Religious Themed Stories
The Game of God
I perhaps have no business relating this story to you, and in so doing may be violating an oath of secrecy I took about some highly classified work I did for the government. Let me just say that this is an account taken from the history of two races poised on the edge of an ethnic conflict that had the potential to destroy them both. It is a tale of hope and a quest for peace. This is a story about a game given by God to an intelligent race of non-human creatures, but more than that, it is a record of a young man who against all the odds changed the course of history and saved an entire planet.
It is with considerable difficulty that I relate this story to you at all. Many of the words used by both races have their roots in a third language once spoken by a long-dead race of intelligent beings. However, the Brachyura, a race of crab-like creatures, purposely jumbled the language so they could not be understood. The other race, which consisted of simian-type beings calling themselves the People of the Trees, had a dialect which evolved greatly over time.
There are considerable differences in the way both of these races named things; consequently, the translational difficulties which I had to overcome to relate this story to you, the reader, were enormous. To give a quick example: the creature that I call a “stalker” might be called a deathallowinayite by the People of the Trees. It means the death-that-follows-in-the-daylight. The Brachyura word for the same creature is conadray. Because there are six clans among the Brachyura, there are also six variations for the name of this creature, conadray, condraya, canodray, cronday, canorday, and condayra. The ancient race that bred the creatures called them draconan, after the scientist who was directly responsible for their creation. While the Brachyura simply assigned names to things, the People of the Trees tended to describe the attributes of a given animal, person, or thing and then shorten that description into a single word. That word then became the name for whatever it was they were describing. Of course, none of this was in English, to begin with.
I hope you begin to get a feel for the difficulty I had in rendering this story into English. If not for a promise I made to a dying friend long ago, I would not have made the attempt. This is the work of many long nights listening to some tapes that I acquired before I left my job with the government. I do not pass judgment on the story. I simply relate it to you as it was related to me long ago over the course of several months. The time I spent with my friend changed my understanding of life in ways that I never dreamed possible. In the end, I came to know that we are all players in the Game of God – a game that is dangerous, beautiful and, ultimately – one we all play.
R. B. Chandler
Translator Notes and Other References
The trees grow to an average height of 400 meters. They were engineered by an ancient race of humanoids to increase lumber production. An unexpected genetic defect caused the trees to cover all of the oceans of the world except at the polar ice caps and all the land except the more mountainous and arctic regions of the world.
Very old trees are referred to by the tree people as grandfather trees and could reach nearly 500 meters tall. Often the centers of these trees would rot out, making them ideal homes for the tree people. The indoor game courts of the Brachyura were also built inside these trees.
The tree sap is a lot like liquid plastic, super hard when dry but still extremely flammable when exposed to very high temperatures over a prolonged period of time. Tree sap is the base material of the tree people’s technology.
Brachyura -- The Brachyura are crab-like creatures two meters wide and one meter high. Highly intelligent, they are one of two dominant races on the planet. They have two large claws and eight well-defined legs with tiny pincers at the tip of each leg that enable them to climb the great trees. Their hands, each possessing six digits, or fingers, are located near their mouths and are normally kept tucked up against their shells. They have four eyes, two of which are at the end of eye-poles located at the front edge of the top shell. The other two eyes are retractable and are located above their mouth and nostrils, just below their eye-poles.
The Brachyura have a well-developed society and economic structure. Their entire civilization is centered on a game and on laws given to them by a prophet of God. The words of the prophets are considered the law; they are what define the honor and many of the customs of the Brachyura. The Game replaced ritual combat for settling differences between individuals and clans.
People of the Trees -- Apelike creatures about two meters tall. Highly intelligent, they are one of the dominant races on the planet. Hands and feet are very dexterous with very sharp retractable claws between the fingers and toes. A long prehensile tail makes them ideally suited to life in the great trees. Most of their bodies are covered with very fine short hair. The adult male has a mane that covers the head and shoulders and runs down the center of the back to the tip of the tail. The female’s hair only covers the head; it runs down the back of the neck and tapers off in the middle of the back.
The People of the Trees, sometimes called tree people, have a very simple tribal society. Their customs developed out of their struggle to survive in the forest. Primarily, hunters, they live high in the trees on platforms that encircle the tree in which they live.
Stalkers -- Childlike semi-intelligent creatures two-and-a-half to three meters tall with six arms and two legs, green or brown in color. They are omnivorous.
Shunails -- Intelligent snail-like creatures with dark brown segmented shells. Great shunails are generally only six to ten meters high. They live in and along the edge of the Great Swamp. Twice as long as they are tall, they can reach up to forty meters high and eighty meters long deep within in the Great Swamp. They are herbivorous.
