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Thursday, 4 April 2013

Dunes of Mars Warrior Princess

Dunes of Mars Warrior Princess

Princess Zapporah was on the way back to her home, the Fortress City called Orillia. One day earlier she held talks with the leaders of the three largest and most influential inhabitants of Mars where nearly 85% of the planet's population was represented there.

She sat a bit taller in the saddle, or so it seemed to her, on her six-legged steed, Tatar. She was still in the afterglow of what success she had attained as she said softly to herself, "I never believed that everyone would show, especially because I asked for the meetings. The first woman leader to bring them together. If I didn't see the other potentates myself I never would have believed it."

She then spoke softly to Tatar, telling him to stop. They had been together since Zepporah was a young woman and they knew each other's moods and moves very well. Shading her eyes with her left hand she peered into the distance toward her destination, the Columbia Hills.

"Those hills don't look any closer," she thought. "It feels like they keep getting moved further away."

The desert heat made the hills shimmer in the distance. "I have never seen it so hot out here," muttering to herself as she snapped the reins that started Tatar moving toward those far-away hills

Princess Zepporah was trained in making desert crossings. She knew the hazards well, especially the heat. The sun was relentless as the desert heat grew more intense. Eventually, the heat made her drowsy. As sleep fell upon her she became limp and began to slip from the saddle. She snapped awake just as she was loosing consciousness and straightened herself in an upright sitting position just before she slid from the saddle.

"Heat stroke. I can't let it get to me," she told herself as her right-hand slipped into the saddlebag to get her canteen. The canteen, called a volmas, was the technological result of centuries of desert crossings made by merchants, thieves, armies, and her people, the Orillians. She had made her volmas with her own hands, tightly weaving the hydrophilic fibers from which she could suck the water. Squeezing the fibers yielded no moisture. "That's just great," she said softly, "I've never seen heat like this."

The need to find water became the immediate priority. She needed to find water for herself, and her mount before the sun addled their brains, bringing what was called vatoos, or hallucinations. Vatoos killed by making its victim believe that water was everywhere they saw the heat shimmering on the desert sand. Elusive pools of water. Its victims can end up going around in circles chasing imaginary watering holes until they fell out of the saddle to become a feast for the saracavs, the local version of vultures.

Saracavs are reptiles that resemble what is called gargoyls by earth standards. They were hideous to see, their leather-like wings flapping, bringing their insatiable appetite to make bones of another desert traveler.

"Focus! Stay focused!", she said to herself. She helped to keep herself alert by singing a song her keepers had taught her. It was a heroic epic about the Thogarians, a legendary angel-like people, sprits from a magical world.

Princess Zepporah was intimately familiar with the area of the desert where she and Tatar were being cooked. She took a chance and changed course to get to a place where there might be some water, a small crater within a larger one that Earth astronomers had named "Gusev."

In what felt like an eternity later Zepporah and Tatar reached the edge of Gusev Crater. She stopped her mount to scan the many smaller craters within Gusev. Most of the small craters were dusty dry but a few of the smaller craters contained oases. Zeppora knew instinctively which ones would most likely contain a small oasis. There were several of the smaller craters nearby but she chose one that was, she guessed, a couple hundred quads from her position. She flicked the reigns and her mount resumed its plodding pace across the desert sand.

Her keepers told Princess Zepporah when she was a child that a great sea once covered the entire desert land of Gusev Crater. Sitting astride her mount she tried to picture this scene in her mind's eye but the mental picture that came to her was fuzzy at best. The biggest body of water she had ever seen was in the Aurium Chaos region of the Valellies Marinaris canyon, a small lake fed by underground springs. Luck was with her and she felt greatly relieved when she cleared the rim of the crater and peered within, to see the water for which she had so desperately hoped.

She had found a small oasis composed of mixture of fuchsia and green growing plants that lay at the bottom. Succulent plants holding life-sustaining water.

Zepporah dismounted and lead Tatar to the shade of a tree with long, stringy branches that extended out from short knobs protruding from the trunk. The branches spread out then arched down, nearly touching the mossy surface beneath where she sat. She still felt lightheaded from her long exposure to the hot early afternoon sun. She would wait for the harsh afternoon sun to sink lower to the horizon before resuming the journey. She and Tatar could refresh themselves and rest for now, but not for long because the chill of the desert night brought its own hazards.

