The Way

Introduction of Meeleks.

In the year 2441 the humans discovered hyperspace. It was only a matter of time before the humans found themselves in the middle of an interstellar conflict. In 2487 they assisted the Drakendoth in defeating their enemies and by 2500 the Terran Alliance was formed.

In the wake of the war the Terran Navy was tasked to explore the unknowns of the Galaxy and found new colonies for the expanding population of the Alliance. One of the last places that was explored was the Deep Abyss. The Battle of Mountian Break was fought on the edges of the phenomenon. Swirling gases and the unstable hyperspace and real space currents made the Deep Abyss a death trap for warships that fled into it. So in 2641 a battleship entered the Abyss with the intentions of mapping the areas of calm that earlier ships had seen. It returned with results that surpised everyone.

The Deep Abyss covers an area of space over fifty lightyears in length at it's thinnest point and two hunderd thrity-one at it's widest. A reddish luminescent gas covers the entire region. This gas blocks sensors and seems to interfere with hyperdrives. Like sailor's tails of old there are stories of demons, wraiths, ghost ships and monsters of vivid description. Scientists have studied the gases and found it to be a collection of microorganisms that die quickly when separated from the Abyss. Some have theorized that the microorganisms are a part of a larger lifeform that make up the gasoues nebula that is the Deep Abyss.

In the year 2645 the battleship Yamoto Rising returned. The crew had found something. In the reddish mist there is pockets of empty space. Some pockets have stars. Some even have star systems with planets that show the remains of an advanced civilization. Gaint empty spacedocks laid dormant in one system with alien technologies quickly discovered to be more advanced than anything seen before. Had the Yamoto Rising had the time and will surely they would have taken samples but the crew was short on time and long on caution. Nothing was taken aside from medium-range sensor scans. The Deep Abyss contained ninety-seven stars. Fourteen with planets. Of those there was five systems with habitable planets and one had two such worlds.

Colony ships where sent to the various habitable worlds. Warships to the ancient shipyards. There was plenty for all to share. And for 20 years all went well. The colony ship Midsummer's Dream landed at a planet in one of the systems deepest within the Abyss. In the first year of the colony that was created, they discovered a race of intelligent primitives, seemingly uninterested in the trade of material goods.

The Meeleks (as the primitives came to be known) where unlike any other intelligent species yet encountered by humans. They looked not much unlike the Canadian Lynx of Earth or the Crested Scythe of Drakendoth. Standing on four legs they stood a mere 70 centimeters at the shoulder or on two reaching barely a meter and one half in height. Both genders seemed shared similar body size and structure though males exclusively had tufts of fur on the tips of the ears often combed to stand vertically. Fur color ranged from pale yellow to gold to oranges and browns through completely white or black individuals where not unknown. Some Meeleks had stripes or spots with their fur and others had completely solid coats.

Some years passed until Meeleks finally learned the human's language of English. The Meelek tongue seemed far more complex and almost impossibly difficult for a human throat to reproduce the precise tonal shifts and flows. It seemed a rather short time before humans learned that primitive did not mean scientifically unadvanced. Meeleks had a rather advanced understanding of disease, chemical reactions, weather systems, and ecology.

* * * * *

Rayon looked over the fertile river valley the human colonists had taken for themselves. There wasn't much to see through the misty rain. The time for revolution was drawing near. The Guardians of the Abyss had already closed the entire nebula from the rest of the galaxy. The humans needed to be neutralized and the rest of his species enlightened with the marvels of the Ancient's technology. But one thing reminded to be resolved: how to neutralize the humans.

The Council of Waiting was split. The Ancients had left their technology, science, and philosophy, a small portion of which was either known to or used by all Meeleks in one form or another. The Ancients left no direct instructions on how to be rid of the foreign invaders which now occupied a single valley. The Directives had been followed closely up until now. Now was the time to lay aside the Directives. It was the time for Meeleks to rise on their own. In the lack of instruction, the Counsel's members reviewed the numerous documents left behind. A list of possible actions and outcomes to those actions was discovered. In some ways it made things more complected. Options ranged from killing every last human invader to adopting them into the greater family of Meeleks. Whatever action was taken now would dictate future courses of action and the foundation of the Meelek's future Empire. Killing the humans would make the Meeleks into a conquering species that would need to expand widely and forcefully to survive. Adopting the humans outright would form an economy based on market forces and international trade and free will. Other plans detailed various levels of the two primary options. And the Council of Waiting was unable to make a decision. The Counsel needed a Seer to point the way but majority of the Council didn't trust the Seer's Guild to decide wisely. Indeed, the four members of the Seer's Guild on the Council had requested not to be asked to decide. They didn't trust themselves. If the Seer's Guild was not to decide, someone else needed to be chosen. Any member of the other guilds was similarly disqualified. No single guild was even willing to trust themselves to decide the future of so many. If the guilds could not decide, a member of the Laborers needed to be chosen by they too refused. No voting member of the counsel felt himself qualified. After nearly twenty thousand years of enforcing a policy determined by the Ancients, no one knew how to proceed. With the Counsel unable to choose, the rules were clear. The responsibility fell to the Sentinel.

The Sentinel was a position as Anceint as the Council itself. The Meelek holding that position was always chosen for the ability to make independent decisions. Typically a Seer, the Sentinel watched for the coming fulfillment of prophecy and advised the counsel when they did not know what to decide. Rayon was the current Sentinel. He was young, his ear tufts where barely grown. Youth was not much of an issue in the past, for the young were alert and had plenty of energy to tackle the problems of a deadlocked Counsel. Most Sentinel had the advice and counsel of previous Sentinel's but in Rayon's case he was alone. The previous Sentinel had died in a rock slide. Nevertheless, the rules were clear, Rayon would decide the fate for generations and centuries to come. Even worse, the Council was ready to support any decision he would make.

A fresh misty rain beaded and slipped off Rayon's coarse short fur. The terminal in his paw reported the rain would last for several days. He figured it was a good thing. Even though he was young he was knowledgable in a wide variety of subjects including agriculture. The crops of thimblehead that where the staple food for the local tribes needed the rain after the normal summer's drought. In a few days the grain's fruit would be swollen with water, the shell would harden and it then ready for harvest. Rayon looked forward to eating some of that harvest. He rarely got out of the mountain's that were his home.

The Counsel of Waiting was only a tiny fraction of the Meeleks that where waiting for revolution. They all lived deep under a large mountain chain in carved out tunnels supported by the technology of the Ancients. Some of those Meelek devoted themselves to the study of the Ancient's science. But, the Directives greatly restricted the machinery that could be build, the tests that could be done, and many other things. Due to this, food was scare under the mountains. Hydroponics grew just enough food to prevent starvation even with strict population controls. Mushrooms and moss grown in the lowest and highest levels provided some relief from the hunger pains that plagued the Laborers. Guild members didn't have that luxury. Hunger was simply a fact of life. As was illness through the Ancient's and new world medicines prevented plagues, there was little they could do to hold off the weakness hunger brought. The only Meelek given consideration was Rayon. As Sentinel he needed to be able to live outside the mountain habitat that sheltered the rest.

As Rayon though about the feast that he would be able to take part in in a few days, he knew that if he made the right decision Meeleks would never again need to hunger for food. A lump settled in his throat. He checked the terminal again. It wouldn't be long before the human that he took the device from would realize it was missing. The pulse rifle strapped to his back felt heavy. It was the only piece of technology from the Ancients that had felt rain in thousands of years. The only thing the Counsel could have agreed on: where ever Rayon was and no matter what he planned, he would be well armed.