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The White Shamitz

The White Shamitz

The White Shamitz













143,000 words.
Content advisory: Violence, torture, sexual situations

Following a freak catastrophe aboard Jupiter Station, a pair of young people accidentally invoke the Red Shamitz and find themselves on a world at least tens of millions of light-years from Earth. There, they discover the entire Shamitz system, technology so advanced that humans can’t begin to comprehend it, left by a human-like race that vanished millions of years ealier . There are six Shamitzen on Shraka, but a seventh, the enigmatic White Shamitz, a primary control system for the other six, is on its way, and once it achieves cohesion, it will have virtually unlimited power to create and destroy.

Unfortunately, the White Shamitz seems to have something against them and is making their lives miserable, pulling thoughts from their minds and making them real.  If there is a way to escape, it depends on the technology of the lost race itself, fragments of which could be left on millions of worlds throughout the universe connected by a vast network of transport mirrors.  But the Shamitz Guardian has already warned them: there is no place in the universe beyond the White Shamitz’ power.

Telepathy, artificial consciousness, an interstellar empire, hundreds of worlds, and a non-human little girl with no voice but monumental courage. Brad and Kristy explore the clues left on those worlds — and romance — before they finally discover the dazzling secret of the White Shamitz.

Prologue: Ardwaf Invocation

The tower stood among the deep forest in the mostly unsettled lands south of the mountains.  From the facility at its top, one could see the purplish-red frond trees stretching to the horizon in every direction, silent and still except for the flying reptiles trying to eat their neighbors without being eaten first.  The tower was the only sign of civilization in a landscape still pristine from the days of primordium.  The red sun had been up for nearly an hour, casting green shadows across the landscape, but now the blue sun was cresting the horizon in its bid to balance the colors.
The supervisor’s voice boomed from the loudspeaker.  “What is taking so long up there?  We have a schedule!”

Spid, of the seventh sex, offspring of Woda, Blon, Drib, Palok, Finnd, Calpu and Slish, lacked the vocal organs to reply, and so extended the pseudopod holding her screwdriver so she could bang it on the table to indicate she had heard.

She jerked the primary oscillator chassis out from the circuitry rack roughly so it would make noise and convince the beast below that she was involved in her work.  There was nothing particularly wrong with the equipment, but it was her job was to keep the system calibrated.  The drift was terrible on this stuff.  The room was air-conditioned to keep the temperature as stable as possible, but even that wasn’t enough to hold the frequency as rock solid as the military engineers demanded.  The vacuum tubes glowed at her almost in insolence, and she could feel the heat they radiated before the air conditioner had a chance to suck it away.

She hoped that all the effort the government was putting into this newfangled thing called radar would be worth it.

But her mind was elsewhere, bemoaning her biological identity, over which she could not even voice her discontent.

Socially, being of the first sex was the best. They got all the perks: they made the best money, got the best jobs, held all the best political positions. Hell, they ran the planet and made all the wars. The second and third didn’t have it that bad, either. The fourth through sixth at least enjoyed a consistent shape. But being of the seventh sex left her with no social standing at all and little means to aspire to any.

The seventh sex was the worst from any perspective. They were at the bottom of the social totem pole, and where the first sex had everything, they had virtually nothing. Biologically, they could mate only with a pregnant member of the sixth sex who was ready to pass on an embryo, and then it lasted only a couple of seconds. She couldn’t even contribute any genetic material to her offspring, so how could it be called hers at all? Her body was nothing more an incubator for the children of the other six. Someday, she swore, there would a movement for sexual equality, and when there was, she would damned well be a part of it.

The only advantage visible to her was that she could relieve her sexual distress by stabbing herself with a screwdriver. She thought about that as she used hers to calibrate the local oscillator.

