Time to Remember
Some time in the future
"Are you all right?" gasped Jenny, her small daughter Kim at her side, as the imposing man approached her homestead "do you need any help?" Through his badly ripped, metal studded, shirt she could see a deep savage cut across his chest.
He had come in from the forest. Even in his current state; injured, dirty, clothes ripped, and white hair and beard unkempt, there was a certain majesty about him.
His face looks old, she thought, but he doesn't have the body of an old man.
The man, who thought his name might be Orin, responded openly to Jenny's questioning eyes. "I cannot tell you who or what I am, or where I am from, I have no memory of past events."
Jenny took him inside. "You are not from here" observed Orin as Jenny tended to him "although your daughter is."
"You are observant, especially with your memory loss" replied Jenny "I am one of the survivors of the Drealth star ship explosion of twenty years ago" "When the ship broke in two and fell on greater Los Angeles" she added quietly.
This meant nothing to Orin though at the time it was seen as a modern equivalent of the old Hindenburg disaster, though on a much vaster scale
Jenny did not mention until a later time that those survivors, the last of her race, had received no help or sympathy from Earth's various authorities. Rather they had been treated as outcasts, and small in number, they had gravitated to various isolated locations. Leading the simple life, keeping away from authority, and not drawing attention to themselves.
Jenny and Orin talked deep into that first night. Orin, his mind a blank slate, eagerly soaked up information. About Earth and about other worlds Jenny had known. Jenny answered freely and at the same time her alien intelligence gently probed for anything that might help loosen up parts of Orin's memory . There would be other such nights for them.
The next day and at the expense of two pairs each of blunted scissors and razors Jenny trimmed Orin's hair and shaved off his beard. Those who had known him of old, including his son, would have been surprised.
Orin stayed on with Jenny and Kim and was good about the farm. Not with things mechanical, but building and repairing sheds and fences, digging trenches, planting, and in the care of the farm animals. While he stayed with them the weather was more than favourable and none of the farm animals or indeed anything or anyone much hereabouts died. It was as if, in his presence, Mother Nature and even death itself had stayed their hands.
"You seem happy here with us Orin" said Jenny after his first week "I wonder if you were happy where you came from?" Orin did not reply. Vague and jumbled recollections had come to him; recollections of power, of the burden of responsibility for many, of a frequent struggle for existence and of battles almost without end.
Here things were simpler: a life of physical activity, of good food and good company. Not just Jenny. Others of the survivors of her alien race had visited them. The mysterious Orin was popular with them all. Some advanced theories as to his origins but all were far from the mark. Also Orin found the company of little Kim half alien, half human most pleasurable. She seemed to combine the very best of both her dead fathers and mothers races. Her curiosity was insatiable and in his efforts to answer her myriad questions he felt small elements of his memory trickling back.
In his spare time Orin had his interests. He had restored a small smithies forge on the farm and there were some residual mining ores still about, the remnants of a mining past. Orin spent many hours here making a variety of artefacts. Implements for the farm, ornaments for the homestead, and other things.
Even more pleasurable than this was caring for the farms Stallion, Churchill. When Orin had first come the proud animal had been close to death but he and Jenny, both in their different ways, had nursed it back to health. It was a magnificent beast, an English Shire Stallion of sufficient proportions that it could accommodate even Orin's huge frame. It reminded him of a similar animal that was once his. Riding it was a source of great joy for him.
All the while Orin had been slowly re-learning his capabilities, rediscovering his powers, physical and otherwise.
Early one morning Orin had been riding Churchill. Jenny came out unexpectedly to watch them and they were nowhere to be seen. Then looking into the gradually lightening sky, she beheld the impressive sight of Orin riding Churchill over a thousand feet above the ground and at impressive speed. As if they were the advance guard heralding the coming of the dawn.
Later Orin dismounted from the great beast, clearly exhilarated. Jenny smiled "you're not keeping something from me are you Orin?' she asked "Something I should know?"
"When enough of my memory returns to make sense of things, you will be the first to know Jenny" replied Orin.
A few days later Jenny and Kim looked in on Orin, in the smithies forge. One artefact caught Jenny's attention. It was a short handled hammer with rather a large head. The handle was rapped in leather and a small leather thong was attached to the base of the handle. She had seen the hammer before in ancient drawings yet failed to divine its true significance.
"I can see the purpose of some of the things you have made Orin, but not of others." she said,
"Everything I have made here has a purpose Jenny, in some cases I have just yet to divine it." replied Orin.
Jenny looked away from the hammer, I suppose it is just a lump of metal she thought, only half convincing herself.
