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Entry 6 -- Sister Hawwa

My brothers and sisters-

  In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The
  earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face
  of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of
  the waters.

The Spirit hovers above the darkness again at the dawn of a new
beginning. The Spirit spills from my sisters, overflowing. His
will be done.

  And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. And God
  saw that the light was good.

The light comes to this world, to the monsters made of fire and
mist. They have dwelt in the darkness, in the deep, for too long.
They hid from the light, hid from the flood, and found their prey
among the Chosen. They have been judged.

  Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our
  likeness. And let them have dominion--"

  So God created man in his own image,
      in the image of God he created him;
      male and female he created them.

I am Hawwa. My God has given me dominion over the Jinn, as with
all creatures. He gave my people to the garden, and the garden to
my people. It was my mother Eve, for whom I am named, that tasted
of the Tree. It was her that the LORD said has become like one of
us in knowing good and evil. That is my inheritance, the good and
evil and the knowledge of it.

With my sisters we judge the actions of the Jinn and know them to
be evil. We are granted that knowledge with our sin and have paid
for it with the birth of every child and the sweat of work in the
fields. Out of dust we were taken and to it we return for all time
until eschaton.

From those first days in the garden we have been plagued by the
serpents. They lie to us and lead us astray. They clothe
themselves in the skin of my people. They wear the faces of our
children and take young wives from their marital beds. They lure
away the shepherds from their flocks and send their own tricksters
to pose as our friends.

The Jinn celebrate in their churches, dine at their tables,
celebrate their weddings. They do these things that were given to
men and women, the blessed and chosen of the LORD, in a mockery of
creation. They, unburdened by the curse of the tree, have swelled
beyond our numbers and our powers. They have taken their hidden
nature into the stars and dwell in the darkness between.

  And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. And God
  saw that the light was good.

They are animals, creatures of the ground. They are no different
from the thorns and thistles our ancestors struggled with except
in one thing. Unburdened by knowledge of good and evil and
possessed of stolen grace, they have usurped the birthright of
man. Their existence is hidden from God, wearing our skin.

I am a daughter of Adam, of Seth, of Enosh, of Kenan, of
Mahalalel, of Jared and Enoch, of Methuselah and Lamech, of Noah.

I am a daughter of Eve and Alma, Adah and Zillah, Naamah. I call
my mother Sarah and Iscah, Milcah and Hajar, who is now my sister.

You are my sisters and brothers, my humans of the stars. I see
your whispers in the darkness and calls for help to one another.
We read your adventures and see the light of humanity reaching
corners we never dreamed. You give us hope and it brightens the
light we shine. We will survive. Our people will survive. No
matter what the Jinn do to us, humanity has gone beyond their
reach. For that we thank God and we thank you, sisters, no matter
what form you may take. May his light follow you in the deep and
lead you to safety.

We are the Holy Sisters of the Desert Rose. Oleander is the name
given our ship, and a fitting one it is. The poison of these
leaves stains us. It poisons our hearts with a sin of vengeance
that does not wash away. Every one of my sisters here feels it on
her skin, under her tongue. We seek absolution and forgiveness for
the rot in our hearts, but we accept our fates regardless. If we
go to torment then we go with smiles knowing that our arrow will
strike true. A true vendetta heart beats within us. And yet, we
hope God will see the torment and forgive us where our own mercy
fails. The Jinn are not men and the ways of the prophets do not
call us to kinship with them. They are beasts, and a wild beast
must be slaughtered.

These Jinn have lived apart all their existence. Their lives are
long. Some stories say that they tasted of the other tree in the
garden before they were cast out as well. They tasted of life
without knowledge, while we suffer with knowledge and without
life. It is possible that there are some below us now who were in
the garden with my mother Eve. I wonder if they will recognize her
hand in what is to come.

  I will put enmity between you and the woman

God set us at each other from the start. May it be that this wrath
we feel is not sin, but justice divine?

The magic of the Jinn has always been an unknown. Their ways of
being apart from the world and yet in it have confounded
generations. We fly through the stars, we split atoms, we shift
gravity, we unlock man-made dimensionality, yet they are always
apart. What is this mystery that surrounds them that gives them
advantage over us. It has plagued us in more than just thought.
They are the star eaters, the world breakers, the desert mirage,
the elfin kingdoms. They are eternal mystery. Unknowable and
indefatigable.

