"Unburnt and Unbroken"
Vasha Greeshakk's Tale
by Justin R. Stebbins
Greeshakk struck the flint with the ancient spearhead, again and again, watching the sparks fly like falling stars in the night. They landed on his meager pile of firewood and set it ablaze. His slit nostrils flared as he took a deep breath and blew on the flames, fanning them with life-giving oxygen.
Fire was the truest, purest gift of the god Helexith. Helexith had given it to His children in order to grant them life, for without its light they could not see, and without its warmth they could not live. He had also given it to them so that they might destroy their enemies. For just as fire gave life, so too could it take life away.
Greeshakk reached his five-clawed hand – three fingers and two thumbs – into the fire and grasped one long stick of wood that was roaring mightily. Without hesitating, he turned the burning brand toward himself… and pressed the flames against his thigh.
He held it there for several seconds, willing his mind to ignore the pain… and the sound and smell of his own flesh cooking. He kept his vision fixed on a distant object: the Mahlok tower rising up like a black obelisk on the horizon, against the dark blue night sky of Slasheth, home planet of the Slashrim. Greeshakk focused on it at the expense of all else, letting his mind fill with hatred and fury. He had been nurturing these emotions for all his life, and they were strong now – very strong – much stronger than a silly little thing like pain.
At last, he dropped the burning log and stamped it out with his bare foot, not even cringing as he did so. Then he took a folded cloth from nearby and pressed it against his thigh, putting out the fire burning on his hide. He did not draw the cloth away again to inspect the wound, for he knew some of his thick green skin would come away with it. He just wrapped it around his leg.
Greeshakk’s green lips peeled back from his rows of pointed teeth as he said: “I am ready now, brother.”
He said this to himself, for there was no brother nearby. He had never even met his twin egg-brother – he had only been told that he existed. For his brother had been taken away as a child, and not just to live in the communal brood with the other hatchlings, to be raised by all the mothers of the village. No, he had been taken by the Mahlok – to be raised as a Draklûz.
The Draklûz were the most elite Slashrim infantry force in the Helexith Empire, trained from the earliest years of childhood to hold absolute loyalty to Zuhaxellod, the Avatar of the god Helexith who ruled the Empire and would someday rule the universe. For such was the prophecy of Zuhaxellod, who spoke for Helexith, the one true god… and prophecy was never wrong.
Greeshakk gripped his own wounded leg tighter and tighter as he thought of this… this nonsense. Zuhaxellod was no prophet, and certainly no Avatar of Helexith. He was just a Mahlok. And the Mahlok were not the chosen of Helexith just because they wielded the power of fire. Fire was not even that impressive. It consumed too quickly, died out too fast, and was easily doused.
It doesn’t even hurt, Greeshakk thought with a half-mad, toothy grin on his lizard-like face. He took some bandages and wrapped them around his leg, binding the cloth over his wounded thigh. Then he put on the ragged loincloths he always wore around his waist. They were his only clothing as a humble laborer.
He thought: As long as I cannot feel the flames, they cannot harm me. Fires can be put out. Wounds can heal. It is the pain and the fear that kills. As long as I feel neither pain nor fear, I can walk through a Mahlok’s flames and tear out his weak throat. Their flesh is tough, but no match for Slashrim claws. The blood will burn my hands, but this too will heal. All things heal, except mortal wounds. And only mortal wounds will I inflict upon them. I will let none live. The Mahlok do not know mercy, so they will receive none.
He stepped up to the trough of water nearby and looked down at his reflection. He was quite a specimen of his race: at the peak of the adult zrillak stage of the Slashrim life cycle, standing over seven feet high, with bright green skin, yellow eyes, and bulging muscles. A row of hornlets protruded down from his chin like a pointed beard, and crown of five long horns extended from the back of his head like the rays of a sun. Perhaps this symbolism was why the Mahlok had originally chosen him to be a priest of Helexith, the god of fire and thus god of the life-giving sun. Unfortunately he had lost this prestigious position when he began questioning his own teachings.
The Slashrim had worshiped Helexith long before the Mahlok had arrived on their homeworld of Slasheth, this much was certain. There were ancient ruins dotting the planet with carvings that showed Slashrim bowing to a sun-god or fire-god. Some of the different tribal cultures had different ways of worship and different stories, yet they all seemed to have worshiped this same god. Unfortunately, there were few details to be found about the pre-Mahlok cultures of Helexith.
