The Amazing Adventures of Sara Corel
A novel by Toomey

The Last Scribe

To those who find this someday —
Know that it is the final testament
And act of duty
Of I, Shara'Lynn,
Scribe of Velor,
Chronicler of disaster.

I am hunted now.
I — who once flung my proud, invulnerable body
From cloud to cloud
Soaring in rapture,
Heedless of those puny beings,
Like ants, crawling below me.

How like an ant I have become.
Now I crawl —
Knowing their keen-eyed beams
Will find me in an instant
Should I but fleetingly claim
My lofty heritage.

The power is still within me.
I feel it surging lustily through my veins —
Mighty arms, corded back,
Legs that radiated strength
And showed compelling perfection
To the awed eyes of unworthy men.

My glory is cloaked,
Hidden, put away —
Lest it betray me to those who hunt —
While I bow my head
And slink furtively
Amidst the ruins of a dream.

It never ends,
This refugee existence.
For their amusement,
They play with me,
Mocking my duty
To chronicle their triumph.

As if the record I make will pass
To anyone who can bear the tale
Of how it ended —
Of how we failed.
The arrogance of our abilities
Brought low by our inadequate pride.

They came
As we knew they would.
We rose to meet them,
Countering terror with determination,
Pitting the immovability of our cause
Against their irresistible force.

The sun of our adopted world
Grew dim by the glare of our battle.
Their dreadnoughts perished in gouts of ravening energy —
Searing holocausts consumed our warriors.
The world shuddered and heaved
As the tides of fortune shifted.

Cities perished.
The uncomprehending masses we fought to protect
Could not abide the consequences
Of such contending armies.
Death rained from the sky
And rolled across the land.

Fear arose like a solid thing
And haunted our councils.
The tattered remnants of humanity
Begged us piteously to quit the fray,
Lest in our victory
They would be lost.

Our heroes crushed the oncoming hordes,
But there was no end to our enemies.
Still they came
As we fought on in slowly diminishing numbers —
Every one of us who fell
Accounting for multitudes.

But we could not be replaced
And those whom we protected
Scattering themselves
To secret places
Calling for the very Earth to cover them.

At last, the unconquerable few were left.
No force could overcome us,
No mere numbers wear us down.
Indestructible, inexhaustible,
We would fight forever
Against all odds.

And so the war raged unabated.
How long? It did not matter.
Long enough to realize
That it would only go on and on.
If we could not be conquered,
Neither could we conquer.

We could not break out,
They would never cease their onslaught.
We were defending
With nothing left to defend.
Everything that gave our cause meaning
Had perished.

Grim determination turned to grim despair.
We thought the unthinkable.
In resignation, our flanks exposed themselves to inattention
And paid the price.
Inexorably, the unbreakable bent beneath the heartening foe
And broke.

The last moments went swiftly.
There was no surrender
And no rout.
There was only extinction,
As one by one, in solitary resignation,
Each shattered defender was overwhelmed.

Until I alone remained.
I — the observer —
The one who had watched
As this twilight of the goddesses
Played out in horror.

They let me escape
As one unworthy of a warrior's death.
They would hunt me down at their leisure
For their sport.
I was the only one left
Who would have to bear the burden of defeat.

And so I hide,
Waiting for some miracle
That I no longer hope for.
Waiting for an end
That is long overdue.

Sometimes I am found by the young hunters,
Brought forth in mocking triumph,
And humiliated mercilessly for a while —
The object of some rite-of-passage.
(They like it if I fight them)
Then they abandon me again.

From time to time,
I see the furtive survivors of
A vanished civilization,
Lurking, like me, in the pocked landscape,
Evading the patrols,
Avoiding the camps.

Sometimes I join a group for a while.
We huddle together in the wreckage
As long as I dare.
I cannot use my powers to help them —
Such a display would attract unwelcome attention —
So I tell a Scribe's stories and then move on.

Maybe they are comforted,
Maybe they are embittered.
Would the slavery of a whole population
Be worse than the slavery of a decimated people?
It is an question
That has no answer.

I used to dream of waking to shockwaves
As the avenging angels of Velor return,
Hurtling into the atmosphere
To cleanse this stain of dishonor.
The Arion swagger
Tells me it will not happen.

I have seen the blonde Velorians
Wearing gold,
Serving their masters in the camps.
They are docile.
Their eyes are dead.
There are too many for an unconquered Velor to have tolerated.

This is my last escape.
Five times I have eluded the Arion patrols
And leaped into a wormhole,
Only to be captured and dragged back
By hunting parties
Grateful for the diversion.

Every destination was in Arion hands,
Devastated and pillaged.
Once, I made it to Tetra,
But the Tetrites had vanished —
Perhaps to a better place
Beyond the reach of this universe,

This forsaken planet is unknown to me,
A random twist through the pathways between the stars.
It was no use —
The hunters surround me.
In a moment
I will be back in hell.

So I lay this down,
My last testament,
Tinged by madness, I suppose.
My final duty as a Scribe,
Delivered into Eternity
For no reason I can think of…

        The Captain did not look her usual crusty self when she had finished reading the tattered document. The young lieutenant felt somehow honored and maybe a little embarassed to see a human side to his commanding officer, but had read it himself and understood why she was so obviously misty.
        She was lost in thought for a while, then quickly composed herself.
        "Authentic?" she queried the lieutenant.
        "No doubt, Captain. It was exactly where the computer said it would be. Analysis of the materials, handwriting — everything confirms it."
        The Captain shook her head. "If only she could have known how it turned out."
        "You mean," said the lieutenant, "The Stories?"
        "The Stories." She looked sharply at the young officer. "Tell me what you know about The Stories."
        The lieutenant gulped, feeling like he had suddenly had a pop quiz sprung on him.
        "Uh, well… The Scribe spent nearly a hundred years wandering Old Earth, pretty much half-mad, telling stories about Velorians and Arions and Tetrites and how things had been before the Invasion. As the Arions grew weak and lapsed into a slow decline, humans eventually came back, ousted the occupiers, and wound up destroying the Empire."
        "And," the Captain added, "It was The Stories that kept people together through the Hard Times, told us what we were up against and how to fight it."
        "Yes'm. 'Unification, Inspiration, Education'," he quoted. "I used to think The Stories were just for kids and that most of it was made up."
        "Some of it was, certainly. Embellished, anyway. But the only history humans had for a while was oral history. And this was the common link."
        "And now we know she's not just a legend, that she really was the Last Scribe." He looked wonderingly — almost reverently — at the relic on the Captain's desk, now carefully protected by imperishable diamonite.
        The Captain looked thoughtful again. "If only she could have known…" 

Proper Waffles
Table of Contents

Patrick Hill, 2000