Here’s an excerpt of a chapter in my scifi for a friend who wanted to read a little of what I have written.
S’makut xü Zanguin: Ayoni xü Mave’a.
Some things in the deserts of Mave’a could not be suppressed, though guarded from the whipping wind which seemed to sand-grind the two-person canvas tent he shielded himself in. When the scorching day diminished and the crimson sun’s hues blended into regal purples and enchanted blues, he would immediately slip himself into his second skin, his thermal pajamas, and snugging himself into the plaid-styled sleeping bag just before bed, though there was a lingering coldness which seemed to saturate everything, giving the tease of moisture, but it was minuscule, only prominent in the early morning.
At night, one could become the silence of the sands when the windstorms weren’t raging. One knew the haunting calls of distanced desert dogs plotting, lizards scurrying for food and safety from the trills of vulture-like nightingales, the bellows of the caverns which web beneath the earth, the creaking swaying of turi palms if you were lucky to camp near them, and the grueling drag of unpredictable danger. In the desert, danger was not only your enemy, but your friend, a bittersweet relationship only a survivalist could comprehend. It saved you from your own madness and the bravery of other animals which sought to chew you about.
Telem removed his skin-gloves, focusing on the nagging condition of his largest organ, taking stock of what the years had done to him on his hermetic path to self-enlightenment and scientific pursuits. Menacing heat to bone-numbing coldness day in and day out will commandeer its natural desires from the dweller who survives the deserts’ whims.
Some nights, you didn’t eat, some days, you fasted and meditated to conserve your strength. Some days, the most exciting event was a rueful one where constipation left you high and dry. You could only laugh at the hysteria of constipation in a water-starved environment. On days where you discovered a turi palm rich with ripened tlalétya huskfruits you would fasten a canvas strap around your waist to the tree just loose enough to catch you if you slipped, tie the ends of another strap around the trunk to make triangle-handles, and slowly inch yourself, using the pressure of your feet on each subtle groove in the outer bark to propel you up such a tower.
With your diliye, you’d cut the fruit groups tied in thick vines, thank the giant, and watch as its bounty repelled the air in its descent. The gamble to the lot lied in the cleverness of other desert dwellers who could have been drawn to the noisy activity had silence been forfeited. And if also you could not reach the sands quickly enough, the scent of few smashed ones would fill the air, attracting desert dogs which would leave you positioned in the tree until the beasts disappeared. But this could be at an advantage to the smart Aniku who had spitting darts to stun the creatures, taking only what meats you could reasonably carry and leaving the other animals to continue their survival.
In the present moment, Telem had only one last turi fruit, to which he attempted to consume half of the morsel, but recanted to finish it from hunger and thirst. He salivated on the tlalétya, noting its mango texture, but a creamy peach overtone with hints of natural acid. It was bittersweet, but only so satisfying because of its moisturizing qualities. The fruit was a desert marvel, a rarity in a climate which could extract airborne moisture and trap it. Not even Aniku technology today could extract moisture as quickly. Telem had pondered, and no one knows anymore these trees are out here.
Much of the deep deserts of Mave’a were either unexplored, forgotten, or lost, the secrets of the land known only to jïpélan nomads who could rough it by equipment, ingenuity, computation in danger, wit, grit, and dexterity. In the desert, you had only the arsenal which you could carry, and in most circumstances where fatigue was a daily rue, such an arsenal could very well entomb you to the sands.
He recalled the bartering men who he would often see in caravans across the dunes pulled by desert lobsters. His first encounter with such a caravan was his deadliest by far, speaking an old Aniku and not their internal jïpsién tongue long lost to the pseudo-Naman bandits of the dunes who relied on this tongue to identify allies and enemies who would ambush them. These bandits happened to be a race of Aniku thought to be extinct, his encounter a luck to which he owed to the old sagacious desert. Being an outsider, he was not a living-breathing being, but a disposable target, a trespasser of their clandestine trade route.
He was surrounded by men wielding scimitars, ready for his illegal death in the sands until he spoke in the jipsién tongue, “Halak lél am tufil!" The wind whispers peace. It was a useless phrase he picked up from an ancient temple wall in deserted ruins months back, its existence a secret to slowly be consumed by the eroding dunespills. The caravan had halted its outfit of marauders, asking in the jipsién tongue, “Sum ba’al am?”
Telem had not understood the tongue, but spoke in formal kunérian, “Han muin ik ju nu Jïpsién a’,” he began, the outfit gripping their blades tighter, but in deserved consternation, “A’ jïpélan i gazaliwi ik.” The leader of the outfit emerged from the caravan after hearing Telem’s words that he did not speak the tongue but was simply a nomad, pushing way through his men. He had asked Telem what his intentions were, and he had replied that he was a harmless desert hermit, definitely looked it, taking to the way of the land for his personal spiritual purposes.
They interrogated him, though never searching to wonder if he were Yub’saji or Suwek, but they had determined him true enough. His jïpsién rendition had been passage for countenance enough. They conversed with him briefly in their muddled accents of Anikuwinér, but traded his prescient abilities of logical-intuitive omue using kunérian runes for few resources, books, and materials, spent the night with the gregarious jïpsiéns, and spirited a fire for the first in several a triple-fortnight. Exhaustible material was hard to come by in the desert. Driftwood from ancient seas long gone would turn up, sometimes betwixt its medium clear from the sand like a turtle with its head scanning the surface of its watery vessel for predators and danger, but Telem could not afford to misspend such a desert commodity.
That following day, he proceeded on his way and they went theirs. Cunningly, he had not divulged his truest intentions, that he was a kutimian, a scientist studying the geology, archeology, ecology, chemistry, and anthropology of the deep desert, nor his growing marauder map of the deserts as he traveled, or that he would publish his findings for a fat profit, thus exposing the passageways that other Yub’saji, illegal traders, and nomads would take from U’wenat into eastern Mave’a towards the capital to sell in the underground, thus working up through a chain of secret organizations within secret organizations, eventually surfacing into the public bazaars.