For Sample Sunday, this is an excerpt from Shattered Earth, one of my science fiction novels. Once you read the excerpt, buy links are at the end, or click on the picture to take you to Smashwords for all e-book formats.
Around this period, two very rich Terran adventurers had decided to hitch a ride to Mars, after bribing a starship captain. The two wanted to see what it was like on Earth, after hearing news reports about how utterly barbaric and primitive the planet was. They were visiting Britannia just as the Roman legions were recalled to defend the city of Rome. After seeing what was going on with the local Brit tribes, the two decided that it might be fun to organize them, so that the tribes could defend themselves against the Vikings, Normans, and others who had conducted raids on the island. The two named their kingdom Camelot, led by the Terran whose name was Arthur, and his cohort, who was named Merlin. Merlin was considered an eccentric inventor; other Terrans thought he was more than a little insane, while the primitive humans around him thought that Merlin was a great and mighty powerful magician. After all, he looked the part. Merlin had long, straight hair, a long white beard, and wore very colorful robes. Arthur was tall, lean, but muscular, dark hair, and looked like a mighty warrior might look.
Merlin cooked up a scheme to get these primitive humans to accept Arthur as their leader, so he told Arthur of an idea he had, “I have a brainstorm, Arthur; tell me if you like it. These Brits have a legend about a sword in a stone and if a man of great virtue pulls it out of the stone, he will become the undisputed leader of the people. I propose to use our advanced technology to convince these people to believe you’re destined to be the king. What do you think?”
“Sounds like a good plan, Merlin. How do you plan on making it work?”
“I think I’ll build a sword with computer components that will recognize only your handprint. I will then stick the sword in what will appear to be a stone, except this stone will keep the sword in place with an elaborate computer aided locking system. Once you take hold of the sword, the system will recognize your handprint, then it will unlock, and the sword will be yours. You’ll have the masses begging you to be the leader,”
“Sounds like a very good idea, Merlin. Nothing like a little technology turned into sorcery to make one a good leader. Get to work.” ordered Arthur, who was looking forward to this new scheme of Merlin’s.
A few weeks later, Merlin, with the help of an experimental Terran transportation device, suddenly, and without any warning at all, appeared in the town square with the sword in his hand, and a very convincing looking stone placed next to him. He called for the townsfolk to gather, and then, he said, “Good citizens of Camelot. I have created a test for those who wish to lead us. This sword, I will put in the stone, and it can only be pulled out by a virtuous, and good man,”
Merlin then slid the shiny, intimidating looking, sword into the stone, “The challenge has been laid, all men throughout Camelot are welcome to try to pull out the sword, which I have named Excalibur.” with that, Merlin vanished into thin air the same way he had appeared.
Merlin and Arthur watched for little over a month, as man after man attempted to pull Excalibur from the stone. Everyone had a different way of trying to pull the sword out of the stone, which served only to amuse the two Terrans, and tick off the human men who tried to pull out Excalibur. As Merlin expected, not a single man could pull the sword from the stone, so Merlin again reappeared in a flash of light, and said, “Is there no one here who is virtuous enough to take the sword? Who among you is left that is willing to try?”
Having not convinced the people up to this point that he would make a good leader, Arthur boldly, and with tremendous confidence, walked into the town square to pull the sword from the stone. Everyone was whispering, and a few were taking bets seeing if Arthur could pull Excalibur from the stone. Arthur confidently walked up to the stone, put his hands on the swords’ hilt, which activated the computer lock system, and he slowly pulled Excalibur from the stone. The people were shocked at first, but, then began cheering. Arthur wielded Excalibur for a few minutes, going through swinging, hacking, and thrusting motions with the sword, and then motioned for the townsfolk to calm down. Then he spoke, “People of Camelot. I have pulled Excalibur from the stone, so I am now your leader. What say you?”
The people chanted, “Arthur” and “Long live the King.” Arthur was now the undisputed leader of Camelot. Merlin spoke again, “A king needs knights that he can lead into glorious battle against the forces of evil. Who here among you is willing to be a Knight of the Round Table?”
Arthur had not heard this scheme from Merlin, but thought this Knights of the Round Table thing might be a really good idea. According to Merlin, the knights in good standing would gather around a round table, so that there would be no man who thought they were better than the others. Many men came forward to join the ranks of the knights, more than Merlin had expected. So Merlin did something unusual in the eyes of these humans in this time period, he interviewed each applicant, and tested their sword fighting skills. After doing the interviews, Merlin also worked on Excalibur to make it appear more magical to these primitive humans, and when he was done, he showed Arthur the sword, “I did some more work to Excalibur. Press the green button on the hilt, and see what happens,”
Arthur took hold of the sword, and pressed the small green button on the hilt. The sword lit up in an almost blinding, white glow, so Arthur asked, “What is this, some sort of glow saber kind of thing?”