However, at that particular moment, she should have been paying more attention to her task instead of political and social injustice. Her screwdriver shorted against a grid bias circuit and drew a spark. The oscillator wavered, and in a quadrillion-to-one chance, momentarily transmitted a peculiar signal, one that was not to be generated again anywhere in the universe for nearly 3,000 years. Even at the speed of light, it traveled less than a mile before invoking the Red Shamitz.

Spid’s disappearance from the radar tower and the face of her world was never explained.


Chapter 1: Jupiter Orbital Invocation

When Lawrence Laurents, commander of Jupiter Station, swore, it was a momentous occasion. He had once called someone back on Earth an idiot, and when he had expressed that sentiment, the entire crew in the control center had collapsed into immediate silence as if it were the end of the universe. Now, perhaps for the second time in human history, he did it again.

“What the fuck do those idiots think they’re doing?” he demanded.

His use of the “F” word was an order of magnitude more significant than “idiot”.

“Getting serious there, aren’t you, Captain?” joked Stokowski from his communications console.

“But take the station that close to the planet?” Laurents argued. “That’s utterly insane! The course they plotted actually takes us into the lower layers of the atmosphere. The rings might be mostly dust, but there are still thousands of pieces of rock in erratic orbits. We’ve only charted a few hundred of them and only some of the big ones that intersect the orbit we’re supposed to be in. We don’t even know what’s closer to the planet. It’s what you call playing with suicide.”

“Massive debris should be less dense there,” said Stokowski. “We’ve had this conversation about 30 times. I think you’ve used those exact sentences before.”

“‘Should be’ is a lot to stake the lives of 2000 people on,” Laurents growled.

“The station is fully capable of the maneuver, thanks to the Kellerman engines.”

Molly Weaver Garramond, the station’s chief engineer, seemed to take advantage of any opportunity to voice the name Kellerman. She had been famous most of her life, if not for her own accomplishments, for the fact that almost half of the surviving photographs and all the videos of Lesley Kellerman were of her kissing him prior to his departure on his flight to the edge of the solar system, from where he had never returned. She had been the only known girlfriend, if only tragically briefly, of the father of modern space flight.

“I know the station is capable,” objected Laurents. “Its where it’s going that bothers me. We’ve had this conversation 30 times, remember. Atmospheric skimming is notoriously dangerous. Ships have been lost doing that. You, of all people, should be familiar with the history of it. As I recall, the first few attempts didn’t end happily.”

“Of course I am,” she agreed. “But the calculations do suggest that it is the safest course for avoiding the meteoroid cluster.”

“Damned asteroids!” Goodness! Laurents had done it again! Two profanities in two minutes. “Trillions of cubic kilometers of empty space out here and asteroids have to collide and send their trash our way. An hour earlier or later and it would have missed us completely. I guess I’m having to deal with deliberately going into a region that is notoriously dangerous.”

The collision he was talking about had happened just over six years earlier. It was known that the largest cluster of debris would approach Jupiter, but it had only been determined days earlier that it was on a direct collision course with Jupiter Station.

“Larry,” said Garramond, “you’re probably the best station commander in the Academy, but you’re not a mathematician. Why don’t you just let them do their job and at least pretend you can live with it?”

“Thank you for the compliment,” Laurents answered. “But that doesn’t change the problem.”

“But as to that problem,” said Garramond. “What are we going to do?”

“What are we going to do? We’re going to do exactly as the mathematicians and astronomers say. So, let’s sound the navigation alarm so people can get ready. We maneuver in … when?”

Garramond’s shiny and still youthful walnut hair pirouetted about her as she turned her head. “Twenty-two minutes, 13 seconds.”

“Whatever she says,” he continued. “But I want every eye in this control center on the e-mags and mass scanners every second that we’re outside standard orbit.”

There was a blaze of activity and a cacophony of warning alarms long before the steering jets even fired. And several more before the main engines. Even then, it was a relatively low thrust. Nineteen hours later, unless killed in the process, they would be screaming through the very outermost fringes of the Jovian atmosphere.


