The Ancient Enemy
"For poison in the waters had become poison in their seed, and Man
thinned with each generation until his light faded from the world.
And there came a time when no sound broke the stillness of the world except the play of the wind. Man was no more."
Thru Gillo was prepared to follow in his father's footsteps: farm the marshes, raise a family, and be an ordinary citizen of Arna. But Fate instead sent the young watermot to the Assenzi, a race of teachers and scholars living isolated in the mountains far from his home. There, he learned the history of his race. Of Man the Creator, Man the Cruel. Man who destroyed the world, and then disappeared into the mists of time and legend, a story told to frighten young children.
But Man the Cruel has returned. And a young farmer's dreams must turn to battle -- and survival....
The Shasht War
In the land of Arna, an ancient evil has appeared out of the mists of time, wreaking death and destruction upon all those who stand against it. An Enemy devoid of mercy. A foe with no vestige of honor.
Man the Cruel has returned....
Thru Gillo has proven his strength and courage in battle -- fighting to stop the invading forces of Man. But he will be tested in every fiber of his being when he falls into the hands of the enemy and is taken to the distant, brutal land of Shasht.
There, hunted and vilified, Thru will struggle to return home to the woman he loves and the land he reveres. And it will take the support and bravery of a most unlikely ally -- a daring human woman -- to bring him home....
The 5th summer of the war with the Men from Shasht and with it the moment of crisis that would settle the future of Arna.
Thru Gillo and the survivors of the small band of Mots who had left Shasht aboard the Sea Wasp, would make a journey half way around the world to return to the Land of the Mots, the Brilbies and other Successor folk.
But ahead of Thru and his friends was the Emperor Aeswiren. Deposed by the Old One in Shasht, Aeswiren had resolved on a final throw of the dice. Gambling everything on his personal appeal to the men of Shasht who were engaged in the difficult war to conquer the Land of the Mots.
Aware of this challenge to his master plan the Old One had already risked everything once again to take a new body. Now clad in fresh flesh he drove the impoverished people of Shasht to provide one last fleet, one final army with which to finish his terrible plan. The annihilation of every living thing in the Land and the imposition of his own tyrrany, to last forever.
In the end it will be Thru and the Mots, who must face their deadly enemy and the Break of Doom will resound around the world of Arna.
THE BOOKS OF ARNATHE ANCIENT ENEMY
THE SHASHT WAR
The idea for this trilogy came to me while on a vacation in the Caribbean. Strolling a beautiful beach of white sand I noticed an endless array of plastic garbage. Everything was there, bottles, netting, plastic bags, bits and pieces of flotsam. And it came home to me that the human race is basically unable to control itself in matters like these. We don't like the results, but we can't stop ourselves from committing the countless small acts of environmental sabotage, such as tossing a plastic soft drink bottle off the boat, that end up polluting the oceans and littering the beaches.
And it goes further, of course, because everything we dump, all the chemicals, all the heavy metals, they too go out into the oceans where nature's systems carefully accumulate them and move them inexorably up the food chaiin. In the end those toxic wastes, or a healthy percentage of them at least, will reside in human tissues.
What will be the effects of such a complex chemical stew?
At this point it's impossible to say, but I note that in the past fifty years male fertility in the most advanced countries of the world has fallen sharply. Which lead me to pose the disturbing possibility that the generation of chemical pollution in a closed planetary environment may have a strong feedback effect of sterilizing the polluting agency, namely us.
And that lead me to think about what our species might do in such a situation.
For a number of reasons I decided not to set the story on Earth, but to place it on a distant earthlike world, colonized for many thousands of years. In this futurescape, human colonies would be one way missions, large vessels travelling Not As Fast As Light, taking many decades to reach their destinations. Once there they would essentially, be on their own. Radio signals between the stars would thereafter be the only means of communication. This is the same pattern that I envisaged in the Fenrille Series, with the difference there that the discovery of longevity drugs made Fenrille irresistible to further human colonizers.
On Arna, human civilization proceeded in its usual way. Resources were discovered and consumed, petroleum fashioned into plastics and useful chemicals. Only after human civilization had fully developed and produced a population in the billion plus range did the news of the slow gathering disaster reach Arna from Earth, where, of course, everything was a few hundred years farther down the road. Naturally the idea that humanity was systematically destroying itself by sterilizing the male population through chemical pollution was an idea that was stoutly resisted by conservatives and the majority of the population. Many other causes were investigated, but by that point there were virtually no fertile human males left. Reproduction became entirely a matter of skilled work in the gene lab.
