I've been lurking for a while, added an example or two to the wiki, and decided to join the forums. I'm a bit of a writer by hobby, and I would like some feedback on some stuff. (the sub-forum on another place I go to is all but dead nowadays; it makes me sadfaced). Anyway, here's a prologue to a novel in particular. I realize it reads something like an essay later on, but it's sort of what I intended (to give some background info). I'll include some of the story itself as well. Well, enough of my gabbing.
A soft, cold wind blew across the desolate ruins of the broken landscape, kicking up dust lying in the long-abandoned streets. Detritus still made out of ancient paper bounced along the dead waste. Half-collapsed building stared out into the avenues, the windows staring out like the eyeholes of a skeleton. The sky was a dusty, bloodshot rose, the local star being a bloody eye dominating the horizon. A few cars, barely recognizable as such, stood along the sides of the streets.
What had happened here? There was no chirping of insects, no laughter of children and lovers, no soft murmur of civilization heard, just the wind, cutting across the landscape, a lone, ghostly voice of mourning for an ancient crime. A barren emptiness would drive even the sanest of individuals to insanity and despair. There were no people, no wildlife, no animals, men flora or fauna of any kind. The whole planet was a gargantuan, desolate crypt.
This world was not alone in its death. It was not the first, nor was it the last. Many others scattered throughout the southern sections of the human-controlled half of the inhabited galaxy were like this, forgotten monuments to a forgotten war during a tumultuous time. Who committed this? Few know. Those few keep that dreadful secret close to their heart, in superstitious dread that merely mentioning their name could once again call this horrible inferno back down on the heads of the inhabited galaxy. Many others have taken the secret to their grave, as even the most preserved planet is, by reckoning of Earth time, a hundred years old at least. This broken world is lost and forgotten, a tarnished pearl in an interstellar necklace.
To go back to the beginning, the timeline that let this happen is a long and bloody one, full of tears and sorrow. It started during the wild times of the 23rd century. A series of conflicts transformed the face of the planet. The UN had much control over the affairs of other nations, maintaining a large and powerful standing army, but for the most part stayed out of anything that solvable without the need of direct interference. China, the United States, and the European Union were the three superpowers that kept a jealous control over their respective spheres of influence, and challenging the growing clout of the United Nations, serving as the collective voice of the smaller nations, whenever they could possibly get away with it. Wars were rare, but they did occur.
It is in this simmering cauldron that in 2212, an intrepid scientist named Olga Stoyanovich Medvedev, a native of and refugee from of the Democratic People’s Republic of Middle Russia, achieved a long-standing dream of the human race. She used a combination of minerals harvested from meteorites and the moon, along with many other compounds already existing to perfect a new material needed to do this. To move faster than light, to tame and colonize the stars themselves. She did this in a hopeful attempt to rebuild her shattered homeland and make her into a strong, democratic nation. What she did was to change the face of human endeavor forever.
It did not take long for other powers to catch on. They either bought the secrets from the democratic North Russian government, at an appalling price, or outright stole them; the race was on. The stars awaited! The EU, US, and China all raced to build up interstellar protectorates to gain an advantage in the world stage. Three nearby solar systems became the subject of their neo-imperialistic efforts. The European Union had Aleph, after the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet, China had Harmonious Dragon, and the United States had Falcon. These three systems rapidly grew into interplanetary metropolises with a further invention of a much faster, much more practical method of terraforming, meaning that humans now had the option of turning the local planets into planets much like Earth. Mars and Venus received this treatment, with Venus being a moderate failure with a still toxic atmosphere, but still habitable, and Mars being a success.
Years went by, with the three systems turned from small outposts of humanity to bustling, sprawling systems with populations well into the tens of billions each. The people there, much like in the older days of imperialism on Earth, were already beginning to feel more loyalty to their respective systems instead of Sol due to the relative difficulty of commerce between them despite FTL travel and the vast distance between them. It was only a matter of time before things began to boil over.
