1997 - 2006 G. Dallman
October 17, 1997 Version 2.0
An alternative view to "The Hymn of Dawn"
Silence… For that brief instant not even the wind stirred. The atmosphere had reach perfect thermal equilibrium. The eastern sky was rapidly becoming noticeably brighter. In a slow, fluid motion, the Sasskal Priest raised his left hand, pointing to the easternmost corner of the imposing granite monolith before them. As though on cue, the cold stone began to glow with its first photons of the new day. Heffnss' deep voice resounded, echoing through the valley. For the first time in the history of Planet Earth the unrestrained vocal patters of Sennal speech boldly rent the silence.
"We stand upon a new world, the Home of our ancient Progenitors and of he for whom the Child of Tirrnn longs. In the Name of our Ancestors and after the manner of those who created us, I now ask that the Sennal Pattern be joined to the Attractor of this World."
That said, the Priest turned to fully face the mountain, as he addressed the Earth itself in the language of his creators.
"Awake O Hydrogen's Child! Awake to Fusion's brilliant splendor!
In Time's dark Sea was the Matrix of thine Birth Ordained
Great Attractor's Pull, thine Place predicted.
Your Matter endures until Time's last Echo
Sentience calls You for Its Own
For a brief while we tread upon thy Face
Claim us now as thine Own.
As Heffnss' powerful voice echoed through the meadow, a mightier voice still answered, reverberating through the minds of every attuned being on the planet.
AWAKE O HYDROGEN'S CHILD! AWAKE TO FUSIONS BRILLIANT SPLENDOR!.
Boomed the Voice of Sol.
IN TIME'S DARK SEA WAS THE MATRIX OF OUR BIRTH ORDAINED
Continued the combined voices of Alpha and Proxima Centauri.
GREAT ATTRACTOR'S PULL, OUR PLACE PREDICTED.
Sang Barnard's Star.
OUR MATTER ENDURES UNTIL TIME'S LAST ECHO.
Chorused Wolf 359 and Lalande 21185.
SENTIENCE CALLS US FOR ITS OWN.
Continued the ethereal voices of Sirius A and B.
FOR A BRIEF WHILE THEY TREAD UPON OUR FACE
Sang Epsilon Eri.
CLAIM THEM NOW AS THINE OWN.
Came the distant Voice of 51 Pegasi, Senn itself.
With those fifty-three words Heffnss proclaimed Earth a part of the Sennal Empire, now fully entitled to all the rights and bound by the obligations of a Sennal world. This proclamation wasn't as much the Sennal taking possession of the planet as it was the planet taking possession of them. Earth's chances of survival instantly increased a thousand-fold.
Next, Raall who had stood silently at the Priest's side, took a step forward and looked directly into the frontal cameras of the closest assault vehicle, which had been recording the entire procedure. In a loud and steady voice, he proclaimed:
"I, Raall, of the line of Talliat and fifty-seventh of the name; PackCaptain of Imperial Watchers; commander of Sennal forces in the Gendas III system, do witness and verify that: Upon the eighth sub-cycle of the one-hundred and thirty-sixth day of the fourteen-thousandth, two hundred and ninth year since the loss of Blessed Teehem, the Priest, Heffnss of the T'Saarll Priesthood on Teff, has duly performed in the presence of all these assembled, the Rite of the Hymn of Dawn, while standing *here* upon the soil of Gendas III. In the name of Tirrnn, Empress on Taahas, I command the binding of this sacred world to the Empire of Senn."
From speakers mounted on the exterior of the two assault craft came the voice of ShipSoul. / I SoulRipper, T'Roann and immortal, before the sight of God, command it. As it is spoken, so has it been done. The records of these words and deeds are here-by registered in the Hall Of Vows on Taahas. Until the end of all things Sennal, shall they endure./
* * * *
For most of his adult life, Scott Rogers had been a park ranger at Yosemite, landing his first job cleaning restrooms while he was still in collage. Every morning for the last nine years it had been his habit to rise early and greet the dawn in a small clearing on the banks of the Merced river, at the foot of Half Dome. It was in that exact same spot that Ansel Adams took his famous photo in the winter of 1939. For the last three thousand, three hundred and fifty eight consecutive days the ranger without fail, arrived in this small meadow to enjoy the brief moments of pre-dawn solitude and witness what was for him the most beautiful sight on the planet. He *Belonged* to this place.
As he rounded the last turn in the trail, Scott discovered that he was not alone that morning. Arrayed in a semi-circle two rows deep, exactly in his favorite spot, were over a hundred and fifty creatures like he'd never imagined existed! Quickly, the ranger scurried to the side of the trail, concealing himself as best he could behind the scant cover of a winter-defoliated bush. His heart pounded. His mind raced. Who (What) were they? What were they doing? Where had they come from?
From his frozen vantage-point, Scott peered through the frost covered branches, the hairs on the back of his neck were starting to practically stand up and wave with excitement and no small amount of fear! 'Who are these people?' he again thought to himself. They certainly weren't Human. Oops, he corrected himself, one of them was. At the farthest end of the semi-circle stood a lone Human, a huge grizzly bear-like creature stood next to him on his left and a very wolf-like being stood practically shoulder-to-shoulder with him on his right. As a matter of fact, the entire population of the outer row was composed of the wolven creatures. They were anthropomorphic in form and stood about two meters tall to the gray tips of their ears. Aside from the Human and the two huge Ursines, the inner row was composed of what looked to be about a hundred smaller beings with the general body shape of bipedal otters. At the focus of the group was a *huge* saber-tooth cat-like being. A proportionally large sword was slung across its back, reflecting the cold moonlight. The entire group stood in utter silence, all eyes on the granite monolith.