But everyone knew all too well what had happened after, or at least what the Mahlok told them had happened. The Mahlok had come to Slasheth riding upon the wings of dragons, it was said – dragons that could fly not only through the sky, but through the stars as well, sailing across the cold vacuum of space as easily as a bird flew through the atmosphere.
Not that there were many birds on Slasheth, thought Greeshakk. Most every creature here is still reptilian, and only a few have evolved feathers. The young planet Slasheth had never suffered a cataclysmic event to end the age of reptiles. The Slashrim had evolved directly from them. Actually, a few Slashrim even had feathers. Greeshakk often wondered if, someday, countless millennia from now, provided natural or artificial selection could be allowed to operate… if the Slashrim might eventually have beautiful feathered wings and sail the skies just like the Sarran.
Greeshakk thought about these things because he was what the Mahlok called hakgrin – clever. Too clever. Dangerously clever. He ingested knowledge as voraciously as most of his brethren consumed meat.
This was why he had begun to question the story that he preached to his followers: the story of how the dragon-riding Mahlok had swooped down to Slasheth and brought with them the truth about the god Helexith. They told the Slashrim that they were the chosen people of their sun-god, sent by him to show them the error of their ways. Led by the first Zuhaxellod, the Mahlok had united all of the Slashrim tribes under their banner, to obey and worship them like slaves. A few of the Slashrim had resisted… and the Mahlok had purged those heretics and infidels with holy fire.
Greeshakk had first begun to question this tale when he saw the images of fire gods and sun gods on ancient temples, many of them presenting the god in different ways. Greeshakk had been an inspirational preacher, and thus the Mahlok had sent him to many different regions of the planet, giving him a chance to study all of the holy sites. And after many years, he had summoned up the courage to ask the Mahlok about the discrepancies he’d found.
And that was all it took. They had stripped him of his priestly mantle and sent him to work as a laborer, deep in a Mahlok fortress where there was no danger of him spreading dissent to the natives. Here, he spent most of his days simply lifting heavy objects like engines and tires and crates of ammunition, for he was very strong. He was not trusted to use his cleverness as an engineer or repairman at the base. No one told him what it was he was carrying or how it operated… but he listened and observed.
And started formulating a plan.
Now it was time to put that plan into action. He was currently in the laborer camp that lay just within the fortress’s outer wall. All of the Slashrim laborers here were prisoners, like himself, guilty of some ‘crime’ or heresy against Helexith. He wished he could have recruited some of them to help him, but much to his dismay, he knew he could not entirely trust his fellow Slashrim. There was always the chance that one of them would tell the Mahlok, in hopes of earning some reward like a better bed, easier work, or extra food. Greeshakk did not wish to be sold out and then burned alive just so some spineless coward could get an extra bowl of poj-poj.
Besides, it was really a job for one Slashrim, and preferably a clever one. He would return someday, he hoped, to help the others… if the Mahlok had not worked them to death before then.
First he picked up his weapon. The Mahlok never let any of the slaves in the base keep any kind of tool – not even an eating utensil – that might be used as a blade. This seemed silly to Greeshakk, considering they were naturally armed with claws and teeth that could rend the flesh of an unarmored Mahlok far more easily than could a fork. Even so, he had been overjoyed when he’d discovered the ancient spearhead while digging a fire-pit in the laborer camp. It felt so fitting that he might earn his freedom by killing Mahlok with a weapon one of his people had forged before the Mahlok had ever indoctrinated and enslaved them.
He stuck the weapon underneath some of the bandages on his burnt leg, and then pulled his loincloth around to cover it. At least the spearhead-dagger had one advantage over his claws and teeth, in that it could be thrown to kill from a distance. He had practiced with it many times now.
Next he retrieved his second tool: a bag of dirt. It seemed an odd weapon for a desperate escape, but it would be necessary. He needed an excuse to walk around the base, so he would claim the bag contained parts of some kind, requested by a technician some place, and he would not know the details because it was not a slave’s place to ask questions.
He might also need the dirt itself, for another reason… but he preferred not to think about that.
Greeshakk took a deep breath and began walking, one foot and then the other, toward his first target: the data center. It would be difficult to reach, for it lay deep within the base. But he refused to leave before at least trying to gain access to the Truth.
