Tuesday, December 2, 2008

A Lost Brother, Part 2

The doorbell chimed.

"Go away!" shouted Gabriel. "Didn't I tell you I don't want to be disturbed?"

The monastery of Saint Michael's, nestled quietly in the backwater system of Ziona, was a place where the devout could hide, and study in peace. This day, he was not going to have his peace.

The doorbell chimed again.

Doctor Gabriel Theodoulos set down the stylus he was using, and with a deep breath turned his attention to his intruder.

"Come in", he said with controlled patience.

The door quietly slid open, an orderly stepped in, and quickly moved to Gabe's desk, where he sat.

"Master, forgive me for interrupting you", came his expletive, "but a vid-gram came in from Avair VII". The acolyte knew full well, that the senior archeologist to the order did not want to be interrupted, but when the Theology Council calls, even the good doctor would be willing to forgive the young novice.

Gabriel looked at him without saying anything, apparently surprised by the gram, and then replied, "Very well, connect them through."

The acolyte swiftly left and a moment later, the monitor at his desk lit up revealing the caller to be none other than Tuzilo Zhada. Zhada was the Chief Archivist for the Council, stationed in Arbaz VI. Both Tuzilo and Gabe had become close friends during his research in ancient manuscripts, and it was somewhat of a surprise to see his colleague calling from the main office.

"Tuzilo, good to see you. Why are you calling from Avair? I thought they had you chained to your desk", came the warm greeting.

Zhada was normally a friendly sort, especially to Gabriel, but this time there was a bit of nervousness in his appearance.

"Doctor Theodoulos", came the unexpected formal greeting. "I have just left milord Moritok's chambers. He wishes your ... um, attendance."

Even Gabriel knew that when the head of the Theology Council wishes your attendance, the invitation is not an option.

"Of course, of course", came his reply. "When does Lord Moritok wish to see me?"

"Immediately," came the cool reply.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

"My son, come in, please come in."

To many people Lord Mervin Moritok was a powerful entity in the Amarrian Empire. But to the Theodoulos Family, he was a close and dear friend. As a young boy, Moritok had been a strong influence in Gabriel's life. It was Mervin's devotion to God that inspired Gabe to enter the ministry, and there was no one more beloved than the aged head of the Theology Council.

"Master, I came as quickly as possible," said the doctor to his lord. "Please, tell me how I may serve."

Moritok smiled. "Now, now. Sit down and relax. Tell me how your work is going."

Gabriel relaxed a bit and started explaining how the translations were progressing.

"Milord, the ancient texts are cumbersome. I have gotten a good handle on the Greek and Latin, but Ancient Hebrew is hard to wrap my head around. I am about 85% done, and am eager to present my material to the Council."

Gabriel had spent the last 20 years of his life digging into the origins of the Amarrian religion. Though there are many stories, none of them could be confirmed from the ancient archives. But to question such stories was dangerous, even for a senior archeologist.

15 years earlier, a construction crew unearthed the ruins of a long forgotten cathedral. Upon examining the remains, a library was discovered, partially intact. The Theology Council was excited. The surrounding area was placed under protection and a young scholar was assigned the task of recompiling the texts. That young scholar was Gabriel Theodoulos.

For years, the ancient records were restored and under the careful direction of Theodoulos, translations of the work began. Most of the archives were in Ancient Amarrian, but a collection of books were found to be in an even older language. Gabriel and his team worked feverishly on the texts, and after a short period of time, the first translations started to appear. The primary piece was entitled, "The Sacred Book". It was made up of 66 smaller books, with most of the writings centered around a single individual referred to at the Anointed or Chosen One. After translating most of the manuscripts, the order became excited. There was evidence that these writings predated that of the wormhole! All other work stopped. The Theology Council placed an order of silence on the research, and everyone was asked not to discuss their findings until the Council approved it.

"Master, our findings are unquestionable", Gabriel explained. "Here is strong evidence that early Amarrian Religion was much different than what we know now."

Moritok took a deep breath and slowly let it out.

