Note to self: a storyboard or some form of plot summary is most assuredly crucial to the writing of a story. Failure to have either results in the inevitable hitting of some insurmountable mental block. Which seems to be the case with Interstellar Odyssey.
Therefore, I'm starting over and from scratch, beginning at the very beginning: Wrath of the Gods. The primary reason for this would be the plot issues galore. Without serious retconning and such, I realised I'd eventually hit an impassable writing block on the story.
The other reason would be hindsight. Every time I look back at the original Wrath in comparison with more recent writing (vs Truth Seeker for example), I cringe. Granted, I had much less experience then. But still...
Enough about that. Here is the Prologue and the first chapter of the Wrath of the Gods reboot, which will be part of an overall story titled "Divinity." (A title I decided on after considering the overall plot and matters that would be dealt with by the ever-unfortunate denizens of M51)
Critique is sought as always, on this as an independent work or on this in comparison with the original.
EDIT: For your cringing pleasure, click here to visit the original Wrath of the Gods
Prologue: After the End Time
Chapter 1: First Move
Chapter 2: Development
Chapter 3: Discovery
Chapter 4: Isolated Pawn
Chapter 5: Build Up
Chapter 6: First Strike + Ship classes of the Divinity trilogy v1
DIVINITY – BOOK ONE: WRATH OF THE GODS
PROLOGUE: AFTER THE END TIME
The impossible – Seven Crusades under a single unified banner. The unthinkable – the advent of the Third Hyperspace Core. The End Time – a time of prophecy and great bloodshed. Wielding the power of the Ancients, the Vaygr warlord Makaan conquered all that dared stand against his might.
The Taiidan Republic, already weakened by decades of civil war, was among the first of the Council powers to fall. In a state of decay not dissimilar to the Empire of old, many corrupt politicians defected to the Warriors of the Fringe, taking with them star systems of strategic value. The few Taiidani loyal enough to remain would be mercilessly slaughtered at Makaan’s hand.
The Bentusi would have survived this, but their numbers had never recovered from the Beast Exodus. They too fell, their tradeships overwhelmed by sheer superiority in numbers and, for the first terrifying time in their history, technology. The sole survivor of this holocaust would be their great Harbor Ship of Bentus – discoverer of the First Great Core.
Even the ones touched by Destiny’s hand did not go unmolested by the fires of war. Karan fled, the Homeworld fell, and the Hiigarans became Exiles again.
But one hope remained.
Wielding the Second Core and the symbol of salvation, the Pride of Hiigara, Karan held Makaan’s minions at bay while she led her people across the Galaxy. Secrets would be unlocked, truths be told, sacrifices made. In the climactic Battle of Balcora, Makaan fell and Karan became the Sajuuk Khar.
It was then that the Eye of Aaraan was discovered, uniting the Galaxy in peace as the First Core once did and heralding the arrival of the Age of Sjet. However, the Turanic Raiders have absorbed many Taiidani since the fall of the old Empire and the recent conquest of the Republic. No longer just a ragtag pirate force, they now constitute a high-level threat to Hiigara itself.
Having forseen this, Karan Sjet had hence given orders for the original Mothership, 01, to be given a massive overhaul. When complete, it would be in the same league as the Pride of Hiigara, ready to lead the Hiigarans to victory again.
In remembrance of the tragic Kharakian genocide, 01 would be dubbed the Legacy of Kharak.
And so the Exiles believed that peace was secured at last. Little did they know that more was yet to come…
“Sensor sweeps showing up nothing, as usual,” came the bored reply, “This is an utter waste of time.”
“Quit your complaining ensign,” the voice of authority barked from somewhere in the dimly-lit bridge, “And don’t you even think of skipping any sectors! If I find out…”
“Yeah yeah, charges and treason and brig and all that,” the ensign muttered as he tapped away lazily on the sensors console, Strategic importance my ass – Bravo II’s nothing but an old waste heap in the middle of Sajuuk knows where!
To an extent the junior crewman was right – Hiigaran inhibitor stations were sparsely equipped bases whose sole purpose was to restrict unauthorized jumps into Hiigaran space. Any lack of amenities was, in the words of High Command, “Unfortunate but optimum in terms of cost-benefit.” Still, recent concerns in the Daiamid over maintaining high levels of troop morale had pushed High Command to grudgingly include recreation modules in the more recent station designs.
