Tribal-15

There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.

Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist.
Image Source: Jef Cablog

TRIBAL

Chapter 15

No Fear
BY Rabindranath Tagore
 
Where the mind is without fear
and the head is held high;
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken 
into fragments by narrow domestic walls;
Where words come out from the depth of truth;
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
into the dreary desert sand of dead habit;
Where the mind is led forward by thee
into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, 
let my country awaken.

Darkening Light ䷣

Zara weaved her way across the jungle floor near the edge of the cliff. Her senses enhanced from life as a tracker on planets too numerous to remember flooded her with sensations and scent. The panther that followed was an orb of silence where the sound of small creatures once chattered in gossip and song. The monitor lizard’s claws scratched across stone and roots of trees converging on her location.

Echoing in ears that could locate the drop of a pebble in a running stream came the clatter of metal and the hum of voices. Zara knew this was not the team of scouts she abandoned to the dispassionate whim of nature. Who was it then? At the edge of the cliff near the waterfall, a glance down into the bowl answered all her questions. Two natives clamored around the silver remnants of an Eosian escape pod, the one Sgt Hughes had come to destroy.

The half-breed heart pounded in Zara’s chest as she studied the two natives. Sgt Hughes would kill them outright and then destroy the spacecraft. Zara knew she couldn’t stop the men she had shared her life with since age 17. Freedom and the right to live with her mother’s people were all she wanted, not blood or vengeance. 

Below was Zara’s Tribe. She had to warn them before Hughes spotted them and ended their lives and her chance to join the fantasy of life her mother promised if someday she returned to their native lands on old earth. Wind wheezed in a constricted chest. Sorrow and longing filled the dark shadows of Zara’s memory at the sound of her mother’s voice, soft and dripping with her native accent reciting her village’s stories. The childlike pitch of her mother’s voice filled Zara’s thoughts with songs of ancestral deeds, deities, and the last gasp of breath before mom left Zara an orphan in the hands of the war. 

The tall figure, wild as the big cat tracking her, eased back from the abyss. There was no need to live long. She had come home and to die here among her ancestors free of indenture to her father’s blood was good enough. 

Zara whipped her body around in a blur as her laser ended the panther’s life in mid-leap, its mouth open wide and claws extended in a failed grasp at survival. The smell of burnt hair and boiled blood forced a snarl of repulsion from Zara as she hurried away from the scene. Reptiles the size of tree trunks adjusted their attention from the fleeting figure to the smell of blood wafting along on currents of air that breathed life into the jungle.

❂❂❂

The hacking sound of a parang through vines and brush fell to silence only a few meters upstream from Sgt. Hughes. The rushing water drowned out all sounds as it washed over boulders and trees fallen into the river.  Sgt. Holmes halted the men in a jumble of stones the size of houses that hid them from view.

“Damn slow going, Holmes said as he wiped the sweat from his brow with his sleeve. The salt in his uniform stung his skin and eyes. Take ten minutes and camel up on the water.”

The team relaxed and sipped water from their water bladders as they checked their weapons and supplies. Holmes looked at the map on his communicator and saw they had 200 meters to go before arriving at the bowl where they detected signals from the Eosian craft. He figured they could torch the ship, make a quick look around for survivors, and get the hell out of here. 

The place gave him the creeps. It had swallowed up Zara without a trace, and she was the most prepared of them all to face the jungle. Tough way to go for the girl, he thought. Hughes choked back his emotions. There would be others, but none like Zara.

“Carter take point. Report anything you see, and Carter,” Sgt. Hughes paused.

“Yes Sergeant.”

“Watch out for the damn wildlife around here. Everything is big, toothy, and hungry,” Hughes replied in a matter-of-fact tone that didn’t do much to boost Carter’s confidence.

“Fuck me to tears,” Carter replied under his breath as he leaned over and picked up the parang from his scout member and crunched his way across the river bed near the bank.  After 20 minutes of slogging through the low hanging brush, mud, and rocks, Carter halted the team and signaled Sgt. Holmes to move up to his position.

“Whacha got kid,” Holmes whispered when he was close enough to feel Carter’s wretched breath on his face as they lay side by side in the mud and debris at the edge of the water.

Carter pointed to some rocks that shielded the head and shoulder of a figure in the water. The soldier wore an Eosian Expeditionary Force flight uniform. The legs and arms moved and twitched as if treading water to hold a position. 

“What is he doing?” Carter asked.

“Let’s go find out,” Hughes replied. The sergeant slid off his tactical pack and load-bearing equipment without making a sound. He drew his bayonet and motioned to Carter to follow him. The two men eased into the water, and like countless times before, they made their way toward the figure in the water. Sgt. Hughes motioned for Carter to approach from directly behind while he would slide in hidden by the rocks. When they were in position, Sgt. Hughes counted down with three fingers, and then they lunged. The water exploded in the fury of violence.

Tribal-008

Rae rolled over on her side and pressed herself against Ezra. He was warm and had a certain softness in his relaxed state that Rae loved.

Tribal-008

This story is deepening and has that adventurous, wild vibe that can make any reader get so absorbed and hooked, like I, who feel strongly connected to the characters’ thoughts, especially Rae’s. Ah, I love the chills and warmth i felt simultaneously from reading this chapter. Written by a genius, written from a heart that knows. Thank you, Hyperion for writing this story 🥺😍