READ BEFORE READING!!
This is my participation for the SGABigbang event 2008, it's a story with more than 40k length so it will have several chapters. It's written in present tense as a experiment, but don't let that bother you. It works on the long run. If you want to read the complete story and about who helped and betaed this story; go to the official SGABigBang side which can be found in my profile. There is also a piece of art done especially for this story! Comments are love: either here or on the side and also for the wonderful artist!
The Prompt was: Tao of Mckay – what if John was the one to stumble into the machine.
What I made out of it: A story about John (Mies) punished to be human amongst a tribe of people he doesn't know at the beginning of the story. He has to find a place in their community without knowing who he really is, or who they really are. And it works until Atlantis finds him again and he starts to remember his past…
Of course that is just a short summary. You have to read the whole story to understand the truth.
Circle of the sun
There is no gravity in his dreams.
Just weightless floating between silver spires and an eternally blue ocean that melts into the sky where time doesn't count and the sun is nothing more than a ball of fire against a black, starless void.
He likes the dreams because they remind him of something like home, but calls them nightmares when someone asks because that is what they have to be.
The sky is blue above him, just so beautifully blue and endless where he is that he never wants to move again. He loves the limitless width, wishes he could be one of those soft, white forms, one of the clouds floating across it, wants to spread his arms and fly. He wants the freedom that it might bring him so much it physically hurts. He always wants, always wishes for it, for the blue and beyond, it's an addiction.
His first memory, the first thing he remembers even from before being born, is the sky and nothing else. He knows that sounds all wrong and impossible when he thinks about it, knows he must keep this his secret for the others might not understand. He can't change his memories and feelings though, and sometimes, when he looks up, he feels like he was born with a piece of sky firmly locked into his heart that yearns to be released.
It is a dream, whispering to him, daring him to reach out and touch, to just jump off the nearest mountain assured that he'll never hit the ground. A dream that lets him float amongst impossible buildings of sparkling reflective material almost like metal, waves crashing at their bases and living, talking energy rushing through the walls like blood pumping through flesh. He hears the words and the whispers in the buildings and he can smell the salt of an ocean when he breathes just deep enough. He wants to feel the water splatter on his skin and press his hands against the polished surfaces like the clouds press against the snow-topped mountains, looking into a world that differs so much from his own.
He can almost remember how that might feel. Being part of that world and being forbidden to touch, as if he has been amongst the incorporeal winds and clouds once already. Forced to watch but never mingle.
It lets him know how flying like a bird feels.
Like one of the large white lake-birds standing on long orange legs in the shallow parts of the two rivers in the valley, while they patiently wait for a fish to swim by to feed upon. They take off when roused by other animals or loud noises their wings blinding white against the shadowed meadow.
Just like that, he wants to be a bird, he wants to fly again.
Like a lake-bird, just not quite the same.
i"Hey, are you sure you should be going up there?"
The blue is so inviting, rippling in the summer warmth above him and he reaches out with his hand, spreads his fingers and waits. Somewhere inside him rests the sure promise of an unknown power that he does not yearn in vain, he knows that there is something he is waiting for that will indeed come and get him one day.
i"How else am I gonna find out what this room does, huh? God forbid there should be anything in the Ancient database."
"Oh, there probably is, we just don't have the time to…"
The whispers and voices in the wind tell him.
"Are you alright?" One of the other, far older men calls from somewhere to his right and he is tempted to just ignore him and keep waiting for the sky to come and clouds to pick him up.
For the voices to tell him how the story ends.
"Okay, there should be a main power switch, all right, it's gotta be somewhere around here."/
"Yeah!" he calls back, peering through his fingers into the sky and wondering at the colours that bleed from blue to white and into the blinding glow of the sun.
"I don't know…"
The sun's light flashes blue for a moment, swirls forwards like a snake around his fingers and licks at his skin consuming his flesh like a flame, then draws back again as if it never happened.
He's scared, lost and cold for a moment and doesn't know why.
"I think you just lost, big time."
The older man comes over to him, walking carefully as if to not repeat the performance that has brought him to his current position on the ground.
"Hey." The man looks down at him, upside down and a blurry bearded shadow against the blinding blue. "You landed very hard, friend, are you really sure you are not hurt?"
He ponders answering that with a no, because he would rather have kept lying there and waited a while longer, listened a little longer to the words but given how attentive his new friends were they would probably lift him on their freakishly muscled arms and carry him back into the village where Vinte would fuss over him just like she had done in the beginning.
"Peachy," he says and lets his hand flop back to the ground.
There is something squishy and suspiciously warm under his hand and it starts to dawn on him why, or on what, he might have slipped to begin with. He grimaces in disgust. The grass is soft and beautifully green, looks fresh and alive spread over the hills and base of the mountains that surround their settlement, but it also camouflages what the sheep leave behind.
At least until you stepped into some of the nasty little beans and slip to land ass first in a patch of yellow sleep flowers. Lovely, just lovely, he thinks.
