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Fanfic do Prelúdio Science-Fantasy da Dagor Dagorath

Ilmarinen

Usuário
Publicado em Mallorn números 34 e 35

http://www.buckrogers.demon.co.uk/tolkien/spacest.txt

This story has been published in the Tolkien Society periodical `Mallorn'.


WHAT HAVE WE BROUGHT ON OURSELVES?
by Anthony Appleyard
<This story is set far in Middle Earth's future, in the age of Man. I
apologise for writing here about a subject so unlike most Tolkien-inspired
matter, but the Great End is a part of his mythology, and I felt that the
possible events leading up to it need exploring.>
We await the great battle which has been gathering, all too likely the Last
Battle and the End of Days. Men unknowing awoke the forces which are gathering
for this battle, in which I fear that little of the world of Men as we know it
will survive. Whether or not my account will survive it, I record what I know.
I used to read the old stories about when there were other sentient beings
than Men on Earth. They talk of immortal Elves, who long ago departed, or
faded until now they need a great effort to become visible to Men, and few Men
believe that they exist. They talk of Dwarves, skilled smiths and miners who
lived four times as long as Men. They talk of evil beings called Orcs and
Trolls and dragons who they say were hunted out long ago. But I have seen none
of such beings, only Men, and reports of ancient huge or deformed skeletons
which are as likely to be remains of irrelevant animals or strange bygone
races of Men. They talk of long-lived mighty part-Elvish men called Dunedain,
whose blood is now completely mixed with that of other men, and their identity
is lost. And they talk of Valar, and Melkor who became Morgoth. I thought
little of tales of such beings - but now Men all too well know otherwise.
It happened when Men felt confined within the realm of Earth, and wanted to
travel further. At first fictional characters travelled among the stars which
real men had no hope of reaching; reading such stories satisfied many, but in
some as they looked up at the stars it awoke the space-longing even more, and
in the end drove them to make it as real as they could at great labour and
cost. Huge fuel-greedy craft which could only be used once laboured to get a
few men into near Earth orbit, and later to try to reach the Moon. The effort
faded as men saw at last that it was leading to little of practical use, and
would soon have died out, when a man called Aniwa discovered a power that
makes spacecraft much smaller and far farther and faster travelling. How he
discovered it, working alone, he never revealed, but it works, and men can
copy it easily, and now with little trouble Men can quickly routinely travel
far across space. One such drive unit can activate another - some wondered who
or what had activated his first unit.
What we did when we found the Earth englobed in that strange invisible hard
barrier, is what started it. When we found that our new craft fitted out to
travel far and fast for months were shut in like caged falcons unable to go
more than a few hours' flight from Earth, a few remembered old tales of the
`Walls of Night' and their making, and saw an end of our plans and that Men
belong on Earth where they arose, and many now say that we should have obeyed
them; but others called for breaking out of the cage despite any natural or
supernatural consequences. The barrier withstood unmarked all that we used on
it, and some in our crews repented and said we should return home and scrap
our spacecraft and leave the Outside alone to Those who made it; but while
those who thought so talked with us, one of us made a blasting weapon out of a
spare Aniwa drive unit that we had. Before it the ancient barrier started to
melt at last. The stuff, whatever it was, was abominably hard to cut, and
often resealed itself, or went into weird shapes, and many times we found
another layer of it behind what we could see; but at last we got through it,
and learned how to deal easily and quickly with any other such barriers we
might come across. We left a radio beacon there, and flew out through the
weapon-melted breach in that ancient defence, and away from it, away from
Earth, out of any appointed ordered realm that the barrier defined into the
ownerless void beyond, and knew not what we had done.
After the dread deed, men came and went routinely through that gap and
others that we made later, until an exploring party of three spaceships found
Him, first as a distant radar echo. Aniwa, who was with us, had directed us to
explore that particular region of space, and persuaded us to investigate that
particular echo, but would not say why. Finding the being caused a sensation,
and what we now know to be the truth went unnoticed among many strange
theories as to what he was. After what others have written, suffice it to say
that we shot his chains off him, and taught him our modern language and how
events had passed in our world.
