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Sequel to Wild Zone
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Mori Genda was an Army Sergeant in the first landing party to reach Dharma-6.

Humans arrived, sword drawn, and ready for a fight when they landed... but as Genda was to find out later, the real enemy on this seemingly hostile world was not somthing he could confront with his weaponry and military skill. It was a much more devious foe, that moved unseen in the thickened atmosphere about him, and carried the struggle deep inside Genda’s own body and mind... Turnabout, it seems, is fair play...


A selection from the novel “Mother Heart”

- by John Schettler


Genda remembered what it was like the first moment he set foot on Dharma VI. He was in on one of the first LC-9's the Navy put down, along with his squad of Army regulars. When he stepped off the landing plank onto the dry red soil of the planet he had the distinct feeling that he was trespassing on some long guarded preserve. Nothing in the landscape called to him or made welcome in any way. The droning winds seemed to harangue at him, invading the silence of his mind with their constant dirge. The raw, unviolated ground resisted his every step. It did not want him there with his men.

The feeling was more than the uncaring indifference of a hostile environment. He had been on places far more barren and hostile than Dharma VI. As he stared at the sun-bleached, hollowed landscape he had the unsettling impression that it was somehow aware of his presence, frowning, disapproving. And as the lander put out its cargo the hostility of the planet increased. Landrovers spilled out from the cargo bay, sputtering to life, propulsion tracks biting into the chalky ground. Bails of metal and plastifibre building stores followed. Soon men and equipment were strewn about the heart of a vast clearing near the edge of a multi-canopied jungle. He and his men formed a thin cordon of flesh and flex suit around the growing occupation of Dharma VI. They fanned out from the center of the clearing, eyes straining at the stillness for any sign of alien threat.

Genda stood line duty for the first 30 days on the planet. As human installations took root in the clearing behind him, more men were fed into the line. The camp grew, flattening the soil and lacing it with a host of cleansing agents. Like a searing hot brand, human interests cauterized the face of Dharma VI. By the end of his duty on the line, the perimeter of the camp was pushing at the frontier of the alien jungle. Here, more than ever, Genda felt the overweening disapproval of the planet. He remembered those early patrols, pushing out in threes and fours to penetrate the Wild Zone. Each step he took into the twisted network of plants provoked an equal and opposite reaction from the world around him. It was more than the strangeness; more than the danger and threatening of the unknown. It was hatred from the very first. Everything in the wild, from the matted duff under his boots up through the dense understory to the blooming crown above seemed to lower at him with unending hatred. And against this constant ill-will he threw his own stubbornness and determination, and the considerable weight of the Colonial Army with all of its firepower and machination.

But he could never escape the notion that it would all be for naught in the end. The Safe Zone spread out on a hundred square kilometers of flat sterile ground, and sprouted spires of metal and plastic. One by one the denizens of the Wild were cornered and dragged off to their captivity in the Lifeform Colony, but Dharma VI would not surrender. It waited with growing hostility and malice against the time when the horde of marauding Asects would arise and take up the fight against this human infection. Genda could feel it from the very first. They would never be the master of Dharma VI. All of his sweat and toil was only a holding action against a world that would have its way in the end.

Now, years later, the Wild Zone was taking back everything the human colony has so arrogantly stolen. Now it had the victory at last, he thought. The colony was devastated--his comrades dead and devoured by the Asect horde.  And now Dharma VI would not let them go. It was not enough to smash the outer shell of human industry and greed. The planet wanted more. It had hold of them now, and it drove home its vengeance with the same devouring hatred and fury of the Asect horde below. The men that died on the planet below had a kinder fate than he.

Genda remembered...then the sweat broke on his brow and the fever came to his mind once more. It was in his body now. It was in his mind. He could feel something growing in him, pushing out patrols and gathering up the stuff of his very being by ones and twos. He knew it would do the same thing to him that he had tried to do to Dharma VI. It would find a place to gather itself and consolidate its hold on him--a Safe Zone--A place where it could guard itself against his body's ever searching attack. He could feel it. Something was growing in him now, like an alien camp set down in the planetary world of his body. It would go about its work with a sinister purpose, pushing out its cancerous perimeter as it bloated inside him. Soon it would be a visible scar on his body, like the imposed desolation of the Safe Zone on the planet below.

He was afraid to think what might happen next. The doctor's were fluttering over him now; fussing and probing at something on the back of his neck. In lucid moments when the fever in his mind subsided he could reason it out. He knew what the alien wanted, and he would give it no welcome. In the quiet hours alone in Sick Bay, Genda had plenty of time to think.

