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Distant Origins: An Anki Legacies Science Fantasy for Young Adults By S Shane Thomas Characters: 39578

Updated: 2018-01-25 12:03

Tall grasses bent in the afternoon wind like swells rolling through the ocean. The warm midsummer sun shone through the sparse patches of puffy white clouds. The thick muscled backs of nine Minotaur hunched over patches of grass eating at their leisure. While most of their meals were spent at table, eating prepared vegetarian dishes, an afternoon grazing was a wonderful way to spend time. No other sentient species they had encountered could digest the sweet grass that grew in abundance. Before the Anki had taken the group from their home world, they had never known of government or poverty. The land provided what was necessary for life and one worked only to attain things beyond necessity.

"Ho mighty Taurus!" Gilgamesh called as he strode through the plain outside the colony with Enkidu, Gabagal, Birhartura, and his sister Inana. They each wore their shugarra, their other four Sumerian companions had chosen to attend LARC schools and learn trades.

"Hello ancient king, hello mighty warriors, and hello Inana, whose beauty outshines this glorious afternoon, " Taurus replied. His mate Mina gave a loud snort at the last part. He had included it merely to stoke her passion and jealousy, however silly. A Minotaur could never mate with a fragile human.

"Taurus, you flatter me, " Inana said, "It is unnecessary. I've become a shugarra corps now like these men. These humans do not determine one's lot in life based on heritage and sex. In Sumer I had longed to join my brother and his army, but ruled during his absences as was expected."

"Have you come to enjoy the afternoon or perhaps to rematch Taurus at wrestling?" Mina inquired. Her yellow fur shone in the afternoon sun.

"We have come with our first quest as shugarra corps. We would summon you four who chose the life of warriors to join our adventure, " Birhartura pointed to Taurus, Mina, Krull, and Kell.

Krull and Kell gave simultaneous bellows of joy. The young twin bulls loved adventures and had spent many evenings since their release listening to Gabagal play harp and recite tales of battle. There was only one way to tell the black coated brothers apart, each had a white spot over the left eye. Krull's patch was round while Kell's formed a diamond.

The five Minotaur who had not desired positions among the shugarra corps had begun a huge farm which ran along the side of the colony just above the plains they were currently in. This harvest they would contribute a great deal to the produce the colony consumed. This would be their first encounter with money beside what the four shugarra corps where paid. That had remained in their accounts and had largely been ignored.

Taurus rose on thick legs, his gold red coat glistening "I have longed to gore those vile champions of Anki, " he bellowed a long roar.

The four made their goodbyes and returned to their ranch house to retrieve their shugarra and to pack provisions. Their trip would be a few days in all likelihood. Tonight they would sleep on the Conquest and arrive at their destination near dawn. Sam Martin waited aboard the Conquest and gave a broad smile to Gilgamesh and the group.

Pulling the King aside he whispered, "Who is that stunning woman with you?" he eyed Inana whose lush black hair fell to the middle of her back. Ample curves, accentuated by strong limbs and the tapered waist of the woman who clearly took in plenty of exercise. Her dark Middle Eastern complexion was flawless. Green eyes twinkled as she smiled at Sam revealing a beautiful row of straight white teeth.

Gilgamesh wrapped a burly arm around the engineer and bellowed a deep laugh. "Sam Martin, meet my lovely sister Inana. She ruled all the lands known to our people!"

Sam stammered for a moment, before taking her hand and kissing it with a slight bow.

"Sam Martin joined us on the hunt. He enjoys whiskey, helped us destroy Anunnaki, and creates machines. He is one of the colony's learned men!"

Enkidu, Gabagal, and Birhartura whispered among each other and chuckled softly. Enkidu produced a large bottle from the top of his pack and winked at Sam.

"What pulls you from your studies?" Inana asked.

Sam swallowed hard, doing his best to recover his cool. "I've adapted the technology behind the stasis chambers and the textile from the shugarra into a net that we can launch from a hand held weapon. When it snares something, it remains in suspended animation, enabling easy capture and transport."

"The smart men from our time weren't as handsome as this Sam Martin, " Inana said to her brother as she walked into the Conquest rejoining the men from her group. Gilgamesh gave Sam a hearty slap on the back and roared laughter.

