A Lone Traveler
The impression left by my sandal gives no information about who I am or what my purpose in life might be. It could have been left by any man or woman, of any race or religion. Perhaps it would interest the reader to know that I am a man, of indiscriminate race and definitely of no religion. If you passed me on the street you would not even bother to turn your head to look at my face; it is such a plain and uninteresting visage. My life and its purpose are, on the other hand, nothing short of extraordinary and my story, that I am about to put down in this unassuming little tome, is perhaps the most unbelievable and astounding account ever told.
My footprint is slowly being erased. The sand, carried on the wind, slowly fills the impression left by the smooth leather sole. As I look back over the desert floor, the evidence of my passing over it has disappeared; no one following would ever suspect I had walked there. It has always been this way; it was supposed to be this way. I was not created to make an impact on this earth; yet, I affected it as it affected me. My story will prove that my very presence and indomitable spirit have helped to form the world upon which I stand. Many generations have come and gone—all have been touched by the things I have said and done; the things I am yet to do; the things I must do.
There is a ‘once upon a time’ to my story. Perhaps that is where I should begin.
A History Unfolds
I was honored to be chosen. I was proud of the title bestowed upon me. The very words conjured images of strength and purpose. The Guardian. I shouldered my training and education with grim determination. I would not let Him down. He would never doubt that He was right in His choice. Learning about a new culture was always a challenge, but a new world! The volume of information was astounding. I took one day at a time–always focusing on what I had learned to date and never on what I had yet to learn. The journey from my home planet of Genia to the one called Earth was shortened by long periods of study when I was placed in a pseudo sleep in order to absorb as much information and history as I could. My teachers were amazed at the rapidity at which I learned. I had always been good at languages and this was a major area of the studies.
The planet Earth had evolved many sub languages and dialects which had been studied for many years by much more clever men than me and they were still amazed at the diversity shown on one small planet. It was predicted that Earth’s inhabitants would develop yet more branches of communication and this would inevitably create barriers between Earth men that would take millennia to dissolve. I once asked why the languages could not be morphed into one as our ancestors had successfully done. The answer should have been obvious to me. Give them a few more thousand years and they will arrive at this inevitable conclusion on their own. I had forgotten how war torn our own history had been. By focusing on the creation of a common language, our planet had been saved from certain destruction. Communication had been our savior. It was ironic then, that after thousands of years of peace and prosperity, a breakdown in communication was destroying us.
The breakdown had not occurred on the surface of our beloved home, but in the skies above it. Our closest neighbors had waged a war upon our peaceful home—a war to end all wars they proclaimed. Male and female were called upon to bear arms and sound the battle cry—a sound unheard for generations upon generations. I was born the son of soldiers, and never questioned my place in the ranks. I lived and breathed army. I worked hard, kept my nose clean and hoped, as all others did, for a time when my occupation would again be obsolete. I would be obsolete. I preferred dead to obsolete but then I was always a little extreme.
Until that time, I would follow orders, look out for the guy beside me and kill the one facing me. I never stopped to ask questions and it never occurred to me that I might have any to ask.
Then there came a day when the fighting stopped—for me—a wound that classified me unacceptable for battle. The loss of an arm I could deal with; the loss of my purpose was suffocating. After my mind cleared a little from the post-surgical fog, questions began groping around in my head looking for a handhold. I had no answers, so buried myself in more questions.
I began by studying the scriptures recorded by my forefathers hoping for an ounce of wisdom in a weight of history. When I was first called before the council I expected that I would be receiving an assignment involving my areas of study. I never expected to return to duty, even with the robot arm they had given me, but I definitely did not expect to delve into areas I had never before contemplated.
The name of our attackers’ planet was Thuron. Thuronians had long been making all of their decisions based upon ancient scrolls and prophecies decreed to be direct interpretations of the words of their gods. It was our unfortunate proximity to Thuron that threw us into a battle of worlds and wills. Our wise and patient leaders tried tirelessly to convince the enemy of the futility of their attacks. The Thuronians insisted that their holy writings were truth and the words of their wise gods foretold of a mighty warrior of unequaled strength and passion born on the planet seen in their skies. This warrior, it was said, would have one directive: to crush Thuron and turn its cities to dust.
