Crossing the Stars

*Le Gasp* The Start of a Novel? At Long Last? Maybe…

A little background. This is an idea I’ve been kicking around as a prequel to this idea. I decided to start it first because…well…it came first. I have no idea how far I’ll take it. I know how all the events transpire. The only issue is that this is my first foray into fiction writing in eight (or so) years. I’m putting this up and out there to see if it’s a decent start.

If you happen by the site – whether on accident or on purpose – lemme know what you think.

Thief

Laerem was stuck in a supply duct.

Not the most dignified of locations, especially with another woman’s hindquarters mere inches from one’s brow.  Her “partner” had ordered them to stay very still. Night drones were heard down an adjacent corridor. Had her tormentor/accomplice done her homework, she would’ve known that supply drones weren’t armed – nor equipped with alarms. That didn’t stop the left-eye-patched upperclassmen – bald save for a raven-colored tassel-tail – from halting their progress.

As to what progress that might be, even Laerem didn’t know. The blue-haired cadet was the victim of trite blackmail. One moment, she was on a tour of the Razhti Metanautics Muesum; the next, she was a wannabe terrorist. And all over a holograph…

*****

Blood trickled down her chin as she took the blow. Strands of her long, aqua mane matted her sweat-drenched brow and clouded her vision. She only knew the number of attackers by the silhouettes. Brave bunch, this trio – clocking a girl in broad daylight. Had it been any other day, she would’ve had to mull over who was out for her hide. It was, however, not just any day. The anniversary of her arrival to the Royal Fleet Academy Annex was known by all – the first native Razhti recruit, ever.

“Got something to say, bluebitch?” came the innovative challenge from the lead, stout silhouette

“Not really,” she said after spitting a molar. She hated having to grow new ones, painful as all hell.

“What about apologizing?” one of the hench-shadows suggested – rather forcibly by a boot-push to the shoulder.

“For?”

“For killing Telakni!” the lead shadow retorted.

He followed that up with a swift kick to her abdomen. Laerem doubled over, more for show than out of pain. Of course, it still hurt. Like a bitch, even. However, the four impacts to her person prior to that sad excuse for a gut-shot hurt far more. Anything after was child’s play, and she would know, having taken beatings as a child also.

Wiping the strands of hair from her colorless eyes, she finally got a good look at her “brave” assailants. The lead: Bortan, a short but solid specimen of stupidity – Cadet, Junior-Grade like her. He was known for having quick reflexes and a temper to boot. None too bright, but capable of surprising feats of force. His only real weakness was his vision – figuratively and literally – he was shortsighted and nearsighted. Parents hadn’t footed the bill for ocular correction.

The two henchies were far more capable than their stubby superior. Gromahd was a lanky but intelligent tactical cadet, destined for Core Fleet fame. The plain subordinate to Bortan’s left – Ashai – was a Fringe Noble; his status as a future Defender of the Kingdom almost guaranteed. Their blood was bluer than Laerem’s hair. What they were doing taking orders from a low-born ground-pounder-to-be made no sense. Perhaps they were all united in their universal hatred of the natives.

“Listen, boys,” she began with emphasis. “Can we discuss this another time? Classes end in an hour. I’m sure we can have a meaningful debate then.”

That attempt at diplomacy earned her a throat grapple. Two shaky fists firmed their way around her slender neck. The grip wasn’t tight enough, though. Ashai seemed unsure of what he was doing. Just like a Noble, never knowing how to get their hands dirty. He did have enough strength and resolve to pull her up to eye-level.  As Ashai held her, Bortan grabbed a fistful of hair and forced her gaze away – from her “choker” to him.

“No, we’ll talk now,” seethed the low-born leader. “We’ve been waiting a year for this…discussion.”

Bortan released his grip from her hair.

“Ash, release her,” he ordered.

Ashai gladly loosened his fingers. Laerem fell back to her knees. She caught a glint of red and silver from the corner of her right eye. Finally, the moment she’d been waiting for. Bortan was through with the theatrics. The proceedings were far too cliché for her to take them too seriously. Granted, being the pummelee wasn’t all that fun, but it was a means to an end. Eventually, attackers tired of bravado and went for the blade – either the one in their pants or the one in their hilt. Lucky for her, these three hadn’t figured out the former.

In his right hand, Bortan held a blade. Not just any blade; a curved Shiqaal hunter’s knife with cat-eyed jewels in the hilt. The blade itself was cast in a crimson alloy known only to form on asteroids…on the other side of the galaxy. In non-humanoid territory. How a commoner like Bortan got a hold of such a rare artifact, Laerem could only guess. Probably stolen, she thought.

