man must be strong, if not,
He must be smart, if not,
He must be fast, if not,
He must be clever, if not,
He must be wise, if not,
He must die.”
The Path of Man
The journey home was uneventful. Alfred made some small talk about
life on the farm but did not ask any questions about Jenny. Boris was
glad; he’d have a hard enough time as it is with his father.
When you say ‘desert planet’ people from Earth always have images of soft sand and beautiful dunes under a yellow sun. That was unfortunately not Thordaw. Baked under the twin suns of its system, the ground is filled with cracks, as if a million small earthquakes have hit the planet. Rocks of various sizes littered the ground beyond the city, ensuring that any mode of transport needs to be flying or hovering. Anyone driving on wheels will have a very sore ass the next morning and anyone walking any distance was most likely to die before he reached his destination. The heat and soil content also made it impossible to grow anything on the planet. A planet like this make hard, mean men… like his father.
Boris thought of the time, five years ago when he first left the Patriarch Alliance. He left filled with the dreams of youth. He dreamt of a time when all humans in the galaxy were under one state; of a time when united, humans would reclaimed their long lost status as a powerful people; of a time, when humanity would put aside their differences and work for a glorious future. That was why he left for studies in Titan. The dreams of youth and, he now admits, the dreams of a fool.
It did not take him long to see how difficult his task would be. Citizens of the Terran Empire believe that people in the Outer Rims were primitives. Without the long culture and enlightenment of Earth, all they could do was copy the culture of the Waliens and the Corans. Even Terrans who had the same dreams as him, firmly believed that the people of the Outer Rims must rid themselves of aliens’ influences… in order to be truly human. The fact that humans might have something to learn from the Waliens and the Corans was something that their Terran pride would never accept.
And so he found himself. An alien among humans.
Then he met Jenny. Social Studies class. He was in front of the class, telling them about life in the Alliance, about the difference between men and women. The looks of disgust on the faces of his female classmates were unmistakable. Then he saw Jenny. She looked curious and very interested in his talk. Boris had always heard men talk of ‘hunting women’. Maybe it was because he was tired and angry, but on that day, he finally understood what they meant. And the hunt began.
The family farm was near New Dawn City and it didn’t take them long to reach it. Once the truck pulled into the garage, Boris got out of the truck… and immediately into a hug.
“Hello mother,” Boris whispered to the cow. She was the one person in the family he wanted to see more than anyone.
“I thought you were never coming back,” the cow said in a voice that was nearly breaking.
“Of course I’ll come back,” in truth, Boris thought the same thing when he left. He pulled his mother off him. “This is home.”
The face of his mother could have lit up every city in the Alliance. Without a word, his mother fell to her knees. Hands and elbows on the floor, she lowered her head till it touched the floor.
Looking around, Boris saw that every female in the garage, excluding Jenny, had followed his mother’s example. Females acknowledging the fact that as a male, he is superior to them in every way. Alfred was smiling at the side. A wave of power swept through Boris. Four years ago, he would have been embarrassed by the situation, now he felt that this was only right. “All cows may rise,” he said. The Family Position was how a Thordawan female greet a male member of her family. Even a mother greeting a son she has not seen in five years.
Waiting for them to get to their feet, Boris called Jenny over, “Jenny.” Jenny went up behind him.
“Mother, this is Jenny. I’ll make her my first. Jenny, this is my mother.” The look on both women’s face was priceless. His mother because her son finally decided to take a first wife, Jenny because she just saw a mother debasing herself to her own son. “Jenny will learn the rules of the family and you will teach her, Mother,” Boris continued without pause. “Jenny, you’ll learn from my mother and learn her lessons well. Am I clear?” Both women, Jenny after a short hesitation, bowed their heads.
“Boris,” Boris looked over at Alfred. “Father wants to see you.” No reason to delay the inevitable. Boris walked over to his brother at the side of the garage and saw a lift.
“This is new. When did you guys put this in?”
“Two years ago. The man who married Siti as his second put it in for us as a marriage gift.”
“Where is our sister now?”
“Kadir. Rothoame City to be exact.” The lift went up a floor and stopped at the family workshop. Boris saw his father for the first time in five years. Like looking into a mirror, the man in front of him looked just like him, only older… meaner.
“Alfred said you bought a woman back. An Earth woman?” Just like that an argument would begin; Boris wondered why he thought this time would be different. Abram Frings had not changed a bit.
“Yes, she will be my first. And she is from Talon, not Earth”
“An Empire woman cannot be a first wife of a Thordawan man. Problems always follow.”
“Jenny understands the culture and agrees to the marriage. I am not a slaver; no one is forcing anyone to do anything she do not agree to.”
“Jenny?” The question was to Alfred.
“Blond hair, hazel eyes, thing of beauty. And half a head taller than me any of us.” Boris wondered about Alfred’s reply. How his brother really felt about Jenny. Time to finish this before it got any worse.
“I’m not asking for your permission, father.”
“What?” The surprise was genuine. His father was never a good actor.
“I can take anyone I want as my wife. I ask for your blessing and I would like to stay here with the family… but if you are displeased, I’ll take Jenny and live in the City.”
“You will live in New Dawn City and abandon your family again?”
“No. I’d rather live here but I have no desire to work on the energy farm father. I will work in the city but live here, with your permission of course.”
“She will work on the farm. There’s always work to be done here”
“She agreed to be a Thordawan cow. To work on the farm out of her own free will?”
“Yes. We will live as the holy books said. Husbands as masters, females as the animals they are.”
“What if I work her to death?”
“You work her more than you should and I will take her and leave for the city.”
“You threatening me, boy?” His father was beyond surprise, well into the realm of shock.
“Your blessing father. Not your permission.” Boris looked at his father eyes and knew he had won. Abram Frings looked at his second son as if he has never seemed him before. In a way, that was true.
“Done. You can stay and the Earth woman...”
“Ok, Talonese woman can stay as well. But I will not give my blessing until I see her work. And how well she can follow the rules.”
“I expect nothing less.” It was actually better than Boris expected.
“Told you,” this was from Alfred. A big smile on his face. “The boy has returned a man.”
“Yes, you did,” his father still sounded surprise. “What happened Boris? You are different. What cause the change?”
His father used his name. Which meant that he accept him as a man, not a boy as he always called him.
“I learned the ways of the Empire,” he finally said, “and how different I truly am from them.” Both men looked at Boris. “It will be a long story.”
“The night is still young.” Alfred was not taking no for an answer.
“Start talking Boris.” Neither was his father. And so he told, about the five years of disappointment and the one good thing of his life in that dark time.