THE ALEPH INCIDENT
It started with Aleph. The European Union held together despite the many differences and relatively small distances between the member ‘nations’. Aleph did not have this problem, having taken immigrants from all across Europe. Their genetic history was so convoluted it was easier to call themselves ‘Alephan’ rather than German, French or British. Their language was already virtually monogamous in that most people just learned English as a first language. They began petitioning the EU government for more rights. Gently rebuked, this turned into numerous nonviolent methods of protest, and escalated from there. By 2351, there in all out revolt and it did not take long for Falcon and Har Drag
, as is known colloquially, to join. The war became known as the Aleph Incident after the system that started the mess. For six years it was fought, and by the end, the three systems had all but one, with Sol’s economy in shambles and much of it’s infrastructure in shambles after repeated raids. It was the dawn of a new and very nasty form of warfare.
The UN, calling on it is authority as the voice of all nations, made the forces of the ‘outworlders’ and Solarians agree to a compromise. The UN would be granted full powers over all governments to keep this incident from repeating itself, and outworld representatives would join to even out the balance of power. IN effect, the United Nations became the de facto government over the entire human race. The problem was not fixed, however, and would erupt again within the next generation.
Erupt it had. Humanity had colonized many different star systems by this point, each of them virtually independent of any control from Earth. This made the first three systems, Hardrag, Falcon and Aleph jealous, still having, in their minds at least, Earth’s boot on their necks. They rebelled again, and it spiraled throughout the human-controlled part of the inhabited galaxy. UN authority collapsed and Venus, the de facto capital of the UN’s tacit space empire, was repeatedly raided and even nuked, reducing the world to a barren waste reminiscent of it’s pre-terraforming conditions. The surviving Venusians were forced to live in sheltered bio-domes to survive the now death-world-like climate and heavy radioactivity. However, the Solarians, along with outbound allies afraid of being gobbled of by the first three colonies, delivered hard knocks of their own; heavy enough to shatter Aleph’s economy and turn Falcon and Hardrag into third-rate powers at best.
A solution was needed. And quickly. The outbound colonies, led by the long-eclipsed Earth, who both were the true winners of the second incarnation of the Aleph Incident, formed the Confederated Nations of Mankind. The Confederacy as it was called was at the time a godsend. It was ruled by a senate with one representative per system and thusly made all systems equal. Once the Confederacy grew into a sprawling semi-empire controlling half the inhabited galaxy, this drove the Confed-erate government to an absolute standstill, but that was many years off. For now, all the powers could concentrate on what they now believed was man’s ‘manifest destiny’. To conquer the stars completely, to render the galaxy into a permanent home for mankind. The strain on the gove-rnment would have been amazing, but as many other times throughout history, people were more concerned with the immediate and refused to look ahead. Like if they were not alone.
The Shcasi’Rique surely would have objected strenuously with mankind’s intentions to dominate the galaxy. Indeed they did. Many years later, when they shared a long mutual border and there was nowhere to go except through each other. Their first contact however was simply two probes taking pictures of each other while passing by.
The reactions from both sides was excitement, exhilaration, and of course, fear. What were these newcomers like? What were their ways like? Were they peaceful, or did they come in aggression? They were all good questions for both sides, and eventually two exploring patrols brushed by, making the first true contact between man and alien.
The humans were impressed by what they saw. They saw what looked to them to be graceful, bipedal reptilians that were barely short of three meters high. They moved with practiced ease, looking to those grizzled explorers as if they were stuck permanently in a dance. Their heads were shaped like those of a reptile, with a somewhat thin snout with two curved ivory fangs hanging out for adults and males having a spine going from the top of the head down along the spine to the tail. Their dress was very simple; just a pair of pants, color-coded, of course, made of a material similar but completely different from cotton. Their technology had much of the same qualities of grace and reptilian dangerousness.
By contrast, the Shcasi’Rique were bewildered by these stumpy humans. The gravity of their world must have been great for them to wind up so small. Their biology was odd, too. Bipedal mammals? And what was that filament-like material on their heads? Truth to tell, the Shcasi’Rique were a little frightened by these outgoing and curious newcomers. They were also torn on their opinion of the human’s methods of building a ship. On one uli, the thing was hideous. On the other, there was a brutal simplicity and uncompromising angularity of the ensemble that had some appeal to the more artistic among the Shcasi’Rique.
