Posts Tagged ‘scifi’

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The empire was at war, once again. The docking platforms were lined with gun-clad airships, loading to the brim with soldiers and merchs alike.

As I trudged towards my own transport of destruction, I viewed a display of two love-torn kids putting on a drama for the whole place to catch a show. I’ve seen the type before—the boy, so young, he probably never even touched a loaded pressure-rifle before, and would be lucky if his trembling hands don’t blow his own head off the first time—but he read the penny-store novels and rags, and his mind was filled with the idea of battle’s glory.

He tore himself from the girl’s fingers, one-by-one, with such a caricature of love-lulled look on his face. I was too far to hear, but I already knew the lines as if they were reading them off an offstage cue-card.

“I’ll think of you every night,” he’ll say.

“I’ll cry myself to sleep, worrying about you,” she’ll say, while whipping up alligator-tears to make sure it was believable.

And then he’ll say, in some off iambic pentameter, “Good-bye, my love, I will long for the day I will return to you, and feel your touch again. For now, my empire calls…”

He’ll be puking in a corner, crying for his mommy at the sight of the first battle flare.

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Rainwater harvesting systems channel rainwater...

Rainwater harvesting systems channel rainwater from a roof into a storage tank via an arrangement of gutters and pipes. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A few months ago, a friend of mine, Catrina Taylor (whose books you should be reading), started her own indie-publisher, the Writing Network. It’s still in its very young stages, but it’s being lead by someone that knows what she’s doing.

As one of her draws, she started a Word of the Day Flash Fiction, and while I haven’t had the time to do much with it since she started (because I was writing a bunch of deadlines), I will try to get more into it (especially since I need something to give my flashes structure). Back for her opening, I did do one for the word “sunshine” (even though her rules were a max of 500, I kept my rules of 300):

The sunshine shot deftly through the boarded window directly at my eyes, prying me from my sleep—something that used to be the most irritating way of waking up, but now was a comforting sign that I survived another night.

I stumbled to my feet with my head still spinning of an uneasy sleep, and made my way for the door. After a couple minutes worth of unlatching locks, I let in the new day and walked out into its warmth. My first step was into a pile of ash splayed across my porch—I had to force it from my head for now—convince myself it was only dirt as it seeped between my bare toes.

I walked to the end of the yard where the overflowing rain barrel sat and splashed the sun-warmed water at my face. Staring down at my reflection, I saw a face so worn and tired I barely recognized it as mine.

Then the extra eyes glimmered just over my shoulder.

I barely had time to dodge as the draugr swiped at me from a shadowed corner. I jumped back as it lunged forward, and burst into white flame—instantly consumed by the sun, with only the traces of it ever existing left behind.

I staggered back for the shelter of my home and re-latched the door behind ‘til I could work the courage back up to venture out again. I slumped back to my tattered mattress, and let the beam of sunshine comfort me with warmth. As I lay, I felt the warm slowly turn to a subtle burn across my arm. I sat up, and saw, slightly beginning to smolder, a slight scratch—not much—but just enough. Enough to know this would be my last taste of sunshine.

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Lightspeed

Lightspeed (Photo credit: i be GINZ)

I push the throttle to full and plunge through the void as existence blazes past me as no more than a perpetual glowing wall.

I have no idea how much of a lead I have on them, I’m mostly running on hope that I have any legitimate gain at all. The more I think about it, the more I get the sickly paranoid feeling that they’ve already caught-up, and if I went back to the cargo hold, I’d see them slithering through the shadows.

I don’t even know for certain where I’m going, and moving at these speeds without a destination isn’t normally considered safe—the navigation computer has been blaring its warning alarms at me since I entered into the jump.

I need time to think—I need to find somewhere to stop and hide, and come up with a plan. But nowhere is safe—not even for a minute’s rest.

I swear I can feel their miasmic breath across the back of my neck. I look despite sense, and see nothing but the empty cabin and my own reflection across the panels—staring back at me—mocking me with my repeating questions of fight-or-flight.

They killed her—she’s dead—and all I can do is run for my own life—running into oblivion fueled with cowardice.

I look down at the navigation, and see the Return Home on its menu—it would take me headlong back to them. Chances of getting out alive pretty much don’t exist, but I could sure as hell make them feel my pain.

I hit the return, and the warning alarm finally calms. I flip open the red panel, smash the glass below, and flip the switches that begin the count-down.

I sit back in my chair, and wait.

The Gunslinger

The Gunslinger (Photo credit: The mofoJT)

So, ‘Natural Selection’ is done, and all that remains of it is the past posts that you can read and re-read ‘til your foot gets stuck from kicking yourself in the ass for not pushing for me to continue the project. But don’t fear, as a bonus for you, I shall provide you here with the DVD Extras. These are bits that I wrote in ‘Elimination’ that ended up getting changed for one reason or another, some of the bits got recycled, in what you got, while the rest was simply left in the scrap file (I’m sure I had to of mentioned this before, and if I haven’t, I am now: never delete large amounts of writing no matter how bad you think it is, always put it in a scrap file. There will always be bits in it that you’ll find useful that you would have lost otherwise—plus, it gives you something to put on your website to appeal to the fans—I’m going to have those some day)

This is the original version of how it started just after Bahb hit the button. I tried writing Father with a cliché Southern-draw, so trying to figure out his dialog was always interesting, making this speech fun to write, but in the end, it was just too much “blah, blah, blah” with nothing happening and was killing the pace. So, I pushed back the zombies (the fight with them was going to start in this story, but then decided it was more dramatic to end it with them coming), I put Bahb’s guards back because I couldn’t figure out any way to get him a weapon that wouldn’t just leave him hiding behind the aliens for most of the story (even though most of his efforts of fighting were useless, I needed to keep the concept of him not backing down—since that’s the direction that kept getting chosen, so I wanted to keep that reflected as such):

What is that—Oh-dear-god—“

There was a slight pause, and a popping sound that came from the other PA speakers, and Fathers voice came over all of them at once, “Attention, my children, this is your father. It would seem that Hell has opened its floodgates and we are in the direct path of its fury. You are the greatest of a whole new species of mankind—now is the time that you must prove yourselves! Now is the time you must fight for the survival of this species! Defend our children, defend our families—“

A load groaning sound came across the speakers, followed by the sounds of multiple gunshots, and them the speakers suddenly cut out.