At which point something went out of the race. Some spark, some positive charge, some primal animal urge for survival that is linked in the depths of the human spirit with the desire to reproduce and to father children.
Slowly the human race began to dwindle. On Earth the numbers had already fallen far back from the temporary huge populations of the 20th to 22nd centuries. Now they fell and kept falling. Women were still able to have children, and many did, but without male input there was a tendency for such women to have only one child and that a girl like themselves. And by this point the concentration of toxic materials had affected female fertility too, so that having any children required a massive medical intervention.
Dwindling numbers lead to economic decline and ultimately to the slow erosion of the high technical civilization. Earth ceased to communicate with her colonies sometime in the 29th millennium of space flight.
On Arna there was a long twilight during which schools of meditation became schools of magic. Their goal became a fixed desire for longer life. The urge to hold on to the lamp of existence and deny the gathering dark of extinction was strong. Among these schools of magic certain evil practises took root, out of which would come a single survivor, a man with the ability to move his mind from one body to another in an arduous, terribly risky process that offered very long life indeed.
Elsewhere, as the shades drew in on the human species on planet Arna, so a last colony of scientists, gathered at the High North Technical Institute, conducted experiments with a number of terrrestrial animal stocks that had been brought from earth and either released into the Arna environment or kept frozen for laboratory purposes. These scientists, who were assisted by a number of humanoid cyborgs, called Assenzi, were intent on creating a successor species. They imagined a different approach to civilization, something less expansive and greedy than human culture, more of a steady state society.
They produced a breed of large, intelligent birds. They worked with these creatures for many decades, perfecting their techniques. Later they produced other creatures, a great many of them and out of this experimentation they settled on three stable types, the Watermots-- derived from human genes, blended with those of beavers, and several other terrestrial animals, the Brilbies, which included some gorilla genes in their makeup, and the Kobs, which carried genes from antelope and dogs. These species were distinct, but cooperative, and under the guidance of the Assenzi they tilled the fields around the High North Technical Institute and set up the beginnings of their own civilization.
By then Arna had moved into a glacial phase, which became quite intense. Great ice sheets ground southwards and the High North Technical Institute was surrounded by ice for many thousands of years.
During this interval, the high sorcerer Karnemin created his own race of mutant animals, a hybrid of humans and crocodiles that became the dreaded pyluk. They were to be his army in a drive to exterminate the budding civilization at the High North Technical Institute. His plan failed and he was captured by his enemies and held prisoner for a long time.
In the end he escaped, however and fled south beyond the encroaching ice and disappeared into the jungle.
Eventually the scientists, the last High Men, died out and the successor species of Mots, Brilbies and Kobs were left to carry on alone, with just the Assenzi to advize them.
By then the human cities of Arna had long since fallen silent, and those in the temperate regions had been ground to powder by the ice. Nor were there any radio signals from the stars, because on the other colonies of Earth a similar process had occurred, humanity had become extinct.
Or almost. Because on the southern continent of Arna, called Shasht by its inhabitants, a band of humans had survived and pushed to the brink of extinction in the depths of the ice age had mutated and recovered male fertility.
As the ice receded, this band multiplied. In time they developed a new culture that took them out of the stone age to which they had retreated and back on the upward path that humanity had strode long before, on Earth.
In time they formed human kingdoms, small realms and empires based on agricultural in the time honored human way. They were eleven thousand miles away from the land of the Mots and Brilbies and had no notion that they shared the world with these other intelligent beings.
The civilization of the Mots, meanwhile, had achieved the steady state dreamed of by the scientists of the High North Technical Institute. With intensive agriculture on a small proportion of the land, leaving much of it wild, and strong social pressures to keep the population stable, the cuture of the Mots and Brilbies had risen to a high, pre-industrial level and stuck fast. For thousands of years it endured thus, remaining just a notch or two below the point of industrial takeoff, thuse protecting itself from the chemical sterilization threat that had driven humanity so close to extinction.
All might have proceeded peacefully on Arna, but for one thing, the existence of the Old One, Karnemin the Sorcerer. For long ages he wandered the jungles of the south, but his need for human golems to occupy drove him at last to Shasht where he dwelled in the shadows. At length he decided to assert himself once more. This world would be his and his first target would be the extermination of everything that his enemies at High North had so painstakingly created. end. *