Works in Progress
Beneath – Chief Advisor to the King of Man Russell Hicks has been sent to the Elfviyat capital of Evoriim in order to confirm humanity’s entrance into the Ayudaric League. The planet seems nearly perfect on the surface, but Mr. Hicks, a former private investigator, senses that something is very, very wrong…
Current Progress: Working on Chapter 3.
“You heard me. Bloody, bloody hell.”
The stately being seated beside me raised an eyebrow and turned fully to face me. “You equate our home planet with a thoroughly unpleasant place, filled with bodily fluids?”
“What? No, I didn’t say that.”
“You most definitely did. ‘Bloody hell’ were your exact words.”
“And here was me thinking you Juxtani didn’t use the word ‘hell.’ I mean, I knew that your language – Kordic, isn’t it? – is almost exactly the same as English, with a few minor variations. I guess ‘hell’ isn’t one of them.”
“‘Hell’ is merely a word we use for an unpleasant place or situation that causes great pain.”
I chuckled softly to myself. “Huh. Well, in our language, the word means the same thing in common usage, but it derives from one of our religions. In that religion, ‘Hell’ was a place where sinners were sent upon their death. To be punished for eternity.”
“Sinners. I take that to mean someone who violated accepted codes of conduct?”
I shrugged. “I guess. The accepted codes of conduct I was referring to were that of said religion, of course.”
“Religion. An odd concept. Belief in a higher power, with no evidence as to its existence. How… quaint.”
I rolled my eyes and leaned back in my seat. It was a very comfortable seat, with soft, plush, grey cushions all around me. “Yes. Quite. Quaint. And your Juxtani religion is different because you have proof that your gods exist.”
“Gods do not exist in the sense that you refer to them, Sana Hicks. They are merely beings like us, just with immense… power, and knowledge. Your species’ continued belief in these nonexistent gods is interesting.”
“You know what,” I said, nettled at my companion’s condescending manner, turning my head to look at him square in the face. He was very light-skinned, and looked exactly like a Human. His hair was a dark brown, almost bordering on black, and hung down slightly past his shoulders. Two shorter lengths of braided hair framed his face, with jewels and other glittery objects littering them. Like a magpie. He wore his thin, oiled mustache well, and his hand-length beard was waxed so heavily that it didn’t move at all.
“Not all Humans believe in gods,” I continued, curbing the annoyance in my voice, reminding myself that I was representing my entire species here. No pressure. “We’re not all the exact same person. We don’t share a common personality. We are all different. I am sure the same is true of you Elfviyat.”
“To an extent. Your Human race contains much more individual variation than ours does. We… discourage deviation.”
“Of course you do.” I looked back out the window at the planet of Evoriim, capital of the fabled Elfviyat Empire, the cultural center of Juxtani Civilization – that United Nations-style entity consisting of fifteen thousand member civilizations across the universe.
Bloody hell, I thought again, peering past my companion, who naturally took for himself the coveted window-seat of the space-shuttle, leaving his guest in the awkward position of craning his neck to see out of the viewport beside him. You’d think for a race with a couple hundred thousand years of technological advancement over us, they’d be able to build a shuttle that didn’t look like a snapshot from a twenty-first century airplane.
Most of the trip had, thankfully, taken place on an enormous Elfviyat spaceliner, with a very Tolkienesque name: the Lorien. It had been quite comfortable. And large. Very large. With all the viewports one could ever hope for. I missed it already.
But upon our arriving within five starsystems of the fabled planet of Evoriim, all of that had changed. The Elfviyat took their capital’s security very seriously. From the time I spent among their kind on board the Lorien, I had already gathered a vague sense of the character of the Eflviyat culture, which was one of the reasons King Darien had sent me on this mission. That and to get me away from my ex-wife.
Thank god for that.
The Divine Madness of Kings - Following the entrance of humanity into Juxtani Civilization, the Human government is becoming more and more corrupt. The son of the legendary Jakken Jalhalla Servidos and Derekk Andres San Paolo, Darien, works for his father Derekk’s governmental watchdog agency, and as the government’s corruption becomes more and more apparent, he decides that he is the only one who can save humanity from itself.
Current Progress: Working on Chapter 9.
Derekk began to speak. He was clad in an immaculate light blue coat, his shining brown locks flowing past his shoulders, his blue eyes staring straight through the holoscreen. “I would like to formally apologize to the world – and to the Terran Home Rule – for the excesses that I have committed in the attempt to do my job. I had only the best of intentions, yet I have managed to impair the effective workings of this government through my actions. For this I am deeply sorry. In order to prevent this from happening again, I am, as of this moment, officially resigning from my post as director of the Office of Governmental Oversight. I hope that my successor makes wiser decisions than me. Thank you for your support, people of the Empire. It has meant everything to me. Now, however, I feel that I am not the best one to serve you in this capacity. It has been an honor to serve you.”
Darien’s eyes were wide with shock. Why did my father say that? What did they threaten him with? He had a bad feeling that he knew exactly what with. Me.
The image switched back to the woman. “Understandably, details coming out from Ulaanbaatar are limited, but as far as we can understand, Derekk Andres san Paolo’s team of elite hackers got into a core government file, and when the access was detected, the entire system was shut down.” That’s not true at all! They’re lying!
That’s what they do. It’s their job; just like it’s your job to uncover their lies.
The reporter went on about how the Office was – of course – still intact, and would be returning to work in a day’s time, with a few more restrictions placed upon it, but nothing major. Nothing major. Darien wanted to punch the holovision screen, but he knew that that would accomplish absolutely nothing.