Bortan motioned to his two lackeys to hold one arm each. She wasn’t putting up a fight as they brought her back to her feet, but she assumed the lead Luddite wanted to make it look good. Laerem attempted to look as scared as possible as Bortan brought the blade over his head in a wholly stupid sacrificial stance. Before the blade came down…she smiled.

A little known secret about Razhti humans – other than the curious origin of their blue hair – was their dexterity. They were capable of amazing and improbable acts of physical grace, particularly the women. This made them expert dancers and even more adept lovers.  Razhti courtesans, male and female, were renowned throughout the Kingdom. These boys should have guessed that a Rhazti girl would possess some of these traits.

Apparently, they didn’t. Bortan’s blade only cut air, and ended its downward swath with a clank to solid ground. Bewildered, he looked up. The blue-haired girl was above her attackers, poised in mid-flip over their heads. If he had kept his eyes open he would’ve noticed the back-flip, but now he stared at her exposed upside-down back and the muffled faces of his two high-status henchman.

Laerem completed her flip behind her two grapplers. Their grips had loosened once the knife started coming down. The lax restraint on her arms gave her the window she needed. One casual leap up and backward had turned the tide in her favor. Now behind her restrainers, she palmed both boys in the back – pushing them forward into Bortan. They collapsed like sports pins.

A dull ring signified that Bortan dropped his knife in the ensuing tumble. Laerem claimed it for herself.  “Spoils of victory,” she said.

A spray of heat whizzed past her hair. She felt a burning sensation across her left temple. Whipping around, Laerem found herself staring into the distant barrel of a pulse gun. In the hands of Gromahd, whom she thought had remained unusually passive during the scuffle. This time, his hands didn’t shake. And unlike Ashai, his grip on the gun was tight and resolute – his gaze, steel.

“Y-you know those are illegal on Annex grounds.” She fumbled her words.

“Don’t care,” was Gromahd’s tight reply.

“Who was Telakni to you, anyway?”

“My father.”

“Shit,” she said with a sigh.

As Laerem exhaled in defeat, a flash emanated from behind her. Warm yet cold on her back, she felt and heard the sound of electric cackle. The smell of ozone reached her nostrils, sizzling in her nasals. Gromahd’s face paled, as did the two other boys who still struggled to correct themselves. Another flash and a long, white bolt struck Gromahd square in the chest, launching him backward. He struck a wall then fell forward – smoke pluming from his back. The arc of energy had seared clean through.

Speechless, Bortan and Ashai collected themselves and made with the swiftest retreat Laerem had ever seen. With good reason.

“His piss-shooter was barely legal,” said a tenor female voice behind her.

Laerem turned around slowly, coming face-to-face with a girl slightly taller and a year older than she. A faux-leather eye-patch with an unknown sigil adorned her left eye. A single phase-scar also ran down the left side of her face like a clean, bird talon’s cut. Her head was shaved bare, save for one long, top-knotted tail of space-black hair – braided for the first half, free-flowing for the rest. Other than the scars, warrior cue, and thin-lipped expression, she was quite attractive.

The hard-faced teen hoisted a bulky, beige rifle behind her shoulders. “Now this,” she motioned to the hand-cannon behind her. “Is illegal.”

Words tried to form in Laerem’s open mouth, but they wouldn’t come.

“Just so you know,” the raven-tailed girl continued. “CP drones’ll be on this place in a matter of minutes.”

“B-but…I didn’t do anything,” Laerem sputtered. “Surveillance will show I was the one attacked!”

The other girl let the rifle fall to her side, “Yeah. About that. See the camera?”

Laerem looked to where she was pointing.

“I was just outta range of its field of vision,” she said. “Still am. And all those two other boys saw was light.”

“You mean-”

“Campus drones will think you fired the bolt.”

“And you’ll correct them, right?” Laerem asked.

“Yeah. About that, too.” The girl pulled out a hexagonal contraption from her legging. “Holocam with sound dampener.”

She clicked the side of the device. A holographic movie of the bolt attack replayed from her viewpoint. However, the footage made it look like the energy discharged from the crimson blade Laerem now held. The girl played the holo again in slow motion.  The effect was flawless.

“Nice blade ya got there,” she said, replacing the disk in her pocket. “Shiqaal design, if I’m not mistaken. Y’know, some of those hunter knives have been known to act in a projectile capacity.”

Laerem looked at the hunter’s knife but said nothing.

“Not that one, of course. Too small. But reputation is a remarkable thing.”

“Is this the part where you blackmail me?” Laerem asked.

“Persuade, actually.”

“To do what?”

“Join me on a museum tour.”

“I have class in ten minutes,” Laerem said.

“History of the Pirate King: The Early Years,” the girl countered. “Yes, I know your schedule. And considering you’re covered in blood, and kinda/sorta killed a kid, I think it can wait.”