The desert nights were ruled by the Golomns, barbarous desert nomads who respected no one. Zepporah and Tatar needed to be in the safety of the Columbia Hills before nightfall. As she rested she thought back to the meeting she just had with the leaders from of the powerful kingdoms to the east of her home, namely the Cossasians, the Jevaitees, and the Ossadis.

The leaders of these kingdoms made an encampment of several large tents in an atmosphere that was almost festive. Princess Zepporah had been successful in making a mutual defense alliance with the Cossasians to send troops and aid to the Cossasians in the event of an uprising by the Golomns but the reality of politics and prestige were issues with the Jevaitees and the Ossadis. Their leaders did not see the same threat that Zepporah and the ruler of the Cossasians saw.

The Jevaitees were the second most influential and powerful of the kingdoms to the east. They remained skeptical of the possibility of such a threat coming from the dim witted Golomns. The Princess remembered their exact words: "How could those vermin have the audacity to even entertain such treachery against our superior kingdoms? We would require much more proof and evidence pointing to this potential conspiracy and uprising before we could make our pledge and send or call for anyone else's assistance. For now it appears to be meddling in our internal affairs by you, Cossasian and Orillians." That was it, the Princess thought, feeling her anger boil. They had scoffed at the mention of the message left by the Watchers. For all that it meant to her it meant that much less to them.

That evening she made camp in a small ravine in the Columbia Hills. She felt safe there because the small fire that she had built was not visible from the desert. As she sat she reflected back to her life as a small child who lived with her keepers. They would tell her stories while bathing her in the central pool of the palace in the Fortress City. She had a name that was given by her parents, Marcella, but the keepers gave her a name of their own. They called her Zeporrah, meaning "small white bird". The princess willingly adopted the new name.

She recalled her keepers very well, for they cared for her like she was their own child. She could only remember her parents vaguely. They had been killed when she was very young by the blood thirsty Golomns while on their way to the western fringes of the Cidonian Kingdom. Her parents had ruled as King and Queen of Cidonia, compassionate and fair rulers. She blinked her eyes several times and came back to the present. She needed to eat and decided to try her luck at hunting cadok for her evening meal.

A cadok is a small desert animal that dwells in underground burrows and small rock caverns in the desert, they resembled our earth armadillo. The rock dwellers were the ones that Marcella hunted for on this night. These animals resembled what is called an armadillo on Earth. Cadoks have keen hearing can feel the slightest vibration in the ground around them. Their benign appearance is deceiving for they are vicious predators who have a voracious appetite. Not much moved them except for prey and their curiosity.

Dunes of Mars Warrior Princess #2

A cadok is a small desert animal that dwells in underground burrows in the desert some will take to homemaking in small caverns in the rock as well. The rock dwellers were the ones that Zandi hunted for on this night. These animals that resembled a terrestrial armadillo could sense the slightest vibration in the ground around them. These creatures are a deceivingly voracious and vicious predator for their size. Not much moved them except for pray and their curiosity. The cadok moved up the tunnel towards the entrance to it's den with bold purpose in it's quick little steps. The Princess held her energy weapon at the ready at her side while she walked stamping her feet several times on approaching the den containing she hoped would be her evening meal, then took shelter behind a rock. The cadok stuck it's head out of the den and looked around. The desert night appeared to be void of any living thing when suddenly the pulse struck.

The princes slipped the energy weapon back in the side holster and stood with her supple arms out and her fists firmly resting on her hips while appraising her downed prey. Her full breasts beneath her leather tunic rose and fell with her rhythmic breathing. Her eyes nearly glowed with their own inner light in the darkness of the night, her long silken hair fell over her right shoulder seemingly emphasizing the final touch to the proud gracefulness of her stature there in the clearing before her downed prey. She prayed in thanks to the cadok's life force to have given itself to her the sustenance of it's body.

