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Volume 2869
by Ghak's friend, Steve Wadding
ERB map of Pellucidar
"So Long, Sister" by Ghak the Hairy One as told to Steven Vance Wadding
"Cave Man Ramblings" by Ghak the Hairy One as told to Steven Vance Wadding
 "Steve Wadding, Computer Engineer of Mars" by Ghak's friend, Steve Wadding

So Long, Sister
by Ghak the Hairy One
as told to Steven Vance Wadding
I stood over the man from Amoz, preparing to thrust my spear through his heart.

"Ghak, no!" I heard.  Jahneel threw herself protectively over him, pushing my spearpoint aside.

"Jahneel, what are you doing?  He stole you from us.  He has dishonored you!  He must die!"

"Yes, Kadeen stole me.  But he has treated me with honor and respect.  He was escorting me back to Sari so that I could let you and Father know that I am well."

"We will tell Father that you are well when we go home after I kill this thief," I replied.  "Stand aside!"

"I will not!"  She stamped her foot.

I sighed softly in despair.  I knew my sister well, and knew that she was beyond the point of listening to reason.  I prepared myself.  I had a plan.  If I swung the haft of my spear about, I could knock her aside, and follow through with the point in the heart of this Kadeen, as she called him.

Jahneel must have guessed what I planned, for she leapt forward and grabbed the spear.  Behind her, I saw the Amozite come to his feet and rush in behind her.

"Jahneel, you have killed me," I cried as he knocked me to the ground, releasing my spear and grabbing for my knife.  But I was too late, as his own knife slashed towards my throat, and...  did not cut.

"I, Kadeen, King of Amoz, would not choose to kill the brother of my mate Jahneel," he said.  "But if that is the only way that there can be peace between us, I will do so."

Jahneel knelt beside us.

"Ghak, he is a mighty hunter and warrior.  And he is the king of his city, and beloved by his people.  He treats me well, and together we will have strong sons and beautiful daughters."  She paused.  "And I love him," she almost whispered.

The fight went out of me.

"If I don't bring you back, Father may go to war with Amoz."

"You can talk him out of it.  Tell him that I am happy."

We embraced, and she and Kadeen headed back towards Amoz.  I watched until they went among the trees, when she looked back and waved.  She managed to send a messenger at the birth of their son (who was, indeed, strong), and another at the birth of their daughter (who was, indeed, beautiful), but that was the last time I saw my sister.

Cave Man Ramblings
By Ghak the Hairy One,
as told to Steven Vance Wadding

Pellucidar art by Paul PriviteraI am Ghak.  I kill!

Ah, but that was before.  It was simpler then.  For the most part, it was easy to tell your friends from your enemies.  If you didn't know a man, he was your enemy.  Unless he wanted a fight, he had to talk fast to convince you that you shouldn't try to kill him.  David and Abner changed all that.  Now, we assume that a man is potentially a friend, until he proves otherwise.

I'm not saying that it was better before.  Just simpler.  All we had to worry about was making sure that we were the ones to be alive after a chance meeting.  Fight well, and you would live, and be feared.  Hunt well, and you would be well fed, and respected.  Many mates were taken from other tribes, whether they wished it or not.  My own sister was stolen by a man from another tribe.  I understand that she was happy enough, once she became resigned to be separated from the people she grew up with.

Now, we can still find mates from other kingdoms.  But they have to agree.  They can not be forced to leave their own kingdom.  But, since we mingle freely with those of other kingdoms now, it is possible to find a mate without the danger and effort we once had.  I worry about this, since it no longer seems that prowess in hunting and fighting had as much influence on who it is that brings forth the next generation.  Ah, but since we are at peace with so many, and since Abner has been making things to make our lives easier, prowess in hunting and fighting is no longer essential for survival.

The larger predators mostly stay away from the main population centers.  I sometimes wonder if it is because of the smoke.  But, no, the smoke isn't that bad, except when it is very hot and the air is still.  I think it is really because their larger prey is no longer to be found surrounding the cities.  When the large herbivores wander into the surrounding farmlands, the farmers set upon them with guns.  Farmers!  Before David and Abner, we of Sari never imagined such a thing.  I like vegetables well enough, so long as I can have a good hunk of meat with them, and the farms do make it possible to feed the growing population.