Long Necks -- Snake-like creatures with long slender jet-black bodies, large heads, big eyes, long teeth, and sharp spines running from the head to the tip of the tail. An average length of a long neck living along the edge of the Great Swamp is about eighteen meters. They can reach twice that size deep inside the Great Swamp. They are carnivorous and extremely poisonous.
Rothars -- A large rat-like creature about half-a-meter long. They are omnivorous.
Flutterbys -- Resembling a big butterfly with a furry body. Small flutterbys have wingspans of about 30 centimeters.
Floaters or Floater on the Wind -- Refers to any creature that can fly or glide. A small floater that stings (sometimes called small death that rides the wind), is a large wasp / bee-like creature with beautiful butterfly-like wings. A floater that eats the dead is a creature similar to a buzzard but is six times as big or bigger. There are many other kinds of floaters. Flutterbys fall under this classification but are considered harmless.
Translator’s note: I have employed very few of the actual creatures’ names. This is due to the number of different names that might be applied to any given creature, not only by the different clans of the Brachyura but by the People of the Trees as well. A healer among the tree people might give two names for the same creature, one of which might be understood only by another healer. The names of things might also vary from tribe to tribe depending on how the people of that tribe combined the descriptive term condensed to form the word they used to name any given creature.
I am trying to avoid using familiar names for the creatures. For instance, some of the floaters could be described as birds, but the mental image produced by the English word would be many times smaller than any of the actual creatures. Also, many creatures look like butterflies. Most, however, are as large as or many times larger than the largest butterfly you can imagine, and a significant number of them are very dangerous. Besides, using some of the creatures’ indigenous (translated) names helps to convey the beauty and mystery of their native world – one that is vastly different from our own.
Time -- The People of the Trees measure time in relation to the position and yearly cycle of the sun and the given rotational periods of the three moons. The largest moon takes 45 days to rotate around the planet and is more often than not the principal moon used to describe a long period of time.
The Brachyura measure time in units. One unit of time is equal to eighty minutes. There are twenty units to a day (about 26.6 hours). A time part is one one-hundredth of a unit of time (0.8 minutes). A small-time part is one one-hundredth of a time part.
The Brachyuran week is called a seven-day and is actually eight days long. A seven-day is seven working days. The eighth day is a day of rest and is never counted. Like that of the People of the Trees, the Brachyuran year is measured by the yearly cycle of the sun and is forty-five seven-days long. There are four days of religious holidays not counted (about 365 days, total).
Linear Measurements -- The People of the Trees measure great distances by how many days walking or running it will take to get from place to place. For building purposes, they have a measuring stick about the height of an adult male. Odd distances that are not the exact length of the stick are measured by cutting notches in the wood as needed.
The Brachyura measure distances and heights in terms of average lengths of their shells which is actually the width of their shells: about two meters long. This breaks down to lengths and half-lengths. Half-lengths are broken down into hundredths which is approximately the same as a centimeter.
Weight -- This is not a unit of measurement that the People of the Trees concern themselves with. An object is either heavy, or it’s not.
The Brachyura base their units of weight on a cubic length of 00 grit sand -- eight cubic meters of fine sand divided into a thousand equal pieces of about 512,000 cubic centimeters each. This is reduced by a thousand again. A simple balance is used to weigh objects with little cakes of sand of different values employed as weights.
Translator’s note: Rather than convert all the units of measurements to our standards of measurement I have kept to a more literal translation again trying to conveying a sense of their unique culture.
Leadership among the People of the Trees is generally passed from father to son. Healers act as advisors to the tribal leader. On occasion, the tribe’s leader may ask for input from the rest of the men of the tribe. A wise leader will ask advice from the healer and the other men of the tribe often.
The leadership of the Brachyura is vested in clan leaders over individual clans. They form the Grand Council that is the ruling body of the Brachyura clans or brotherhoods. Each clan leader has twelve counselors that act as his advisors. These counselors are picked from brothers or sisters that have distinguished themselves in some way among the brotherhood. Counselors are generally economic leaders among the individual clans. The clan leader generally names his successor. If a successor is not named, then the position falls to the counselor that has been on the clan leader’s council the longest. If there is any question, the matter is presented to all the brothers and sisters of the clan for a sustaining vote.
The only other leaders among the Brachyura are the dwelling clan leaders. They lead the small village-size dwellings, most of which are scattered throughout the forest and along the edge of the Great Swamp. These dwellings rarely have more than three hundred brothers and sisters living in them. Dwelling clan leaders may have up to twelve counselors, and these are always the economic leaders of the dwelling. Dwelling clan leaders are appointed (sometimes referred to as being “called”) by the clan leader of their respective clan. The clan leader’s counselors confirm their clan leader’s choice. Any objections will be noted by the clan leader at this time. He will either appoint someone else or allow his first choice to stand. The dwelling clan leader is then sustained by a vote of confidence by the brothers and sisters of the dwelling where he will lead. If in the event the dwelling will not sustain the clan leader’s choice, the clan leader usually will then appoint someone else. This does not happen often.