Many years passed, with virtually no more contact between the two, but both were concerned with what would happen when they shared a border. It could mean a productive relationship between twin powers, a mutual understanding that would enrich both. Or it could mean war on a scale to make the gods weep. It could only be a matter of time. To make things worse, they already all but shared a border in the eastern half the inhabited galaxy; specifically, a small province that in time will become known as an equally small nation called ‘Ruedalia’. Utterly non-descript except for being the birth-place for a secret to rattle all the inhabited galaxy; a secret that would cost millions their lives. But as most secrets are wont to do, little know of it anymore.
By the 2800’s, the inhabited galaxy had changed. Roughly a little over half the inhabited galaxy had fallen to human control. The Confederate government, virtually unchanged since the days of when humanity inhabited only a corner of the inhabited galaxy far away from others, was a bloated, monstrous thing, divided between all manner of special interests groups. Most favored war with the Shcasi’Rique for a very simple reason. The aliens had access to vast amounts of resources, especially heavy metal-rich worlds that made ship-building practical.
It did not take long for relations between the Shcasi’Rique and Confederacy to deteriorate. There was far too many fundamental differences between the two races, far too much greed, for them to peacefully coexist. It was a matter of seeing who would fire the first shot.
THE WAR OF KNIVES
As it turned out, it was the Shcasi’Rique. They were solidifying their border territories, readying for anything from the humans and their avaricious, bureaucratic leaders. They were growing more and more paranoid as time went on and no sign of the humans presented itself. Soon enough, they got what they were waiting for.
A merchant convoy with government escorts was heading fro a group of ‘legitimate traders and miners’ on an uninhabited world in Shcasi’Rique space with large amounts of material needed for fuel. A Shcasi’Rique patrol ran into their operations, and in a fit of equal parts anger and shock, the aliens attacked, killing all of the smugglers and their military escorts.
The Confederacy, infuriated at having their own forces killed (despite the fact they were trespassing and the Shcasi’Rique warned the humans what the consequences of that would be), readied several invasion fleets. Confederate government being what it was, this took an extraordinarily large amount of time. Time enough for the Shcasi’Rique to learn of the Confederate’ plans and readied their own forces. The War of the Knives had begun, and it would be many years, and many lives, before it ended. The fate of the Confederacy was sealed.
The War got it’s name from a rather famous diplomatic incident. Representatives from both nations initially tried to come to an agreement to avoid war, but both refused to back down or accept blame. Infuriated by the humans’ incredible arrogance, petulance and pettiness, the Shcasi’Rique high priestess drew a ceremonial dagger from her cloak and drove it into the table, which, in the aliens’ culture, was a ceremonial method of declaring a blood-feud. The humans did not need to have anyone tell them this; the message was loud and clear.
The first engagement was outside what would come to become Kradia. The humans were expecting the long-range warfare they were used to. The Shcasi’Rique were expecting the close-in fighting they’ve been using for untold generations. The other’s tactics came as a rude shock to both. However, the Shcasi’Rique prevailed, with heavy casualties, due to the Confederates not having decent enough weaponry to fight effectively in a close-up fight. Such incidents repeated themselves, with the Confederates at numerous times driving the Shcasi’Rique off before they could get in close.
Unlike the previous conflicts the human race fought in deep space, this one was on a much more epic scale, and much more vicious. The Shcasi’Rique the most tenacious, most unforgiving foe the human race has fought in it’s recent memory. The Shcasi’Rique did not have availability to nuclear weapons; they did not need them. The first of the Iu’Sahhla (appropriately, if crudely translated as ‘end time’) bombs, was dropped on Kaesalisk, now in Shcasi’Rique space. Most of the entire planet’s population was killed by the terrible earthquakes and volcanic eruptions as a result. The war had truly taken a turn for the worst.
Land battles were also fought, in the case of another planet, Mitgkall Prime. By the time it fell to the Confederacy, the overall casualties numbered well into the hundreds of thousands, fighting on all fronts, not including, of course, the vast spaceships warring in the heavens. It was not at all unique in casualty figures that looked as such. Indeed, it was one of the lesser battles.
