FICTION / FANTASY / GODS
BERSERKER is a registered trademark of Fred Saberhagen and can not be used without permission.
Hal: We're here, surrounded by friendly Carmpan of whom we rarely see more than one or two at a time, and then usually only with some partial or symbolic physical barrier between us. Everything is going pretty much as expected, we have experienced nothing really contrary to the experience of a thousand years' occasional and arm's-length contact with the race. By the way, it's beginning to look, to me at least, less and less coincidental that our first meeting with the Carmpan coincided almost exactly with the beginning of the Berserker War. I'll have more to say on this point presently.
Let me first describe what I consider to be our main achievement
so far on this mission. To begin with, the structure in which we are
living and working is best described as a large, comfortable library,
and we have been given free access to storage systems. (I hope, by
the way, that the exchange team of Carmpan researchers on Earth are
being treated as well as we are here.) Much of this mass of stored
data is, as we expected, still unintelligible to us and so far
useless. But quite early in the game our hosts pointed out to us, for
our special attention, an alcove containing what we've come to call
the private archive of the Third Historian. Having looked at the
files therein, my colleagues and I agree unanimously that they were
very probably compiled and largely writeen by the same Carmpan
individual who used that name (or title) as signature to the messages
he composed and sent to our ancestors some generations ago, when the
Berserker peril was even greater than it is today.
Sincea copy of this report is going directly to the military, Hal,
bear with me when I pause now and then to insert a paragraph or two
of history. We can't reasonably expect that all the readers over
there are going to know as much of it offhand as we do.
by Fred Saberhagen
BALTIMORE EVENING SUN
quoted on the cover of Berserker Wars
"The Berserker stories are war stories, but war stories more in the tradition of RED BADGE OF COURAGE, or ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT."
As life may transmit evil, so machines of great power may hand on
Taken from WINGS OUT OF SHADOW
In Malori's first and only combat mission the berserker came to
him in the image of a priest of the sect into which Malori had been
born on the planet Yaty. In a dreamlike vision that was the analogue
of a very real combat he saw the robed figure standing tall in a
deformed pulpit, eyes flaming with malevolence, lowering arms
winglike with the robes they stretched. With their lowering, the
lights of the universe were dimming outside the windows of stained
glass and Malori was being damned.
Even with his heart pounding under damnation's terror Malori
retained sufficient consciousness to remember the real nature of
himself and of his adversary and that he was not powerless against
him. His dream-feet walked him timelessly toward the pulpit and its
demon-priest while all around him the stained glass windows burst,
showering him with fragments of sick fear. He walked a crooked path,
avoiding the places in the smooth floor where, with quick gestures,
the priest created snarling, snapping stone mouths full of teeth.
Malori seemed to have unlimited time to decide where to put his feet.
WEAPON, he thought, a surgeon instructing some invisible aide.
HERE--IN MY RIGHT HAND.
From those who had survived similar battles he had heard how the
inhuman enemy appeared to each in different form, how each human must
live the combat through in terms of a unique nightmare. To some a
berserker came as a ravening beast, to others as devil or god or man.
To still others it was some essence of terror that could never be
faced or even seen.