Translator’s note: Healers among the people are in a class all by themselves. They are not truly subject to the leader of their tribe and in the government of the People of the Trees provide a system of checks and balances. For instance, a leader that might prove to be a danger to his people might be killed by the tribe’s healer for the good of all concerned. The healer would then suggest a new leader for the tribe. Anyone (or thing) that would upset the balance in the world or endanger the tribe would force the healer to restore balance to the world or protect the tribe. The healer more often than not simply removes the problem permanently.
All things are held in common by the People of the Trees. Food and all other necessities of life are shared equally by the people. Anything that cannot be shared equally is held in trust by the leader of the tribe to be used for the benefit of the tribe as a whole.
The clan leadership taxes the businesses and brothers of their respective clans based on the profits of a given cycle of the sun (about ten percent). The dwelling and dwelling clan leader also receives up to ten percent of the profits from any businesses based out of his dwelling. The figure is determined by the number of services rendered by the dwelling to that business. A business that involves the whole dwelling will share the profits based on the amount of work each brother or sister does to contribute to the business minus dwelling expenses. Any business shares the profits with its employees the same as the dwelling does. The proportions are determined by the owner of that business or by the dwelling clan leader in the case of a dwelling-owned business. Shares in the businesses of the Brachyura are generally high enough to encourage the employees to find ways to improve the profitability of the business and thereby increase their share of the profits of that business. It is not unusual for a dwelling to operate several businesses which would allow all the brothers and sisters of the dwelling to receive a share of the businesses’ profits whether or not they worked directly for a given business or not. Most independently owned businesses are found in the cities, or in dwellings not far from the cities. Businesses in dwellings located far from the cities are almost always owned and operated by the dwelling.
Translator’s note: The economic system of the Brachyura is far more complicated than I have described above. Even given the complexity of their system, it is still very simple compared to our own system and a great deal more fair in some respects. I suspect this is due to the great sense of honor that the Brachyura possess as a race. I deal a little more with the economics of the Brachyura in greater detail within the story.
Brachyura Clans or Brotherhoods
The Blue Brotherhood
Zothor -- Dwelling Clan Leader, counselor to the Blue Clan Leader and ex-Clan Champion.
Ishihari -- Zothor’s mate, award-winning cook, and part-owner of two dining halls and one small kitchen.
Adamor -- Zothor and Ishihari’s son and one of the twelve prophets of God.
Balator -- Zothor and Ishihari’s son, manager and part-owner of a small dining hall. One of the twelve prophets of God.
Cantor -- Zothor and Ishihari’s son and youngest All-Clan Champion ever.
Syanor -- Zothor and Ishihari’s son, manager and part-owner of a dining hall.
Jonnor -- Syanor’s son.
Sokegal -- Craft Master.
Geeantium -- Sokegal’s mate.
Leygal -- Sokegal and Geeantium’s son.
Osshreea -- Margeeum’s mother.
Margeeum -- Osshreea’ daughter, Cantor’s girlfriend, translator, and first contact specialist.
Grizzon -- Zothor’s main assistant at his dwelling.
Tragal -- Blue soldier (Special Forces), and one of the twelve prophets of God.
Candean -- Blue soldier (Special Forces).
Leyanna -- Candean’s mate and dwelling medical technician.
Doesen -- Blue soldier (Special Forces), and one of the twelve prophets of God.
Ommaro -- Blue soldier.
LeTilleantum -- A green sister and Ommaro’s mate, also a medical technician.
Ieetan -- Blue soldier (Special forces).
Frothay -- Blue soldier (Special Forces), and a healer among the People.
Bantan -- Blue soldier (Special forces).
Tangalen -- Dwelling patriarch.
Napel -- Blue brother.
Kopel -- Napel’s son.
Christeaen -- Blue sister, historian and school teacher.
Mowlan -- Craftsman.
Yorye -- Craftsman.
Landray -- Clan Leader before Adreeum.
Adreeum -- Clan Leader and one of the twelve prophets of God.
Luceantihi -- Adreeum’s mate.
Rownan -- Counselor of the blue clan and one of the twelve prophets of God.
Kobeta -- Blue brother.
Tincal -- Waiter in Syanor’s dining hall.
Noweishta -- Blue sister and official recorder for the Blue Clan Leader.
Naypan -- Dwelling Clan Leader.
The Green Brotherhood
LaKento -- Green Clan Leader.
LaKayzin -- Green soldier and Dwelling Clan Leader.
