Thick dust clouds rose to cover the glass on Minna’s helmet as her Hoverbird sped across the hot, flat desert plains of the Federation badlands beyond the Kingu Citadel on her way towards the Zig Ore Mines which were located on the far reaches of the Citadel, at the end of which lay the main Spaceport used by the Juluka to transport the mined Zig Ore.
This desolate wasteland was now the home of the ousted Mwari Order, the Religious Order and keepers of the Metu Neta Oracle on Planet Kingu and throughout the Federation Colony.
The Mwari Order were a Priestly Clan that had used the Metaphysical Science from the Metu Neta to control the Ruling Dynasties and appointment of Kings on the various Federation Planets before the arrival of the Juluka and the formation of the Federation Colony.
The final defeat of all the Planets to the Juluka at the battle of Maji Maji Station had humiliated the Mwari Order after it had failed to deliver the Juluka Invaders into the hands of the indigenous peoples of the Planets as promised by an Ancient Metu Neta Prophecy.
After the defeat, the Mwari Order had chosen to collaborate with the Juluka by carrying out the annual Ceremonial blessing of the Noble representative appointed to represent the people of each of the Federation Planets in the Federation Colony’s Ruling Council.
Despite the loss of power after the Juluka conquest and the establishment of the Federation Colony that immediately followed, the Mwari Order had been able to keep some of the Ancient Beliefs and Rituals from the Metu Neta alive by passing on fragments of the Metu Neta’s Ancient Wisdom to Elders within resistance cells spread across the various Juluka Colonies that were now part of the Kingu Federation.
The Mwari Order had survived its faustian bargain with the Juluka but memories of its past glory days as Master and Spiritual Leader of the Federation Planets still lingered.
“Be carefuuuul!!” Menelik screamed at Minna as she brought the Hoverbird to an abrupt but smooth stop in the docking bay.
“We’re running out of time!!”, Minna shouted as she jumped out of the cockpit.
“So you think we’re not aware of that?”.
Menelik responded somewhat cynically.
“I just hope you completed your mission as instructed”, he continued.
Minna responded with a mixed look of disdain, petulence and indignation.
“Your confidence in me is inspiring as always!”
“Look…I’m sorry if I came across as ungrateful.”, Menelik responded slightly embarassed.
“It’s just that we’ve come such a long way, and this is our first chance to rid ourselves of the Juluka since they arrived.
The Star Map Computations reveal that the current Planetary alignments are the most propitious for our intended course of action according to the Ancient inscriptions of the Metu Neta.”, he continued.
“I understand how important this is. I dont need to be reminded”, Minna retorted.
“However, I am concerned about whether the Neta Protocol is the best way to achieve what we want”, she asserted.
Menelik responded defensively.
“It wasn’t my individual decision. That’s what the joint Council decided, and we are all bound by the decisions of the Council. That has always been our way. We’ve also learnt a lot from the Juluka in this period of our humiliation.
The technology we have stolen from them over the years has enabled us to develop our own secret Synthetic Army, and we are now ready to expel the Juluka from Kingu and the entire Federation so we can restore the Olden ways of the Metu Neta.
We’ve developed the Neta Protocol which will be delivered via a Neural Feed to activate and operate the Synthetics. This is where your little assignment comes in. Without the Neta Protocol, the Synthetics will not activate, and we wont have an army”, Menelik continued emphasising what was at stake.
“I can confirm that I made contact. I’m sure we’ll be hearing from The Neta pretty soon, but I really hope you know what you’re doing”.
“Trust me, we know what we’re doing. We’ve had a long time to prepare for this, and we certainly cant afford to let the moment pass. It’s ordained in the Stars. Let’s go, the Council is waiting for us”, Menelik said at they walked towards a grove of stone steps leading up to the Council Chamber.
I wonder why they don’t just provide a Teleportation Capsule. I hate walking all the way up there everytime”. Menelik concluded as they began the treacherous climb up the long, winding and narrow path to the Council Chamber where the full Mwari Order Council was impatiently waiting.
The Mwari Council Chamber was hidden in a deep Ancient Cave whose location was known only to members of the Akan. A Triangular Waterfall poured its waters from the top of the sacred mountain into a Circular Canal at the centre of the Cave, and around the Canal a thick, natural raised Circular Limestone Platform was located at the epicentre of the Cave.
The Council Members sat in a Circle of 7 around a wooden fire, and the Cave was lit with a delicate combination of natural sunlight and flame torches as in the olden days before the arrival of the Juluka.
Menelik himself was a descendant of the Akan Dynasty that had ruled Planet Kingu before the Juluka Conquest and was one of the Chief Priests of the Mwari Order.
A tall, muscular well built man donning a crop of dark, mature and flourishing dreadlocks, Menelik was both regal and imposing. They were rumors that his hazel eyes which were uncommon amongst the Akan were proof that he was a Demi-God, having been born of the union between his mother, Akan Chief Priestess Ishta, and the Chief Male deity of the Akan, Nkulunkulu.