There was nothing in all the universe that Greeshakk valued higher than Truth – nothing that he desired more than to know the Truth about his people and their history and culture, and how the Mahlok had enslaved them. It would be the ultimate weapon to win their freedom.
Unfortunately, the data center would be guarded by Mahlok. Although the logical part of his brain told him he had more to fear from the strength and ferocity of loyalist Slashrim than from the flames of the Mahlok, Greeshakk’s subconscious could not help but fill his mind with a mist of dread and terror. For it had been trained to do so all his life, by Mahlok constantly teaching him that they wielded power beyond all comprehension – the power of God, the Fire of Helexith. They were Helexith’s chosen people, they claimed, and to strike a Mahlok was to lash out at God himself. Greeshakk’s hands trembled slightly at the thought, and yet he steeled himself and strode on.
He passed a few Mahlok soldiers on his way to the data center. They wore night-black armor plating that covered the most vital parts of their bodies, but with no clothing beneath, for their skin was as durable as almost any top-of-the-line nanofiber mesh suit. The skin of a Mahlok was red and slightly translucent, so that their blazing-hot blood actually caused them to glow vaguely in the night.
Their pupilless eyes, on the other hand, were not vague at all; they glowed hot yellow like the sun itself. These eyes were their only facial features, for they possessed no mouth, nor nose, nor hair. The only physical characteristic that distinguished two Mahlok individuals from one another was the pattern of black lines that ran along every part of their skin like natural tattoos.
Fortunately for Greeshakk, there was a fact about slaves: they were often overlooked. Most of the Mahlok who even noticed his presence did not give Greeshakk a second thought. Carrying his sack, with his head bowed in obeisance as they passed, they paid him the same amount of attention they would have paid to a mechanical drone following its programmed route.
He reached the data center. The building was a true Mahlok structure: made entirely of metal, dark and imposing, with an ominous red glow emanating from the thin, slit windows – and, to Greeshakk’s surprise, from the open door. He had come up with a dozen different plans to try to enter the building, but apparently he would need none of them. He could just walk right in.
But if the door was open, it probably meant there was someone inside. And Slashrim seldom had any business inside the data center, except in the rare cases that heavy equipment was carried in or out. So the individual inside the building was probably a Mahlok.
Greeshakk steeled himself. He knew he would have to face one the fire-people sooner or later – it was inevitable. So without allowing himself further time to consider it, he stepped into the building and closed the heavy door. He heard it seal shut behind him.
The hallway was lined with lights: the flashing diodes on the racks of computers and the glowing holographic interfaces hovering in midair along the walls. There was no other source of light… save for the Mahlok.
Greeshakk saw his eyes first: two slits of bright, yellow-white heat cutting through the blackness. His skin glowed too, and he wore only a few straps of black leather to cover it. His inner fire illuminated his godlike physique, which was highlighted by the network of black lines covering his translucent skin. The Mahlok stared at Greeshakk, with no expression readable in his eyes.
A deep voice reverberated from somewhere within the Mahlok: “Slave. What are you doing here?”
Greeshakk had planned to strike quickly, before the Mahlok even had time to think… but now he found himself paralyzed. Staring into those blazing yellow eyes, he found he could not move. The decades of lifelong conditioning had at least partially accomplished their job: at the mere sight of a Mahlok, he was frozen with fear.
“I...” he managed to stammer, “I came to deliver...”
“Wait,” interrupted the Mahlok, causing Greeshakk to fall silent immediately. “I know you… Greeshakk, the fallen priest. You would not be sent here. This is an insurrection, isn’t it?”
“An escape,” Greeshakk answered evenly, now meeting the Mahlok’s gaze with furious disrespect, letting hatred drive back his fear. “Insurrection comes later.”
“Oh, my child, my child...” intoned the Mahlok, who spoke like a trained priest himself. “How far you’ve fallen. But though your belief in the Mahlok has wavered, I know that you still believe in Helexith – I can see it in your eyes. You’re wrong about us. We are His prophets, and your continued transgressions against us are transgressions against Him, and He will not be so forgiving as we have been to you. Repent now, and do your penance...”
“No!” Greeshakk interrupted, waving his clawed hand as if to ward off the Mahlok’s spell. “I know that you lie – I have seen it! I’ve seen the ancient graven images, showing Helexith not as a Mahlok avatar, but a Slashrim!”