They would not listen to our reasoning. We tried to communicate our concerns that the very war the Thuronians insisted upon would produce the fertile soil from which millions of warriors would spring. Our planet had been at peace so long that armies and soldiers were defined only by our historical records.
War gave resurrection to an instinctive spirit of survival. Our people rose up at this threat and once again become a nation of violence in retaliation to these unreasonable attacks.
This war would wage for thirty years. Both planets suffered many losses and the people of my home planet eventually stopped trying diplomacy, threw down their crowns of peace and took up the helmets of warriors. Desperation fueled our fires; religious fervor theirs.
The scrolls on which Thuronians based all their decisions were protected and known only to the echelon of their society. It took many years and the lives of many informants until our government learned the full content of those sacred documents. I learned the information only weeks ago when my assignment began–the seed of our wise and ancient Emperor would produce the warrior the Thuronians feared above all. The future of our ruling family and, therefore, that of Genia was in immediate danger.
The wisdom passed on by those scrolls was millennia old, perhaps distorted through time and certainly misinterpreted by those in power. We could not dissuade their beliefs; only alter ours in an attempt to survive. A nation of peace turned to bloodshed in its darkest hour. My mission was our last hope of survival—an attempt to save the warrior that would end this holy war.
If I stopped a moment in my busy day to think of the responsibility that my shipmates and I carried, I broke into a cold sweat. It was in those moments I doubted His choice. A doubt I must suppress at all costs. My opinion was not worthy of consideration. I was young and inexperienced in all things and He was, so far, infallible and not to be questioned by an ignorant soldier. Twenty-five years ago, I was born and in His unchallenged opinion, born to protect the unsown seed of a redeemer. It was I, Sinjent, a royal bodyguard to an unborn savior, who must succeed at all costs. Trapped in a ship bound for an unknown future, I wondered if my fellow travelers had doubts like me.
My closest companion during our voyage was a soldier like me. Gareth was older and more experienced at warfare than I. I looked up to him and was thankful to have such a brave and constant friend. Gareth once told me to stop asking so many questions, and I, like a good soldier, obeyed. Gareth was usually right and I preferred to believe that he was never wrong. Imagine then, how difficult it was to think that perhaps we were all wrong.
My Mission Begins
“You awake, Sinjent? Thought you were down ’til arrival.”
I stretched luxuriously as I took a few steps and grinned at Gareth, eyeing the protein bar he was devouring. With a laugh, he tossed it to me and I snatched it out of the air, surprised at my fast reflexes, considering I had been in deep sleep for two weeks. “Naw, they thought I’d better get my vitals checked before we reach the solar system, make sure I’m still good for this. How long have you been out?”
Gareth turned and kept pace with me as I headed to the infirmary. “Oh, they woke me yesterday, been asleep for a month, since the last transition. It’s been a while since we synced our wake cycles. At least three months I think. Is it possible you got uglier?”
“Nope, you just got older.”
The automatic doors slid silently apart and the doc greeted us with his usual gushing bedside manner.
“Take a seat, quickly gentlemen. I do not recall requesting your presence, Sergeant Kyron, but I am sure you will insist on staying so keep quiet or I shall request that you leave.”
Gareth rolled his eyes and winked at me as he seated himself. It was best not to piss off the doc—he had access to things that could make your life miserable. Gareth preferred an easy life.
“How are you feeling, Mr. Karm?” the doc asked me.
I still had issues with the civilian title. No one had ever called me Mr. until a few months ago.
I shrugged and admitted that I was feeling ready for action.
“You will be ready as soon as we have run some tests and put you through your exercises,” allowed the doc. “I will schedule you in this afternoon for your lab work. Make sure you eat light and drink only water until this evening. See you back here in two earth hours.”
Gareth and I stood up at the same time and I had to stop myself saluting the doc—not correct protocol for where I was going.