He had been chained cruelly, doubled with his head against his knees, with
the chain welded not only to manacles and leg-fetters but also to an iron
collar {FTN: <Silmarillion> p252}, and it was years before he could easily
straighten fully unaided; and he was very weak. The collar was of ordinary
steel, unlike the other pieces, and ultrasound scans in an onboard workshop
found buried in it mangled ornamentation and remains of three round attachment
points as if it had been forge-hammered from something else long ago; one of
us thought he recognised what it had been made from, and in alarm quoted
ancient legends, and we should have heeded him. The being patiently endured
cutter splatter burns as we removed the remains of his bonds, and the ordeal
of being pulled nearer to straight by a powerful constructor craft's
grapple-arms and fitted with a spring-loaded orthopaedic back-harness; making
it found a better use for cut pieces of the vast chain that we had rid him of.
We healed him as we could of the effects of his ordeal of long captivity,
and of a bad face scar and a foot crippled by a wound (he said from a workshop
accident) {FTN: <Silmarillion> p154}. He thanked us, and helped us much to
develop space technology. Then he left us, he said to return to his people,
carrying a deadlier light than the three jewels that we now know caused him
long pain of old, and a deadlier load than the chains which we shot off him,
for, all too disastrously deceived as to his identity and true intent, we gave
him a power and propulsion unit like those in our larger armed spacecraft,
strapped to his back, also connected to and feeding and rebuilding his body's
natural power system.
There is a small spaceship that we cannot trace to anywhere we know of that
builds or services them. We come across it occasionally in space. It carries
an extremely bright light which can be seen like a star from far away, and has
to be very carefully shielded out when it is near. Sometimes its light can be
seen from Earth, as a distant moving star - and some remember that such a
moving star has been seen long before Men flew or went into space. There is
one man in it, or through his cabin windows he looks like a man, and he has
onboard radio, but he cannot understand our language, nor we his. Its outside
bears writings in an alphabet that we do not know. We tried to follow him down
to his homeworld once, but somewhere inside the Barrier he gave us the slip
among a strange invisible force field and vanished. The being that we found
chained adrift in space told us that his old home is hidden there.
What is happening when Earth-born Men `break the bounds set on them long ago
by the Valar and crossing Ea reach other Ardar which some say should have been
allowed to develop in their own time' (as some put it), is all too much like
the past. I apologize for talking like old legends, but all too well we now
know that many things they tell of are true, same as few modern men believed
that Numenor had existed until submarines found its remains. Likewise few
believed in Valar or anything like them, until a spaceship found Him. So men
explore, in craft much faster and farther travelling and more powerful with
the improvements that the being taught us, and see strange things, and take
what they will from other worlds, or settle among those born and bred there,
shooting through any defences that they found on or around them. Or they find
a world with no sentient beings, and call it free for the taking; but it
belongs not to Men but is in trust for whatever sentient beings will arise on
it native in future ages. High ideals fade.
I will tell of a planet that we found. Its natives look similar to Men, but
different enough to show that they are not of our world. Their society, all
over the planet alike, was in fixity of obeying the words of One who had died
so long ago that they no longer knew how long ago he lived, preserved in a
Book whose language their current spoken language had long ago evolved far
from; their priesthood tightly controlled belief and observance and quickly
summoned squads or armies or fanatical mobs to suppress what little innovation
ever arose. They held that their religion established its rule in heroic war
against a vast alliance of corrupt oppressive kings and evil monsters; but
archaeology later seemed to show that it, having already spread widely,
covered the rest of that world by using and then suppressing a starting
technologization. Their inhabitable lands are not scattered as on Earth but
grouped close, and routine contact stopped them from evolving different ways
in different places, and so no local independences or individualities
returned. Only on one remote island group in their big ocean did we find
natives with other gods and language. But that religion kept their society
ordered and stable - until we landed and sought contact with them.