“At this rate I’ll have to carry you”, Menelik teased Minna as she struggled to navigate the thick brush with the possibility that she may at any time slip and fall to certain death on the moss covered stepping stones.
“Not all of us are Demi-Gods you know”, she responded curtly.
“Sure, if that makes you feel better”, Menelik responded with muffled laughter.
“Here, grab my hand”, Menelik said as he held at an outstretched arm, which Minna observed indifferently.
“Look, I know you don’t need my help with this, but we need to get up there ASAP”, Menelik continued with slight irritation in his voice.
Minna grabbed hold of his arm, and Menelik pulled her up firmly then carried her the rest of the way.
They continued without incident, and soon they could observe the torch flames and smoke around the Council Chamber.
Menelik approached the edge of the watery canal around the meeting Platform, and after placing Minna gently on her feet, he announced their arrival by shouting the Ancient Password: “!Khwa ttu”.
The Canal waters parted instantly, opening a path for Menelik and Minna to cross over to the main Platform where the Mwari Order Council was already gathered in waiting.
“Finally, you’ve kept us waiting long enough”, Ishta announced as Menelik and Minna entered the Council Circle.
Menelik took his place as the 7th member of the Council whilst Minna sat behind Ishta because she was not yet a full Member of the Council although she was now permitted to attend Council sessions.
The Council was made up of 4 Women and 3 Men including Menelik.
Ishta rose and floated around the perimeter of the Council Circle as she addressed the other seated members.
Due to the Cybernertic enhancements performed on her over the years, Ishta’s original face was barely recognisable. She no longer had any hair, plus the colour had been drained from her skin, and what remained was an ashen cloured slender body frame controlled by a 3 eyed Cybernetic head fitted with an assortment of Data Ports.
“We are all aware that our people lost to the Juluka at the battle of Maji Maji Station because our weapons were inferior to those of the Juluka. In the last war against the Juluka, the Ancient Knowledge and Prophecies proved impotent in the face of the Juluka War Machine.
As a result, we were humiliated, and since then we have been collaborating with the Juluka in the oppression of our own people. Its only been through this deception that we were able to gain the trust of the Juluka so we could understand their ways, and most importantly their technology.
We have waited patiently once again for a sign from the Gods, and finally the Stars are aligned.
This time we will confront the Juluka with their own weapons because we have managed to replicate the Synthetic Life Savant Technology they developed and have now used it to create Synthetic Super Warriors of our own.
However, our Army is in need of a leader.
For this purpose we have been led by the Ancient Prophecy of the Metu Neta and identified The Neta amongst the lost sheep of the Citadel.
The Synthetics will be controlled by him using the Neta Protocol, a Warrior Consciousness we built using the Metaphysics of the Metu Nater merged with the powers of some of the most charismatic leaders of the Akan from the past that will be uploaded into The Neta via a Neural Feed so he can activate and lead our Synthetic Army into battle.
We tasked Minna with making first contact with The Neta and she’s here to give us her report”.
She turned her unnerving gaze to Minna who stood up apprehensively to address the Council.
“Yes its true that I have made contact with The Neta. The Citadel is riddled with anxiety and tension because the people are without a Shepherd.
I fear that The Neta may be hurt or killed if we upload the Neta Protocol into his Consciousness at this stage because he has not been initiated and equipped to handle the Powers of the Metu Neta that are coded into The Neta Protocol.
I suggest that before The Neta leads an assault of the Synthetic Army against the Juluka using the Neta Protocol, we first send him to the Ancestral Plane using our Stargate so he can be fully initiated in the Ancient Wisdom and Powers Of The Metu Neta.
It will only be on his return that he will be ready to lead our Synthetic Army against the Juluka after he has been taught how to harness the full power of the Neta Protocol.”
They were murmurs across the room until Ifaenyi, leader of the male faction of the Council spoke out.
“All we know is that the Juluka are a curse unto this land, and we must do all we can to expel them. In defeat, we bid our time, and ingratiated ourselves to them so we could learn their ways and understand where we went wrong.
Now that we have built an Army using their Knowledge, for the first time, the Celestial signs have been aligned. I say we prepare for battle!”
Ishta burst in still floating around the fire-lit perimeter of the Dare Council.
“We will continue with the plan to upload the Neta Consciousness into The Neta for War against the Juluka. As part of his training The Neta will be sent to the Ancestral Plane so he can be initiated in the ways of the Metu Neta.
My Son, Menelik and Minna will take him through the Stargate so he can reach to the Ancestral Plane.
Turning to Minna she continued in a stern voice, “And you, young Maiden are reminded that until you become a full member of this Council you should use your liberty to speak before us wisely, we should not have to remind you to know your place.”