“I would have to say yes, and no, Arthur. It’s supposed to strike fear in the hearts and minds of your enemies. I’ll later add a sound effect to increase the fierceness of the sword. Anyway, I thought it was a cool idea.”
“You do realize you ripped-off a wretchedly bad movie idea from a hundred years ago, don’t you? Next thing you’ll tell me, you’re some sort of ascended being with powers you’re not supposed to use. Come back to reality, Merlin, this is not science fiction.”
“Oh, I know that, but the townsfolk already think I have great powers, so acting like I have telekinesis, or the ability to appear, and disappear at will, isn’t going to do any harm. They won’t know about that movie, who is ever going to see it on Earth? I know what I’m doing, believe it or not. The next thing on your agenda though, is to meet your Knights of the Round Table.”
Arthur was introduced to his new knights the next day; his impression of them was that they all seemed like good, honorable men, and fierce warriors. Merlin was right about the more powerful looking Excalibur scaring enemies. In battle, some retreated rather than fight Arthur. The knights, and Arthur, fought Vikings and Danes; Arthur himself killed a lot of the invaders, increasing his legendary status among Saxons living near, and in Camelot. Merlin set up great adventures for the knights and Arthur to go on, giving the knights legendary status for themselves too. Sir Lancelot was considered the best of the Knights of the Round Table, and he always had the ear of Arthur whenever he had some pithy thought about another great adventure they should all go on, or how Camelot should be run.
Several years later, some strangers appeared in Camelot, who turned out to be a Terran military contingent. They were looking for Arthur and Merlin; when they were found in the castle, the Terran commander said, “Arthur and Merlin, you are hereby arrested for crimes against humanity. You are herby ordered to come back with us to Terra, to explain what you have done. Now, come with us.”
“Crimes against humanity? Seriously? What crimes have we done, exactly?” asked Merlin.
“Take a look around you. Setting up your own little kingdom, and using technology in battles against the Vikings, which we heard about because the rumors made it to Rome, which, naturally, ended up being heard by a scientist there. He contacted the Mars Outpost, and that’s why we’re here, because Terra’s government is not pleased. Now, come with us.”
“Wait! Can I address my subjects, and the Knights of the Round Table, one last time?” asked Arthur.
The commander sighed, and said, “Very well.”
Arthur called together Camelot, and everyone gathered together, to listen to what Arthur had to say, “People of Camelot, and Knights of the Round Table, hear me this day. These men are from my home country, and they are seeking the Holy Grail. They wish for me to go on a long journey with them to search for it, which will take many, many years. So, for my last official duty as king, I place Sir Lancelot as the new king of Camelot; follow him as you have followed me. Fare thee well Camelot, I wish all of you good and long lives.”
Arthur and Merlin left Camelot with the Terrans. They boarded a shuttle that was hidden a few miles away, which took them to a ship in orbit, and the ship headed for Terra. Once on Terra, the two men were brought before the Oversight for Earth Committee, who seemed like a bunch of stuffy old fools to Arthur and Merlin. The chairman of the committee, Senator Tyranous, began to talk the second both men sat down, “Arthur Pendragon, and Merlin Ambrosius, you have both been called here to explain yourselves, and why you decided to interfere in human affairs. Now, what say you?”
Merlin and Arthur looked at each other, Merlin shrugged his shoulders in a nonchalant kind of way, so Arthur said, “We didn’t see any harm in doing what we did. We didn’t give them any of our technology, and they’re still just as primitive as before we arrived.”
“While you may not think you did harm, you gave some ideas to some of those Brits, what were they called? The Knights of the Round Table? Those Knights could get it into their heads that they could invade Europe, on some misplaced idea of a grand adventure, and then plunge the whole continent into another series of wars. Also, we’ve had to go in, and clean up the technology you left when you were arrested. Do you realize that because of your so-called adventure, we’ve had problems with others who want to do the same thing?”
“Well, that really isn’t our problem, Senator.” Merlin sarcastically said.
“Oh, you don’t think so, huh? It has been decided, until further notice, that only our official representatives will be on Earth. All tourism to Earth is now hereby forbidden for the foreseeable future. Merlin Ambrosius, and Arthur Pendragon, you two are now hereby subject to house arrest. This means that you’ll never be able to leave Terra, and you will be watched for the rest of your natural lives, no matter how long that takes. This Committee will now recess for twenty minutes.”
Both men were escorted to their individual homes, injected in their arms with a tracking chip so that they would be tracked anywhere on the planet, and told that if they ever leave Terra, the punishment would be severe, especially if they tried to return to Earth.
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