Something had hold of him now, and it meant to use him for its own purposes. It was eating away at him, deep down inside. But it would not have its way so easy. He knew what the alien wanted--not his body, but his mind. It was after his mind from the very first. Even on the planet below he had the sense that Dharma would accept his body in the weave of its own life-sewn tapestry. But for his mind it had nothing but contempt.

He had to fight back! It was filling his brain with visions and terrible nightmares. It clawed open the doors of his unconscious and drew our strands and ends of a thousand poison dreams to haunt his waking mind. And sleep brought him no rest or relief. Sleep was the worst of all--a long descent into hell where his mind cowered from images so vile that he would wake up screaming, his body unable to tolerate the torture of his brain.

But he would not give up so easily. He drew his mind together in the brief intervals of quiet and molded his identity around a single consuming emotion--Hatred. He focused his thoughts like a marshaling army against the alien invader in his body.  Hatred!  Whatever it wanted it would not find safe haven in him! He drew himself into a still point inside his mind and flung his resentment and ill-will against the alien with every waking moment. He beat down on it with rancor and a loathing enmity that would give it no rest. His hatred was his only hold on himself now. As long as he ranged against the invader with stubborn opposition, he could preserve the sense of his own distinction and self. He smiled to think how like the world below he was now. He wondered if he would win out in the end, and drive the invader into a hopeless corner to be devoured , as the Asect horde devoured his men below. If there was anything in him that was angry, anything that hungered, he called for it now as he mustered his last defense. He would give the alien a nightmare of his own!

Turn about, he thought, was always fair play...

Copyright (c) John Schettler, 1992

For another perspective on this meeting of two worlds we have to turn to the one thing that seems to overcome our differences, dispells our sense of isolation in the world and brings us into a unity... Love. In the next scene discover how the simple act of love can carry a new and healing view of our relationship to nature ... Even on a planet like Dharma-6...

Inside every man, even the most intrepid of warriors, the image and soul of a woman beckons him to love... This image is his Anima, as Jung called it, and it is sometimes carried, for a time, by a real woman in the outer world.

In this scene from the novel “Mother Heart” the main character, Ryan, has an encounter, and experience that opens a new perspective on the battle he has been waging against an alien world. How different are we from one another...from everything around us? In the simple act of joining with another, we find a startling sense of the reality of our unity with the universe at large...

Gates-Mc-OptGates took Ryan by the hand and pulled him gently down onto a sward of fluffy white moss. She could see that he was still worried about the others--still planning, and calculating in his mind how to best secure their safety.

"Don't worry for them." She smiled and reached for Ryan's helmet. "Can't you hear with that off?"

"I suppose so," Ryan said, lifting the helmet off and setting it aside. He eased himself back, groaning as the fatigue slipped from his tired limbs.

"I knew you were here," said Gates. "I could sense you were close by, but the Brood was up in my blood, and I was lost for a while. Forgive me for not coming to you sooner."

Ryan gave her a confused look. He wanted to tell her everything about the danger they were in, and how important it was for her to get safely back to the container ship. But his mind was a jumble of images, and worried thoughts pressed in on him from every side. What happened to CLEM? Did Jekko get him back to the Safe Zone in one piece? When would the Asects emerge again? Would they have enough time to reach the Safe Zone? What about the Lyrpa?

"You are troubled," Gates could sense his discomfort. "You want to fix everything, but you can't, and its eating you up inside." She put her hand on his brow, smoothing away the lines of concern.

"This place is a nightmare," he said. "We've got more trouble here than we bargained for. If this virus isn't stopped--" She hushed him, pressing a soft hand over his mouth.

"Please don't be so worried..." Her hand rested on his neck, and Ryan closed his eyes. "There are things I must tell you" she said, "but not with my words. I must help you to understand in another way, and let you see what I have seen." Her voice was soft and comforting to him. Her gentle touch seemed to soothe his cares and quiet the ceaseless calculation in his mind. He let his guard down, easing off the constant vigil he kept.

Gates could feel the subtle shift in his thoughts. He had a strength of character and purpose about him. He stood apart, stubborn and resolute, but fighting always for the good he perceived in his own heart. She moved her hand, pressing lightly over his chest to the place where his heart was beating. She could feel the steady pulse, and more--the rhythm of his emotion bound up in a swirling energy there.

