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The Skytravelers

August 10, 2011

The black billowing clouds rolled and boiled frequently belching horrific booms of thunder preceded by veiled flashes of crackling energy, and from their darkened bellies amidst the cascade of water the crafts descended one after one after one in spontaneous caravans.

The pale red light of dawn and the damp sweet smell of newly fallan rain did little in preparing the citizens of Supertropolis for the annoying sight of the spacecraft park overflowing with the distinct vessels of another band of Skytravelers. Skytravelers! Those nomadic secretive clans who roamed from planet to moon to moon to moon and back again. Never staying long in one place, but always bringing trouble. Yes, trouble, nothing but trouble in the minds of the locals for these wandering thieves would steal anything, and hackle about every price in any store and would not leave until they were satisfied they had gotten a deal. And then...they spoke a strange language amongst themselves. Well, that was certainly suspect to the fact they had a great many things to hide.

And as the obsolete tubular telescopes rose from atop the Skytravelers' opulent tricked-out crafts ablaze with gilt swirls of trim, the locals were reminded of these nomads' astrological interests which must surely be indicative of the practice of black-magic. And once again, the folk tale of the beasteer farmer began to circulate. Beware! For long ago, this farmer was known across the lands for his most prized herds of beasteers. But, along came a clan of Skytravelers who tried to purchase some of his breeding stock, but the farmer had no interest in dealing with such low-life and refused to sell. The wanderers went away speaking loudly in their unknown tongue, and it was that very night the farmer's most prized animal gave birth to a monstrous three headed beastcalf. As news spread that the farmer's stock was hexed it proved to be disastrous, and the farmer was forced into poverty as tales arouse of odd happenings to the many who had eaten the meat from his farm.

The extreme steps taken by the citizens of Supertropolis to avoid contact with this group of Skytravelers was indeed welcomed by the clan. For this was no ordinary gathering, but an assemblage of all the chieftains from every known band of Skytravelers in the star system. Perhaps, a once-in-a-lifetime event where the ancestors of the past would anoint a new Supreme Chieftain and the current Supreme Chieftain would join the living dead in another realm.

So as the blood-red star rose and set many times, the telescopes scanned the skies and charted by hand the course of stars on ancient sky maps until at last the right time had arrived. Well within the midst of the spacecraft park and far from foreign eyes a huge mound of beasteer dung was formed into a pyramid, and as the star rose overhead blanketing everything in vivid red light the chieftain gathered around. The visible odorous vapors rising from the dung became increasingly sweet and addictive, and the assembled took deep breathes trying at best to keep the sensational scent locked within their breast. And as their heads swirled with unreal images, the vapors took on the form of untethered neon flashing colors across the entire spectrum until the outline of a horned beasteer appeared.

And from this form a hollow deep voice boomed, "Who has summoned the Council?"

"It is I." The Supreme Chieftain weakly wailed in the language of old. "It is time that I join you."

As if ignoring the situation at hand, the voice began a long rambling sermon touching on such issues as how many of the old ways were being forgotten, the number of youngsters no longer wanting to stay within the clans, etc. On and on and on, as the chieftains tried in vain to overload their lungs with the addicitve scent swirling around them.

And as the first voice faded another arose from the emptiness of the horned beasteer image and began a long tirade that often was repetitive of the first voice's offerings. And so it was, voice after voice after voice chastising the group for their mistakes until the red star kissed the horizon.

The first voice sounded again, "Chieftain, you may join us now in the realm of the living dead and become a member of the Ancestor Council. Do you come alone?"

"No, great ancestor, I bring my wife." The old one replied.

"Come join us them."

The old man holding the hand of his much younger wife climbed the mound of dung and the two disappeared into the emptiness of the beasteer outline. At which time, the hollow voice called forth the names of a dozen or so chieftains who were vigorously questioned about their knowledge of the ways of old. And then, when the last chieftain had been vetted in a flash the neon form was gone and the stench of the dung sickened all nearby.

At first all were puzzled at such an abrupt end until one screamed out in pain and upon tearing open his shirt to discover a horned beasteer etched into his skin over his heart. There was no doubt, he was the new Supreme Chieftain.

So, the town of Supertropolis awoke to find the spacecraft park void of the riduculous overly decorated crafts, and the puzzling towing mound of dung left behind. Such a nasty bunch! Good riddance! Not that there were no tales of stolen property and the likes for every bump in the road was attributed to those nomads, and even the murder of a female, although evidence soon showed she had died at the hands of her husband did little to dampen the tale of her scandalous affair with a much younger no-good Skytraveler.

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