Thirty-five long, grueling years. Thirty-five years of Shcasi’Rique and humans to die in the tens, hundreds of millions. Perhaps even billions. It might have been fought longer, but the Confederacy’s corrupt, crippled, bloated government started to crumble, and in the final years, within five years, the Confederated Nations of Mankind had finally collapsed. The war was over.
The Shcasi’Rique withdrew after the Confederacy’s death. They had suffered grievous wounds themselves, and their empire was on the verge of collapse. To reinforce the point of their newfound isolation, they built a titanic string of fortresses and border fleets in their border systems separating their own space the human-held territories. As far as they were concerned, there was no more use for further contact between them and the human warlords that remained after their confederacy’s collapse.
Warlords they were. It was just as well the aliens washed their hands of the whole affair, as it would have done naught but get more of their own killed for little reason. There was no way they could hold all that land in their exhausted state if they tried to take it over. Indeed they couldn’t. Humanity would do more damage to itself by itself then the aliens could hope to do.
It wasn’t long before several politically coherent bodies began to emerge from the chaos. One of them was the Imperial State of Gespia, colloquially known as the Geisepi Empire. It was somewhat small at first, controlling only the northern half of where it got it’s name; North Gespia. South Gespia was still a somewhat unstable republic, a welfare state gone mad, which, being mismanaged as it was, crippled it’s economy. It was not long before Vedock Ekitta I, the founder and first emperor, saw his chance when the chancellor of the nation, a dictator in all but name, Saja Koskitaan, died of an aneurysm.
The nation hardly resisted the invasion force. Indeed, much of the country welcome the ‘invaders’ as liberators. The people had had enough of the crippling bureaucracy of South Gespia. They were impressed by the disciplined show their northern cousins put on. Their stark black-and-white uniforms and iron-faced resolve struck a chord.
It wasn’t long before the Geisepis found themselves with a rival. It was roughly a decade since they united their people, and the people were itching for expansion. The economy was booming, the population was exploding, the nationalism felt by the people was reaching a fever pitch. The Geisepis then decided that their neighbors, the Kharazos, would do nicely. The lands of the Kharazos was roughly double that of the Geisepis, and were separated in to at least half a dozen to a dozen tiny states perpetually at war with each other. The impoverished region welcomed the stability and economic benefits annexation by the Geisepi Empire brought. Not everyone saw the aggressive expansionism of the nation as rosy, however. The remnants of Earth, sour after having it’s power broke, reformed the old Confederate system of government to make it more flexible and streamlined and founded the United Terran Federation. The Geisepis sneeringly called this the ‘Confederacy Lite’. Right from the start the two nations hated each other, as their types of government were almost completely incompatible. They were separated by almost the entire human-controlled section of the inhabited galaxy, it would be a time before they could finally get at each other’s throats.
Unfortunately for the Terrans, their government style and purely volunteer army meant that they expanded only extremely slowly and fitfully, if at all. The Geisepis, with their mandatory service had three major ‘sectors’ of invasion, by the modern day turning them into a superpower with a gargantuan military and mind-blowing large amounts of territory, perhaps their economy fared less well, always slowing them down some, but not enough to prevent them from making themselves a nation to be feared. They had one of the highest standards of living, a strong government that got things done, and nearly fetish zed their armed forces, making sure they remained a powerful fighting force.
The modern day at last. The Geisepi Empire, the Terran Federation, and many other political bodies vie over supremacy over mankind or simply to defend themselves from their neighbors and their imperialistic ambitions, despite what line they trot. It is an unstable situation that could boil over at any time. So it all was. It would eventually boil over, and all but the strongest will be swept away in the gory tide.
The forest was rather bright, but shaded just enough to give an edge of mystery to it all. It seemed to stretch on for kilometers and kilometers, without an end. The most jarring of it all was the utter silence. There was not a trace of wind rain, or any show of weather than the occasional weak spear of sunlight peeking through the canopy. It seemed quite peaceful, restful. A log laid in the grass next to a small stream nearby, also silent. He didn’t think to argue, it didn’t appear to matter. He walked over, the only sound now being his bare feet giving under the grass. Sitting down, he stared at the water, seeing the canopy reflected in it’s perfect, mirror-esque surface. He let out a long, slow sigh, feeling whatever tension he had fall away like a heavy weight.