Some weeks later, after a beautiful day, Orin, Jenny and Kim partook of the evening meal out in the fields. It was mid summer and so the sky was still very light. Then Orin became disturbed. Jenny had not seen him like this. Moments afterwards Kim cried out and an early summers evening turned into night, though it was darker than any night Jenny had ever known. Even on other worlds she had been to. For a few seconds a chill went through her. Then Orin raised his hand just slightly but unmistakably and the darkness was gone.
"Orin" enquired Kim very softly "are you God?" It was a thought that had occurred to her mother on more than one occasion. Though Jenny never dared ask
"No" responded Orin with one of his rare smiles "for I have seen him and he is far greater than I".
"Does this mean your memory is returning Orin?" enquired Jenny.
"Still only fragments, but more all the time" responded Orin.
Days passed without further incident and things seemed to return to normal.
Jenny found out that the incident referred to as "the darkening" had happened everywhere on Earth at the same time. Even where it was already night it became darker still. Earth's scientists were at a loss to explain it.
Meanwhile the deep cut in Odin's chest showed no visible signs of healing. Yet it did not fester. It was as if it were a permanently fresh wound. It was intractable to conventional earth medicine, Jenny's alien treatments and even what seemed to be Orin's otherwise self healing capabilities. Looking into the cut Jenny saw a depth in it that scared her. She knew it was only Orin himself that had prevented it getting worse.
Several weeks later a darkness came again. This time it was different and Orin did not stop it.
Jenny had seen star ships before, including those of her own race, large enough to place a whole city in their shade. But this was different. Altogether another order of magnitude. The great star ship relatively close to Earth was blocking out the sun much more effectively than any total eclipse had ever done.
"I sense that it is an old enemy" said Orin "a fundamental force of the Universe, now here to bring matters to a conclusion."
Orin continued "Though now I must meet it on different terms." "With only fragmentary recollections of who I am, and only a partial sense of my capabilities."
And with that deep wound still very much upon you thought Jenny
As Orin prepared to mount the stallion Churchill, a name from the past drifted through his mind. Sleipner, the great steed Sleipner, though somehow he recalled that Sleipner had a few extra legs than Churchill.
Jenny saw that Orin now wore some of the ornamentation that he had forged in his spare time. She had not looked closely and had not realised that some of it was battle armour. Yet more of it was weaponry of some kind. One thing she did recognise was the hammer now held firmly in Orin's huge belt. It no longer seemed to be merely a lump of metal. There was an aura about as if it was almost sentient.
Far above them, Orin sensed activity in the impossibly huge starship. Something of gargantuan proportions emanated from it. A seething mass of ancient and utterly alien energies now drifting slowly and more than menacingly toward Earth.
Then close by them, Orin noticed a woman or at least a woman form. Tall and attractive in a slightly faded way, she seemed to come out of the very Earth itself. As if she had been formed from its basic elements. He knew her to be something from his past and yet the memory would not quite come to him.
Still Orin sensed, more than knew, that the planetary resources were now behind him and able to be called at his bidding. The true planetary resources that is, and not the still insignificant technology of man.
As Orin readied to ride an empowered Churchill skyward, Jenny grasped his leg and pointed to the homestead. "All the survivors of my race, some of whom you have met, are now with us Orin." "They have all teleported here at my request."
Orin had known that Jenny and her kind held alien powers. That they almost never used them so as not to draw attention to themselves. Yet he couldn't resist the temptation. "You haven't been holding out on me have you Jenny?" he smiled.
"No more, perhaps, than you have with me." was her reply. "We have some powers that we have always kept from the Earth authorities" Jenny continued "They may be insignificant compared to your own mighty Orin, but we will help if we can."
Orin looked across to the homestead one last time and saw that children of various ages were among the group. Some were of drealth parentage, yet others, like little Kim, were the result of mixed breeding, human and drealth. He realised at that moment where the true power of the group lay.
Far above the alien energies that emerged from the starship continued slowly earthward. Yet they also began to coalesce and condense into a gigantic physical form.
As Orin sped skyward on Churchill, Jenny and those of her ilk looked upwards.
They saw something they had hoped never to see again, not in any of their long lifetimes, and every last one of the adults was chilled to the marrow of their alien bones. The children, all of course, born on Earth, did not know, they had never been told.
Only a few days ago the group had decided who and what manner of entity they thought Orin truly was. She had not yet confronted Orin with their beliefs of his greatness. Now she wished she had.
At this moment she hoped against hope that they were right.
To be continued