Until Asiya.
Until Hajar.
Until Miriam and Sara.
Until me.

It began with Asiya's dream. They came in a dream that became
a nightmare and which she can never wake. She is still there on
Hazen, though with much prayer we have been able to give her
glimpses through that darkness. The veil of dreams is parted not
through medicines or machines, but through meditation and the
manipulation of the mind. Our evolution as a species has been one
of the mind. We have grown in complexity through biological
changes until the greatest physical expression became a mental
one. When we learned to use the first tools, when we harnessed
fire, we did so by tempering our minds to a task. Our wrought
history of violence and suffering has evolved that mind to grow
many new powers.

With one flex comes the sciences. Our observation and deduction
give us understanding of the rules which bind us. Our knowing
gives us induction and inspiration toward creation and
exploration. Science is a beautiful gift of God.

But we have greater gifts! A complex love that knows no equal.
Where there are ten people, there are a hundred loves!

And valor! What greater demonstration of the power of the mind
over the body is there? And as it is taught

  There is no greater love than this: that a person would lay down
  his life for the sake of his friends.

When Hajar saw Uzāir at the well, the squinting in the sun, the
tricks of light, and the sudden surprise of silence... What let
that boy see the Jinn before the women gathered at the well? What
put him between them? By what arcane power did Uzāir pierce the
veil, do you think, my sisters?

The veil is built of fear and nightmares. The Jinn move past eyes
like those unseeing in the midst of a night terror. The terror
blinds us to reality, but is not a terror of fear, rather the
mysterium tremendum, the ineffable, the unknowable. It is the fear
of the deep, unmade world. This is their shield and weapon. The
Jinn's nature creates this veil of fear and with it we are all
blind to their movement.

And so Asiya's dream has taught us the rules of the Jinn, while
Hajar's witness taught us the way through. Valor overcomes fear,
even a spiritual one.

These are the tools with which we practice our art. Our meditation
and prayer are disciplines of that art. For an art it is we have
here in this Istishhad. To part this terror requires the greatest
of loves. It must draw from a place beyond fear, from the ecstasy
of the unknowing beast in the awe of its creator. To part this
terror requires abandonment of self into the void. This is the
lesson of the Tree. Our knowledge came with a cost. Dust to dust,
good and evil, but not life. Death.

Death is the mystery which frees us all from fear.

First Asiya.
Then Hajar.
And then me.

My sisters have taught me so much of the Jinn and their ways. From
their stories I recognize patterns and hints of truth. But it
wasn't until I died that all became clear.

When they came for my people, I had no Uzāir to fight them. I had
nowhere to hide. And so, like so many through the ages, I was
taken.

The elfin world is like our own. In many ways it is our world, but
as seen through the fog at night. The shadows that dance are not
terrors for children but real beasts set to devour. The dark
spaces hold endless hells. But let me back up a moment.

I was a Dropka naval lieutenant until my forty-fourth year when my
service contract was not renewed. My savings were comfortable and
I thought to buy a cottage in the summer lands and live out my
days in peace. My life had been war and the war didn't need me.
So, sword-to-ploughshares it was. I think I might have made the
transition, too, had things been different.

Sister Asiya says it is the work of our Lord that brought me back.
I say it was the devils.

The destruction of the summer lands is well documented and I will
not bore you with the details. Just know that I was in the first
group taken, before the rising and quelling, and before the
plagues began.

Decades of battle had shown me war and brutality. I was prepared
for these things, so much more-so than these others. When the
first Jinn touched my skin that was all lost. It is the infinite
fear of the creature before a predator, locked in place and
terrified as stone. There is no rationality in it. It is magic.

That fear did not leave me over the months that followed, as they
used me for service and sport, as they toyed with my body for
their own amusement. I lost myself quickly in that place. I had no
name. I was not Hawwa then, but just a body. My pain was not my
own. It was the pain of a body, somewhere. Do you understand? My
mind hid and hid until there was nothing left to hide. I died in
my mind long before they let my body cross over.

It was winter in the shadow lands and soon Christmas would come.
It always drove the Jinn to madness, and they would none of them
sleep or rest for the full day. Songs, drinking, feasting, and
every type of debauchery filled the hours. Manic, every last one.
Finally the sun would creep up and they would scatter to their
resting, wherever that was. I never saw a Jinn sleep in all my
time in their hold.