Laerem sighed again, “What museum?”

“Metanautics.”

“Why?”

“Tell ya later.” She winked

“Whatever.”

The Razhti walked to the tasseled girl’s side. She returned Laerem’s acquiescence with a pleased – if wry – grin. And with that, she led the way, swinging the guilty rifle behind her.

“By the way, name’s Lenika,” she said, extending a hand. “Lenika Andrys. Most call me Leni.”

Laerem didn’t return the favor.

Leni shrugged, “Suit yourself, Laerem Praedopf.”

Quicker than the Razhti realized, she’d received a kiss on the cheek from her coercer.

“Cheer up. This’ll be fun.”

Tags: , , , , , ,

Saturday, February 19th, 2011 Prose No Comments

“Crossing the Stars” – A Novel Synopsis

INTRO:

The Age of Decay had ended. Denizens of the Tarolis galaxy crossed the stars once more. Warlords became nobles, pirates became kings, and wanderers became heroes. Empires rose and fell, but one kingdom shined above all the others; Algarath.

Five hundred years later, an ancient power awoke and cast its vengeful eyes upon the cosmos.

In one day, it came out of hiding.

In one day, the kingdom fell.

VINTS: (aka. Vintrosu Ridrant) – Ten years ago, Vints – a man of noble lineage – witnessed firsthand the fall of the Algarath Kingdom. When mysterious white ships descended upon Algarath, he was there. Like many that day, he tried desperately to find cover from the strafing runs for himself and one other. A woman.

However, as the onslaught raged on, they were separated. An energy discharge left him horribly scarred, his left leg burnt to ash. His last visible memory of that day was watching her departure, her unconscious form cradled in the arms of a figure in black.

Vints awakens each morning to that last memory fading to black. To him, the dream is his waking world and reality his purgatorial nightmare. The life of a spacer replaced the life of a nobleman. He sullies it away with alcohol, minor crime and brawls. If it weren’t for the empathy of a local bartender, no place would be home.

A person from his past jolts him from his masochistic reverie…

Another woman; one he had saved so long ago.

VEK’SIRAHL – An orphan of a massacre, Sirahl wandered the halls of a battered space station for most of her childhood eking out an existence on littered food and the kindness of other displaced spacefarers. This had been the pattern since the death of her mother at the hands of mercenaries.

This changed with the chance meeting with a scarred spacer – a teenager with a talon-like burn mark across half his visage, and a left leg gleaming of metal. There eyes met, and unlike the countless times when her pleading expression surfaced, this time it did not. She did not beg. Sirahl studied him. He regarded her the same way.

Since that day, she called him Vints, and he called her sister. For over ten years, they formed a lucrative smuggling partnership. Sirahl thrived on the thrill of the chase, while Vints viewed it as a passable distraction from inner pain.

They parted ways when she chose to delve into another profession – piracy. He wandered the free territories of the Spiral Run, while she eased her way into the ranks of the infamous The Aquarian Queen. A ship captained by…

THAKRIEN THE DRAY (a.k.a. Thakrien DiSarra) – Five years ago a man proud of his pirate lineage learned of an excavation in the heart of the Noble territories. A mysterious vessel dating back over ten thousand years had been discovered. The Nobles themselves were in an uproar. No technology from prior to the Age of Decay had ever been discovered intact!

Thakrien decided then and there that he had to relieve them of their quarry. With a ragtag group of other Spiral Run misfits, he infiltrated Noble space and commandeered the vessel. What he learned upon entering shocked him. The ship was alive yet not organic. An empath among his crewmates informed him that although the ship itself was not made of anything biological, it did possess a soul.

He had heard of such ships before, legends passed down his family line for generations – starships that ran on the rarest of renewable energy sources, a lifeforce of its own. Another surprise was in store.

The vessel knew him.

Now, he and his newfound spaceworthy companion – the soulship The Aquarian Queen – wreak havoc upon the fringe of Noble territories, exclusively worlds with ties to his ancestry. For somewhere along the Spiral Run lies his legacy, one that has eluded him for decades. Help arrives from an unlikely source. All he has to do is go back into the heart of Noble space, snatch up a noblewoman, and deliver her to the Borderguard – the self-appointed militia of the Spiral Run.

To accomplish this, he needs someone who looks like a noble to go in and find her. Sirahl, a newer member of his crew knows of such a man. A drunken spacer by the name of Vints.

DATHEDRA PREVANE (a.k.a. Dathedra Senai) – Ten years ago, the world she called home was laid to waste. The invaders didn’t even destroy the planet, occupy it, or remove anything. Their goal was single-minded, cold and efficient: eliminate all sentient life on Algarath. Thankfully, their attempt had left pockets of civilization intact. Somehow she survived but at a very high price. The youth she was betrothed to – Vintrosu Ridrant – was nowhere to be found.

