The Elandrid is a Science Fantasy tale centered around Elandra Ramirez, The First Arcanist, who is dispatched by the United Star Systems Alliance to investigate reports of an android that can perform sorcery. Soon after, she learns that Gabriel Berns, the Lord Regent of the USSA, is working the same case, and on an impulse, decides to help the android Penelope escape the Regency's forces. Things quickly escalate out of control from there as a combination of Interservice Rivalry and sociopolitical frictions within the USSA come to a head, while the cast of characters navigate their own arcs through the ensuing chaos.
The Elandrid is the first story from the Thomas Tells a Story podcast, written and narrated by Thomas Constantine Moore, who records the stories with an audience of several of his friends sitting with him in his apartment who will occasionally talk with him about the story before each episode.
This podcast provides examples of:
- Alternate History: It's only mentioned in passing, but in this setting, magic has been an openly acknowledged facet of life going back at least to the Medieval era, and simply evolved alongside technology.
- Bodyguarding a Badass: Lord Regent Berns has what amounts to a literal army of government agents at his disposal, and rarely goes anywhere without at least one or two escorting him. The few times he does get his hands dirty though, he is one of the most formidable characters in the story able to easily handle the First Arcanist in a one-on-one fight despite her mastery of sorcery.
- Cool Starship: The Hyperion is this to Elandra. A boxy, chunky yellow Springsteen design that is implied to be the sparefaring equivalent of an '86 Buick Riviera. It is eventually revealed that it is similar to a beloved childhood toy which happened to be the product of one of the first bits of magic Elandra performed as a kid. When they were younger, Jon helped Elandra rebuild and restore it as a project.
- Enemy Mine: Averted. Ramirez and Berns both see the ACT 3 troops and their leaders as remorseless government-backed thugs, but they never work together against them (not least of all because Berns and Ramirez are rarely ever in the same place at any point in the story.)
- Everyone Has Standards: Pretty much everyone hates ACT 3, including most of the antagonists who don't happen to be in ACT 3 itself.
- Four Lines, All Waiting: There are quite a few plot threads in this story, and while they cross paths with each other, they never merge into a single climax. Indeed, the main characters are never all on the same planet at the same time.
- Functional Magic: Magic is treated similarly to science or math, something which much be studied if you hope to be any good at it, and there are specific schools of magical practice. As a rule, few characters are skilled in more than one type of magic (for example, while several of the characters are skilled at Theurgy, Elandra specifically is not, although she has the raw magical talent to help a skilled Theurgist set up a ward, once given instructions.)
- How We Got Here: Pretty much the entire story brings us to how a wounded Elandra ended up walking through a desert struggling to find shelter in the prologue.
- Incompatible Orientation: Elandra and Jon, possibly. While he's in love with her, she is at the very least uninterested in him romantically, and implied to be a lesbian based on how she is attracted to several female characters.
- Inter-Service Rivalry: The USSA's internal strife is not helped by the fact that just about every government agency depicted is trying to outmaneuver each other or jockey for favor within the government. There is no love lost between First Arcanist Ramirez, the Lord Regent Berns, or anyone associated with ACT 3.
- Knight Templar: Gabriel Berns is similar to Elandra Ramirez in that they are both loyal to the ideals of the USSA. He is quite different from Elandra in that he is willing to be utterly ruthless against what he perceives as threats to the Alliance, leading to his summary execution of Jon Harper IX as retaliation against Jon's threat to use his family's resources to undermine Berns' mission to protect Ramirez.
- La Résistance: The Freewolves, led by Tariq Longsend, who are fighting to free Tyr from Alliance rule.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Thomas's introduction in each episode is backed by an ominous music track, which explains the format of the story. When Thomas mentions that there is no music, the music fades out abruptly and doesn't return until the end of the episode.
- Narrator: The story is told by Thomas Constantine Moore. He explains the format of the story and provides a brief recap at the start of each episode, but otherwise doesn't interact with the story beyond telling it.
- One Riot, One Ranger: The First Arcanist is a government agent who reports to the highest echelons of the ISSA apparatus, but she doesn't have any apparent deputies or staff. Instead she's dispatched to investigate and act as a government problem-solver.
- Police Are Useless: Averted. A couple of times characters hoping to get to another planet secure travel by either stealing a ship or buying a ticket with a stolen credit card. Both times they get flagged by law enforcement before they can arrive on the planet either due to police reports on the stolen property or lacking proper visas/customs paperwork.
- Punny Name: One of the factions in the story, Alliance Counter-Terrorism Section 3, is referred to almost exclusively as ACT 3.
- The Reveal: The story ends with the revelation that the Black Stone is part of an interstellar communications network. Ramirez ends up giving it the last bit of energy necessary to activate it and initiate First Contact.
- Rich Idiot With No Day Job: Jonathan Harper IX, scion of the Harper family. His family has a long tradition of both corporate and military service, and his father is both a wealthy industrialist and a senior military officer on Freya. Meanwhile, Jon is a brilliant engineer but something of a slacker compared to his classmates. Happens to be very much in love with Elandra Ramirez, who values his friendship but does not reciprocate his romantic feelings.
- Ridiculously Human Robots: The first episode introduces Penelope, an android so advanced that she is at a glance impossible to tell apart from humans. She struggles as her own desires conflict with her programming. As the story continues, we are introduced to more androids from the same line, all with varying goals and temperments. While Sage is mostly friendly, Rosalind is downright ruthless.
- Science Fantasy: The setting is a gritty mix of spaceships, terraforming, sorcery, ancient prophecies, and demons. And indeed, the plot is set off by reports of an android which can perform sorcery. The story ends with The Reveal that aliens have been waiting for humanity to make contact with them.
- Silly Rabbit, Idealism Is for Kids!: Elandra knows the universe is a dark and uncaring place, but she truly believes that the USSA is fundamentally righteous and just. The events of the story go far to erode that faith until she starts calling for revolution.
- This Means War!: Tensions on Tyr escalate into a full blown civil war between forces loyal to Longsend's Freewolves and the Alliance's defense forces on the planet, backed by forces from the Regency and ACT 3. In the final episode, the USSA itself descends into civil war as the defense forces of several systems, led by Commander Jonathan Harper VIII, unite and issue an ultimatum.
- This Is Unforgivable!: Commander Jonathan Harper VIII is very angry when he learns that Gabriel Berns killed his son.
- Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Gabriel Berns is ruthless in his willingness to eliminate any threat to the USSA. His execution of Jonathan Harper IX leads almost directly to the USSA disintegrating into civil war as Jonathan's father, an influential military officer, seeks revenge.