"Let me comfort you..." Ryan felt a rustle of clothing, and opened his eyes to see that Gates had thrown off her parka. She was naked from the waist up, and loosened her leggings to cast them aside. The sight of her body stirred him, so smooth and shapely, and yet so fragile against the backdrop of the Wild Zone.

"What are you doing?" He questioned, but she settled in next to him without a word. Her hand traced over his forehead, closing his eyes and smoothing his cheek. The silent persuasion of her touch stilled his concern. She sat up and traced her hands over his shoulders and arms, as if easing away the fatigue from his limbs. Gently, she tugged at the zipper of his flex suit, pulling it all the way down and peeling open the protective garment as she did so. Ryan gave a start, but she placed her hands on his chest, gentling him down onto the bed of moss once again. Her touch was so soft and nurturing to him. Her hands moved over his skin, forgiving, absolving, opening him to a feeling that he had long denied himself.

She joined with him in her mind, feeling the quiet yearning of the man behind the solitary front of his self -image. He was lost in his own determination. His strength of purpose and the courage of his will had become a way for him to isolate himself from the pain he carried. She reached for it, like a nurse extending her healing touch to a wounded patient. There was a loneliness about him and she could sense that he wanted someone in an almost desperate way, but could never show the need. Images of a woman bloomed in his mind. A beautiful woman with fair white skin and dark hair. He waited for her in his heart over long empty years, and he filled the void in his life with his courage and the ceaseless energy of his mind. He waited still, never complete, wanting her, needing her; loving her with a steadfast loyalty as true as his beating heart.

Gates could feel the love in him, and she wrapped her heart around it--holding it like a child. He would never have her, this woman in his mind and heart, and Gates could sense that he knew this on some deeper level. But in spite of the resignation that shrouded his heart, the love would not be stilled. He kept it safe in a quiet place, that few could find in him. But she saw it, and blessed it with the strength of her own heart as she touched him in the Wild.

Her hands moved over him now, caressing and exciting where once they had comforted him. She would join with his love, and take the part of the unseen woman he carried inside. She lowered herself and kissed him, pleased to feel the growing response in his lips. Her mouth opened him, and drew him out to join with the energy of the Wild. She traced a path of sweet wet kisses along the side of his neck as she moved his hand to her breast. His touch was light at first, tentative and innocent. Then he took her in his arms as they kissed more deeply. Her hand roamed and pushed the flex suit away. He shifted it over his shoulders, sliding it off. His breath came faster when she touched him now, reaching down and finding him ready for her; caressing him; giving him long moments of pleasure with her hand.

"Join with me..." She whispered, shifting her body over him.

Ryan could feel the soft wetness of her body envelop him. She eased herself down, surrounding him, taking him in with a gentle rocking motion. They were joined, and Ryan felt a warmth and energy building in his loins and rising through his body like a wave. No one had touched him this way for a very long time. He felt the loneliness of his life open up to this woman, and his heart beat faster as she moved above him. He reached for her, cupping her small breasts in the palms of his hands. He caressed her gently, as they moved in a synchronous rhythm together. He traced his hands down over her torso and smoothed the slender contours of her thighs. She touched the place above her heart with one hand, and pressed the other fast against his own...

There was a light in Ryan's mind. A light that grew brighter as the sensation of their lovemaking gathered strength. It grew from the rising energy of their bodies and illuminated his deepest self. She was with him in the light. He could feel the sweet presence of another being whispering to him, leading him away. His awareness followed her, taken off on strange pathways filled with haunting shapes and colors which he did not understand. But he could feel her strength and the benevolence of her purpose. The whispered coils of her voice tethered him, and drew him safely on.

Images of alien life blossomed in his mind, but he saw them with new eyes now. They were no longer threatening and hostile to him--no longer something he had to guard against and oppose. The woman led him from one shape to another, each one adding to his understanding when he passed through it. They played in the filaments of strange drifting plants, and slid through tendrils of coiled vines. They roamed through the thick stalky trunk of the Kesha plant, and emerged in the crown of the highest canopy of the Wild. They puffed away on polyps of alien spores and drifted to the misted floor of the forest to land on the glistening trail of a jellied creature grazing on the vapor moss. They fled into the twisting roots which delved beneath the heavy red soil and fingered their way into the quiet darkness of the planet below.

Ryan could hear the rhythmic song of a great presence in the heart of the planet. It sang to them from far away, like a whale song riding on the deepest currents of the ocean. They listened to the song, and followed it home to the source. Darkness closed around them, illuminated only by the bright energy of their minds as they moved. At last they came to a boundary, and Ryan saw the shape of a great barnacled shell in his mind. The song of the planet emanated from deep inside, resonant and steady, coursing on with a purpose he could not fathom. This was life, he thought, this was life itself.