"You are courageous Sam Martin to pursue one as beautiful and strong as Inana!" he returned a thick arm around Sam's shoulders. "Show me the wonders of this craft."

That evening the Minotaur, Sumerians, Sam, and off duty Conquest crew had a meal in the cafeteria. Taurus had a few pulls off the whiskey bottle and Gabagal prodded until the bull agreed to tell the tale of his trip to Earth.

"I awoke from the captivity of the tower alone and in a strange place. Bushes rose above my head in every direction. My shugarra was missing and I could find neither friend, nor foe. I wandered through the brush without sustenance for what seemed like weeks, sleeping on the earth when darkness encroached upon my twisting prison. I thought my luck had changed when I encountered a man. He proclaimed himself to be Theseus and goaded me to combat. I told him I wandered the bushes for weeks and hadn't taken a meal, only drinking from muddy pools after it rained. The bushes were inedible and I was half starved. He accused me of eating the flesh of men, called me an Asterion… Whatever that is I am unaware and told me the Labyrinth was my prison. He attacked me with a sword. I fended him off for a while, running when I had opportunity. Finally I succumbed to fatigue and collapsed. My next waking moment was in the tower, my vitality restored as it always was when I awoke in the prison. None of the others shared this experience."

Sam and the human crew sat aghast, looking to one another unsure of whether to mention the mythology that had apparently sprung up around the captivity and torment of Taurus. Eventually Sam caved and recited the Greek myth to the best of his memory. Taurus simply huffed and replied, "No one can fight after starving for a month."

The group assembled once more in the cafeteria to breakfast and discuss their action plan. Faint traces had appeared on the scanners near the factory where Dr. Anderson had been slain. Sam deduced that Nefilim were deep underground causing the readings on the scanner. The simplest course of action would be to gather in the factory as the group had before, hoping to draw out the Nefilim and its inhuman creatures again. If that failed the group would burrow down to determine if the signal became stronger.

The Sumerians, Minotaurs, and Sam Martin approached the mouth of the factory clad in shugarra, bulked up with the thickness of its supplemental muscle. Sam also held the experimental stasis net launcher in a holster strapped across his chest.

"Sam, this was their winery? Let us see if any of their wares are intact, " Gilgamesh bellowed.

The troupe progressed through a series of large work spaces filled with antiquated equipment deep into the ancient building. Light from exterior windows provided partial visibility, but now they were in the murkier interior rooms. Gilgamesh spoke a command and the palm of his hand glowed, illuminating a wide circle around him. The others followed his example and they made their way deeper into the center. Sam checked the scanner on his arm. The signal's strength hadn't changed.

"At last!" Gilgamesh said "Here is our prize."

Sam raised a palm, preparing to discharge a beam.

"Easy there Sam, " Inana put a hand on Sam's arm, "My brother has uncovered libations, not the enemy." She gave him a coy smile.

Sam returned her smile. Could he really have a chance with her? She was incredible. The colonial women who had taken interest in Sam were usually other engineers. Sometimes dating would last a few months, but inevitably excitement over a project would smolder the flame. It wasn't one way either, Sam could think of a half dozen women over the last couple years who had forgotten him in pursuit of their latest project. None of them possessed the exotic beauty of Inana either. It was more than her looks, he felt drawn to her on an animal level. It was as if her pheromones were made to enthrall him. Her slight touch was enough for instant arousal even in this precarious situation.

Sam realized he was frozen in place and that her expression had changed to mild concern. He quickly flashed a grin, hoping it wasn't as awkward as he felt. She purred a small laugh and began to inspect the room. He watched her move about for a moment, then shook his head trying to regain focus.

"She would make an excellent mate for you, " Taurus gave Sam a pat on the back that would have floored him if not for the shugarra's amplification of his strength. "She may not be my species, but I know desire when I see it and she stokes the flame buried in you."

Sam gasped at the forward nature of the Minotaur's statement.

"I know that Mina put a spell over me like I just saw on you. Do not wait until another man courts her Sam."

"Thanks…" He could feel the heat rushing up to his cheeks now, and felt glad they were in a dark room and covered by a shugarra.

"Ha! It has been preserved. We are amid a room of the enemy's wine! Enkidu, we shall celebrate the moment we have vanquished our foes!"

