Sinagua Skies, part 15
Fernando watched quietly as a young man used a rough stick to paint on a limestone wall. He and Pete were behaving like friendly tourists, wanting to put the leaders of the native village at ease. Once Fernando felt the old priest would listen to his captain's proposal, he would bring up the subject of asking for help digging the ores. In the meantime, he would smile and make nice as ordered, ignoring the little voice inside that protested.
As the teenager painted, the Spaniard allowed himself to let his mind wander. It wasn't until the young man had painted several figures that his brain kicked in to what he was looking at.
He stepped closer to the wall and stared at one of the figures in disbelief. What were the odds of the same spirit image being used on two different worlds? he tapped the painter on his arm and asked about the image.
The teenager grinned and mimicked thrusting his hips a few times, telling the stranger that he had painted a fertility spirit.
Fernando cleared his throat a few times then spoke one word. "Kokopelli?"
The boy was surprised that the stranger knew the spirit's name. He grinned in delight and nodded, repeating the spirit's name for the stranger to confirm his query.
"What are you so excited about, Fernando?" Pete asked.
"See this?" he asked, pointing to the image of a flutist on the wall.
"So? Damn it, Pete, he just painted a picture of a mythical spirit from Earth. From Earth!" he hissed.
"Huh? You're crazy."
"Loco, am I? When I asked if its name was Kokopelli, he said yes. They even use the same name. That should be almost impossible odds but I don't believe in coincidences."
"Are you telling me that you think these are Indians from Earth? Fernando, you've been in the sun too long."
You think so? Well, there's one way to prove it. Let's do a DNA test on one of them. That'll show if I'm loco."
The men kept a lookout for an opportunity to get a sample without asking any of the natives for a test. It was merely luck when Pete got hold of some blood samples when one of the children got a cut. The bloodied cloth had been left on a bench and Pete bagged it up and called Hank to come to the village to pick it up. He tossed the weighted bag down to his supervisor.
That evening, as they joined Parren's family for the evening meal, their radio crackled.
Pete clicked the mike, unaware that Parren listened intently. "Yeah?"
"We have the results, Pete. They're human. Their closest blood ties are to the Hopi and Pueblo Indians. You owe me a thousand," Hank reminded Pete.
"Shit! Roger that. Over." Pete tossed the hand-held radio down to the rug rather than reattaching it to his trousers.
Fernando grinned widely, annoying Pete. "Oh shut the fuck up. It doesn't change anything anyways."
"Maybe, maybe not. Just remember, these aren't alien natives but our own kind. Just thinking about how they got here gives me the chills."
"Why don't you ask them then?" Pete handed over the translator to the Spaniard.
Parren was stunned. They were related to these strangers? She wondered what the Rangar would say to that. She watched passively while the darker man activated his device and waited for him to speak. "Parren, tell me your history. Were your people always here in these mountains?"
The Emissary thought over her words before answering. "No, we came here long ago. The Sky-Spirits brought us, brought animals too."
"Why did they bring you here?"
Parren shrugged. Her people could only guess as to why. Only the Gods knew for sure.
Fernando thought about that and began asking more questions. "What animals did they bring?"
Parren began telling of the legends and Fernando shivered. Once she finished he turned to Pete. "Some of their words are Spanish. They must have come here just after the Conquistadors first arrived.
"I thought that was Mexico?"
"Si, but they travelled far. Perhaps their 'Gods' feared for these people and brought them to safety. Who knows?"
"Then where are these Gods now?" Pete looked to Parren for her answer.
For the Rangar member, she was torn between speaking only the truth or pretending ignorance. How did she tell this foreigner that the Gods he spoke of so irreverently were as real to her as the suns in the sky. Just because they weren't seen didn't mean they weren't there. Although she wasn't fully initiated and bound to speak honestly, she chose to do so anyway. She doubted that the stranger would believe her and Fernando wouldn't believe her either but wouldn't mock her beliefs.
"They never left us. The Sky Gods still watch over us. We are their children."
Pete grunted and turned to Fernando. "Let's talk with the priest. Either he agrees to help us or he don't."
The Spaniard had no choice but to agree and followed Pete to the Rangar building. Their captain wouldn't wait much longer for an answer. He just wondered what the officers would decide if Kopna refused to help.