Next morning she was up to greet the rising sun. Climbing atop a high knoll, she again stood regally, with her fists planted on her hips her stature in the early morning sun light appeared to be like the effigy of a great legendary goddess. Her long black silken hair fluttered at her side in the early morning breeze. The well-defined features of her face attested to her nobility. Raising her right arm to cover her black piercing eyes that carefully scrutinized the desert below. On the bicep of her raised right arm was a tattoo of a small white bird. She loaded her gear back into the saddle bags then before climbing on her trusty steed "Iza" she had named her mount. She knelt with her arms outstretched, eyes closed she mimed a silent prayer to the ones whom she called the Watchers, the Light Beings who traveled from afar in their large, bright flying objects.

They were her mentors and teachers. They guided her and prepared her for the final days of chaos and disorder that will come knocking at the very doors of the Fortress at City Square. She had been for warned of the coming of this great Chaos, the danger not only from the Ogasis, there was also the coming of great changes in her world. She prayed for the atchers guidance and to give her what ever strength she was certain she would need to do battle against these forces of evil.

A sand storm was in the air, No indication of it yet accepts for the red ring around the sun and Zandi's well tuned senses contested to it as well. Only about three hours more and she would be home again. The fortress atop of the desert sand, the great cap over the palace, from where Zandi sat astride her mount it appeared to be no more then a large stone monument. She hoped to be home before the sand storm hit. She loved her home and her people, it was part of her not only in legacy but the people were like her family, she loved them and cared for them and would die fighting to protect them from their enemies.

The Empire Province of Cydonia. The Province had a huge land area and living areas that went many levels underground. The kingdom was one of many such places in the province of Cydonia and the one containing her palace was called The Fortress in City Square. Air was filtered in from above through a network of conduits and the water was piped through all of Cydonia from underground springs. Each level of were populated like a small city in itself with shops and businesses and all other menagerie of commerce you would find in a modern city.

She was told by the watchers that many years ago they had constructed these underground dwellings as some sort of research centers, what ever that meant Zandi wondered. Anyway after their work was done they had moved along and turned their home over the Ostanze, their (star children) they had named her people. The Watchers spoke strangely but she could not remember a time where they had been wrong about something, she had complete trust in them.

A lady ran out of a shop chasing a middle aged man wearing the attire of the lower cast. The lady beat the man several times over the head with a catoka, a reptile resembling a small earth alligator that is part of the food chain of Cydonia. "Out! Get out of my shop!" she shouted, "and off to Lod with you, ye ungrateful peasant." The middle aged man was still running blindly in a panic even after the woman had stopped beating him with the catoka and had gone back in her shop.

Shanon, one of the first guard to the princess walked inconspicuously slow along a wall, a hood over his head and intently watched the man cross the street and nearly get run over by a golf cart sized vehicle that floated above the road as though by magic. The vehicle swerved around the man and proceeded on it's way without even slowing down. The middle aged man ran up the street oblivious of the large man that now stood motionless near one of the huge pillars that held up the sixth level ceiling of the underground multi leveled city of Ducada.

Shanon stepped out in front of the man and the man collided, bouncing back falling in a sitting position on the street. The man sat for a second and shook his head then looked up to see what had hit him. A grinning giant sporting a goatee and long Afro braided hair with arms crossed stared back at him. The middle aged man trembled with apprehension. Shanon reached down and helped the man back on his feet and asked him his name.

"My name is Kopas, sir," what can I do for you kind sir? Kopas clasped his hands together and bowed slightly and gulped. "You will come with me, I require your services little man," Shanon commanded. The middle aged man babbled on about his wife and kids and a whole string of other relatives as he shuffled behind Shanon. Shanon growled, "speak not little man." and pushed Kopas forward ahead of him.

The desert warrior princess stood on a balcony two floors up from where Shanon had just exhibited his abduction of a free subject of her kingdom. She still wore the leather tunic and the garbs of a desert traveler. She took the railing of the balcony in one hand and swung over the rail and down catching the railing of the next balcony down with her other hand she swung down to ground level from a sign post and landed about three feet from Shanon. 

The man she knew as a devoted member of her guard and a fierce warrior but she could sometimes almost read the restrained maliciousness just barely held in check behind those nearly glowing amber eyes. The princess holding her sword point down on the ground with her hands resting on top of the hilt she stood legs slightly spread out and addresses Shanon in a soft but authoritative manner.

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