The room was flooded with a red strobe and a blaring alarm, and the capsules containing Soo and the other alien began to drain of their fluid.

They’re waking up now…” the unknown voice announced in Bahb’s mind.

The glass chambers started rising up in sync and the two grotesque creatures slumped over and dropped to the flood with a wet slosh, and with tentacles splayed about randomly. They lay limp and seemly lifeless in pools of excess liquid. Just as Bahb began to work up the courage to try to check them for signs of life, the being he knew as Soo began to move a tentacle, and then another, and then started to push herself upright. Shortly after, the other began to do the same.

Bahb went over to Soo and crouched to her level, “Are you ok?”

Soo looked at Bahb with a slit eye at the end of a long stalk, and directed the other towards her companion. Bahb looked between them, and notice they had their stares locked on each other.

“Am I missin’ something?” Bahb asked.

They’re talking… I can hear them…” The voice stated, “Would you like to hear them too?

“That would be—“ A piercing pain shot through Bahb’s mind, with him clasping his head with his arms, barely managing to stay on his feet. He suddenly heard the sound of thousands of voices, frantic and screaming. Slowly the voices began to calm, and filter down to fewer and fewer, until Bahb heard a conversation between only two.

…they tried to hide him from us… the experiment is ordered to be brought to an end… all results so far must be cleansed…

Everything?

We are to retrieve the evidence of their violation… otherwise, everything must be subjected to elimination…

And so it must be… no one can escape the Selection!

“What the hell is the damned ‘Selection’?” Bahb blurted out, “Everybody that has anything to do with this damn crazy cult keeps going on about ‘there’s no escaping the Selection’ or some crap—what the hell—“

A sudden sound like a surprised gasp sounded through Bahb’s mind from the two creatures. The one that was Soo suddenly began to melt into an abstract of itself, a multi-colored blob, phasing into a shade of skin, and sprouting arms and legs, and becoming the woman that Bahb had come to recognize as Soo—also naked again.

Soo examined Bahb with her infinitely dark eyes, “Bahb, were you able to hear us just now?”

“Um… yes…” Bahb answered with uncertainty.

With Bahb’s single word, he was alerted to the metallic sound of an unsheathing blade behind him. He turned and saw a man with long black hair, darkly tanned skinned, and narrowed black eyes, standing with his right armed formed into a long blade directed at Bahb’s temple.

Bahb narrowed his eyes to match that of the alien, “Is there a problem?”

Who is this? He is not one of them…” Bahb heard in his mind.

He was useful in getting in here… he may continue to be…” Soo’s mind responded, and then out loud to Bahb, “Bahb, how were you capable of hearing us communicating before?”

“Present tense—I still can,” Bahb responded, “And I really don’t know the how of it. There’s another voice that I’ve been hearing since I got here, aside from Scarlet’s and yers. I assumed it was me losing my mind, but then the crazy started becoming a bit more functional that is probably normal for crazy.”

The other entity I detected earlier,” Soo announced in her mind.

Is it the evidence?” The other asked.

“If you and yer naked friend here are just gonna stand here mind zapping each other, I’m gonna go back to finding Scarlet now,” Bahb interjected.

Bahb walked to the doorway leading to the outer lab, while grabbing a couple of lab coats and tossing them in the direction of the aliens, “If you don’t mind, you two are make it feel drafty in here.”

Bahb went to the main door. He glanced out the window noticing that his two guards seemed to no longer be anywhere in sight, “They must have been pulled away by whatever that commotion over the PA was…

“Commotion?” Soo asked walking up behind him.

“Damn’it, is that thing still on—am I gonna be permanently incapable of a private thought?” Bahb said and continue, “When Father was speaking earlier, something was responded to with gunfire.”

Kyriakos’Dionysodoros’Eli’Mongkut’Jorje,” Soo’s mind blurted out.

Gesundheit…” Bahb responded, “Ok, that joke is weirder when it’s in my head. You mean that Jorje guy from the cemetery? What about ‘im?”

“Jorje guy?” The other alien responded out loud for the first time.

“They should have been here at least a month ago…” Soo said, “The hibernation must have weakened the signal… I am not sure what they were doing between time… no matter, the elimination has begun, and we must complete the mission now…”

Soo’s counter part crossed his bladed limb through the door and it fell to fragments before him.

“Not to sound like I’m criticizing the quality of yer handy work, there, but it was actually locked from the inside—where we presently are,” Bahb pointed out, “You happen to have a name?”

“Irfan’Ramachandra’Arjuna’Tafadzwa’Gaun” The alien responded while walking over the destroyed door and into the corridor.

“Ok…. Gaun… what’s the plan? If you two are gonna start escaping, that’s fine, but I still gotta find Scarlet before I go anywhere—with or without the either of you,” Bahb paused, “But, I’m not gonna lie, I’d rather have at least one of you incase I come up against another Evo along the way.”

“I believe the ‘Evos’ will be indisposed,” Soo responded, “However, I will accompany you, while… Gaun… continues our mission.”

Why are—“ Gaun started in his mind.

Silence! Follow my command!” Soo responded with Gaun simply giving a subservient nod and began making his way down the corridor at an unreal pace.