Everything in the world around him now, every shape and form was nothing more than a varied expression of this one life. And he was just another shape in the vastness of the world--a shape tempered by the light of his mind which could choose to join with everything it had seen, or choose again to shut him away and stand forever apart. But the sense of his own separateness was only an illusion in the end. Try as he might, he could not defend the walls of his self for long. The life around him called him out. The song became a chorus, and it wanted his voice in the harmony.

He gave himself to the rhythm even as his body gave itself over to the inevitable sensation that was rising in him now. His seed flowed into the warmth of the woman as their union was complete. Climax shook his body and he opened his eyes once more.

Gates loomed over him, still joined and moving in a steady rhythm. Her own crescendo added to the energy of the moment when it came after his. He was taken with her beauty, the soft roundness of her body, breasts flushed with passion as she arched her back. For that one moment he was emptied into her, one with her in the giving of his deepest self. The sweetness and complete release of the moment overwhelmed him. There was no greed in his union-- no taking for the sake of pleasure alone. Instead it was a wholehearted giving that carried the essence of his self into hers, and blended them into another whole. And with it all was the deep gratification of feeling he was wanted in the world, and desired here and now by this woman in the Wild. There was nothing to compare with it. How could he have denied himself this joining for so many years? How could he remain in the isolation of his self, the struggle and the loneliness when this relief could be experienced?

He sighed with a satisfaction that went far beyond the urges of his body. The joining was a reminder that he was never alone in the end. It was as close as he could come to the immutable fact that in spite of his seeming separateness, he was inextricably bound with the people and places of the life he led--bound so securely that he could never walk apart from them again and not know it. The certainty of his place in the world was apparent to him--and with it the sacred place of every other shape, even the hideous form of the Asects with all their hunger and vicious anger.

The Asects were just another part of the process here, the destroyer and the changer of shapes and forms. The life they preyed upon was not lost, but only renewed in the endless cycle. And he even saw the threatening virus in another light--a gardener, pruning and trimming at the tree of life on Dharma VI. His view of the world around him was suddenly different. Instead of a hostile world which sought his life at every turn, he felt the quiet strength and power of the planet--he heard its heartbeat, echoing in the stillness of his mind.

"Mother-Heart..." Gates whispered out a name, and Ryan understood what she meant at last. Against that understanding the hard steel and plastic of the human shell seemed so ludicrous and unnecessary. The ships in orbit above, the weapons they brought, the empty wound of the Safe Zone branded on the face of this world stood out in stark contrast to the soft roundness of the woman above him. Gates fixed his eyes on her own, and they looked at one another for the longest time. He reached for her, and pulled her close, surrounding her with his arms. He held her tightly, afraid to release her for fear of losing the realization that had come to him with their lovemaking.

She felt his need and kissed him on the earlobe, whispering a reassurance. "You will not lose this...I am here for you now, and if not me tomorrow, then another...You have only to give yourself up to find this place again--to find the woman inside you that you love so deeply. Yes...She may never choose you in this world, but she will be with you always...You created her! It was your love that gave her life all these years. Do you see that? And you have only to look for her to find her again in the face of another when you reach this place together." She paused, kissing him again for a long time. "Let me be here for you if she will not..." There was a question in her voice.

Ryan looked at her, sensing for the first time the admiration and secret feeling Gates had harbored for him. He smiled at her, warming to the welcome in her face and hands. She was so different now. Her experience on Dharma VI had changed the quiet young ensign he met on the Achilles into a beautiful woman with a strength and presence that he found captivating. But there was still an innocence about her, and a shyness in the question she had asked him. It touched the place in his heart that had waited alone for so many years.

"I understand,” he said. And they held one another for a long time, still joined and cradled in the loom of the Wild.

 - Copyright (c) John Schettler, 1992

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When Humans set out to colonize other worlds will they bring war with them? And what will they expect in return?


Mother Heart - ASIN: B0053GBKZ0

  • Sci-Fi Adventure ( ePub, Mobi, PDF)
  • Sequel to Wild Zone
  • Full color cover
  • 47 Chapters & Epilogue - 138120 Words
  • Author’s Introduction and Afterword
  • Avg Price: Print $4.99 eBook

Book II in the Dharman Series
Sequel to “Wild Zone”

Available Now!


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