Alexander Inheritance – Snippet 11

Alexander Inheritance – Snippet 11

Dag pushed a final button and the device spoke. It was Greek of the horribly accented, almost unintelligible version Atum had heard on the great ship. It said almost what he had written. Almost, but not quite. He corrected the missed word and Dag tapped some more. Again that voice from the magic slate, and this time Atum nodded. He was getting used to the horrible Greek by now, or at least starting the process of getting used to it. Now the translation to that strange speech, and Dag tapped again. By this point Atum had almost forgotten the question, but the funny Greek answer brought it back.

Atum had learned quite a lot in the last ten hours. He was shocked and amazed by what he had seen, but he had tentative agreements with the travelers from the future who occupied the great ship. It was named Queen of the Sea and it could well rule all the world’s oceans. And its coasts as well. Or it would have been able to if it were a warship, but it wasn’t. It was filled with people who had boarded it for a pleasure cruise, not soldiers.

* * *

The slave, Abd Manaf, looked out at the big white ship sitting just outside of Alexandria harbor with his mouth agape. The overseer, also a slave but of higher status was gaping too, as were most of the rest of the slaves in the work crew. Partly it was just the size of the enormous ship, but partly it was the smaller ship that was moving toward shore with no oars or sails, as though being pulled along by an invisible team of horses. One of the brighter slaves got back to work and that got the attention of the overseer, who started shouting at the men in the work crew.

Abd Manaf wasn’t the smartest slave in the crew. He was still staring when the overseer’s eyes fell on him. The overseer hollered and laid into Abd Manaf with a reed whip. The whip, a piece of wood thin enough to bend in the swing and to leave welts or cuts, snapped against Abd Manaf’s back, leaving a welt. Not the first. There were a welter of them on Abd Manaf’s back. And the backs of the other slaves, if not as crisscrossed by red as Abd Manaf’s, were still marked. The cries of pain and the smell of blood added to the miasma of the port, along with the smell of dead fish and salt water.

Abd Manaf’s back wasn’t the only one laid open that morning. But, in spite of the whippings, there were a lot of people watching the strange boat approach the docks.

* * *

On reaching the docks, Atum climbed out and waved away the guards that the arrival of the magical boat had brought out. He spoke to Ahmose, one of his foremen, giving orders that the boat be filled with sacks of unthreshed wheat till the Gaul said it was enough. Then he went home to bed.

* * *

Dag watched as the Egyptian workers carried the bags of wheat to the boat. It was a lifeboat that had been modified to act as a tender for the Queen. It was limited in that it was restricted to fuel oil, not having the flex fuel engines that the Queen and the Reliance had.

Dag watched as naked men carried sacks of grain on their backs, up to the pier where the lifeboat was tied up. He was uncomfortable at first with the nudity, but that changed quickly. What bothered him more was the sacks on their backs. They seemed to weigh as much as the men themselves did. Wheelbarrows and dollies occurred to Dag as items of trade. He would have to talk to Romi about that. Still another first priority to add to the list.

For most of the day, they loaded grain onto the boat, and by the end of the day the ship had probably broken even on food. That is, they had added enough to equal what the passengers and crew had eaten. He was approached by people speaking to him in Egyptian and Greek and who knew what, but he couldn’t understand more than a word or two, which he had to make clear with gestures. Luckily, Atum’s guards were doing a pretty good job of keeping the riffraff back. Atum had given them instructions before he left.

By this time, Dag was pretty sure the men doing the loading were slaves and a part of him was ready to pull the pistol and make a point. At the same time, Dag had seen poverty before, and seen employment that was as close to outright slavery as made very little difference. Besides, this was likely the ship’s only source of enough food to keep the passengers and crew going. He couldn’t afford to do anything that might jeopardize that.

Around noon, two sources of lunch arrived. Another ship’s boat brought sandwiches, and some women brought up a cart with bowls, soup, and flat bread. The soup was vegetable and pretty good, but the bread was tough and grainy. Dag really preferred the ship’s bread to the Egyptian flat bread. He gave the chief guard a roast beef on rye with mustard and pickles. The guard tried it, and apparently found it good. The guard spoke Greek and yet another language that Dag didn’t know, but it sounded sort of like what you heard among the Arabs on the ship, or what you might hear in a synagogue. The guy was wearing a long dress, and he had a sword at his side. He also had purple tassels on his “dress.” Dag didn’t know what to call the thing, and didn’t think it represented anything effeminate, but it sure looked like a dress to him. He would learn later that the guard captain, Josephus, was a Jew, though a somewhat Hellenized one.

* * *

Atum got back to the pier about the time they were finished loading, and he had brought his wife, Lateef, who was a black-haired lady of middle years with a long nose and sharp features. She had a pleasant smile, though, and a friendly manner, and Dag liked her. Also with them were two Greeks, one called Crates of Olynthus, the other Dinocrates of Rhodes.

Dag got the impression that they were important people. Then he made the connection. He remembered from Wikipedia that Dinocrates of Rhodes was the one whom Alexander the Great appointed to design Alexandria. It piqued Dag’s interest in the man. Dag was interested in how systems interacted. That was what had led him to his job as the Environmental Compliance Officer on the Queen. In spite of the job title sounding like a rulebook pain in the ass, it was actually about making sure that the ship worked and that it didn’t screw up the ocean it was traveling through. There was a lot of practical engineering, knowing where you could cut corners and where you couldn’t. Not that Dag was all that concerned about the environmental impact of a single cruise ship. Even if they dumped oil over the side by the ton, it wouldn’t have any significant effect on the oceans of the world. It was back in the future, where there were hundreds of cruise ships and thousands of cargo ships, that it had a cumulative effect. But the Greek guys were talking and Dag didn’t have a clue what they were saying. He looked to Atum.