And this is the alternate final fight between Bahb and Soo. Originally, Bahb actually got Father’s pistol-cannon, because I just completely loved the idea behind that gun, but after re-reading what I wrote, I declared that the fact that I just juiced Bahb up like a Super-Evo wasn’t really being sold the way it needed to be. So, I took away the gun, pointed out the healing, the reflexes, the strength, and just hand-to-hand stuff:

Bahb gripped the pistol-cannon and became one with it, turning on his heels; he aimed at the charging Soo, and fired an explosion of thunder, sending its giant bolt through her chest, and being followed by another being sent through her right shoulder, completely removing her bladed limb. He then went to his feet and moving toward her, fired again, and again.

When he reached her, and stood over her switching body, it was phased between her human and original state in a fit of chaotic confusion. Bahb crouched down, and threw his fist through the grotesque thing that was Soo’s face until he felt soil behind it.

Part 1:

Selective Breeding

Bundled

Bundled (Photo credit: Bart Heird)

Father was awoken by a screeching scream, “Violation!” No other words, but a sensation of searing in the back of his mind, like a blazing path leading from him to the cause of the disruption.

He sat-up in his bed with the burning in his mind, while still dazed between wake and dream. The sensation bared the essence of his daughter, Kk’rin, and something else… something—“Oh, god, Kk’rin… what have you done now?”

He threw back the bed sheets, and walked quickly to the intercom, commanding that a carriage and retrieval party be assembled. Then he opened his wardrobe and began readying himself as best he could.

— — —

Kk’vin’s sister’s screams could be heard almost a full mile before the carriage carrying her even reached the compound’s gate.

“You can’t do this! You can’t keep me here!”

Kk’vin stood above the wall watching as it approached, and gave a slight wave to the men below to open the gate and allow the wagon through.

“Father, are you listening? I’ll get out at the first chance I get, you can’t keep me here!”

Kk’vin just shook his head as he listened to her pleas with even more energy than last time they brought her back. If it was anyone else, Father would have simply used his gaze and kept her from even opening her mouth, but with her, he just let her go as if punishing himself for some personal sin.

Kk’vin began climbing down the wall as the gate closed. He walked passed the farming zone where a group of children laughed as they played a game chasing each other through the corn field. He took in the sights of his family in the Church of the Evolution hard at work, allowing the compound to flow seamlessly. Father was only gone a short while retrieving Kk’rin, but Kk’vin hoped that the time of him being in charge would make his Father proud.

Kk’rin’s screams died out as a couple of his brethren carried her into the medical complex. Father wasn’t very clear about the conditions that spurred the urgency to retrieve her this time, so he had at least hoped that the stop at the complex was just an overly precautious Father giving his daughter a routine check-up.

Kk’vin approached the wagon and Father just now began to get out. The look on his face was filled with concern, and regret.

“You didn’t allow her words to get to you, did you, Father?” Kk’vin asked.

Father looked up at him with eyes that looked ancient and tired, “No, my son. Your sister has a right powerful set of lungs in her, and a tongue sharp enough to stab straight through her Father’s tender heart with precision, however…” he paused in a pained search for words, “I fear that she may have done something I simply do not know how to fix.”

— — —

Father left his son by the wagon to finish whatever chores he had left, and walked towards the sterilized room where his daughter was being prepared for her induction. The message glowing in his mind had shifted, “Elimination!” with the blazing path glowing like a sun.

What am I supposed to do now? He asked himself as he stared through the observation window at his struggling daughter.

He opened the door to the sterile smell and Kk’rin’s screams that were silenced as he forced his power upon her, an act he always regretted doing to any of his children.

Men in pure white that almost blended with the walls came in, and he nodded to them to begin. They went straight to work as Kk’rin groaned incoherently.

“You can’t… you can’t do this…” she managed to get out as the building pain in her gave her surges passed his hold over her.

My child, he thought as he looked away from the source of his own pain, I wish there was another choice.

“Please!” her scream echoed in his mind.

— — —

Kk’vin sat outside, anxiously waiting for any news of his sister as the door to the sterilized room finally opened up. One of his brethren came out dressed in pure white, randomly blotched with red, carrying what looked like a bundle of blankets. Kk’vin would have concluded that he was simply disposing of a pile of soiled linen, if the bundle didn’t suddenly begin to scream with a screeching wail.

As he started to creep a peek into the bundle, Father came out of the room.

“Kk’vin,” he said with such a commanding tone, that Kk’vin couldn’t help but bring himself to attention, “I need you to find this man, and cleanse him of his sins against the Church of the Evolution,” as Father spoke, his mind projected an image into Kk’vin’s head—A gunslinger, by the name of Bahb.

“Yes, Father”

— — —

Kk’rin lay on a cot attached to the wall of a cell she had been in many times before as her version of a “time-out.” They were still examining, poking, and prodding and every other kind of test they could think of, on her neonate son in a complex just a building over. She could feel every sensation running through the child’s mild in wonder of all the new sights so clearly, they almost felt like her own. It was an odd feeling of displacement—a growing consciousness for nine months inside of you, blind to anything beyond you, but now a building over and seeing everything.

She forced her mind away from her child for the moment, and focused on the mind of Father, “Now that you have me here, what do you plan to do to keep me this time?”

She found him in the lab with the creature. He watched as the tentacled thing hibernated in its tube. She could hear single words being transmitted, “Violation,” “Elimination,” and “Retrieval!”

Her mind was suddenly struck with the destruction of her son’s screaming, and then images started flashing. The images made little sense, but the last image she saw was that of Bahb dieing, and a black haired woman she never saw before.

She quickly sought out the mind of Bahb, and, though it was much further away, she was able to find it almost instantly, as it was a mind she looked for many times before and knew it well. So far, he was alive and well, riding into a town towards a saloon—but the sensation of another well known mind wasn’t far behind him—Kk’vin. His purpose wasn’t difficult to determine, as his mind was flooded with determination to find his target and make his Father proud.

She immediately got to her feet and examined the cell. She escaped many times before, but it only gave Father more things to redesign after and make more complicated for her.