Some at first welcomed us, but their priests warned them against us and
tried to exorcise us, and said we were the Enemy from Outside who had rampaged
for a while but were driven out when their religion was founded at the end of
the Time of Darkness when their world was young. When in their unquestioning
obedience they attacked in endless hordes, our ships' weapons consumed them as
they came, and their bones and swords crumble under many bulldozed Hills of
the Slain, until they had to leave our landing-grounds alone: and they knew
that their priests' and Book's millennia-backed assurances of victory were
false. Having no other recourse, some again contacted us, and we took control
over their planet, and taught them things other than what their Book and
priests had let them hear, and their minds opened to many things. When we had
finished, their ancient and one Belief was split into a dozen irreconcilable
variants, and many of them rejected all such belief, and we taught them our
science and technology; and they give themselves and their children many names
that in the old days would have been utterly forbidden. Now they easily
explore the depths of their oceans, and in need of supplies slay beasts and
enter land that belief and legend had for ages kept sacred, and some of them
fare across space with us, and thank us for breaking them out of their long
stasis; we get much supplies and help from there. But they and their world are
troubled by many things that did not afflict them before we came; only a
remnant follow their old belief or try to reestablish its old power.
On that planet, as in many such conflicts new and old, those who held to
their old belief vowed that their gods would fight against us, but nothing
came of it, or else whatever is there stays hidden and will choose its time.
We joked that some time one such set of native gods would prove to exist and
would offer effective resistance: until on one world it actually happened.
We landed there and contacted some natives. Nearly all worshipped the same
gods, although they spoke many languages and their continents and islands are
scattered widely across oceans; an unchanging ruling priesthood kept tight
watch and control over them. As we learned some of their languages, some were
friendly, and some hostile; holy-men stirred up trouble against us. War
started, and those who supported us asked us to defend them. Our bases on that
world were in danger and seemed like to be overrun by fury of numbers aided
much by weapons and armour that we had not expected from unmechanized people,
working by means unknown to the people who used them. As war swayed back and
forth many times, we heard tell of a place in one of their oceans where few
sea-ships went, where winds and currents flowed strangely; the holy-men,
urging their people to resist us, said that help to secure victory would, as
always before, be sent by something in there. The natives bowed towards the
place as they appealed to their gods. It was said that very rarely someone
from outside was allowed in there and back out to his people and told varying
tales of wonders waiting for those who died in rightful battle; but there are
many such beliefs and word-tricks to get warriors to fight harder. We sent a
craft over the sea to look at the place described; the craft took damage from
something hidden, and it was said that the Gods would indeed defend their own.
Many sided with us, for the holy-men and local lords who aided them were
dominating and enforced many heavy taxes and petty rules, intending the best
but causing murmurings and dislike, and many natives saw in us at last another
help than uselessly appealing to the Gods against the Gods' own agents.
We explored in force, expecting to find likeliest nothing at all or a patch
of rocks and rip-currents, or perhaps a hidden sea-ship base or the like. As
we got near, what seemed like a great wind threw our ships aside with mighty
power. Some said that we should have left it alone, but others were unwilling
to leave something so powerful unknown and reported to be hostile behind our
lines, and warlikeness drove us. What had seemed to be a small dangerous sea
area where matter and sailors' compasses behaved strangely turned out to our
amazement to be a ground-level space-warping hiding a large hidden area: it
was as tales had told. By then we knew how to tackle that sort of defence,
although with difficulty. We gathered all our craft. The barrier pushed all
things round itself, and distorted vision and weight ever more as we pushed
into it; madness and great weariness dwelt there. Our ships' drives strained,
and their autopilots barely coped with the random blows that pushed us about.
Nothing of ancient tale could have travelled that road. But we got through the
hardest part of the barrier. A voice warning us off seemed to come from
nowhere in particular, but we ignored it, and got through.
Even we felt wonder seeing the large well-ordered land hidden behind the
ancient mighty barrier. Friendly natives who came with us looked at it and our
deeds there with dread, for their oldest legends spoke of that land; one of
them said "Then it is true! The Gods live there. Once long ago they were open
to all until the evil arose and They fenced themselves off and from there at
times send secret aid. I hoped to go there after death; I fear to tread on it
unbidden in the body.". The oldest legends of Earth mention similar hidden
lands, but such tales were not our concern, and we heeded them little.