Sam glanced again at the scanner. The signal appeared to be getting stronger, as if the Nefilim were tunneling up toward the surface. "It's approaching. I'd suggest we catch it while it moves, maybe we can take it by surprise."

Gilgamesh set the bottle back on the stack where he found it and motioned for the group to move on in silence. Ten silver shugarra clad warriors crept deeper through the interior of the old building. Dirt crunched under Gilgamesh's foot. The room they had just entered looked demolished. The far corner had a jagged round hole, like a gaping mouth. It appeared to angle down into the earth below the structure.

"They've got to be coming up that tunnel, the signal is pretty strong here, " Sam said, eyes locked on the scanner.

"We will ambush them here. Those we cannot slay or capture we will chase back and take within the walls of their own lair, " Gilgamesh said. There was a fierce gleam in his eye, visible and perhaps amplified through the thin silver mask of his shugarra.

There were two entries to the room, other than the mouth to the tunnel. Krull and Kell stood blocking one, their hulking bodies served as living gates. Taurus and Mina did likewise at the opposite entry. Sam and the Sumerians arranged themselves about the space leaving enough room for their enemy to enter. Silence engulfed the room and the shugarra corps awaited their fight.

Sam had seen his share of action, but this was the first time he knew it was coming and had to wait for it. He concentrated on his breathing, taking slow deep breaths, pulling air in through his nose and out his mouth. The signal on the scanner became stronger. Now there were two distinct blips, one approaching while the other remained weak and distant. Sam strained his ears, trying to hear the approach of the Nefilim and the strange monsters it commanded. After an eternity, a faint shuffling and scraping could be heard echoing up the cavern. Sam's hand drifted to the butt of the net launcher. Despite the tension he was thrilled by the opportunity to field test the new technology. Sam had successf

into his mark's torso and sent the Anunnaki crashing out the window opposite the door. Nearly the entire wall of glass burst, spraying chips and shards about the room. Two glowing black orbs of energy expanded from the upturned hands of Erishkigal, the Queen of the Underworld. In an instant the two orbs sped at the invisible attackers. Inana ducked a claw swipe from the Anunnaki's remaining arm. The orb streaked overhead and exploded into the face of a demon creeping up behind Inana, shattering the fiend to dust. Sam's second blast was just swelling out of his palm, raised toward Erishkigal in defense of her attack. The black orb streaked toward Sam. Black and white energy erupted like fireworks in Sam's palm. His vision whited out, being set on infrared. The blast threw him back into the cold grey stone wall and he slumped to the floor.

Gilgamesh and Birhartura had a disappointingly quiet run through their half of the village that ran up against the wall. There were demons going about domestic work and signs of craft work. A forge with an unlit fire, an empty butcher's shop, a tailor's workshop with reams of textiles piled up unused, and various huts with tools neatly stored. Birhartura suggested the Nefilim had formed the village and fortress to pass the long years since their masters departed and their opponents lay frozen in the tower.

Their communicators delivered Sam Martin's message shortly before eight Anunnaki ran past them down the road leading to the forest they had emerged from. No sooner than the soldiers had disappeared into the wood, the great window on the top floor of the tower burst and another puma headed Anunnaki fell to be smashed on the ground below.

"Rally the others and join me!" Gilgamesh leaped into the air, abandoning his camouflage and beating smooth silver wings.

As Inana ducked the angry swipe from her opponent she uttered the command for shugarra to reinforce her frame. Dust erupted with a spray of black and white energy and she heard Sam's groan and a thud. Inana reacted instinclively, a palm heel uppercut to the Anunnaki's feline chin, her splayed fingers driven into its tender throat, and a grunted command for an energy beam resulted in meaty grey bits of the Nefilim's tissue joining the miasma in the room.

Inana felt claw and fang dig into her back, moans muffled through the muscled bulk of her shugarra from four demons dragging her to the floor. Inana caught a glimpse of Erishkigal gathering a large black orb between both hands before the other two demons joined in pinning her down.

A thud, followed by Erishkigal's startled grunt, preceded the black energy burst rumbling harmlessly as it struck the floor. Gilgamesh's battle cry echoed through the room as he ripped a pair of demons from Inana's back.

