.
Once, our tribe would have looked cautious outward, wondering and speculating about the future in new places under new rules with shifting lines of power and need. Once, our Tribal Council would have mourned the loss of a beloved home and the roots we’d sought to plant on Island Bilan. Now, this tribe in transition was led by a father deliberately losing games for laughing offspring between tickling helpless mothers to the decks. Now, the reluctant father of an international exodus seemed to fear nothing.
Still, wise eyes would see Noriah of the Willing Horse and her ten Trustees spending much time on deck, teaching children and adults alike the ways of alertness and preparation. As she had for years, Sister Doret still taught everyone intricacies of Kin-Po, our exercise that was also our physical defense.
Had the spirit of Bar peered into the window of our ship’s parlor, she would have seen the famous corner of Two-Way wavers that once beamed out signals of distress when Tribe Renbourn was at the mercy of Arasad raiders. Now, she’d see maps of all sizes and designs decorating the walls as every Renbourn of every age had been given a vote in the great question. Where was home?
A Throne for an Alien, by Wes Britton, is available through these online booksellers. Click on any of these links to find out more.
eBook edition ~
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Or click on any of these links to purchase the entire Beta-Earth Chronicles series in one box-set ~