We couldn’t get out of there fast enough. Gareth and I headed for the galley where Sorn, the cook, would be sure to have a plate ready. He always seemed to know when one of us had awoken. I was not disappointed.
“Sinjent! Good to see you up and around. Got a steaming plate of stew with your name on it. You’re gonna miss my cookin’ on Earth. Better fatten you up now.”
The doc had said to eat light, but he hadn’t been sleeping for fourteen days. The stew was the best I had ever eaten, or perhaps my hunger seasoned it.
After the meal, I headed back to my bunk to rest before my visit with the doc. You would be surprised how tired you are after a two week deep sleep. All that speed learning can wear a man down. As I drifted off, a memory came back to me. The first time I was presented before the council, and Him.
“Sinjent Karm, come forward, please,” a female voice requested. I could not place the speaker. Of the twelve council in front of me, none moved or made a gesture. I stepped closer to the center of the room, facing the curved table and the aged faces behind it. Now as I had time to look over the group and focus on just the women, I noticed one that looked a little more relaxed than the rest. I addressed her directly.
“At your service.” I bowed.
She nodded and spoke again. “It is with great hope that we lay our very future in your hands, soldier, and honor you with the title of The Guardian. It will be your duty to protect our future leader. We must guarantee the continuance of our ruling family. The only way to do this is to carry you and the Emperor’s genetic material—long may He rule—to a safe haven until we can call you home again. It may be many years, but you will not fail at this mission. It is to be your last, soldier. You will see this through and all will bow down and praise you for your deeds. Protect the seed, protect our future.”
The council spoke as one. “Long may He rule!”
I felt the weight of duty heavy upon my shoulders, but I knew that He would have chosen me Himself. The council was merely His voice. I could not refuse. To refuse would be to bring dishonor to my family and to my comrades. To refuse would have been unconscionable. I bowed low and exited quickly. I was not to respond, but just accept with grace this awesome responsibility.
Before beginning my training, I was summoned before Him only once. Once was enough. The energy and light that emanated from Him caused me to drop to my knees.
“We have called you here to thank you, Sinjent Karm, son of Goram and Izeld. We will continue as We have continued for thousands of years. Our enemies will not end Our reign; We will not be destroyed because you will carry Us where their weapons cannot reach. Fair journey, brave soldier. Protect Us well. Long may We rule.”
The time went by too quickly, and it seemed like I had just closed my eyes when Gareth was shaking me awake.
“C’mon, sleepyhead. Time to get prodded and poked. I want to see you fail the physical so we can turn this tin can around and head for home.”
I laughed, sure that he wanted nothing of the sort. If I failed, Gareth was to step in as my replacement. He was not as far in the training as me—at least he didn’t test as well; and he was weak with languages; I could speak ten fluently and had mastered the local dialect of Jerusalem, the city close to our landing site. It was crucial that The Guardian blend in with his surroundings. It had been a long time since any from our planet had visited the Earth, and those visits were merely for observation and experimentation. No other Genian had lived closely with the Earth men and I hoped I could pull it off. More than my life depended on it.
The testing finished and my body strengthened again, I prepared myself mentally for the transition. Gareth was to attend me down to the planet’s surface, and see that I was settled. Shortly after, he would return to the ship and then home to Genia; only I and the cargo I swore to protect would remain.
Captain Koor came to say goodbye and wish me well. The doc spoke to me in my new language, stressing the importance of the mission. I wished that I could have used a few curse words in my new language so I could tell him what to do with his advice. I knew that all depended on me; no need to rub it in.
They locked Gareth and me into the transport chamber and the air was altered to match the air on the surface of the planet below. I breathed in deeper. The air felt thinner and drier than I was used to and the pressure was a little less. Not much difference between our two planets, but that was why Earth had been chosen many thousands of years ago, before the peace we had once known. The Earth was to be our home once, a refuge from the war ravaged Genia. When peace was found, the Earth was lost to us, until now. We needed it once again. Earth was to be our salvation.