Behind the Alien assemblage were six, gleaming white, bus-sized vehicles, obviously shuttle craft of some sort, and above those hovered two sinister looking tank-like machines. Scott was unaware of it, but his heat signature had long ago been detected by the instruments on board the assault craft. Being alone and with no detectable weapons, it was decided that he was harmless. Besides, it would have been extremely inauspicious to be blasting away at the autochthons while at the same time reciting the Hymn of Dawn, ostensibly for their benefit!
Just as dawn's first rays touched the corner of Half Dome, the Feline spoke, addressing those assembled about him. His voice, while unintelligible to Scott, sent chills racing up and down his spine. It was deep and rich, the cultured voice of a singer or priest. Under the circumstances, 'priest' seemed most likely. After speaking to the beings gathered around him, the Feline turned toward the monolith and commenced what could only be described a chant or prayer.
The chant lasted less than a minute. With every intonation, Scott's sense of belonging increased, the chant grabbed his soul and Pulled. He had to fight to restrain his body from getting up and running to join the Alien gathering. Through the soles of his feet, the ranger felt the Earth itself whisper to him. There were no words, but oh, the feeling of… Place. It was as though he had taken root where he crouched. He Belonged, the Earth told him. More-so now then ever before! Not only did he belong to this place, but now these strange creatures did as well. As Scott watched, the lone human suddenly looked toward the ground at his feet, his face registering great surprise. Slowly he sank to his knees, placing the palms of his hands flat against the frozen soil, as though maximizing his contact with the planet. Scott had no doubt that he too felt the wondrous and totally unambiguous message radiating from within the Earth. All too soon, the Feline fell silent.
While the priest's voice still echoed through the meadow, another Voice, deep as space and old as Time, reverberated through the rangers mind, repeating in some manner of universal language what Scott somehow knew was the first line of the chant the Feline had just finished. From the expressions on the faces of the creatures in the meadow, they felt it too. A few seconds later, a chorus of more distant Voices sang, continuing the chant. Then other Voices, farther still sang on as the Power of the ancient hymn propagated through quantum space along the filopodia between the stars. The axons spanning the neurons of the Mind of God. At the end of the chant, Scott knew that the final, most distant Voice he felt was that of the star that nurtured these beings.
CLAIM THEM NOW AS THINE OWN.
With the ancient Voices of the stars still echoing through the fabric of space-time, the Earth radiated a final pulse of Belonging, as though in affirmation of their paean.
Once again, the aether was silent.
Slowly, Scott began to collect his wits about him after the near- unbearable outpouring of cosmic emotion. As he came fully to his sensed, he found himself on hands and knees, his heart was pounding at a fierce rate and his breath came in sobbing gasps. What had seemed to go on for several minutes, had in fact lasted only seven seconds. Returning his attention to the meadow, the ranger saw that activity had resumed.
As though on cue, the large wolven-creature standing next to the Feline stepped forward and spoke. His voice was steady, deep and rich, displaying no after-effect of the near-overpowering emotions radiating from the stars. To Scott, it seemed to hold a presence which spoke of one who commanded. His speech lasted considerably longer than the Feline's as he gestured first to those gathered about him and then to the ground at his fur-covered feet. Soon he also fell silent.
The glade was quiet for a moment until another voice seemed to boom out of thin air and while totally lacking emotion, none-the-less gave the impression of absolute authority.
After this last voice spoke, the gathered Aliens began to relax a bit and each turned about, examining their surroundings in the ever-increasing morning light. It was plain that they were immensely enjoying the cold, fragrant morning air as there was a lot of deep breathing. The high-pitched voices of the otterish beings echoed through the meadow.
After several minutes of reveling in nature and talking amongst themselves, the creatures in the meadow began to file into the shuttles. The Human was the last to board and seemed to hold back for just one last, long look and probably would have tarried longer had the huge feline not gently but insistently grasped his elbow, guiding him up the endgate. Scott wondered again what part the lone Human played in the extraordinary drama that had unfolded before him. Something in the back of Scott's mind greatly envied his fellow Human. What must it be like to be in the presence of beings that could command such a response from Nature itself!
A few minutes after the last endgate closed, all six shuttles silently rose in unison from the meadow and with the two assault craft in the lead swiftly climbed into the still morning air. As the closest assault vehicle passed over Scott's position, the sighting laser on its ventral pulse cannon briefly painted an unmistakable symbol on his chest and winked off. For three seconds, the universal symbol of life, the DNA double-helix, glowed in red on his green jacket. Life greeting Life. 'As good a way of saying goodbye as any,' thought Scott.
After gaining about a thousand meters in altitude, the eight vehicles assumed a diamond formation and banked in a tight curve about El Capitain, heading west, rapidly gaining altitude and speed. Soon all that remained of the strange visitors were marks in the snow and a long, rolling sonic boom. A final bright glint of reflected sunlight flashed in the far western sky and they were gone.
Scott stood for a long moment, staring into the patch of sky where they'd disappeared, his right hand slowly caressing the front of his jacket where the red symbol had briefly glowed. In the center of his soul a small voice told him that his life would never be the same.
* * * *