Atum pulled out his pad and wrote. Dag pulled his comp-pad from its case and typed in the characters. What he got back was: they want to go to the ship.

“Right,” Dag said. “Let me call it in.” He used the phone function on his pad and called the ship. He got Adrian Scott. “Hey, Scotty. We have Dinocrates of Rhodes here and he wants to come by for a visit, along with a guy named Crates.”

“Who’s Dino of Rhodes and why should I care?”

“Ask Marie Easley. In the meantime, tell the captain that we have important company coming.”

 

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19 Responses to Alexander Inheritance – Snippet 11

  1. Randomiser says:

    Atum is a bright boy and has hit the nail on the head. Showing everyone they are a pleasure cruiser, not a warship is going to spark covetousness and at least one takeover bid. Shame the engineering department is downgrading the priority of those pneumatic cannon!

    • Ron says:

      I imagine once they see how the locals are sizing them up, the priority list will get reshuffled. Repurposing materials that make the security cages from the shops lockers (to keeps less scrupulous employees from stealing) and installing them at the tender platforms would negate a chance at Rush attempt to take the ship. Board to the height of the promenade deck use anti piracy measures such as fire hoses at stand by to knock down individuals and swamp small boats would be effective stop gap as would be Sending a tender out to Secluded stretch of beach and collect some stones in the ten to thirty pound range dropping those from deck 10 or 11 would play merry hell with and one trying to board, all of that could be done in minutes to a few hours.

  2. Lyttenburgh says:

    “Atum got back to the pier about the time they were finished loading, and he had brought his wife, Lateef, who was a black-haired lady of middle years with a long nose and sharp features.”

    If the authors wanted to shoehorn a later Arabic name “Latif” here, they failed miserably. The “female version” of it is “Latifa”, btw.

    • Johnny says:

      Ehh… I’m not sure if the story would have been served any better if her name had been “Tasheretpaarewarew” instead….

    • dave o says:

      The events of this story are set almost two and a third millennia ago. During that length of time, languages change. Nor is it clear that the name is Arabic.
      There a plenty of other Semitic languages including some which were more likely current in Egypt at this time. One of which was Egyptian. Not to mention the fact that modern Arabic has several dialects some of which are mutually almost incomprehensible.

      If Lyttenburgh wishes to nit pick, it’s clearly impossible to stop him. But he should pick his nits from subjects which he has a claim to knowledge. Linguistics does not seem to be one of them

      .

      • Lyttenburgh says:

        “The events of this story are set almost two and a third millennia ago.

        Again – so what? This is not a Middle Earth or the Earthsea. This is our planet and our history.

        “During that length of time, languages change. Nor is it clear that the name is Arabic.”

        Then don’t make any reaserch on this – the results will disappoint you.

        “There a plenty of other Semitic languages including some which were more likely current in Egypt at this time. “

        Ever heard of the Coptic language? A direct descendant of the Ancient Egyptian one. Why not use it instead of shoehorning any future Semitic language?

        “One of which was Egyptian.”

        Once again – don’t do any search. The results will, probably, be too much of a blow for you. That’s my way of telling that – no, “Egyptian” is not a Semitic language.

        “If Lyttenburgh wishes to nit pick, it’s clearly impossible to stop him. But he should pick his nits from subjects which he has a claim to knowledge. Linguistics does not seem to be one of them”

        Said a person, who thought that Egyptian was a Semitic language. Looks like I pick my nits better than you ;)

        • dave o says:

          Coptic is a member of the Afto-Asiatic language group. It is related to Semitic languages.

          Are you seriously claiming that Arabic did not change at all between 3o0BC and the present day. Where is your proof?

          • Lyttenburgh says:

            “Coptic is a member of the Afto-Asiatic language group. It is related to Semitic languages. “

            How is it “related”? French is much more closer to Latin, than Coptic would ever be closer to any language of the Semitic group.

            “Are you seriously claiming that Arabic did not change at all between 3o0BC and the present day. Where is your proof?”

            Please, show, where I’m claiming that.

            Or are you claiming that Arabic changed so much in the past millenia, that the basic, core rules of grammar (i.e. “gendered” version of the words) changed tp fit the narrative of the novel?

            • dave o says:

              To pick English as an example, grammatical gender has largely disappeared. And gendered endings of words like Ambassadress and many others have become obsolete and are rarely seen. A good many of these became so before the feminist movement. So, in fact ‘basic’ rules do change. I might also point out that gendered names for trades, ie, weaver, webster have long been obsolete.

          • Tweeky says:

            IIRC Ancient Egyptian (Which was called Khemet IIRC) was a Hamitic language not semitic.

        • dave o says:

          Incidently, It’s far more likely that Aramaic was familiar to
          Egyptians than Arabic. Assuming that Arabic had developed by then. Most of the Arabian peninsular spoke one version or another of Aramaic in this period.

  3. Tweeky says:

    “If the authors wanted to shoehorn a later Arabic name “Latif” here, they failed miserably. The “female version” of it is “Latifa”, btw.”

    Also the Egyptians despite popular perception aren’t Arabs and they certainly didn’t speak arabic back then.

  4. We should be grateful to the author for translating Egyptian names into something most readers can remember.

  5. llywrch says:

    I’ve worked with computers for over 20 decades now, & I’ve found the presentation of computer technology in almost all of them ranges from “kinda wrong” to “hilariously & embarrassingly wrong”. My response is to either suspend my disbelief & enjoy the rest of the show — often the inaccuracies are tangential to the main thrust of the story — or I watch something else. (Sometimes the mistakes about computer technology are the least of the problems with the episode or series.)

    If the mistakes in this novel — minor, serious, or otherwise — bother someone, I suggest that person to follow my practice.

  6. Randomiser says:

    My congratulations on your double century! :-)

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