“Early prophets,” said the Mahlok, dismissively. “We were sent by Helexith to correct them, to show them the true way.”
Greeshakk growled: “The images showed Helexith as a breaker of chains, a destroyer of empires – casting down cruel tribal kings, with words rather than swords, and freeing their slaves – lifting them up! Under your rule, we get the opposite: slavery and war for all eternity!”
The Mahlok shook his head. “That is where you’re wrong, my child. Not for eternity, no – only until the final prophecy of Helexith comes to pass, and all the stars of the sky are under our domain. Then, when His word has been brought to every corner of the universe and all beings bow to His will and His law… then, and only then can we have true freedom, and peace can finally–”
Greeshakk had heard enough. Before the Mahlok was even done speaking, he charged. He hoped he would be faster than the Mahlok’s reflexes, but he forgot that Mahlok didn’t even need to raise their hands to shoot their flames. The fires burst right from the Mahlok’s bare chest, engulfing Greeshakk in the inferno.
The Slashrim felt the wave of fire wash over him, and he ignored it. Pushing the pain of the searing heat from his mind, he kept his yellow eyes focused on those of the Mahlok, which were glowing white-hot now. And they grew as wide as saucers when the Mahlok noticed that Greeshakk was barely even slowing his stride. He was not used to such an unbroken Slashrim – one who did not fall to his knees when a Mahlok made even a single flame dance in his hand.
Greeshakk reached out grabbed the Mahlok’s slender little neck. With all his strength, he sank his claws deep into the Mahlok’s thick skin and felt its hot blood burn the tips of his fingers. Then he tore its throat out.
The flames stopped. Greeshakk stepped back, avoiding the gush of hot blood that spurted from the Mahlok’s neck as it fell dead at his feet. The expression of shock and terror remained forever in the Mahlok’s eyes, even while they grew dim as his lifeblood flowed onto the floor, heating and warping the metal there. The expression would never leave, for when a Mahlok died and the heat left it, its body hardened almost to stone.
Greeshakk vaguely wished he could take the body with him and prop it up like a statue for all to see – a monument to rebellion.
But he had no time to pat himself on the back. It was time to use the sack of dirt he’d brought along for its true purpose. Greeshakk quickly ran to the heavy bag where he’d dropped it on the floor. He opened it wide and drove his head and his arm deep into the sand, putting out any flames that might still be burning on his skin. It did nothing to relieve the pain, however, which was beginning to assert itself now that his adrenaline was subsiding. He willed himself to ignore it. There was no time to tend to his wounds.
Greeshakk had rehearsed these next steps before, to ensure he had them right. Even as hakgrin as he was, computers still confused him at times, so practice was required for speed of operation. First he grabbed the Mahlok’s hand while it was still warm and pressed it to the security panel, to ensure he had full access. Then he ran a search for the categories he wanted and began transferring them to a removable drive…
His claws punched through the holographic control panel as he hunted for the right buttons and tapped them. It took him longer than he would have liked, and he kept checking over his shoulder in fear that another Mahlok might find him there.
As the files downloaded to the drive, Greeshakk witnessed glimpses of strange things among the images that flashed across the screen. He saw the faces of alien species – some with a deep intelligence burning in their eyes – along with words like “conquered,” “enslaved,” and “eradicated.” These were the races, Greeshakk thought, that had proved less useful than the Slashrim. A chill ran down his curved, spiked spine.
Once the transfer was complete, a small stick ejected from the panel behind the hologram. Greeshakk removed it and tucked it between his lips and his gums – the safest place he could think of. He then quickly ran out of the building and headed for the hangar, hoping that anyone he passed would ignore the fresh burns all over his body. Perhaps they would assume he had recently been disciplined by a Mahlok and leave him alone, or so he hoped.
There was no way he could ever escape the long arm of the Helexith Empire if he remained on Slasheth. He had to find somewhere far from the stars that the Mahlok controlled, and that was a tall order, for their Empire spanned more than a third of the Nova Refuge galaxy.
In truth, Greeshakk had no idea where he would go. He doubted the Hub Authority would grant him refuge, for they had a treaty with the Helexith Empire. Harmony seemed too distant and had too much of a past with his kind, due to their long and bloody wars with Helexith. They would not be quick to trust him. And he would not be safe with the bands of free Slashrim rebels and other outlaws known as the Ravagers, for the Mahlok would know to look for him there, and many of those lawless criminals would probably prefer to sell him out for a reward than risk the full wrath of Helexith.