LaCowso -- Green soldier.
LaDajon -- Green soldier.
LaSanso -- Counselor of the green clan.
LeBrandianna -- LaSanso’s mate.
The Black Brotherhood
Hal Pron -- Black Clan Leader.
Dar Noth -- Dwelling Clan Leader.
Tal Mare -- Dwelling Clan Leader.
The Brown Brotherhood
Nabbinic -- Clan Leader.
Bittanic -- Retired brown clan champion and one of the twelve prophets of God.
Falleama -- Medical technician/healer, banished sister known as Banneesheanta by the People of the Trees.
Yoeith -- Falleama’s son, the true prophet of God and leader of the church.
Petteaic -- Falleama’s brother.
Dannellma -- Petteaic’s mate.
The Yellow Brotherhood
Cinnoal -- Yellow Clan Leader
Jonnaul -- False prophet and leader of the oldest church among the Brachyura.
Sammatis -- Jonnaul’s counselor.
Pattish -- Jonnaul’s counselor.
Cessons -- Jonnaul’s counselor.
Almmoni -- Jonnaul’s counselor, later called to be one of the twelve prophets of God.
Amoonda -- Dwelling patriarch and later the Yellow Clan Leader.
Kitteen -- Dwelling Clan Leader.
Sarrays -- Dwelling patriarch.
Jossean -- One of the brothers that started the dining hall fire.
Aleeanna -- Jossean’s mate.
Robbeal -- One of the brothers that started the dining hall fire.
The Red Brotherhood
KaZanna -- Red Clan Leader.
KarEena -- KaZanna’s mate.
PaTouan -- KaZanna’s counselor.
SoLayan -- KaZanna’s counselor.
CaSanna -- KaZanna’s counselor.
AcEeack -- Dwelling Clan Leader.
BoTalen -- Keeper of the First Court of God.
Kel -- Tomarean Kel (Electra), one of two prophets that walk the earth until the coming of God and the Day of Judgment. One of the prophets in The Book of the Prophets of God.
Tal - BoTalan, one of two prophets that walk the earth until the coming of God and the Day of Judgment. One of the prophets in The Book of the Prophets of God.
Timm -- One of the prophets in The Book of the Prophets of God.
Morl -- One of the prophets in The Book of the Prophets of God.
Pol -- One of the prophets in The Book of the Prophets of God.
Tyan -- One of the prophets in The Book of the Prophets of God.
Morallen -- Giver of the Game of God. One of the prophets in The Book of the Prophets of God.
Timmiss -- An angel and messenger of God.
Sentinel -- High-Brow 7000 computer.
Robert Anderson -- Genetic engineer.
David Dracon -- Genetic engineer.
Angela Lavine-Dracon -- Artificial intelligence and computer design engineer and David Dracon’s wife.
People of the Trees
Tangoral -- Healer, inventor, and one of the twelve prophets of God.
Ashorah -- Tangoral’s wife.
Sorgarlac -- Leader of the tribe living in the Great Swamp.
Neylosso -- Hunter from Sorgarlac’s tribe, and one of the twelve prophets of God.
Canolasay -- Hunter from Sorgarlac’s tribe.
Dontowla -- Hunter from Sorgarlac’s tribe.
Sheylmasa -- Ashorah’s father, leader of a tribe, and one of the twelve prophets of God.
Cotayoak -- Builder from Sheylmasa’s tribe.
Geosamona -- Hunter from Sheylmasa’s tribe.
Togatan -- Leader of a tribe.
Pogotawle -- Hunter from Togatan’s tribe.
Shelasaw - Woman from Togatan’s tribe.
Amnashta -- Leader of a tribe.
Lillantian -- Amnashta’s daughter.
Shawrays -- Hunter from Amnashta’s tribe.
Kittanota -- Leader of a tribe, renegade, and husband of Saralashaw.
Saralashaw -- Healer and Tangoral’s sister.
Lotreycal -- Hunter from Kittanota’s tribe.
Raytanack - A healer that joined Kittanota’s tribe.
Soolayinna -- A healer that joined Kittanota’s tribe and later sided with the blue clan.
Molateeia -- Soolayinna’s daughter.
Amishton -- Leader of a tribe.
Elamano -- Hunter from Amishton’s tribe.
Omastarasta -- Leader of a tribe and friend of Banneesheanta.
Anabidin -- A tribal leader’s son.
Danotock -- Hunter.
Breelaya -- Danotock’s sister.
Andieick -- Hunter.
Elayainna -- Woman from the same tribe as Andieick.
Seamontie -- A great healer of legend.
Moog -- A great shunail almost a thousand years old.
Molaythea -- Tangoral’s pet stalker.
Tallon -- Molaythea’s child.