Sunday, August 9, 2015

Oasis: Part Four

I might have rushed this part a bit. If you find a mistake, I'll fix it. There will be a part five at the very least but I need to put some extra thought into that one. Loose ends need to be tied. I would love to write full time but nobody buys books or donates to a noob like me.


Part Four

A bald man in a bright white robe walked through a garden on a flat stone path, one could see orange hills rise in the distance. Several young men and a young woman followed him, they wore yellow robes and carried tablets. He led them up the hill to a large gazebo-like structure where they sat on its floor in the shade.

“Teacher. I heard there is a war coming.” one of the students said “Do you think people will kill each other?”

The teacher lowered his head solemnly. “It is a regrettable thing that from time to time humans go to war with each other. I hadn't meant to discuss current events with you today, class, but I suppose we can use it for out purposes. Who can tell me about the Star League?”

Two of the students raised their hands and he chose the farthest one. “An organization founded upon the principle of peace between inhabited worlds. More than three hundred member-planets and...”

The teacher waved his hand. “Yes, yes. We know the textbook definition already. We know what it was supposed to be, in theory. What is it now?”

Another student answered this question. “A debating club where nothing really gets done.”

The teacher nodded “That is definitely a lot closer to the truth than some magnanimous organization bent on peace and prosperity. They don't seem to pay much attention to this planet, I suppose it is because there are no resources here for them to exploit.”

The teacher continued “Occasionally some ruthless tyrant does things so horrible that they become a pariah world. Once in a while they step on too many toes and threaten too many worlds prosperity and the Star League takes military action. They don't do this to help anyone who is oppressed by that tyrant, but sometimes they end up getting to vote for the next one.”

The students were taking notes but one of them chuckled. The girl student looked more serious “Is there anything we can do to stop Oasis from getting its own tyrant?”

“Do? The Solon hasn't paid much mind to Oasis City affairs in a long time. We are educators first and foremost. Would you have me march to the center of the city and take on the soldiers.” The teacher asked them, he was asking. “What do you suppose we could do about the situation?”

She put her tablet down and thought for a moment. “Every other tribe is involved whether they know it or not. This will effect the Solon, of course we should have a say in it. Peace should be our say.”

The teacher waved a hand. “We do not use the word tribe to describe people here. There is no real division between this people and those people. All lives matter. Remember that, no-one should be put above any other. Lindia was correct, though. The Solon should be seen and heard in the present situation.”

The soldiers would be coming any second. Jake dragged Ria into the middle of a copse of trees since she didn't seem to want to get up. Or because he was hovering right over her.

“What are you doing, Jake?” she asked. He paused and looked down at her.

“So you do know my name!”

She shook her head. “I mean why are you dragging me around like you're a cave man?”

Jake sat beside her and pushed her to the ground in the dense weeds as the sounds of boots became louder and louder. Bolt covered his head with his hands, his face was turning red. The soldiers milled about before the sound of an explosion got their attention and they ran off again.

Jake could breathe again. Then something hit him in the side of the head and he saw stars.

“Get off me!” Ria told him and gave him another shove.

“Ria, your people on the plateau. They have communications with the Star League don't they.” Bolt asked, scooting forward to them carefully. “We need to have a message sent immediately.”

“What kind of message?” she asked and pushed herself onto her feet. Then she stretched and bent while holding her side. “Ouch” was all she said. She reached toward her ear but her communicator was missing.

“The council is being held hostage by a space pirate. Matt Dillinger.” Jake told her. She looked at him like he had lost his marbles.

“Why in wonder would a space pirate be doing that?”

“Power and wealth. Imagine if he had a planet of his own as a base of operations and look at all the empty land on Oasis he could sell for settlements. Once it's green.” Bolt said.

Ria crossed her arms. “First, that's insane. Second, my dragon is wrecked. Third, we need to get out of here before the soldiers come back.”

Jake and Bolt led Ria through the dark alleys of the city and into Mr. Tinkers factory. Lily and Tulip were surprised to see Ria joining them.

“Did you see my father?” Lily asked.

“No. I saw a group of hostages, though. The whole council is chained.” Jake explained. “They just sat there like they were sitting on primed grenades.”

“My dad.” Lily muttered and she and Tulip were hugging and crying again. Ria shook her at this scene and walked over to the aerial vehicle Jake and Bolt had made.

“If this thing can get us back to the plateau, we can send that message to the Star League. Then they can't pretend they don't know what's happening here.” she told them.

“This is urgent.” Jake told her “We saw the nomads and the riders outside of the city. I think they know what is happening somehow. Maybe they're involved.”