I kill!  If you didn't know a man, he was your enemy.  Now, there are so many people that I can't take a walk without encountering someone I don't know.  I would be forever fighting.  And I am no longer as strong as I was when I met David and Abner.  David says that I am getting old.  I have figured out what "old" means.  I remember that, when I was a small child, there were men who were strong, at the peak of their skills.  As I grew to adulthood, some of them grew frail.  David says that it happens to all people in the surface world, that as the "years" pass, they all weaken and eventually die.  But he can not convince me that this happens to all men in Pellucidar.  We do not have "years" to so take a toll on our lives.  Surely some of those men who were big and strong when I was small and weak are still strong.  And yet, I can find nobody alive who was an adult when I was a child.

I find that, sometimes, when I go for a walk, I forget to take my weapons with me.  It is not a big deal, since there is nothing I would need my weapons for.  But it disturbs me that I would forget.  And sometimes, it disturbs me that I no longer need my weapons.

Was it better before David and Abner came?  No, it wasn't.  But part of me longs for the simplicity we had.

I am Ghak.  I kill!

An Added Tale by Ghak's friend, Steve Wadding
Steve Wadding, Computer Engineer of Mars
By Steven Vance Wadding,
with lots and lots of assistance by The Master
I am a 40 year old man. So far as I can recollect, I have always been at least a little bit overweight and at least a little bit out of shape.

I was sitting in at a Critical Design Review (CDR). I soon became so drowsy that I could scarcely resist the strong desire to lean back in my chair for a few moments' rest, but I knew that this would never do, as it would mean being noticed by the review board, who might call upon me at any moment. With an effort, I started to get up for a drink of water only to slump back in my chair.

I could hear the rustling of the transparences on the overhead projector, but I couldn't move to look at the slides. Then I heard the review board questioning the presenter, and knew that I needed to pay attention. With a superhuman effort, I strove to break my awful bonds. And then there was a sharp click, and I stood against the wall of the auditorium. By the light of the projector, I could see there before me my own body, slumped in the seat. There I sat clothed, and yet here I stood but naked as the moment of my birth.

I realized that I had become bored to death. Sure, that phrase is bandied about all of the time, but I had never heard of it actually happening before. I walked out of the building, and looked up into the sky. In the daylight, it shouldn't have been visible, but I could see the red speck that I knew to be Mars, and for me, a NASA engineer, it had always held the power of irresistible enchantment.

My longing was beyond the power of opposition. There was an instant of extreme cold and utter darkness.

I opened my eyes upon a strange and weird landscape. I knew I was on Mars. You know what it looks like. You've read the description already elsewhere. Nearby was a low, walled enclosure about four feet in height. Springing to my feet, I rose into the air about two yards. (Not three yards. Like I said, I'm overweight and out of shape.) I had to learn how to walk again in the low Martian gravity.

I worked my way over to the enclosure and looked over the wall to see that it had a glass roof, and contained hundreds of large eggs. Some of them had already hatched, revealing scrawny, green, six-limbed creatures. Engrossed in the activities of the hatchlings, I didn't notice the full-grown Martians who approached me from behind.

I heard a rattle behind me, and turned to see a fifteen foot tall creature riding a hideous mount, and holding a forty foot spear pointing at my chest. Several others accompanied it. I leaped to get to the top of the enclosure, and wound up flying twenty feet up in the air and landing, not on the soft moss on the other side of the enclosure, but on the glass roof smack dab in the middle of the thing. Despite the lesser gravity, my weight was sufficient to break through the glass, landing me on my butt in the midst of the hatching creatures, who immediately attacked me.

I leaped again, and unfortunately landed in the middle of the group of adults who had attacked me, knocking one to the ground beneath me, stunning him. One of the others dismounted and drew a sword. I grabbed the sword from the fallen Martian, and tried to remember what I had learned from my three semesters of fencing in college.

I was never very good, but had always had a powerful parry. This stood me in good stead, as it allowed me to block the first attack. However, my powerful parry had always had the unfortunate side effect of bringing my point way off line, so I was not prepared for the follow up. I felt the sword cut through my chest, and fell to the ground.

It was dark when I opened my eyes again. The presenter had just turned off the overhead projector, but the lights hadn't been turned on yet. I stood and stretched, noting an unusual stiffness in my limbs. I felt a moment of confusion as I thought about my visit to Mars. Shouldn't there have been a Princess?

External Refs
Steve Wadding's Fanfic Page
Ghak the Hairy One's Burroughs Page

ERBzine Refs

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