“Complicated… but never impossible.”

Part 2:

Process of Elimination

The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead (Photo credit: andres musta)

Kk’vin watched as the tube filled and the odd liquid surrounded the other creature. Father looked over at Kk’vin and he awaited his disappointment. He failed his mission to dispose of Bahb as he was told, and lead him to their home.

“Something is not quite right…”

“Yes, I know Father,” Kk’vin began to plead, “I’m sorry, I’ve failed you—“

“Failed me?” Father interrupted, “You mean the Bahb fella not being dead? Don’t you worry yourself about that, my boy, you went up against the scorn of your sister to get to him, and you would have definitely been a much better man than I if you had succeeded through that. Besides, after examining the child, I have some interesting ideas that could make Bahb worth having around.”

“What do you mean, Father?”

“It’s gonna take me a bit of preparation to work out the kinks, but based on what happened with his and Kk’rin’s child, injecting Bahb with a pure form of our enhanced blood may make him quite powerful.

Kk’vin looked at him Father and wondered if his scientific curiosity was getting the better of his sanity, “Father—as interesting as that would be—why would we want to do that? Wouldn’t that just make him a threat to us?”

“My boy, I believe that is a risk we would have to take, for I have a feeling that this one,” Father gestured towards the newly hibernating creature, “may have set a trap for of that something completely insane may be the only option left.

“I need you to go out with your best men, and back track their path here. I need to know exactly what’s coming for us.”

“Yes, Father” Kk’vin acknowledged and began making his way outside the complex.

He gathered five of his brethren, and they prepped and mounted their horses. They directed towards the gate, and started heading towards the west where the Church of the Evolution’s attackers came from. It wasn’t too difficult for Kk’vin to pickup on their trail, with the burning of psychic energy from both of them there was the think odor of a thunderstorm deep in his own mind.

They followed the trail for almost a full day before Kk’vin’s horse suddenly reared up without warning and tossed him to the ground hard, slamming him to his back with a thud that made him gasps for breath. He stood with a fist angrily directed for the horse, “What in the hell is yer problem, ya damn beast—“

He stopped himself short, as he saw, all around him and his companions, thousands, upon thousands of bodies. Some were rather fresh, while others were at many different stages of decay to the point of barely holding together.

They seemed to go back further than his keen eyes could see. Some just lay in the open trails, while some were propped up by rocks and vegetation as if they were puppets that just dropped from having their strings cut.

Leaving their horses, they continued to follow the path of corpses to trace where they came from, and the bodies simply continued seemly forever.

Eventually they came to an area surround with an iron fence, with only the destroyed headstones scattered about to inform them that it was a cemetery—at least, it was prior to its residence vacating their resting places.

“Setup camp,” He commanded to one of his men, “I want to know what the intention was here before we go on.”

Almost a month passed of Kk’vin sending reports back from the Death Camp to Father back at the compound, which mostly informed him that an ocean of dead bodies isn’t as excite as one might initially think.

Kk’vin had just finished writing yet another uneventful report and was about to send a rider with it, when a sudden surge of an unfamiliar sensation struck his mind. He braced his head in his hands as if to hold his skull together, and out of the corner of his eyes, he saw movement—movement that he knew should not have existed.

The bodies that surround him, that have surround him for weeks that he grew accustomed to as piles of rocks, and just as mobile, suddenly started rising. First, it was slow and sluggish, like a man getting out of bed after a long sleep, but they slowly increased from staggering shambles, to a pace of determined destination.

“Stop them!” Kk’vin ordered to his men who already had pistol-blades drawn only in wait for the order.

Heated bolts flew through heads, and blades slashed through limbs and necks. Their efforts brought every target made to an end, but there were more targets than bolts between any of them.

As Kk’vin had one by the neck and stabbing his blade though its skulls with a squeeze of his trigger for good measure, he heard the screams of one of his men as one of the corpse had lunged on top of him and began to devour his face until it looked like bloodied hamburger. Kk’vin directed his weapon and blasted the abomination until it stopped moving.

“We need to get back to the compound! We need to warn them!” Kk’vin yelled at anyone still living and capable of following his orders.

He began a sprint eastward, slashing and firing continuously at targets as he went.

Blazing a trail of re-dead bodies through a field of still determined bodies, with the rest of his party lost to join the piles, Kk’vin was able to reach the compound gate. Sounds of battle came from the other side, and he had feared that he was some how too late. He grabbed his pistol-blade by the hilts and stabbed them into the wall, using them to pull his way upward. As he reached the top, he saw the entire Church in the thralls of battle against one of the creatures, and mostly losing.

Passed the mass of battle, Kk’vin saw a form dressed in his usual black splayed out in the middle of the compound—Father… no.

His need to grieve for his Father was immediately interrupted by the sound of screeching, like a thousand newborns scream at once in his mind. He looked towards Kk’rin’s dorm where her and her child were being kept, and the other alien stood in the doorway, holding the familiar bundle.

Kk’vin launched himself from the gate, and charged towards the creature, “Stop!” He shot a bolt through her shoulder hoping it’d be enough to lose her grip, “You can’t take him from us!”

The creature simply gave an arrogant smile and leapt passed him and the blazing battle.

Kk’vin reached the doorway, Bahb lay writhing in pain from the screams he didn’t know how to control, and Kk’rin lay with her limb and skull sliced in half in perfect section, “Kk’rin! No!”

Part 3:

Selective Memory

The Gunslinger

The Gunslinger (Photo credit: Drewdlecam)

Silhouetted all around Gaun coming towards the compound seemed to be thousands of staggering corpses. Bahb’s eyes grew, as he remembered the odd moment with Soo in the cemetery.

They came at the gate in a full charge, with Bahb having no idea what else to do; he jumped back down and took position to prepare for the oncoming battle.