Darien buried his head in his hands until he heard the reporter’s last words, at which he raised his head and stared forward in disbelief.
“The Office will be reopening soon, everyone, under the leadership of Darien Andres san Paolo Jalhalla Servidos, Derekk Andres san Paolo and Jakken Jalhalla Servidos’ only son.”
Tal’kan – On the planet of Tal’kan, there exists an ancient Order of druids who keep the planet’s spirit asleep as per its wish by maintaining its ley lines and natural balance, while all the while competing against a group of “civilized” beings, who seek to industrialize, advance, and take advantage of the planet. As their conflict escalates, ancient history comes to light, and it quickly becomes apparent that nothing is as it seems…
Current Progress: On page 83 (34,020 words) of the first draft.
The old being leaned back and sighed, his eyes flitting over the treetops below him, bathing in the last light of the dying day. He could feel the life seeping out of his body, and with it went the source of power. He bid farewell to the microorganisms departing his ailing shell, and wished them well in whatever ventures lay yet to come. The rock beneath him was covered in dense moss that cushioned his aching bones, and would provide his tenants with a most suitable place to rest.
In the distance, towards the setting star of the planet Tal’kan, a thin stream of smoke crossed the sky as the inhabitants of the distant village of Mantuun lit the communal fire in the town square. The old being’s lips curled upwards in a friendly smile as he imagined the scene: families from across the village gathered around the fire, the product of a long day of labor. The day’s catch would be roasted over the open flames, and the young men and women would boast of their daring feats in catching this yarin or that urynx, while the elders told tales of ancient glory to the children who would gather around them.
It was a good life for all. The Ittek peoples took from Tal’kan only what they needed to survive, and lived long, full lives with almost no worldly possessions. They respected Tal’kan and paid him his dues, and Tal’kan allowed them to live peacefully upon his skin. It all worked.
Deep within his failing heart, the old being knew that this harmony was not eternal. It was in the nature of any being with sentient intelligence and will to try to improve his material lot, and give himself more than he needed. And with that, came waste. And with waste came pollution. And with enough pollution – the slumbering giant would awaken.
It had happened before; a few isolated villages had managed to regain aspects of their technology, lost long ago in a terrible disaster. Three of these villages had risen during the being’s own lifetime, and he had been forced to destroy them all – male, female, and child.
It was a hard task to bear, and the destruction of those villages – still so innocent, and yet full of such dangerous potential – had been the worst moments of the old being’s long life. But the Ittek were learning, and more and more villages were beginning to cluster together, forming what came very close to resembling cities, and the development of disturbing levels of technology in some of the larger clusters was becoming a more and more frequent occurrence.
Genocide on a massive scale would soon become necessary to hold the Ittek in restraint. They could not be allowed to venture beyond the continent of Itekia, and they could not disturb Tal’kan’s body to any great extent. Were his Order powerful enough, it would have been far easier to merely wipe the Ittek off the face of the planet and leave it at that. Even if the Order was that powerful, however, the old being could never have brought himself to do it. All life was sacred; the Order had taught him that. It was a cruel joke played by the Elders that all life also seemed hell-bent on destroying all that was not their kind.
The tendrils of smoke began to thicken, and the old being smiled once more, his dark thoughts broken. Still, that day was long off. It would certainly be longer off than his body would last.
Footsteps sounded on the path behind him, leading up to the ledge upon which the old being sat. A figure with dark skin and a growing black beard, clad in a green and yellow cloak, rushed about the bend in the Cliffside path.
“Beastheart,” the old being said calmly. The newcomer stopped beside the being and knelt.
“I came when I felt your tor leaving you.”
“Very good, very good,” the old being said. The old being himself looked much like the younger one kneeling beside him, save with even darker skin and a long, flowing beard of glistening silver. “Tell me, what do you see out in the distance?”
The younger being turned. “Smoke, master. From the village of Mantuun. Likely preparing their meal for the evening. They are harmless.”
The old being coughed. “Yes, that is what you see. But there is more, Beastheart. There is life there. The souls that created the fire that gives off that smoke are no less important than yours, or mine, or those of the trees that surround us. Remember that always, Beastheart. For too long has the Order sneered at the Ittek living their humble lives under the light of Tal’kan’s star. They may have the dark potential in their souls to destroy this world, but until that potential is realized, they are more innocent than we are. Always remember that.”
“I will,” promised the younger being. He looked troubled. “Are you dying, master?”
“Passing on,” the older being replied. He smiled. “It’s about time, too. I have watched over the Order for four dateyns – two hundred Tal-kan years. I have seen those I love grow old and die around me, while I live on always. It is a cursed life, this long one that chose me. And now, Beastheart, it has chosen you. The tor have spoken. You shall lead the Order when I am gone. They will pass on to you.”
The younger being looked speechless. “But master, surely there is a better-”
“There are none better, Beastheart,” the old being continued. “You understand the true goal of our Order better than any other. We are to protect Tal’kan and ensure that it is not wounded so that it does not awaken and destroy us all. We are to use whatever means necessary to keep the Spirit of the planet safe, and we are to protect those creatures that cannot protect themselves from the dangers of civilization. The dangers of civilization, Beastheart – not from civilization itself. The Order, I fear, has lost the true meaning of those words over time. We are the last of our kind, Beastheart, you and I.”
There was silence for a few moments. “Before my tor pass onto you, Beastheart, know that they will fill you with knowledge that you wish you did not know. Things that only the Warden of the Order can ever know. The tor of the Warden is full of secrets.” The old being turned and looked for the first time directly into the eyes of his younger companion. “You shall finally know the true purpose of the Order.
“For all is not what it seems.”