Her rescuer, clad in black, announced herself as High Defender Ro Taal – the military head for her family, the Royal House of Senai. The darkly-dressed woman informed her that she was the last royal alive.

They made it off Algarath with the help of the few remaining members of the Algarathi military. The ragtag convoy escaped undetected, much to the surprise of the High Defender. Dathedra – barely fifteen – was left in the care of the Noble House of Prevane. Ro Taal gave her two warnings: “Never reveal who you are”…and… “In ten years time, I will come for you.”

Ten years came and went, and the former High Defender never contacted her. At the time of her betrothal age, she took matters into her own hands by hiring spacers to track Ro Taal down. She discovered that the few remaining members of the royal military had defected to the free territories of the Spiral Run and were now defending it in the guise of the Borderguard militia.

Contact was made.

Ro Taal informed Dathedra that she had not forgotten her promise, and that as they spoke plans were being made to bring her to the Spiral Run. The only hitch was finding a pirate or spacer crazy enough to do it.

Enter Thakrien the Dray.

RO TAAL: The world, the family, and the kingdom she had sworn to protect crumbled before her eyes in a matter of hours. Majestic vessels of unknown origin descended upon Algarath like sentient clouds and rained fire upon the once pristine world. High Defender Ro Taal’s first thought upon watching the destruction was the haphazard nature of the attack – thousands of ships surrounding the globe uprooting pockets of citizenry. It seemed more like an act of fear rather than precision.

That was how her mind worked. Amidst the savage landscape, the screams of agony, and the macabre array, she questioned the motivation. Their timing seemed far too convenient; mere days before a peace accord with key Spiral Run systems, one week to the day after she had made the greatest discovery in centuries.

The cause of the Age of Decay.

Ten thousand years of darkness were suddenly brought to light, and the family she guarded with her life held a connection to it. However, with the connection to the reason came with it the knowledge of an ancient enemy – one that roamed the stars long before humankind ever conceived of spaceflight. Ever since unearthing lost knowledge, she pondered the best way to reveal it to the masses. The invasion of her world forced her hand.

Her duty was clear now: protect whatever remained of the Senai family, and if none remained, find a way to fight against to the coming tide. By sheer luck or fate, she found one member of the royal family alive – the youngest daughter, Dathedra. Another factor in her favor was the knowledge that underground bunkers with contingents of her troops were also still intact.

Contact with the others were made, ships were found, a route of safety was plotted. Summoning all of her combat training, and pushing her loyal followers to the brink of exhaustion, they made it off Algarath. Heavy casualties resulted from the suicide run out of the system, but the core ships in her makeshift convoy still flew.

The Noble House of Prevane, ever-loyal and indebted, agreed to shelter the young princess until the time was right for her summons. The former High Defender then took to the stars again leaving Noble space behind her. She and her troops relocated to the Spiral Run and swore to guard the free territories from the inevitable arrival of a powerful nemesis.

Ten years have passed, and the time is upon them. Ro Taal – once the most respected High Defender in the Algarath Kingdom, now a scarred Borderguard general – again has a duty to fulfill. To defeat an ancient evil, one must awaken an ancient good.

For a poem about the discovery of The Aquarian Queen, go HERE!

Tags: , , , ,

Monday, December 1st, 2008 Prose No Comments

The Aquarian Queen

The Aquarian Queen

The sky bleeds a faint crimson of sunset
As he and his followers walk the reliquary,
The marble pillars of a vast city greet them.
The wind scours their stark and spiry facades
Of shadows.

Why does he feel welcome?

A pirate, he was, a plunderer of planets
Guided by that which fueled his hubris,
Yet here upon Aquaria’s terrestrial soil –
Eyes glazed and mouth agape – he admits to a growth
Of awe.

Where did that voice come from?

Atop the mount littered with effigies,
A sentinel overlooks a vast ruin.
Gleaming of aqua-blue ore forged before humankind
Conceived of flight, she is a guardian
Of nothing.

Was she the one who spoke his name?

“It was me,” she says. No one hears her but him.
“Who are you?” he asks through his mind’s eye.
“I’ve been waiting for you,” she intones. “Return us…
…to the stars.” He nods slowly, sensing no malice,
“Of course.”

Will she be the one to save him?

He dubs her The Aquarian Queen, granting her flight
Once more upon the star-strewn void.
A new-found sense of Self buds within,
A lotus given form by a soothing voice
Of hope.

“May I never leave her care,” he sighs.

Charcoal Sketch by Robert E. Norman

Tags: , , , ,

Monday, December 1st, 2008 Poetry No Comments

I work for tea money.

Calendar

September 2017
M T W T F S S
« Nov    
 123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
252627282930