Sam blinked slowly, clearing the fog from his mind and trying to regain his grasp on consciousness. He stammered the command to cease heat vision and saw a winged shugarra peeling demons from a muscled shugarra's back. Behind the two a battered Erishkigal rose to her feet and two black orbs appeared at her fingertips. Sam grasped the net gun and pulled it free from the holster. "Hey!" he shouted. The Queen of the underworld turned her head in time to see the stasis net wrap her into a cocoon. The black energy dissipated into a harmless vapor.

Gilgamesh and Inana quickly dealt with the demons, and in the new found silence, feet pounding up steps could be heard. "The gate guards, " Sam said. The trio prepared an assault. The door shattered apart revealing Krull and Kell in the muscle enhanced shugarra, covered in the grey gore of the Anunnaki who had barred their entry below. Birhartura, Mina, and Enkidu swooped in through the gaping windowless frame.

"Are there any left beside the squad headed for the tunnel?" Sam asked the team.

No one saw others during their scouting. Gilgamesh outlined a plan to surround them as they broke into the clearing before the tunnel. Eight sets of shugarra wings beat the air just below the cavern ceiling, passing up the Anunnaki who traversed the woods on foot. Foliage over the puma headed guards concealed their presence. The Sumerians hid among the tree line, invisible. The Minotaurs and Sam waited unseen midway through the field.

Inana heard the Anunnaki approach and fell in a few paces behind their column. Quick glances to either side confirmed her brother and companions had done likewise. She hooked her arm around the throat of one Anunnaki and using a simple throw floored the guard. An energy beam burst from her palm and finished him.

Sam saw the four rear guards drop and took careful aim with his last stasis net. The Anunnaki where running so closely together that two became ensnared in a silver cocoon. Gilgamsh dispatched the last one effortlessly. They executed the trap without a hitch. The team materialized around their downed quarry with triumphant smiles on every face.

"The Anki's champions have never fallen in such great numbers as we have amassed today!" Enkidu said. "I shall compose a ballad of the mighty Gilgamesh and the shugarra corps."

"Don't rock out just yet, " Sam said, "We've still got to drag these cocoons through the tunnel and onto Conquest."

Gilgamesh, Enkidu, Birhartura, and Sam flew back and retrieved Erishkigal. Krull and Kell began carrying the double plump stasis net through the miles of tunnel. Inana sent a communication to the crew of Conquest, updating them on the success of the mission.

"What was beyond the fortress?" Mina asked the twins as they made their way through the tunnel.

"We followed a path into the forest beyond, but never reached the end, " Krull said.

"There could be a hundred more back there for all we know, " Kell added.

It was nearing midnight before the shugarra corps had settled back onto Conquest, refreshed themselves and gathered for an evening meal. Not only had five prisoners been captured in stasis nets, Gilgamesh retrieved cases of wine and generous servings turned the evening meal into a victory celebration. The off duty crew members, Gabagal, and Taurus joined in the festivities. Enkidu recounted their adventure from beginning to end.

"Enkidu, tell the tale of your other adventure in Earth's underworld, " Inana prodded.

The bard's cheeks flushed. This ballad always embarrassed him to recount. "The halub tree in Queen Inana's garden was nearly as beautiful as Inana herself. After years of growth it was so large that snakes and lion headed anzu birds congregated on it, attacking those who visited the garden. Gilgamesh slew the snakes, and frightened away the anzu birds. Next he used his mighty battle axe to chop the halub down. The city of Unug's finest wood workers made this guitar for me as well as furnishing the Queen's rooms with the lumber. Ninazu's mother stole the wooden furniture and my guitar and fled to her domain in Earth's underworld. Despite Gilgamesh's warnings to guard my emotions, Ninazu's vivacious mother seduced me. The following morning my late wife found me in the bed chamber and a heated argument ensued. I explained that I was faithful until she died, but she said that was merely a technicality. With my passions stoked, the Nefilim ensnared and bound me to the underworld. Gilgamesh bargained with the Nefilim Enki for my release. In exchange for retrieving me from Sumeria's underworld, Gilgamesh and eight companions accompanied the Anki to Nibiru."

"We all know a night with Ninazu's mom was worth the trouble!" Birhartura said with a hearty laugh.

The night festivities carried the team into a late celebration. The next morning Sam Martin awoke with a splitting headache. Keeping up with those Sumerians will kill me he thought. A slender had slid across his chest and Inana rolled onto his shoulder. Sam's jaw dropped as he recalled the conclusion of the evening.

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