At first we fully intended merely to explore and make contact and come to
terms; by then we knew their main languages. But They who ruled in there
formed up against us, and hurled the gale and the lightning, and power blasts
that seemed to come from themselves and not from anything they wielded; we in
the haste of battle did not know for certain, and when all was over we had no
way of finding; they said that we had no permission to use our ships' type of
drive power, and ordered us to surrender our ships, and threatened to pursue
fast and far. No good came from such words as we and they managed to exchange.
It was the seat of their ancient might, inaccessible to all for thousands of
years, and we had broken into it. Awe at seeing such mighty Beings should have
stopped us, but instinct to fight back drove us on, and we were not in a mood
to flee; we had little trust that after fleeing pursued far many of us would
escape alive, or that we could escape through the barrier at all; we were shut
in there with such defence as we had brought with us. Someone in one of our
ships ignored orders and fired back. The Beings replied in full force, and we
had to fight back to save our lives.
I will not weary the reader with a long list of destruction wreaked by both
sides. Battle swayed back and forth, but with our ships' new weapons we were
as powerful as Them, and we demolished the forts and collapsed the cave-holds
as we converged on Their capital; ancient forests of huge trees burnt. After a
sharp dangerous final fight They withered in our energy beams as we cleaned
their last stronghold out. Our ships needed long refitting and repair before
we could have fought that battle again; but we had won. The Fence round that
land vanished. One of Them had been seen to try to escape upwards, and may
have got away to seek help. The feeling of their presence that even through
our ships' metal hulls we had felt somewhat, was gone. Something very ancient
and fair perished because it opposed us, brushed aside as routinely as our
ancestors in a colonial war several generations ago felling an ancient tree
for its wood or shelling a breach in a stone city wall which in previous
centuries could have withstood a long seige heroic in story.
We and our local allies landed, and there was nothing any more to resist us
or to keep outside natives subject. Those who had been privileged to live
there at the feet of their Powers and serve them directly and know some of
their secrets, had shared in defeat and disaster and could only look on. That
which for ages had been merely a distant name of worship and hope was visible
to all, wrecked beyond redemption. The deep caverns where the souls of that
world's dead were said to go, were collapsed and filled with fallen mountains.
The Blue Hall on top of that land's highest mountain had been an awesome
unreachable name in countless sacred songs and oaths; now it was an immense
unsafe ruin for us to blow up to clear the site for a communications and radar
station. As ruler of its site, from the King of their Powers to a construction
foreman with a two-way radio was a pitiful comedown, but we had brought it
about. He nicknamed the site `Taniquetil', idly taking a name from childhood
tales - and knew not what that name meant in its full import.
Remote rule from high with little hope of appeal, however well intentioned,
had brought on the Rulers the inevitable result, many ten thousand years
delayed, but at last it had happened. Some say that men do need a god or gods,
whether real or not, as a focus of loyalties and an alleged author of rules
needed to keep society orderly. From what those beings, or whatever they were,
said to each other in our hearing, it seems that even they, mighty in strength
and skill, believed in a god who they said made them and the universe. The one
who we had found and unchained had complained to us that even among them there
was rule by order from the top and lack of opportunity for individualism, and
thus he had been chained and exiled long ago.
Some legends say that such beings once ruled the Earth. If so, they have
gone or remain hidden, and their ability to see and know and rightly decide
all things is less than some claim: in the `First Age' whatever the souls of
the dead going to Mandos (as They said was their fate), and the `Eagles of
Manwe' and suchlike, told the Powers, the Powers did not act on it of their
own decision, but Earendil the sailor had to struggle to their land through
fearsome sea-obstacles with much news that was not known there before, and
prod them into coming out and intervening.