Bravo II unfortunately had none of these, being a first generation station that was more a set of command and hangar modules glued hastily onto an ageing inhibitor frame dating from the Imperial era.
Ah to hell with this – not like the old man’s going to notice anything, the ensign thought to himself as he swiveled his seat around to face his ageing superior – a cranky old officer who had seen better days during the legendary Dust Wars of old, “All clear.”
“Even the asteroids are still in the bloody same place, if that’s what you’re asking,” the ensign was rolling his eyes in exasperation now.
“…Very well then. Dismissed!” the commander snapped, taking a swig from his trusty bottle as he stared aimlessly at the twin stars of Coruc and Tel. Looking at them always made him feel strange – as though he were seeing hyperspace from the perspective of normal space. The medics would always dismiss it as a side effect of the prevalent quantum irregularities in the system.
He took another mouthful and glanced up again, blinking when he saw the familiar metallic glint of a ship in the yellow glare of the stars.
DIVINITY – BOOK ONE: WRATH OF THE GODS
CHAPTER 1: FIRST MOVE
Fusion drives blazing, the sleek Acolyte-class variant neared its designated target – an empty frigate shell. As all sensors in the region focused their attention on the strike craft, Kiir Sjet couldn’t help but squirm at the butterflies going crazy in his innards. He glanced nervously at the Somtaaw general beside him, who noticed and responded with a reassuring nod.
“All safeties in the green,” the voice of Tanis Memorial Base’s flight controller echoed from the internal broadcast system, “Pilot, you are cleared for weapons testing.”
This is it, Kiir thought, The future of Light Sword depends on this one.
For Light Sword, as the project had been codenamed, had occupied a good deal of the young Hiigaran’s past five months. An ambitious endeavour following quickly on the heels of his pioneering breakthrough in hyperspace physics, the project sought to replicate the deadly Bentusi Ion Fighter for Hiigaran use. If he succeeded this time, then perhaps the stalemate with the Turanic kingdoms would be broken at long last.
“Target is within range, shunting power to crystal conduits now.”
“Roger that pilot, you may fire at will.”
All eyes aboard Tanis Memorial Base watched as a pair of ion beams lashed out from the Acolyte, burning into the target hull and crackling an angry yellow. Within moments, the beams reached the scaled-down reactor inside and turned the frigate into a blazing inferno of drive plasma.
“I don’t believe it – weapons output is at 100%, all systems nominal!” the pilot reported triumphantly, causing the onlookers to erupt in celebration. Yet Kiir remained motionless, staring intently at the scene in space.
“Tanis Control to pilot, good work. Return to base immediately.”
“Roger that Tanis Control, returning to…” there was a pause. Kiir turned away from the viewscreen immediately, as if he knew what was coming next.
“…Mayday mayday, crystal conduits have begun chain reaction! Ejec…”
The transmission ended as a harsh silence fell over the once-celebratory crowd of observers. From the corner of his eye, Kiir saw a sphere of ionic energy where the Acolyte once was. Sinking back into his seat, he remained oblivious to the fluster of frantic activity that erupted as quickly as the silence had come.
“…We have a lifesign!” Tanis Control was ecstatic at the sudden and miraculous discovery, “Ejection was successful I repeat, ejection successful! Rescue teams, scramble!”
Kiir began panting on hearing the incredible news, compensating for the breaths he’d forgotten to take since the pause. Feeling a pat on his shoulder, he swiveled around to face General Qwaar Somtaaw.
“I would ask you not to take this too hard Kiir,” Qwaar reassured the scientist, “After all, that there were no fatalities this time is certainly…”
“…an improvement?” Kiir managed a weak smile, “So we conveniently forget about the previous deaths then?”
“Failures are but commonplace in the realm of research, and sacrifices are sometimes… inevitable. Surely you remember what we Somtaaw had to go through during our own R&D projects?”
“Enough of the self-reproach – perhaps a hiatus from Light Sword would do you some good,” the general interrupted firmly, “I’ve new orders from Karan herself. She expresses gratitude for your efforts in Light Sword, but regrets that you will need to be posted temporarily to another project.”
“With all due respect…”
“I’ll have you know the hiatus was her idea,” Qwaar cut the scientist off again, “And this being a direct order from her I’m not sure it’s something you can outright refuse. Now you will listen quietly to the rest of what I have to convey. Understood?”
