59) Super Prize for Cruelty

The mixed indigenous people of Quepar lived in the high mountains of the southernmost continent on Miraba. Even after the pole shift, they were in good shape. The cataclysm had claimed many lives but the hardy people took it in stride. Disasters had come many times before in their history but they always got through. Now that the planet had tilted 33 degrees on its axis, there was a warming trend and increased growing season in these mountains. Their ancient ancestors had used a highly successful method of terrace farming that was once able to feed the entire continent. For many annoms they had been in the process of restoring this ancient farming system which depended upon water from the high mountains and a system of canals and lakes. Fish were prolific in these waters and the people followed their ancient ancestors’ methods of harvesting, which kept the fish population in good balance. Although the villages of Quepar had little modern technology, the people were wise and industrious.Cobi, Ana, Biltar and Edyn were enjoying their visit when they received the news about Nestingwave’s murder and Petuva’s suicide. It came from the one man in Quepar who still had a working monitor and generator. They immediately went into his sheltered dome and watched the rerun which was being aired over and over. A somber mood fell upon them but, although they were saddened, the deep significance of the event inspired their determination more than ever.

While Biltar and Edyn continued working with the small group of elders and educated men who had received the PSGs, Cobi and Ana took leave and beamed up to the hovering scout craft. They hadn’t landed on the ground because aftershocks were still expected.

“I guess Petuva got herself into a trap,” said Cobi, “I feel sorry for her, even though I never liked her because she was so smug and vain.”

“That’s true,” said Ana, “she was especially venomous toward me.”

Cobi nodded in agreement. “But, we can say one thing on her behalf. She sure went out with a bang – Kultaki style.”

“Oh yes … she was loyal and true to all she’d been taught.”

The two Kultaki women looked into each others eyes. It was a mutual recognition of deep longing.

“Will we ever find a home?” asked Cobi?

Ana smiled as they embraced. “Yes, love … I believe.”

Later, when monitoring the secured Kultaki wave lengths, they learned of Lance’s demise.

“What will our people do now, Ana?”

“Head out to the edge of the solar system to be picked up by another starship. Now that Lance is gone, they are free to go. There is hardly any danger left to us, as long as we stay far away. Col. Tordine won’t go out of his way to come get us but, if they ever capture us, they’ll kill us because they consider us traitors and a dangerous security risk. I’m glad Col. Tordine has taken Lance’s place. He is a coward compared to Lance and just wants to move on, like most of the others.”

“Yes,” said Cobi, “and he’s tasted all he wants from us. If he comes after us again, he’d better bring more than a change of pants.”

Ana laughed. “I imagine Ranilla is much happier with him. Although he’s a cruel dunderhead with a poker up his ass, he’s considerably kinder to women than Lance ever was.”

“Lance should have been awarded first prize for cruelty.”

“You’re right there,” said Ana, moving her stump around in a circle, “the only Super Prize for cruelty goes to Dhati.”

“What do you think he’ll do?” asked Cobi.

“Stay on top of his brood and scope out new territories ripe for exploitation – what else?”

CONTINUE: 60) Mother Miraba’s Rebirth

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