"Peachy." The older man frowns, repeating the word as if he has to test the taste on his tongue first and asks, "Peachy? Is that a good thing?"
He has to admit that now that he thinks about it, he isn't sure what peachy means either and shrugs. He had heard it in the winds and whispers somewhere along the way.
"I guess," he says.
The man nods a little, probably wondering again what kind of friend they have taken into their houses. What the strange old woman who went out to die in peace and came back with a naked man dragged in, so to say, not that he isn't asking that himself more often than not, really.
"Come then friend." The man offers his hand to him. "The chase is not yet over."
Nope, it isn't.
He accepts the hand and lets himself be pulled to his feet, narrowly avoiding stepping into the same mess again and finding himself marvelling at the old man who still possessed so much power in his muscles to pull him up without breaking the slightest sweat or showing any sign of effort. The man beside him smiles and pats his shoulder affectionately, making it ache where he hits.
"You will learn to watch where you step, friend," he says, smiling at him like he usually does the small children.
Children are a lot younger than he is, and on this world, a lot more accustomed than he is to running after sheep meant to be sheared, or wood that has to be collected in the forest and all the other chores of the daily life. It's almost like he has to relearn everything, from walking right down to taking care of his duties in the community.
"If you think so, Tuuli," he says unsure, but Tuuli just nods happily.
He just can't fathom why Tuuli likes him, or cares for him. All the men in the village are sort of bulky and broad shouldered, not as tall and thin as he is. And they are definitely better adjusted to the climate with their weather-worn skin and big hands than he is, too. They walk around in furs and leather clothes, carefully tailored by the women and chewed soft by them in the long dark winters and keep their hair in braids held by leather strips. His hair? Just a pretty messy dark mop that Vinte charmingly named a bird's nest and ruffles on every occasion as if he is a little boy, which in the eyes of the old woman he might very well be.
He, as opposed to the hunters or shepherds, always looks like he is about to drown in leather pants and the women keep on handing him plate after plate of food to get some meat on his bones in a fruitless attempt to make it better. They treat him as if he is a hungry child or starving man. Fine, he had been found in the snow, alone and naked, but he is neither starved nor feels ill or weak anymore, not since he recovered from the initial days of fever and all he wants to do is give something back for all the care they invested in him, a total stranger.
Perhaps that is why Tuuli has taken him in, has started to treat him like one of his very own sons and stands now beside him, smiling wrinkled face and kind grey eyes all fixed on him. The old man would probably even keep him in his house if he couldn't do anything other than sit at the fire with the women and children all day long like he had in the beginning; which just makes him want to do something for him and his family even more.
"Yes, friend, no man is born as master over the creatures," Tuuli says wisely and leads him back up the hillside. "You must gain the skills and knowledge to be equal to their strength and compete with their spirits to gain benefits from them. Not everyone is as powerful as the Mother's sons to just ask the animals for their help and get their way."
He nods along, brushing his hands on his leather pants. The Mother goddess says that every animal is its own spirit, that you have to respect them; for they were who gave you nourishment, wool and leather and that when you wanted something you had to be equal to the creature to ask it and thank it afterwards for giving. As her sons had done when they saved her and that is what all men of the tribe are meant to respect even if they cannot commune with the animals anymore like in the stories. He has learned that by now.
"I understand," he says anyway and watches with a grimace how the other men, most only half as old as him and unafraid to fall and slip and tackle, hunt. Chasing brown and black, four-legged knee-high woolly animals with tiny horns and hooves that give them an unfair advantage in comparison to their human hunters, until they get them by their necks and lead them onward to the elder men ready and waiting to shear them.
He had run after one of them, a smaller one, but the animal had taken a left turn where he thought it would go right and so he slipped and fell, tumbling down the slope towards the two rivers and ending up sprawled out in the grass. He's pretty sure now being a shepherd is not his thing, totally sure, but as he's said before, he has to give back something.
He bites his lip and is all set to go and try again, but Tuuli stops him.
"Now, don't fear," he says, barely keeping the amusement out of his voice. "You don't need to run after them again like the young ones, just help my sons to hold the animals while we shear them."
For a moment, he sees someone else in the kind face, someone entirely different, but it's gone again before he can remember who it is.
"Thanks," he says frowning, and he wanders over and helps to hold the sheep down, kneeling and holding them by their chubby little legs.
One of Tuuli's sons, Arn, instructs him where to grab the little beasts to hold them down and it feels good to work like this, familiar, but somehow off anyway. Just off like the words and images flashing through his mind now and again, just like his dreams or his wish to touch the blue of the sky or clouds.
Just like he is one of them but does not quite fit right into their middle, wants to help but don't quite know how. It's familiar, this searching for the right spot, he knows.
He laughs as someone else, one of the kids, slips and falls like he had before, run over by a little sheep and Arn leans over and jokes about how it happens to everyone once in a while.
He smiles in return and thinks this could become home… someday.