Faith and Cause
A Shadowed Stars short story by Steven Koutz
This is a tale of the Luth Bik Resistance movement against the ruthless and brutal Black Guard. This is an early adventure of Rayk, long before the events of Shadowed Stars book one
The sounds of rapid and intense blaster fire sounded from outside the bunker. Heavy bombardment of artillery accompanied the blaster fire and shook the structure hard enough to create dangerous falling debris. The bunker was deep in the ground and shaking more intently as the relentless and furious barrage continued. Many male and female Luth Biks were moving about. Not panicking but dodging the falling debris as they prepared for an emergency escape. The Luth Biks were a humanoid race with shell-like gray skin and a facial shell that went upward to a point but flattened at the top of their heads. From the sides of the shelled head, they had either long brown or black hair. Their eyes were at an upward slant and full glossy black. Their lips were soft apart from their shell textured skin. They all also shared the widely spaced nostrils to complete their facial makeups.
One female Luth Bik hollered for another called, Rayk to get the supplies to the secret launch bay. He carried with both hands, a heavy chest down a narrow and slanted passage to a small underground lagoon. He turned the chest over to a companion that he called Kark. They both held the rank of major in the resistance. Kark stated, “If we get out of this one, I think we might get bumped all the way to generals my friend.” The upper rock fell around them from another hit. Rayk allowed himself a small chuckle. He replied, “I do not think either of us will ever live to see general.” Kark asked about Sharka. She rushed up from behind Rayk and said she was going all the way marshal and would dump them both back to recruits if they did not get their asses moving. She then ran up the ramp to the small starship they were loading.
It was only a few moks, otherwise known on Earth as minutes, when a large portion of the mixed metal and stone ceiling busted open and humanoids in black body armor with blue highlighted features, started to repel downward. Rayk pushed a few more Luth Bik soldiers up the ramp as some of the starships lifted off and began heading over the lagoon waters. Rayk had then ran back to face the oncoming charges of the Black Guard soldiers. Kark shot a blaster rifle from behind and the shot went over Rayk’s shoulder and taken down one advancing soldier that Rayk had not seen. Rayk hollered back, “Kark get out of here!” Kark ignored him and blasted another soldier rushing from Rayk’s other blindside. Kark replied that he had to stay and get the repikars that his blind friend could not see. Repikars was slang for sneaky bastards. The Black Guard soldiers were now close enough to draw their patented black axes. Their main melee weapon, a short carbon handle and fireman’s style axe head. Rayk and Kark had shot two more down before dropping their blasters to engage in melee combat, physically punching and throwing Black Guard soldiers down and away from them. They had both picked up two fallen black axes each and double wielded them as they stood back to back. They were angling the axes to strike under the helmets and slice the throats of their assailants. As the odds against success from the ever-growing number charging Black Guard soldiers grew, their rage and brutality only increased.
Suddenly a barrage of blaster fire from a hovering starship behind them started to cut down the Black Guard soldiers. The starship turned as Rayk and Kark each dropped their black axes and leaped onto the smaller starship’s rough exterior. They climbed across side mounted ladders as the starship flew over the lagoon water and ascended upward. They had each crawled through small boarding hatches on both sides of the starship before it reached a high altitude. Blood splatters still rested on their hands and chests as they met the female Luth Bik, Sharka in the middle. She said, “If you two did not have me, you would have been killed multiple times over throughout the cycles.”
It was later that Sharka reported over comms that they had eluded the Black Guard. She stated that there would be no rest as they had been called to the frontlines of combat once again. Rayk walked through several passages and doors before settling onto a metal bunk. He did not lay down. He looked at the blood on his hands and started to cry. He fell onto his knees at the side of his bunk, where he closed his eyes, and raised his head and blood soaked hands.
Rayk started with a chant in the Luth Bik tongue and his opening chant became his prayer to the Luth Bik god, they knew as Achoch Tuj Vollum. “Oh, my creator, I try to honor your peaceful call. For some reason our people must resist a brutal regime that all others have bowed down to. Yet, our fight persists for freedom and survival but how can I live if peace is attained if you keep putting blood on my hands? My creator I believe in your peace but I must fight a war to attain that what you are to my very soul. Please show me a sign of how all the lives I have taken will allow me into the light you provide at the end of my journey.” It was silent for a mok and then Rayk’s body quivered as he felt something embrace him. He opened his eyes to see the light that he now bathed in. He saw his Luth Bik god, his creator, and he was even spoken to. Achoch Tuj Vollum told him, “There is much to this war for you and even more death you must endure. Those of your enemies will fall but so will your friends. I have given you the strength to persevere as I know you can and will do. You must take a small break and follow the trail of broken rock to the Crying Falls. It will be there that I can give you more but you must prove your worth to me by taking this path. It will not be easy and you will end up back in even a thicker and darker war but I choose your soul to survive. You have much to do before your end. I will give you emotion and strength that no other Luth Bik has ever felt. It will be my gift to you as your own end will resolve in the lives of many being saved. I call to you Rayk.”
Rayk rose from his knelt position as he felt the starship land. As the Luth Biks disembarked, they were given new assignments. Kark and Sharka were surprised that Rayk was not assigned with them. He had been given an “order or pause.” They looked at him with shock yet joy as he told them Achoch Tuj had called him to a pilgrimage. This “order or pause” in service to the resistance was his sign. They embraced as one. The Luth Biks when called to a pilgrimage, could not refuse it and it had always been said that one’s path would be cleared to partake it. It was a religious honor. Some Luth Biks had taken many pilgrimages and some have taken few. Rayk and Kark had taken a short one together before but Rayk could tell that the pilgrimage he was about to go on alone, would be long. They embraced again and hoped to see each other once more, hopefully with this resistance fight behind them.
The End For Now—Rayk’s journey has only just begun