"You are correct my son", the master answered. "Do you not see a problem with this?"

Even though Mervin Moritok was a close and dear friend of the Theodoulos Family, Gabriel knew how wise it was to carefully choose his words.

"Milord, I realize that these findings can cause some strife among the devout, but Sir, do we not have an obligation before God Almighty to bring the truth to the masses?"

"Yes, you are right", came the elder's reply, "but we also have the moral duty to uphold civilization. If we bring out these findings to the public, there will be wide-spread chaos. Everything that the empire is founded on will be brought into question."

Lord Moritok looked his friend in the eye and said, "This cannot happen."

An icy chill went down Gabe's spine. He knew how strong religion can be, and to find yourself in conflict with the Theology Council is dangerous; mortally dangerous.

"Master," Gabriel said softly, "what must I do?"

At that question, the protector of the Amarrian faith let out the breath he was holding in. To him, a crisis had been averted, that would have forced him to condemn a soul he considered to be his own son.

"Gabriel, my son. The vows you have taken through your order forbids me to demand your silence. But if you allow me to counsel you, I would suggest you not talk about the findings you have made."

A smile crossed Moritok's face.

"Why not take a sabbatical?", he suggested. "Go and spend time with your family and relax. Your work has demanded a lot from you and I think it would do you good to take some time off."

Gabe nodded in agreement, "Yes Master. Your advice is good, as always."

Both friends stood, hugged each other, and Gabriel quietly departed. On the trip back, he couldn't help but feel grief over the meeting. Gabriel had the truth in his heart, but he knew the dangers of sharing such truth. With tears swelling in his eyes, he fell to his knees and prayed, "Dear Lord, help me. Please God, give me wisdom on what to do. Guide me, my true Master!"

Unbeknownst to him, Gabriel's prayer was answered. Just as the doctor entered the small cloister of the monastery, a call came in from a person he hadn't spoken to in years. It was his younger and adventurous brother: Jedadiah.

The screen came alive, and Jed was standing there, looking older than what Gabe remembered. Jed's tunic was covered in dust and there was background noises, much like thunder rumbling in the distance.

"Gabe, you there?" came the query.

"Brother, what's up? Where are you?" replied the older brother.

Another thunderous rumble came from behind Jedadiah. He was standing in what appeared to be a hanger, with many people rushing around in the back. Jed turned and said a couple of things to a Caldari. The man nodded to Jed and started redirecting slaves to start loading several Bestowers.

Jed turned back to his brother and said, "Gabe, I don't have time to go into details. Thukkers are attacking the station. Jonas and I have only minutes to get out before the whole place goes."

Gabe was shocked. He was not used to seeing violence. The thought of his brother being in danger numbed him to the bones.

"Jed, what can I do to help?"

"Listen. I'm trying to bring in some very important documents. Documents that cannot be transmitted. Do you remember the family's beacon frequency?"

Gabriel knew of the homing frequency. Theodouloses carried homing beacons, long before capsuleers flew in space.

"I know it Jed", Gabe answered.

"Listen", Jed quickly spoke, "I'm leaving Kourmonen now, and am going to do my level best to get my carcass back to Netsalakka!"

Another thunderous roar came across the vid-screen, and things appeared to shake around Gabriel's brother.

Jed continued, "If I don't make it through, I am going to need your help."

The Caldari returned and said, "Jed, we're packed and ready."

"OK Jonas, we're leaving now," Jedadiah shouted.

He turned back to Gabe and their eyes locked.

"Gabe, this information is important to the family. I'm trusting you, Brother to get it back home."

The look on Jedadiah's face communicated that his mortality was near.

"If you need help, look up Marshal Gangleri with VFOR," said Jedadiah. "He knows of you and he's a man of honor."

"Gangleri. VFOR. Right!" was all Gabe could say.

Jed looked at his brother and said, "Gabe, pray for me. I don't think I'll make this one!"

With that, another thunderous roar sounded and the vid-screen went dead.

"Jed!", shouted Gabriel thrashing out at the blank screen.

The connection was lost.

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