“What your saying is that the caravans and the riders are massing outside of Oasis City.” Ria asked, almost snorting with a laugh. “Hopefully the cavers stay away, unless they learned to wear clothes. It sounds like a convention.”

Bolt had been looking outside and came back in. “Sounds like the fighting has died down. Seems like the Air Knights are south of the city. With the caravans are to the east and the riders are to the west, I have no idea what's going on right now.”

Ria shrugged. “If it's quiet maybe we can leave now.”

“The airships” Bolt said “I saw them coming back from the mountains. Dozens of them.”

Jake was alarmed by this. “Dad wouldn't come back, he wouldn't put Jato and Tawni in danger!”

“It's a real convention.” Ria said, but she seemed concerned about something too. “I wonder why the fighting has stopped. Was there a stalemate?”

Bolt shrugged. “It's not like I read minds.”

Bolt hit the switch on his wrist bracelet and the roof began to part again. They could see stars and a few wispy clouds. Then Jake, Bolt and Ria headed toward the aerial vehicle. Lily walked after them and put a hand on Jake's shoulder. “This is too dangerous. All three of you don't need to go.”

Jake thought about it. Lily was probably right. There was little doubt in his mind that Ria could fly this thing by herself. “I need to tell them what I saw.”

Bolt and Tulip were looking up. “Uh-oh” the girl said.

Jake looked up as well. Red streaks were quickly growing. Ships were entering the atmosphere of Oasis. “I bet those are pirate vessels! We need to hurry.”

Ria, Jake and Bolt climbed onto the aerial vehicle and lifted up quickly. Bolt had the roof closing before Jake put on the forward thrust. He aimed the vehicle south but he kept the altitude low enough to keep the anti-aerial weapons from locking on. Between the Merchant Association and the old church they flew and in front of them was the open plaza overlooking the lakes.

Jake looked down. He could see soldiers on one side and Air Knight “Marines” on the other, a crowd had gathered since the shooting stopped. Between them were people dressed in clean robes, sitting on the ground in circles. Jake didn't know what they were doing but his mind had figured out that the academics of the Solon had joined in.

“Anyone missing?” he heard Ria say sarcastically over the radio in his ear.

Soon enough they reached the plateau and landed in the field by its edge. Jake quickly looked back at the city and the sight of several ships in the sky on approach made his stomach ache.

“We have to go!” Ria said throwing the helmet on the ground. “Before they jam all the communications systems!”

The three of them ran towards the empty barracks before making a right toward another building. Inside of this one they found some older people studying maps and video feeds. Ria ignored them and ran past to a second room where a communications set-up was waiting. A man was fiddling with it, Jake hoped they weren't too late.

Ria grabbed the mans shoulders. “Uncle Alto, we need to send a message to the Star League!”

He nodded. “I know, the coup...”

She shook her head. “Pirates. Matt Dillinger has taken the council and others hostage in the council building. He has bribed some soldiers to join him, but his reinforcements have arrived!”

Jake stepped forward. “You need to send the message to them, on an open frequency, all of the frequencies, make it so they cannot pretend they hadn't heard.”

Ria's Uncle Alto turned some dials and hit some switches. “Don't usually broadcast on all frequencies, since we're usually kind of secretive...” he mumbled. Ria rolled her eyes and tried to smile.

“They can't broadcast all the frequencies.” The man said “They didn't bring enough vessels to cover everywhere. We're not stupid, us Air Knights. We have transmitters on the far side of the planet too.”

“Uncle Alto!” Ria said in a loud whisper “How about just do it without telling all our secrets?”

Soon enough Alto turned on a microphone. “This is Oasis, Pirate Matt Dillinger has taken our governing council as hostages with the intent to profit from selling parts off with terra-forming. The Star League must intervene to stop this tyrannical transgression against a sovereign world and a member in the League. I request that all vessels picking up my message to rebroadcast on all open frequencies. I repeat....”

Jake was breathing easier. If the message made it out, then the Star League would have to do something eventually. In the meantime they would still have to deal with Dillinger and his pirate troops. About now those soldiers who accepted bribes, the ones not dead, were regretting their decisions. They probably had no idea that Dillinger would have lied to them. Of course he would have no intention of keeping those promises, he was a pirate for crying out loud.

Ria, Bolt and Jake went back to the field. They watched as several ships descended upon Oasis City and hovered over it. It seemed like a whole different era had just begun for this planet. Oasis had nothing that could fight off these vessels. Until and unless the Star League decided to intervene, their world was now under occupation.


Link to Part Five

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