What am I supposed to do now? Father’s pistol-cannon is still over there—should I get that? What about the blood, I don’t have Kk’vin’s anymore, but what if I used Scarlet’s, or any of these other dead Evos? Why do I have this odd sensation that I should be steampunk? What am I supposed to do?

This question simply continued to echo in Bahb’s mind as the gate creaked and cracked, and eventually collapsed beneath the horde of the dead. The remaining living Evos screamed, and fought, as Bahb saw a dead claw come across his face.

— — —

I awoke in my bed in a cold sweat. I got up from my bed and walked out to the living area. Uncle Gaun was there plucking at a data pad.

Uncle Gaun looked up at me, “You had that dream again?”

I nodded, “Same one mostly, I see through my father’s mind, but he keeps making these weird choices, and eventually, he just can’t make a choice at all anymore, and it kills him.”

“Interesting,” is all my Uncle said, which is as much elaboration as I normally got from him, “Your training is in about 30 minutes, you should prepare.”

“Yes, Uncle.”

I went out the front door and took in the view of the clear golden sky, over the valley of red desert, and made my way to the training facility to train for leadership of the invasion force.

Ok, my brain is tired, so I’m going to cover my weekly post as my break, though, due to said cerebral fatigue, I’m going to keep the topic to the less thought out. I apologize in advance.

As mentioned, we are nearing the anniversary of the blog, and as such, the anniversary of ‘Natural Selection’—it was technically born on FB about a month earlier, but I’ll consider that the gestation period—it was born here, July 31, 2012. So the subject matter will be what to do about the continuation of ‘Natural Selection.’ I am really open to any ideas right now.

As it is, I still have the background story that I mentioned I wanted to do for it on the burner, but have done pretty much nothing with it (but it won’t really affect the way things continue anyway, it will just add depth and personal amusement—it will be taking on POVs of all the other characters I wanted to play with but voters wouldn’t let me, and since all those characters are now dead… well, it clearly won’t affect things). That will be done at some point, if I have to bum rush it out, I will (that seems to be in proper tradition of the rest of the story anyway), but I would really like to get it spewed by the anniversary date.

Now, what to do to continue the story—as mentioned, I’m very open to ideas. Should I continue pretty much the way it has so far, should I establish rules for me and/or voters?

Incase you’re new here, and you for some reason haven’t checked already, to bring yourself up to speed, please read ‘Natural Selection’ and see what I’m babbling about.

Another thing that’s been bugging me since near the end of the first one, should I do something different with title? ‘Natural Selection’ was a title that I came up with a couple parts in because it was simply a great play on words that worked for everything… story, concept, etc. But… the story is slightly shifted, most of the Church of the Evolution has been killed, though the Selection is still a thing. The final part got a subtitle of “Elimination’ a slight word play, that was actually one of the titles I was also considering, but decided it fit better there.

So, those are the questions. What if anything should be changed about ‘Natural Selection’ for the second volume?

‘The Hole World’ should seem familiar to those that have been poking around here a bit, as it was mentioned to be the universe that my ’11 NaNo was set in (well, half of it anyway). This is part 2 of 4 of a group of short-stories that I did for a character in ‘the Hole World’ to help me figure out his back-story. I’m starting you off with 2, and probably won’t post the others because they are a bit overly revealing… if ‘the Hole World’ is ever finished and published, then posting those here now would ruin a plot-twist–although, I will perhaps post them some time in the future after publishing (assuming that part happens).

The Hole World

the Message

Clearcut Formerly Known as Forest. The "B...

Clearcut Formerly Known as Forest. The “Black Hole”, near Clayoquot Sound. For scale, see the tiny person in the center. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A burning star tore through the morning sky. Da’ande has seen many stars fall from the heavens of night before, and he has often heard from the elders that these stars were messages from the gods, but he knew there was something different about this star though. The fact that it was being sent during the daytime alone must mean something of importance. A message from the gods so urgent that it must be sent outside the usual tradition.

He watched it as it continued its decent, leaving a thick trail of cloud behind it. As it seemed to become closer he thought he heard what sounded like a distant scream coming closer and closer. Who has ever heard of a star screaming as it fell, screaming with an increasingly monstrous shriek that could rival that of the roar of a giant coludra. As the star was almost directly above his head, the screaming became so great that he was forced to wrap his whole head with his arms to block out his ears as they rang, causing him to almost writhe in pain.

As the star passed over, Da’ande saw something gleaming like the surfaces of the Sespa’ag Caverns. What could this mean, a screaming star falling with the shine of caverns that no one has ever seen the like of anywhere else in the world. Da’ande couldn’t conceive of any answers to his growing questions, but he knew that he had to know.

In the direction of the star’s decent and echoing scream, there came the noise of a crash that sounded as if the whole forest had suddenly exploded. The sounds of trees crashing and birds flapping and animals crying and scattering in fear came through in all directions. The gods’ message was apparently as unexpected for nature as it was for Da’ande.

Finally, after listening to the forest rumbling like distance thunder for several minutes, there came a stilling silence. A few birds still flew, trying to find their flocks that left them behind, and the subtle sounds of rustling leaves and falling branches settling to the ground. But all else was as silent as it was before the star was ever sighted.

Da’ande stared into the forest in the direction of the star, he thought to himself, It must have found a nesting in the ground somewhere, I should hunt for it to discover the message of the gods so it does not go unheard. Then the sudden realization of terror came across his young face, What if it went into the mountains of the beasts, what if it is found by a Loostrem, or Virdra first. I must hurry, even if it is at the risk of my own life.

Da’ande cupped his hands to his mouth and levered his arms as high as he can, filling his lungs with as much air as he could, and then quickly dropped his arms forcing out all the air almost at once, releasing a high pitch shriek that resonated through the forest, echoing until it became a sound of a beautiful song far in the distance.

As he listened to the distant song, he remembered back when he was first shown this magic of the forest by the elder, Edjode. He remembered how he had to force himself not to cover his ears as he was commanded against, even though the shriek was almost unbearable. But he remembered how the forest turned the painful noise into such wonderful singing.