Kristy Zeigenfeld was at it again. With the onset of adolescence, she had assumed the traditional distaste for authority, and had done so with enthusiasm. Nothing was worse, of course, than those stupid transponder bracelets they had to wear and the sensors at all the segment access points that kept track of where aboard the giant station everyone was. There were a few kids even more stubborn than she was who kept taking them off, and she knew two of them who had had transponders implanted as a consequence, and she just wouldn’t sit still for such an indignity befalling her. Yeah, she knew it was for their own good, in case there was an emergency and the system had to know where they were, but it grated on her nonetheless. No matter. She wore her bracelet like a good girl, but she knew a way to get around those sensors, and little pleased her more than to fool those damned nosy computers.

She crawled through the ventilation duct on her journey from segment seven into segment eight. People kept telling her how smart she was. Maybe they were right; after all, she had invented her own tool to open the grates from the inside, and could therefore invade just about any recess of the station she wanted without the computer having a clue where she was, because no one had ever thought to put sensors in the ducts. But if she were that smart, she would have worn long pants to do this. She kept scraping her knees on the seams of the aluminum paneling. The worst part was that she’d done this before and knew all about those jagged seams. So much for being smart.

Sneaking through the air ducts was really the last of her childish pranks. Her father had said that she had handled puberty astonishingly well, and was doing a good job so far of coping with adolescence. The theory was that since she was allegedly so intelligent, she could be informed not only of the physical changes to expect, but the cognitive and emotional ones as well, and thereby be prepared to deal with them logically when they came. Formal operational thought, Doctor Zeigenfeld had driven into her. A whole new way of thinking. The ability to think in the abstract, he said, was the key to really growing up. Well, sneaking through the ducts was still fun. More than fun; it was a duty. It spoke of the spirit of exploration, one of the daring attributes that made them human, without which their kind never would have reached Jupiter. If she had the power, she would explore the entire universe.

Oddly, there was nothing particularly interesting about segment eight. Nobody lived there, and only infrequently did anyone work there. It was mostly for storage, just like segment two. The segment itself was a desert to the intellect, other than the observation post there. But the main element of interest was that she was there and nobody knew it. Oh, the joy of being one’s own person, of being in charge of one’s own life, of almost feeling like an adult!


“We have a bogey,” said Goldberg. “Looks to be on a collision course. Mass about 27,000 kilograms.”

“Numbers!” Laurents barked. “I need numbers!”

“Impact in two minutes, 42 seconds,” Goldberg said after some quick figuring. “Relative velocity, about 24 meters per second.”

A dead crawl for space velocities.

“Inner ring debris?” Laurents asked.

“No. It’s not that. A wayward fragment of the asteroid collision, it looks like. It must have recently lost most of its momentum by colliding within the rings, and that’s probably what sent it our way.”

“Damned perversity of nature,” Laurents muttered. A third profanity. “Where will it hit?”

“Calculating now. Segment seven. It’ll glance the inside radius.”

“Fuck!” he swore again. “That’s a residential segment. We’ll never get it evacuated in time. Can we steer out of the way?”

“Not a chance. Not in 2:36. We have to be careful modifying trajectories here. Doing it at all is dangerous.”
He tried to think quickly, but Molly Garramond thought faster.

“Coopersmith, accelerate the rotation of the ring. We’re going to try to make it hit section eight instead. Tangential thrust at 70 percent. Now! Move it! And send an evacuation order to section eight. Collision alarm to the whole station.”

Coopersmith’s fingers danced over her projection console, and in moments she had engaged the rotation thrusters. Immediately, the navigation alarm began wailing anew.

“Can we make it?” Laurents was demanding.

“Yes,” Coopersmith replied. “It’ll strike segment eight about 14 meters from the breakaway partition.”

“Good thinking, Garramond.”

Laurents allowed himself a moment of relief. At least there wouldn’t be hundreds of lives lost in this natural and administrative fiasco. Perhaps none. But that was the next problem.

“Who’s in segment eight?” he asked at large.