Just then, he heard a second sound. Like someone walking across the grass. It appeared that he wasn’t alone. He tensed, preparing for anything. He felt the tension he just lost returning with irrational alacrity. He was usually a laid-back person, but now all he wanted to do was flee, quite unusual for him. It started to dim, although that may have just been his imagination. He could not be certain.
The footsteps were close, now. Very close. He stared at the stream like a man inspired, consumed by a completely unexplainable dread as to what in all the worlds was going on. He even started to feel his hands tremble. He clutched them in a vain effort to stifle their shaking. It was of no use. Whatever or whomever was inspiring his fear was standing almost right behind him and by now he was intimately acquainted with fear. He could not even tell what kind of fear it was. Simply an irrational terror, almost akin to a child’s fear of the bogeyman.
He felt more than he heard the person sit down next to him. It was getting noticeably darker the closer she, for the figure was assuredly feminine, came. Why was he so terrified of her? Whatever did she do to scare him like this? It was bizarre.
She nearly jumped when she murmured his name in a voice that sounded familiar, but for a reason he could not explain, sounded different. He could not explain it; it was as if he did know, but his memory was being blockaded. It only amplified his nervousness. The (woman? Girl? Her age was uncertain) giggled a bit, and murmured his name again. She sidled close to him, and he recognized part of the fear as lust, or desire. It was not a feeling he was familiar with.
The light was virtually gone now; it was getting very hard to see. On impulse, he looked at the stream, trying to see who the woman next to him was. He started to glance at her…
The same time his alarm chose to go off. Its atonal, gravelly screeching cutting into his thoughts and dragging him,
half-unwillingly into the waking world. He reached over and hit the alarm a few times to get it to quit its noise. No use. The clock would not be thwarted that easily. He sat up, picked up the alarm and flicked the off switch on its back. Setting it back on the cubby, he sighed and stared almost glumly at the far wall.
Leodogan Ranier Kenthis was a young man, twenty-eight years old, and very tall, measuring at 199 centimeters. A traveler from the past would have been somewhat taken aback by his long blond hair and pale green eyes, contrasting with his very light bronze skin and almond, Asiatic eyes. Such a genetic ensemble was far from unusual in Leodogan’s time, however. In fact, it was downright expected.
They would also point out that he looked like a schoolboy. He had the kind of looks that teenage girls drooled over and more gruff men sneered at. Appearances were deceiving, however. Yes, he wore wire-frame glasses (which were quite anachronistic, but not even in the year 3024 C.E. was laser surgery perfect) and had a goatee, both (failed) attempts to alleviate the catcalls. He stopped caring a while ago.
He looked back at the alarm. Glared at it. It reported the time to be nine forty-five AM, by Terran time. There was no way he was going to justify going back to sleep now. He knew he should have set it an hour or two earlier, to give him time to wake up and stew, at least.
His ruminations were interrupted by a knock on the door. A short, sharp three taps that somehow conveyed the aura of impatience. He sighed. “Come in,” he said.
The door slid open. Selira Mazan walked through, her hair slightly wet, and holding a brush in her hand. There was a quizzical look on her face. “Hey. It’s been like ten minutes. No sign of you. Not like this compartment’s small, anyway. You gettin’ up?” She asked while starting to comb her hair again.
“Just thinking. I’m tired as hell.”
“You? Thinking? That’s rich.” She said, grinning mischievously.
“You’re mean,” Leodogan said in a mock whiny voice. “Now shoo. I gotta get dressed.”
She smirked. “A’ight. Don’t take too long, though. You know how Rowan is.”
He shook his head and got up. Reaching for a plain black t-shirt and green cargo shorts, he let his mind wander again. I keep having that dream. Not super-often, but enough to keep me on edge. I barely remember anything from it. What the hell is up? When he was dressed, Leodogan headed into the bathroom for his daily routine. He was still lost in his own thoughts.
edited 23rd Sep '10 7:21:33 PM by Areze