To that once-hidden land sea and air routes now run straight for all as to
other lands. Men and natives land or settle there and use whatever they find
there, with less and less respect for `ancient legend come to life' as each
year passes. They plant commonly and unconsideredly on roadside and park many
kinds of trees once precious, many found in the Hidden Land only, some of
those even there rare, forcing them by technology to propagate in plenty when
the Powers had made them otherwise to keep them scarce and sacred - even as
our `White Tree', once famed in legend and a treasure of Kings, when crudely
dosed in flower with an antiriot gas in a time of disorder seeded heavily and
became common. They treat the desolations of battle as a natural part of the
Hidden Land; to a former sea-hold of the immortal Powers, now melted out into
a huge energy weapon crater where wild vegetation now unaided by Her named the
Fruit-giver struggles to hide the marks of violence and the burnt-out forest
about, men and technologized natives now come to sail and scuba dive on rest
days, and treat the crater-harbour as a natural part of the scenery.
We found remains of devices and skills of the Powers, and knew that by now
Men had duplicated all of them. There we have a new main base, where we and
natives build and service aircraft and spacecraft and build up technologies in
the land of Those who denied them such `forbidden arts' for countless thousand
years. They study what remains of the former Inhabitants' marvellous buildings
and constructions, and sometimes try imperfectly to reconstruct one of them.
They explore with us and thank us for overthrowing the Powers who dwelt there
and the priesthood that They enforced the ancient rule and stasis through, but
others regret the death of what had been there before we came, and by force of
habit still bow towards that land when they thank or appeal to their gods.
I have seen what we and they made of the Hall of Judgement, formerly allowed
to be named only in a few special ceremonies. It and the area about survived
the battle nearly intact, and those who had lived there had sought to keep it;
but it became the centrepiece of a technology area which obliterated with
unattractive new non-matching buildings the nearby open-air Ring of Judgement
of ancient legend and oath; their builders felled timber where they would. It
was renamed after a native who had died two centuries before for discovering
and teaching forbidden technology. Such things we and natives did in what was
once the Land of the Deathless, and cared not that some of the natives who
went into the mountains behind the site to commemorate said that a shapeless
presence, the ghost of a ghost, still clung to the five-mile-wide melted-out
hollow where that world's Powers had made their last stand.
Long ago the Numenoreans deforested and plundered Eriador, and lesser men
who lived there fought back in vain or sought aid from Sauron, say old tales.
Now it is the same again, and there has been betrayals and changings of sides,
and it has been said that that same servant of the Being who we unchained had
remained hidden on Earth, with little power left after long-ago defeats, down
the ages until he at last found Aniwa able and willing to listen to him and to
give us and him the means of reaching and freeing his master, regardless of
what else might come of it. Of such origin we now know is the power in our
spacecraft with their names of onwardness and far travelling that have broken
Men out of the world of their origin; but it is too late to go back to the
start now.
Armed men and their native allies in armoured spacesuits drive powerful
vehicles out of spacecraft and bulldoze anything in the way aside to make
roads and fortified camps. Men by the thousand, each in a propulsor spacesuit
with its own long-trip life-support system, descend on faraway worlds and take
over, and when they unsuit after months on end in those suits they smell like
stale sewage and are proud of it as a symbol of hardy far travelling in rough
conditions as in holy streams and springs they wash their spacesuits and
undersuits, or make burlesque of that or another world's native sacred rites
and tales, or steal sacred things, or shoot at anything they will. Men gouge
out areas of land in search for metals, pushing aside whatever or whoever
dwelt there before. Men waste time trying to establish contact with what prove
to be nonsentient animals, and then fail to recognize actual sentient beings.
Failure to understand on contact leads to enforcement and conquest, and arming
people who should not be armed. The power of Earth has grown great, as the
power of Numenor had, for the beings that the legends called Ainur scattered
across space have been slow to gather and to summon and arm allies and to be
persuaded to leave their own worlds, and not quickly has come the gathering of
the armies for the Last Battle and the End of Days. But it is coming.

[References]
Tolkien, J.R.R., 1977, <The Silmarillion> London: George Allen & Unwin
 

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