Stokowski checked with the computer. “Only Bradley McKenna. He’s listed as doing some research in the observation post.”

“Well get him the hell out!”

“He’s not going to make it now, in less than two minutes. Not from the observation post.”

“At least tell him what’s coming down. I don’t care if the alarm’s on. Get hold of him if you can. And pray he can make it to an escape pod.”

Laurents had spent eight years as the commander of Jupiter Station. Never before had anything like this happened. Virtually all the emergencies up until that point had been political.

“OK,” he said. “Isolate segment eight. Release the breakaway couplings.”

The station had been designed so that in the event of a collision such as they were anticipating, sections would break away from the rest of the station. The engineers had decided that the loss of a single segment, particularly if it was one that was rarely occupied such as segment eight, would limit the damage to the remainder of the station. A rigid impact of that much mass at that much velocity could otherwise rip off half the ring or more, with a correspondingly larger loss of life. Furthermore, much of the detached segment would survive instead of being torn to shreds, perhaps allowing the rescue of anyone aboard.

He just hoped that Brad McKenna survived long enough to be rescued. He was a promising young lad, brilliant in his field, and, unlike a lot of people he knew, a proper human being.


When the collision alarm sounded, Kristy was in the bowels of segment eight, near the escape pod bays. She froze, as likely did the other 2000 inhabitants.

“Collision alert!” screamed the artificial voice. “Segment Eight. One minute, 39 seconds. Evacuate. Collision alert! Segment Eight. One minute, 36 seconds. Evacuate.”

She froze even more, if that were possible. Segment Eight! Oh, God! That was her! When at last she could move, she raced for the elevator, but the console was flashing, “Segment isolated,” over and over.

Shit! How the hell could she evacuate if the elevators were out? Even if she could retrace her route through the ventilation ducts in a minute and a half, it would do no good. They would be sealed off, too, as would be the connecting passages. And nobody even knew she was there. Fuck! She had picked the worst possible day to sneak around the tracking system. She had been so smart that she was about to get herself killed.

The escape pods! The idea came to her in a flash. As it should have; they reviewed them every year in school. The big lifeboats were out of the question; they were much too unwieldy for her to even consider trying to steer. The tiny pods, perhaps. They were her only chance, but she had no idea how to operate them. You weren’t required to learn to pilot an escape pod until you were 14. She was 14, but she had always figured there were a few months left to do that. Heck, she should have learned it anyway, but she had been too busy being rebellious and trying to see what she could get away with. That streak was starting to mellow, she knew, but encroaching maturity might well have come too late to do her any good. She rushed back to where she had been, fumbled around the storage bay for a space suit in her size, with a yellow armband, and opened the access hatch in the floor to escape pod 1. She threw the suit down and followed after it. She could get into it later, if she lived long enough.

“Collision alert! Segment Eight. Twelve seconds. Evacuate.”

Why wouldn’t that damned alarm shut up?

She could not possibly get into the space suit in twelve seconds, so she stuffed it into the storage compartment and hopped into the pilot’s station. God! The maze of switches and indicators paralyzed her. Top hatch open​/​close​/&8203;lock. Side hatch open​/​close​/​lock. Launch tube doors open​/​close​/​lock. Inner lock open​/​close​/​lock. Launch catapult​/​arm​/​disarm​/​launch. Kellerman power​/​precharge​/​;charge​/​ignition. Attitude rockets on three axes. Backup power. Power reroute. Hydrogen flow. Acceleration protocol. Orbital-navigation computer. Landing calculation computer. E-mag scanners. Mass scanners. Fuck! It would take her an hour even to figure out what all of those controls were for. The only thing that made immediate sense was the switch for the internal lights. How could she ever launch that thing?

“Collision alert! Segment Eight. Four seconds. Evacuate.”

As her terror suffocated her, she counted those seconds off in her mind. The seconds that well might be all that remained of her life. Three … two … one … zero.

… (to be continued)

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