Your Presence Here is Anathema in Derkomai | World Anvil

Your Presence Here is Anathema

Imperial Scout Service Commander Matthew Lawson exited his ship, ISS Nomad, wearing his vacuum environment suit, with his AI, Clark Model EXPEDITION 9.0, behind him carrying the remote observation instrument package. They had landed on the only major moon of KOI-72e, the forbidden planet known as Derkomai. That moon, KOI-72e1, was commonly known as Derkakshi, the Dragon's Eye. Since gravity on Derkakshi is less than 20% of Earth's, getting everything hauled out to the surface wasn't too strenuous, even wearing the vac suit.   Lawson spoke into his comms interface, "CE9, get the optical scope set up. I'll get the radar." "Affirmative, Commander," the AI responded. The optical telescope was a lot heavier and awkward to carry than the radar, so Lawson was happy to let the AI handle it. CE9 was a lot stronger than him, anyway.   After a couple of hours, they had the instruments set up - the optical scope, radar, graviton sensors, particle detectors, neutrino traps, and the rest - and cables run back to the ship. Through comms, he had the ship AI run diagnostics: "Nomad, give me a full rundown on the instruments." It responded soon after, "Commander, there are some odd readings coming from the neutrino traps, particle detectors, and graviton sensors, but the optical scope and radar are good. Should I power down the instruments showing faults?" Lawson replied, "No, let's leave them running. They might be getting something interesting." "Affirmative, sir," Nomad said. CE9 said, "I will monitor the comm links and instrument package." "Very good," Lawson said.   After about 30 minutes, Nomad reported, "Commander, I am noting an increasing number of glitches coming from the neutrino traps and graviton sensors. Detection rates are far beyond predicted norms. The particle detectors are also detecting hyperons, muons, and mesons at rates far beyond normal. It is unclear what the source of the detection anomalies is." Lawson replied, "Noted. CE9, what do you think?" CE9 said, "There does not appear to be anything physically wrong with the instruments. Local diagnostics all report no faults. Comm link diagnostics are all green. Perhaps the readings are all vvvv...vvvv...valid, sir."   Hearing the glitch, Lawson said, "CE9, what was that?" CE9 replied, "I...I...I...I do nnnn not know, siiiirrrr. I appppeaar to bbb be mal...malfunction...malfunctioning." Nearly panicked, Lawson yelled into his comms, "CE9, get back to the ship. Now! Nomad, get the engines hot! We're leaving!" AI's never malfunctioned. Something was seriously weird, and ISS protocol was to get away at the first sign of trouble. An AI malfunction definitely qualified as trouble.   CE9 turned and started towards Nomad, then stopped abruptly. The AI's body trembled, jerked violently, then toppled over. Lawson heard snaps, static, and bits of garbled speech on his comms. After a few moments of thrashing, the AI went still and silent. What in the nine hells was happening?   About 100 feet away, a being appeared in front of Lawson. It was bright white, glowing incandescently, as if on fire. Its body was indistinct, like it wasn't totally there. It was humanoid, but easily double the height of a human, and had huge wings, like the old pictures of angels. Whatever it was, it had just killed CE9. Lawson was terrified. He screamed into his comms, "Nomad! Kill it!" He saw Nomad's particle beam turret swivel towards the creature. It fired, and 1.21 gigawatts of energy blasted into the creature. For a couple of seconds, it looked like the creature had blown apart. It expanded and dissipated. For about half a second Lawson thought it was gone. But then it reformed, but this time the white was shot through with red and black flashes like some kind of evil lightning. The thing made a gesture, and Nomad, his ship, home, and friend just...disappeared. He saw it fade away, like ice sublimating in bright sunlight.   Frozen with terror, Lawson heard a voice in his head - not in his comms, but directly in his mind. It said, "You are in violation of the Praxis Cogendi. Your presence here is anathema. You will cease." The creature made another gesture.
A Shisharrim, a Balim messenger angel of Eia'au
Shisharrim by Peter Nelson (Zero Sum Games)
A Shisharrim, a type of Balim

Cover image: by Peter Nelson (Zero Sum Games)


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