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The Silent Army

The mighty entity Oxakrismaron was returning to his home galaxy through the depths of inter-galactic space. His immense figure flashed through the void at inconceivable speeds, and ranked around it in concentric cylinders were the vessels of his servitors, acolytes, followers and adherents. The torpedo-shaped body of Oxakrismaron underwent steady and unpredictable changes of colour, pattern and brilliance, reflecting in some way the workings of the great mind within.

None knew of his origin, only that he already existed when the earliest space-borne races had pushed beyond the confines of their own galaxies. Whether created or evolved in some primal phase of the Universe’s youth, or sent from outside the fabric of space and time, he had never revealed. Oxakrismaron never spoke about himself, and all his mighty powers were concentrated outwards, to bring healing, hope and life itself to the diverse beings of all the galaxies.

Oxakrismaron’s Prime Servitor was by name Sepulon and by race a Mandrakite, one of the oldest species of intelligent beings within the galaxies. He watched his master through the view-screen of his vessel, and thought about the mission they had just completed. From one end of the Universe almost to the other they had travelled, in response to a message only Oxakrismaron himself had detected. The great one had voyaged with them to an obscure galaxy and plunged alone into the heart of a dark nebula, to commune there with unknown powers. A period of intense activity had followed, travelling through neighbouring galaxies bringing life and renewal to an assortment of races.

Now they were going home. Sepulon glanced at the outward-facing view-screen and watched another cluster of galaxies drift past. Then his master spoke: ‘Sepulon’ the voice came to his inner ear.

‘Master?’

‘We must turn and go to that galaxy near us. Do it now’

Suddenly Oxakrismaron was gone, as he shifted his course towards the nearest of the cluster of galaxies. Sepulon swiftly brought the contingent of companion vessels round to follow their master’s track, vainly trying to get them back into a proper formation. When he looked at the great one again, he noticed at once that strange changes had taken place on his body. Instead of the bright patterns and flashes of pulsing power that were normal, black bands passed rhythmically up and down the long shape. They were inside the outer edges of the galaxy now, and they were slowing rapidly.

‘Master! What is the matter?’

‘Sepulon, I am dying’

‘How can you die? It’s not possible!’

‘All things die, Sepulon. Find me a planet, a living world. I must rest upon the ground, with air about me and a sun above me. Help me, Sepulon’

The great body twitched, and all power of movement left it. Dark bands still moved across it, but they were wider and slower than before. Swiftly Sepulon ordered invisible beams of force to take gentle hold of Oxakrismaron and convey him swiftly to the nearest living world. There was one nearby, a small planet with continents and oceans, air and light. The contingent hovered just outside the atmosphere and then slowly, carefully, they lowered their master towards the surface.

There was a natural amphitheatre of reddish cliffs, covered in trees, with a tilted table of red sandstone positioned near the centre of the semi-circle. On to this mesa the fleet lowered the silent body, and then hovered uncertainly above. From the cliffs the slight figures of native intelligent life-forms watched in awe, but none paid them any attention. Oxakrismaron spoke, slowly and haltingly, into the minds of each of his followers.

‘Thanks you my friends for this service you have done me. I shall die now, on the earth of a living world and under a life-giving sun. Do not be sad, since all that is dies and there is no life at all without death. Bury me here and go back to your homes’

‘But what shall we do without you, Master?’ asked Sepulon.

‘Go on with what I did. You have the power now. Farewell, my friends’. And Oxakrismaron died.

Then all were silent, and Sepulon stood long in deepest thought. At last he spoke to all his fellow servitors. ‘Let us do what he said, and entomb him within the rock upon which he lies. But to honour Oxakrismaron let us also build him a monument here, to show that he was our master and we continue to serve him until the galaxies fade’.

‘What kind of monument, Sepulon?’ asked one of the others.

‘Let us build him an army of servitors, like ourselves, out of the soft rock that surrounds this place. They will stand as a symbol of our devotion, watching over his resting place’

So they began. Machines came from the hovering ships and began to carve the rocks into subtle shapes. Oxakrismaron’s body was encased in a black cylinder, impervious to all the forces of that world. A wide trench was cut into the top of the mesa and the sarcophagus lowered into it, then covered with such skill that neither eye not instrument could detect that anything lay within.

Meanwhile the carving began. All along the hillside columns of stone were excavated and formed into a bewildering variety of shapes. Some were tall, others squat, with single crowns or multiple heads. The colours of the rocks were used to give them glowing bands, from deepest red to almost pure white. Thousand upon thousand they stood along that slope, to represent the love and devotion of multitudes of beings.

When almost all was done, Sepulon became aware that they were being watched. His alert senses detected life-forms on a nearby hill observing the sophisticated work of construction. A group of primitive two-legged beings were gazing in wonder at the dazzling machines weaving their magic through the red rocks.

Swiftly Sepulon gave orders. The natives were stunned and transported unharmed to a continent on the other side of the planet. Others in the same region were treated likewise, and found to their astonishment that they had been brought in an instant to live in a new land. It is said that some remembered what they had seen, and it passed into legend. In later years there were attempts in that land to emulate the burial of the Son of Heaven and his silent army.

When all was done, the servitors of Oxakrismaron returned to their vessels and departed. There was no ceremony, for that was not their way. The monument was enough, and expressed their feelings far better than words could do.

None ever returned to that world, save one. Some time later Sepulon found himself travelling in that very same galaxy, and discovered that almost without conscious volition he was approaching that small planet. It had changed, and the native beings had spread all over the globe and acquired some rudimentary technology.

Anxious to see how the monument was faring, Sepulon sent an invisible, intangible extension of his personality from his ship down to the surface. Swiftly he moved over the land, over hills and through forests and deserts until he reached the place. He had easily learned to decode the primitive glyphs used by this race in their writing, and read the sign at the entrance – ‘Bryce Canyon National Park’ it said, though it meant little to him. He approached the edge of the cliff.

It was nearing sunset, and many of the natives were there, apparently awestruck and reverend. That was good. All was as it had been – some of the columns of rock were rather worn by erosion over the years, but otherwise the memorial was well-preserved. The sandstone army still looked out over the bowl towards the mesa which held the remains of Oxakrismaron. They glowed in the last rays of the sun, and seemed to cry once more ‘All Hail!’ to the greatest of the great.

Sepulon drifted towards the rim. He read another sign: ‘Queen’s Garden Trail’. In his mind it became ‘Path to the Place of Beauty belonging to the Great One’. It was well. Oxakrismaron was honoured.

Recommend0 Simily SnapsPublished in All Stories, Fiction, Sci Fi

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