That just left one place: Human space. Those strange little intruders to this galaxy, who had arrived by the fleet-load during the height of Helexith’s war with Harmony. With the two greatest Empires of Nova Refuge distracted by their wars, the Humans had fought to gain control of a few distant colonies and claim a section of space for themselves. They were naïve, eager to invite visitors from across the stars to their worlds. Even if they didn’t welcome him with open arms, their territory would at least be a good place to hide…
Greeshakk silently thanked whatever gods might be that the spaceport looked deserted, save for a few Slashrim workers. He made his way quickly toward the transports, looking for a particular type of ship: a blockade runner. As a priest, he had once traveled to a system on the border between Helexith and Human space, home to twin planets Leo and Kuro. He had traveled on a transport equipped to speed quickly through hostile territory. And that was precisely what he needed now.
He spotted the silhouette of one looming over a row of long-range fighters, and he headed in that direction. The eerie silence of the spaceport unnerved him. He noticed shadows moving in his peripheral version, but they were too big to be Mahlok. They seemed to be the Slashrim workers he’d noticed. Why were they following him?
Then he noticed their armor: sleek, well-made… and solid black.
“Where are you going, green one?” came the gruff voice of one of the warriors, echoing in the confines of his helmet. “You lost?”
Greeshakk kept walking toward the ship, speeding up his pace only slightly. His clawed toes clacked against the metal floor, echoing through the hangar.
“Removing cargo crate from blockade runner,” he said, trying to sound dumb and bored. “It will be heavy – perhaps you can help?”
“Don’t joke with us, Greeshakk,” said the other Draklûz. “We know about you. We’ve been told to keep an eye out for you. Come with us to the tower, and maybe you won’t get hurt.”
“Of course I will be hurt,” replied Greeshakk, slowing down now and standing taller – he was quite physically imposing, even for a Slashrim. “You know what the Mahlok do to traitors like me. Let me leave, or better yet – come with me. I will make a new home for our people…”
The Draklûz warriors both broke down into belting laughter. “Our people? Hahahaha! We were told you’d say something like that. You stupid heretic. You won’t even fight us, will you? Because we’re your ‘brothers’?”
Greeshakk’s gaze dropped. “One of you may be, for all that I know. I had a twin egg-brother, and he was taken to be one of you – taken by the Mahlok to be trained and brainwashed. But you are wrong that I won’t fight you. I will. And I will win. Do you see these burns? I killed a Mahlok earlier, with my bare hands. With these claws, I tore out the throat of one of your gods. The gods bleed, brothers.”
This only seemed to enrage the Draklûz. One of them had red eyes, which blazed with anger to hear such blasphemy. The warrior drew his weapon, which was a gun that could also be used as an axe, thanks to the wicked blade on the butt of its grip, and the grip-tape wrapped around the barrel.
“We know that they bleed,” said the Draklûz, “and to spill that ichor is heresy. The punishment is death. And we are your executioners.”
“At least fight me with honor,” growled Greeshakk, tossing down his bag and stretching his burned limbs. “Throw me a weapon, or drop yours and take off that armor, and let us fight with tooth and claw, as Helexith intended.”
“Do not blaspheme that name with your tongue, heretic,” said the Draklûz, and he began twirling his dual-purpose weapon, to fire it in gun mode and shoot Greeshakk down. “An apostate has no honor.”
Greeshakk spun around and, with all of his strength, kicked his bag of dirt toward the Draklûz warrior. The dust sprayed out in a great cloud, covering the Slashrim’s armor in a fine grey-brown soot, blocking the visor so that he had to remove his helmet in order to even see.
As the first Draklûz struggled with this, Greeshakk quickly charged at the second. The soldier managed to get off a single shot, which grazed Greeshakk’s arm – but the bigger, naked Slashrim was so badly burned already that he didn’t even feel it. He grabbed the Draklûz’s weapon and tried to wrench it out of his hands, but his foe was too strong. They both struggled for control of the gun… and the barrel inched ever closer to line up with Greeshakk’s chest.
So just as the Draklûz was about to fire, Greeshakk changed tactics. He twisted his body around and quickly wrenched the Draklûz’s arm up so that the weapon was pointed somewhere else: straight at the other Draklûz. Two heavy blazer rounds boomed out into the night, blowing the unfortunate Slashrim’s now exposed head into chunks of green-blooded gore.