From the near distance came the trampling and rustling sound that he was waiting for. Crashing through a line of brush, with a beam of sun light shining down on it revealing all the fine lines of its muscular detail through its fine pure white coat. The sight of the quine’s two long spikes protruding from its head ripping through the low branches made Da’ande almost sigh in disappointment because he knew already that it was a male that had responded to his call, so the travel would be on land, and hence slower. But either way, it would still be faster than on foot.

Da’ande wrapped his arm around the neck the quine to lever his balance and flung himself onto its large back. He gripped its long white mane and turned it into the direction of the fallen star, kicked his heels against the quine’s sides, and it took off into a swift charge.

He had ridden quines many times before, when he learned the call and first saw the magnificent beast crash through the forest from what seemed out of nowhere. Edjode had to lay a comforting hand on his shoulder to keep him from backing away. Even now it seemed huge, but back then, it appeared like a giant mountain towering over him. Its sharp horns protruding and making it appear so dark and menacing. It completely terrified him when Edjode made it apparent that he intended them to ride it.

As Da’ande watched the forest whip by with such speeds that the trees seemed to form a single solid wall and the horizon before him continued on forever, he remembered how Edjode lifted him on his shoulder and commanded him to mount the great beast. Da’ande’s body was trembling so badly that it almost made his muscles ache. As he gripped his knees against the quine’s body as tight as his small legs could, he could feel the coarse lines of each hair in its fur. His stomach turning from each of the animal’s subtle movements, its back and shoulder muscles contracting as it snorted and thumped its hooves at the ground.

Edjode mounted behind him and commanded the animal to walk at a slow pace around the area a few times. As it went around, Da’ande with drenched eyes began to realize how unfounded his fear was, and he began to relax his posture, and his stomach began to settle. Then out of the corner of his eye, he sees Edjode’s foot move, slightly kicking the animal’s backside, and in a brief moment the whole world became a complete blur.

It happened so fast that his mind didn’t even have time to try to regain its fear that it had just gotten over. All he could do was find himself with a smile on his face so wide that it began to make his cheeks sore. The feel of the wind blasting in his face, blowing his long hair back so fierce that he had to wonder if he was blinding Edjode.

Da’ande traveled into the direction where the fallen star should now rest until the sun had reached almost directly above him. He commanded the quine to cease its unrelenting stride, and he slid off from its back—if he didn’t still have an arm resting on the quine, he probably would have dropped instantly to the ground, as he’s forced to realize the effects of riding for so long.

Legs still tingling and muscles still painfully slow to respond, Da’ande guides the quine to a nearby stream to drink, and finds himself a well shaded tree with a soft patch of grass and moss to recover beneath before he continues onto his journey. He watched the animal as it wondered about and grazed on some of the longer grass along the bank of the stream in a seemingly random pattern, and took in the smells of the blooming flowers filling the air, and the soft sounds of chirping birds hidden in the trees, and finds himself drifting off.

Da’ande sees himself on the back of a quine flying high above the world. The air chilled his skin until it’s nothing but bumps as he commanded the quine to rise higher and higher, and then dove into a large cloud. The smell of the thick mist filled his sinuses to almost make him understand how it would be to breathe underwater, and flooded his eyes until there is nothing to see but shades of white and gray.

He exited the cloud with a huge swirling puff behind him, and felt the cool breeze as the sun turned the moisture coving his face to vapor. The quine free glided on the invisible streams of air as if the hands of a god were guiding its great wings along its path. Da’ande looked down at the tops of trees with their patchworks of fields and water flowing by with such perfect grace that it was almost hard to tell who was really moving—was it them, or were they simply standing in place while the whole world moved around them.

He looked behind him, and he saw the flaming of the falling star coming towards him. The sun glared off its surface almost blinding him and forced him to squint his eyes as he focused on it. As he continued to stare into the burning star and his eyes adjusted, he began to make out a face inside of it—the face of a child—no, the face is his age—no… the face is an old man.

As the falling star began to pass him, he heard its great scream. Shrieking louder and louder until it made it feel like his head was about to explode. He tried to cover his ears to block out the falling star’s painful screaming, but it didn’t help. It just continued to get louder and louder and—

From somewhere in the distance he’s awoken by a scream, and he jolted himself upright. Da’ande looked around to reorient himself and remembered where he was. The sun was now directly above him, so he hadn’t slept long.

He remembered back to his dream, the faces in the falling star, and the scream, The scream that woke me—was it just fragments of the dream, or was it real?

Then he heard the scream again echoing from just a short distance up the stream. I know that was real.

Da’ande jumped to his feet. He noticed that quine he rode there on wasn’t anywhere to be seen, and he didn’t have time to try to find it or call another one. He quickly looked up at the branches of the trees around him seeing how close together they are. He rocked to the balls of his feet, and in an almost effortless stride, bound up to the first crotch of the tree he was just resting under. Da’ande sniffed the air, he takes in a couple of smells that stand out but the smells of the stream’s flowers are too over powering to be able to identify anything.

He looked at the limbs of the next tree in the direction that he heard the scream and quickly analysed the sturdiness, and bound from his tree to the next, and then to the next after, and again with gaining rhythm and speed that it becomes as natural as walking on the ground for him. In the midst of each jump, he takes in another taste of the air in hopes of identifying what he’s about to come up against before he arrives, but the wind is failing to play in his favor.

He heard the scream again as it is broken off into a muffle, and he suddenly came to a dead stop. He stopped himself so quickly that he almost threw himself off balance as he lunged for the base of the tree with as much grace and silence as he could. He crouched, and looked down at a mass of movement only about a stone’s throw away.

beast-of-bray-road-625x450Snarling and brandishing their teeth in a swarm of chaos, with their hard shelled clothing, long spikes on their heads and in their clawed hands made from what they stole out of Sespa’ag. Bellutors. Why would they be this far away from Loostrem, even they wouldn’t bother trying to claim hunting grounds here. Then Da’ande’s eyes widened, They must be searching for the trail of the fallen star too—but… what was the scream?