The Rangar watched the strangers leave. The one called Pete had been unhappy at their refusal to lend his people men to dig and had left without a word. Kopna suggested that extra guards be placed until the metal beast left their lands. No one would be permitted to leave to forage or hunt. They had plenty food stored and could afford to wait until the strangers left.
Scouts were posted near the foreigners until they one day shut their huge doors and the beast roared, taking the strangers into the sky.
Life went back to normal after a few days. Women went out to forage and men spent time with their crops or hunted. It wasn't until a group of seven women didn't return from collecting reed shoots near the river did anyone think perhaps they had been too trusting.
Kopna sent out a several hunting parties to hunt for signs of the women or other people. Of the three sets of men who left that day, one trio failed to return. People began to fear that their people would never be found again. A runner was sent to the River people to see if they had noticed anything strange in their territory. The runner never returned.
The High one turned to Hanpa. "Take your Traders and investigate. I will permit no one else to leave our village. If you do not return within one moon, I will lead our people away from our homes to the Sacred Place. Only there will they be safe."
Fernando couldn't sleep or eat. What was happening was eating at his soul. It was one thing to take advantage of the locals to help dig but the Captain had ordered people captured and put to work. It was nothing less than slavery in his mind.
He watched the electrified fence on his monitors. Two of their men were armed and supervising the work crew. The Spaniard winced as he saw Frank hit one of the men with his glow stick. The native writhed with pain until Frank withdrew it.
This couldn't go on any longer, but what could one man do alone?
"I wish the Sky Gods were here. They could tell me what to do," he mumbled wistfully.
Fernando rubbed his eyes with his fingers, never noticing how the skies darkened or the distant rumble of thunder.
Parren crawled closer to the metal barrier that kept her people prisoner within it. She had to keep her eyes on the foreigners while she inched her way closer. In spite of her camouflage of mud, dust, and grasses, she could still be seen if she moved at the wrong time.
She inched closer yet but now was at the spot she feared crossing. The grassy area nearest the metal fence had somehow been removed, leaving it barren and exposed. She felt sweat trickle down her sides as she prayed for some sort of favor from the gods. Anything that could hide her from their wary eyes.
At that moment, heavy clouds seemed to move between herself and the suns, leaving her in shade. A breeze came from out of nowhere, cooling the air and making all the brush around her sway. Parren sent a silent thank you to the Gods. Now her movements would be less likely to be seen. She moved closer until she reached the metal fence and reached out her flint knife. She wanted to dig away the soil at the base of it so her people could escape. As her hand got within touching distance of the barrier, she felt something crawl along her skin. What was it? A scent reached her nose. A smell of lightening. Then the light hum of something foreign to her.
The hairs on her neck stood on end. The barrier was dangerous somehow. That might explain why her people hadn't simply crawled over it to escape. Perhaps there was some way to defeat it. She carefully reached out her hand towards the fence.
Fernando didn't know what made him stare at one screen for so long. There was nothing there but rocks and weeds. Then saw a hand come from the tall grasses and he recognized the bracelet on the arm.
"Mio Dios!" he said in panic. Without thinking anything but she was going to die, he spun his chair and hit the power override on the security fence, shutting off the power just as a bolt of lightening struck near the slave camp.
The guards saw the power of the fence go down when the warning lights shut off, assuming the storm had knocked them out. They hoped the workers didn't know what it meant.
"Get them all inside the tent, hurry. We can't let them find out the power is out," Frank told Hank.
The natives were herded towards the tents they used to sleep in and told to go inside. Frank angrily pulled down the zipper of the tent and reached for his radio.
"Hey, Fernando, get out here and fix the fence, will ya? Hurry!" he turned to give instructions to Hank but didn't see him. "Hank?" He walked to the other side of the tent but he wasn't there. "Hank?" he said again, feeling anxious at his sudden disappearance.
Frank lifted his radio, "Hank? Where'd ya go, Buddy?"
"What's going on?" Turk asked on the same frequency. The first officer didn't like idle chit-chat on the radio.
"I can't find Hank and the power is down on the fence."
"Bastard! Why didn't you say so? I'll send out more men. You stay put," Turk ordered.
A minute later the first officer stormed out of the Ship and unlocked the gate. He then stomped his way to Frank.
"Where's the work crews?"
Frank pointed at the tent. "I told them all to get inside until we could fix the power."
Turk yanked open the flap to check on the workers, looking inside in annoyance then froze. The natives were gone.
To be continued...
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