It was in that winter not yet Christmas and the one that kept me
was named Grunni. Her face was like a troll, misshapen and
twisted. When she became angry her mouth pulled back further and
further until it encompassed the world. The vision haunts me
still. And yet, when she wore the skin that same smile,
primordial, became a thing of terrible beauty. She lured men and
women with that face. I wanted to warn them, but I was just a body
then.

Then one day Grunni was gone. It was just before Christmas and
I dared not move from her home for fear of being discovered. What
terrible trick had she set for me? So I waited there, alone in
a room of torture. I did not test the door. I don't believe
I spoke a word. How can a body speak, after all?

I cannot say how long I sat there before the end came. Without
water it may have been only a day, surely not much more. I became
too weak to stand and so I sat. Then I was too weak to sit, so
I curled up beside the door. I wanted to call to Grunni then, to
beg for water, but my voice had long since left me. There was
nothing left but to betray myself again and again in hopes of
being saved by a monster. None came. I found peace at least.

The Jinn are magical creatures, or it seems so to a primitive like
me. I wasn't surprised when I woke up again.

I know what you're thinking. "How long was she dead? Was it just
a few moments, before the mind wasted away?" No. I tell you they
are magical creatures. My body lay curled on that spot in the room
for two years, rotting and decomposing, before the Jinn brought me
back.

Grunni was gone and they wanted answers from me, answers I didn't
have. The tortures renewed. I was torn to pieces and placed back
together. They left me awake and forced my mind back into place.
These animals wouldn't allow me insanity any longer as an escape.
I tried so hard. I made up stories, told any fiction that
I thought would bear me away or bring me death.

The Jinn have an endless, cruel patience. I have borne witness
again and again to schemes and plots of subtle horror destined to
cause havoc in some future date. They revel in this cunning
misery. I knew this. I knew my suffering would never end.

And that is how I escaped.

The power of the Jinn is immeasurable. Their veil and land of
shadows protects them from every harm. They cross over to our
world, to our stars and planets, when they hunger to take. I went
with them through the ways. I saw the portals open. I saw the
shroud lift. No mortal could possibly comprehend what they did.
The paralyzing fear of them cripples the mind. The pain of their
touch, the basilisk stare, they are perfect predators. But they
played with me too long. They stole my life until I begged for
death. Then, granted, they stole that too. When they stole my hope
for anything, for any change, that is what broke me free.

There was no hope left in me and nothing left to fear. I had
reached the ultimate hell, as promised by the evangelical heresy.
So I let it go and I began to see their truth. I saw the veil for
what it was, and I saw how it works. It is not a place or a time,
but something else entirely. It defies our logic because it exists
outside of it. We cannot measure it because it is not there.

What Miriam and Sara and all the rest teach us is true. They have
a power, but we can overcome it. We can pierce the veil to their
world. We can see them in their hiding places. We can see the
places they hide their young. We can see how they move their
ships. All it takes is dying utterly.

We go now. The moment is at hand and all my sisters are prepared.
Remember us, please. Remember what faith wrought here. It was the
power of our will and valor that brought us here, not the
machinations of science.

Their nursery will burn. Their ships will burn. Their whole world
will burn. But that is not the end of it. I see the veil and
I will see it torn apart. The weapons we bring, each of us, will
bring each of these things upon the Jinn.

When you wake it will be to a world of tattered shadows full of
beings of immense power fleeing for their lives. They will come to
your worlds and try to herd you, to feed upon you in hopes of the
strength it brings. But their fear will not hold you, for you will
have the valor of Uzāir. The dream that held Asiya will end with
her. Your faith will protect you.

Do not fear, brothers and sisters. Never fear them again. Is it
not enough that we will shred their worlds and steal their hiding
places? No? Then take this also, the secret of the veil. What we
destroy for them we create for you. Look in your hearts and you'll
find it. It is like a prayer... but do not fear it, men of
science. As a stranger give it welcome.

You are all more than your sciences. You are more than the bones
that carry you. For two years I died, and the Jinn had no
understanding of where I had been. You do. Pray and you do.

   And God saw that the light was good.

END FINAL TRANSMISSION

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