Then Greeshakk tried to bring his knee up, hoping to break the arm that gripped the weapon he was holding… but the Draklûz simply let go of the gun and stepped back, drawing out a long knife. It was a blazer knife, but the Draklûz did not activate its energy shielding. Greeshakk, now armed, swung his new weapon around to put it into axe mode, though he did not activate its shielding either. Perhaps this Draklûz wanted a fair fight now after all, and Greeshakk would give him one.
That fair fight proved to be far more difficult fight than his murder of the Mahlok.
The Helexith loyalist was his equal in strength. Perhaps he would not have been without his armor, but for all Greeshakk knew, the high-tech Mahlok-designed suit probably had strength-enhancing features, as many such suits did. Whatever the reason, each blow that Greeshakk swung with his heavy axe was parried and then returned by the Draklûz’s long battle-knife.
They danced in the starlit hangar for several long minutes, their blades slicing the air and sending out sparks when they clashed. The sound echoed for what felt like miles to Greeshakk’s long ears. He knew that if the fight lasted too long, the Mahlok would find them, and then his escape would never happen. He would be caught and killed, or thrown to rot in the deepest, darkest cell in Helexith space, from which no one returned alive.
With renewed strength borne of desperation, Greeshakk swung his axe again and again. For a moment, the Draklûz seemed to be faltering under his blows. Then he too got a second wind, and Greeshakk found himself losing ground. The enemy’s knife moved with blinding speed and overwhelming strength, weakening Greeshakk’s defenses and finally knocking his axe aside, leaving him exposed.
For a moment, Greeshakk stood as if stunned, amazed at the skill of the Draklûz. The loyal servant of Helexith did not hesitate to take advantage of this. He stepped in closer, bringing his knife around to slash Greeshakk’s throat.
Greeshakk caught the blade in his mouth. With all his strength, he bit down on the weapon, feeling the hard duranium grind against his sharp Slashrim teeth. Somehow – perhaps thanks to the Draklûz’s surprise – he successfully halted its swing.
And then Greeshakk struck back. The Draklûz was powerless to stop him. In mid-swing, Greeshakk activated the axe-gun’s energy shielding, which burnt through the armor mesh on the Draklûz’s throat. The Draklûz lost his the grip on his knife and toppled to his knees, dark green life-blood spilling freely from his wounded neck. He tore off his helmet and tossed it aside, as if trying to breathe. He coughed up yet more blood.
“You have forgotten what it is to be a Slashrim, o servant of the Mahlok,” said Greeshakk, without pity in his voice. “Slashrim have teeth.”
The Draklûz could not respond, for within a second, he was dead. Because Greeshakk finished the job. He brought his axe down like an executioner’s blade and severed his enemy’s head completely off. It flopped pitifully into the pool of blood, its yellow-green eyes still staring.
They looked a lot like his own eyes, Greeshakk thought.
Could it be…?
He shook the idea from his mind. The likelihood was astronomically slim. Many Slashrim had such eyes. Besides, he had no time to consider it. He had to flee.
Greeshakk ran to the blockade runner as fast as his legs could carry him, which was quite fast. His long, clawed fingers danced over the controls as soon as his tail touched the pilot’s seat. He programmed it for the fastest route to Human space and then began the launch procedure.
If there truly was a Helexith, Greeshakk thought, then He must have been looking out for him that day. Because it was a miracle that he escaped that planet – much less all of Mahlok space – alive, without hardly being noticed. Perhaps it was because the Mahlok felt so secure in their power over their own stars, but almost no one bothered him as he left the hangar and then the planet’s atmosphere. A voice hailed him over his comm, but he merely said he was carrying supplies to Leo/Kuro, and they let him pass without further question.
He felt a wave of emotion wash over him as his ship left the last clouds of Slasheth behind and burst out into the starry blackness of space.
He was free.
After allowing himself a few moments of relief and relaxation, Greeshakk began tending to his wounds. Then, when almost every inch of his body was satisfactorily cleaned and bandaged – which took several hours – he went to the biggest computer console he could find and stuck in the data stick he had stolen. Greeshakk held his breath as the files began to appear on the glowing red holographic screen.
He scrolled through the list.
He found a file marked: “About: Slashrim Religion.”
He pressed “Open.”