Da’ande inched his way around the tree to try and get a better view, and as a bellutor slightly moved, he caught a glimpse of a frail arm covered in marks of blood weakly struggling in its movements. And in another glimpse, he saw the half open eyes of a young girl. I have to help her before they kill her—if they haven’t already.

He stood-up, finding a sturdy balance, and cuped his hands to his mouth, levered his arms as high as he could, filling his lungs with as much air as he could, and then quickly droped his arms forcing out all the air almost at once and the quine call shrieked and echoed off the trees with its beautiful song—the bellutors’ ears could never hear it.

As the song rang, he could see the eyes of the girl widen. Looking around as she continued to helplessly fend off the bellutors, and her eyes locked on Da’ande’s silhouette perched in the tree high above them.

As the song continued to reverberate off the trees, Da’ande saw a white streak moving and weaving through the trees like a phantom from the direction of the stream he was resting at, Looks like he didn’t go far after all.

The quine charged directly to the bellutor party without hesitation and with its head down and two horns forward, it drove the spikes directly into the nearest bellutor’s back, completely cracking and shattering its shell as easily as if it was never there. The quine lift its head driving its horns deeper into the bellutor’s back until the tips just peaked out the front of its chest, then the quine violently shook its head flipping the savage into the crowd of stunned onlookers.

The bellutors stood in stunned indecision as the quine flails to its hind legs, its front legs thrashing violently while it let out a large booming sound—a sound that Da’ande had only heard in the darkness of night in the distance of the forest and could never even had guessed that such a terrifying sound could have ever come from an animal like the quine. As the quine dropped its front back down, it landed with a thunder that visibly shook the ground around it. And in an instant, the bellutors charged.

Their hand-spikes flailed in the air glaring of the light of the sun, striking the quine at random as they clashed with its powerful horns. With each bellutor that finds a place to charge, another dropped to the ground and dies with gouges and eyes ripped from sockets and jaws and limbs lying to the opposite side of the clearing from the bodies.

The quine kept fighting as unrelenting. Out of the whole group, there now only remained four bellutors. With their numbers thinned, fate forced them into a simpler strategy to overwhelm the quine with their blows while being able to easily avoid the quines blows.

A bellutor’s spike suddenly rose to the air in a beam of light that made the whole thing almost appear to glow, and it dropped down with brute power. Da’ande heared himself let out a loud “No!” as he saw the quine drop to its knees with a force that caused its face to almost bounce off the ground as it struggled to get back up beneath the continuing blows of its attackers. Just as he realizes what he did, Da’ande saw two of the bellutors look directly up at him with their narrow blood filled eyes.

Da’ande frantically looked around him thinking, I can’t run, if I do, the girl will die, and now the quine will die too, but if I stay up here, I’ll be sure to join them both on the other side.

Then as he looked down near the base of the tree he perched in, he noticed the gleam of a bellutor’s hand-spike. I can’t, we have been made to swear never to use the shards of Sespa’ag to draw blood.

He then saw the bellutors knock the quine to its side as its movement slowed—while one remained to hack and prod at the animal, the other went back over to the girl whose eyes were no longer open—and looked down at the two now charging to him with foaming sludge oozing over their teeth as they whipped and snarled.

I have to…

In a single leap, Da’ande jumped from his branch and landed in a crouch. He quickly bound over to the hand-spike that he found to be still clenched in the dismembered arm of a bellutor. He pried the spike from its owner and took grip of the handle. He tried to lift it and almost pulled his shoulder from its socket. He looked at the charging bellutors closing in. He took the handle with both hands, struggling with what feels like every muscle in his body ripping out. He lifted the spike to the air, and swung it with all the force he could find in himself, connecting with the neck of one of the bellutors. The head flew off the shoulders and struck the other in the chest, he stopped as the head lay rolling back and forth at his feet.

As the body dropped, Da’ande just stared at it completely stunned at what he just did—as stunned as the bellutor. The other bellutor glares at Da’ande, and charged at him swinging his spike for the top of his skull, but Da’ande quickly bashed it with his own spike. He then swung back thrashing his spike across the bellutors chest, but as it struck the bellutor’s hard shell it only made a loud bang that knocked both back a step.

The bellutor swiped his spike at Da’ande again, and Da’ande quickly ducked—the spike removed a lock of his hair from his head. He raised his spike, striking the bellutor’s shell-exposed arm, sending it flying in the air with its spike still in hand. The bellutor yelled a horrible howl of pain as its blood rained everywhere, turning the ground around him to mud, and dropped down—still flailing and clawing at the ground, and grasping his stump as he writhed.

Da’ande looked over to the other two bellutors who were now taking notice to the turn of events, and started towards them. He met with the one that was at the quine half-way and clashed spikes with it. As the bellutor took another swipe, Da’ande dropped to a knee and bashed his spike across the bellutor’s legs as hard as he could, creating a spark against the shell, sending the bellutor’s legs behind him, and the bellutor face down in the ground. Da’ande rose back up, and plunged his spike down on where the bellutors neck connected to his shoulders, and pulled it back out with the spike covered in blood and dirt.

Da’ande then turned to the final bellutor who was hovering over the girl. The bellutor came charging at him with full speed, and as he opened his mouth and bared his teeth letting out a savage snarl, Da’ande plunged his spike down his throat, and pulled it out, and the beast dropped.

Da’ande looked around. The bellutor with the severed arm’s flailing slowed to barely anything, and then came to a complete rest. Da’ande looked at the other bodies, and then down at his hands completely covered in the blood of the bellutors as they still gripped the bellutors’ spike. He suddenly dropped the spike to the ground and backed away from it, and then dropped to his knees. He looked at the ground caked in blood filled mud, and looked at the blood covering most of his body. He just stared with his mind racing and numb.

He heard a low moan from off to his side. He suddenly came to his senses and remembered the girl. He ran over to her, and knelt beside her, putting a hand by her face to feel for breathing. She’s still alive, but I need to treat her wounds if I expect to keep her that way.

He quickly gathered all the roots, and berries that he could remember their magical uses for and some short branches and large leaves for splints and bandages. He dressed all her wounds and splinted her broken arm and leg, and forced the juices of a berry and root mixture into her throat and let her rest.

He looked upon her. Her long flowing hair like nothing he had ever seen before. Like the color of the blood that flows through his body, with its magic of life. The very fine detailed lines of her lips, and her face. He stared at her, watching her in awe, and finding himself completely breathless.

As he sat letting his own body recover, almost allowing himself drift away, he felts a hand lightly touch his arm. He looked over, staring into eyes with sparkling colors he had never seen anywhere before. He forced his composure, “You’re alright…”

She gagged for words at first, then she spoke with a voice that sang to him like the song of the most beautiful bird, “I… think so. But, how? I remember hearing the quine call… then you… then… nothing.”

He looked over at the quine that sacrificed itself for them, and then down at the blood that still soaked him. He couldn’t say anything.

Her eyes looked down at the blood covering him, and looked up into his face, and he knew she understood what he did.

“What’s your name?” he finally got out.

“Tolypa Tanrue.”

“’Tanrue’? That’s atleast two suns from here. What are you doing way over here?”

She slightly hesitated, looking at the ground and then back up at him, “I was flying on a quine, and allowed myself to lose track of how far I went. But then… something fell from the sky—not like anything I’ve ever seen before. It looked like a star, but… something came from it and struck the quine’s wing and I had to let it land. And then I just traveled on foot for awhile trying to make it back towards the valley, until it’d be safe to call another quine. Then the bellutors came. I wasn’t expecting them to be out this far, otherwise I would have never traveled on the ground. I… I thought I was going to die… I thought… but then I saw you. I wasn’t even sure if you were real until I woke up and you were still here. You…” she looked down again at the blood covering him, “…you sacrificed everything to save me… you didn’t even know me. Why?”

Da’ande looked into her eyes as they shimmered in the light, and he looked at the ground with blood pooling as it dripped from him, and he just stood-up and walked over to the battered body of the quine. He spoke to its spirit with his mind, he thanked it for making the sacrifice it made for them, and he begged it and the gods to forgive him for letting it all come to this, for the sins of shedding blood and desecrating Sespa’ag. He repeated his pleas over and over again until he felt cold droplets of moisture stream down his face. And he felts a gentle hand lay upon his shoulder.

He glanced up at Tolypa, “You shouldn’t be walking until I’ve had a chance to get you a walking stick…” he said with cracking voice.

Tolypa just wrapped her arm around him and held him close to her as he continued to silently plea and cry. He lay his face into the quine’s bloody body, digging his eyes into its fur soaking it with his tears. Then he suddenly held his breath. And just lays there completely silent and still. As he felt his face very slowly rising and falling, he realized, The quine’s not dead.

His head quickly propped upright, his eyes wide in disbelief, he looked over at Tolypa, “Do you know if the magical roots and berries work on quines too?”

Before she even had a chance to respond he was already on his feat and running to the forest for more roots and berries. He came running back minutes later with his arms as full as he could get them, and started to work on crushing and mixing everything, as Tolypa came hobbling over and began helping him.

Da’ande spent nearly ten suns treating the injuries of the quine and Tolypa, running back and forth to the stream for water, and tracking down things that were safe for both to eat—and staying up at night to stand guard against anymore bellutor parties that luckily never came. As the time went on, Da’ande was finding himself more enchanted by Tolypa, sitting for hours talking with her whenever he had the chance. And Tolypa was beginning to find him equally as interesting.

The quine proved to be a fast healer, and was soon showing almost no sign that it had ever seen the sight of battle in its life. Tolypa’s wounds healed well enough that she no longer needed a splint, but she still had to force herself to use the aid of a walking stick, and often the quick reflexes of Da’ande as she lost her footing—sometimes on purpose just to have him catch her.

When Tolypa was well enough to travel, and the quine could be ridden at atleast a moderate pace, Da’ande prepared to return in search for the fallen star. Not far from where they were, they were able to find the place where it first struck the forest, shards of destroyed trees lay everywhere. They began to follow the trail that it left, which appeared to be a trench deep enough that the edge came up to about Da’ande’s waist.

As the sun reached directly above them, they saw the gleaming of the star in the distance nested at the base of Virdra. They approached it with caution, Da’ande constantly sniffed the air and checked the ground for any traces of bellutors or angdra—nothing significant was found.

They reached the object that appeared to be a large rock from Sespa’ag, but somehow, it seemed different—like it was more than just a rock. He walked over to the rock and suddenly stopped, and crouched to the ground analyzing it.

He looked up at Tolypa still mounted on the quine watching him, “Something was here, but I don’t recognize the tracks. It appears to travel on two feet like us, with foot coverings, but it’s too small to be a bellutor.” He follows the tracks for a bit, “They seem to go all over the area like whatever it is was exploring. But, from what I can tell, it came out from the rock.”

Tolypa looked at the large rock, “It fell from the sky—what would come out of a rock that falls from the sky?” She stopped and thought about her question, “Is it a god?”

Da’ande looked up at her, “I don’t know. Why would a god fall from the sky, they don’t belong down here.”

“I’ve heard elders speak before of gods being thrown down from the skies as punishment for evil deeds. Maybe the god is evil.”

“I don’t—“ Da’ande’s eyes followed a trail that lead away from the rock, and standing before him he saw all the faces that he saw in his dream.