Sighing slightly, Kiir could only nod meekly at the Somtaaw officer.
“Good,” Qwaar continued, “Karan’s initial survey of the Eye of Aaraan revealed several gates leading to other galaxies. One of these gates, 112A, has been identified for further study. She wishes you to join the Naabal carrier Exile in its expedition.”
“I presume I am to depart immediately?”
“As soon as possible, yes,” the general answered, “Hopefully this will not inconvenience you too much – but you have about an hour to pack before Exile arrives to pick you up.”
“I can’t complain, can I?” Kiir sighed again as he got up from his seat, “Thank you for your concern, General.”
“And you take care out there,” Qwaar shook the scientist’s hand firmly as he saw him to the door, “I still want my ion fighters eventually!”
“Eefrit, you need to calm down,” Soban began, “Engineering always has the final say, and you know that.”
“Soban, this thing has been delayed for two weeks already,” countered the admiral of the Hiigaran Navy, “We’re way behind schedule, and I doubt Karan is going to like this.”
“Well even if she doesn’t she’s still bound by Fleet Protocol. And if you think you’ve got problems that what about my ship…”
“By ‘your ship’ you really mean the Progenitor Dreadnaught,” Eefrit answered drily, “And you know full well that any problems with that thing are completely within expectation. Legacy, on the other hand, isn’t several millennia old, or even built with Ancient technology!”
“Well…” Soban tried to counter, but decided otherwise when he considered the validity of Eefrit’s statement. The Gatekeeper of Sajuuk had, along with its big brother Sajuuk, eaten a good deal of the Hiigaran Navy’s resources in R&D – much to the displeasure of the non-warrior Kiithid. The fact that the Dreadnaught was designed around largely unheard-of concepts didn’t help matters either, causing countless problems with repairs and general maintenance. Still, several breakthroughs had been made, including the discovery of the ship’s energy shielding and phasing systems.
“I think it would help if you stopped complaining so much,” a smooth feminine voice echoed suddenly through the corridor, “Breathing down the repair crews’ necks is only going to freak them out.”
“I asked for an ETA on successful launch – not a counseling session,” Eefrit grumbled as he walked onto the Second Scaffold’s viewing gallery, which boasted a spectacular view of Hiigara itself and the proud mothership Legacy of Kharak, “And do you mind showing yourself, Yuno?”
“If you insist, Admiral,” came the exasperated reply as the hologram of a female researcher shimmered into plain view.
“Yuno Manaan reporting launch ETA, sir,” the avatar began, “Latest estimates put it at eighteen hours from now.”
“So the repair crews finally get my point,” Eefrit declared, “About damn time too. Yuno, start running pre-launch procedures.”
“Whatever you say, sir,” the Manaani acknowledged grudgingly as she flickered away into nothingness.
“Quite a woman you’ve got there,” Soban was grinning after hearing the verbal exchange.
“Real thing would be far worse I reckon,” the admiral chuckled for a bit before letting out a sigh, “Amazing but sad, every time I think about it…”
“Some rapid cancer, I heard?”
“Not a pleasant one, that much I’m sure of,” came the reply, “If not for her own research in mind-machine uploading…”
It was then that the communicators of both officers began beeping. Whipping out the palm-sized gadgets from their pockets, the two friends stared incredulously at the messages displayed on the screens.
“Admiral, Intel reports that a Turanic Raider fleet has just emerged from hyperspace in the Coruc-Tel system,” Yuno’s voice came in over the Second Scaffold’s broadcast system, “They were halted by the resident hyperspace inhibitor, but the inhibitor station reports that reinforcements are badly needed.”
“If capital ships are involved then…”
“I’ll go,” Soban offered immediately, “We’ve been waiting for a good time to test the Gatekeeper’s new systems, haven’t we?”
“So it is,” Eefrit agreed, “Still, don’t get careless out there.”
“You worry too much old friend,” Soban grinned as he took off towards the docking bays.
“Welcome aboard the Exile,” the Nabaal officer greeted warmly, “I am Commander Hyll and it is an honour to have a distinguished scientist such as yourself on board.”
“You flatter me Commander,” Kiir replied politely.
“My First Officer will show you to your quarters,” Hyll continued lightly, “I regret the absence of certain luxuries as this is a military vessel. However, I will see to it that your stay is a pleasant one. Now if you will excuse me, I have matters on the bridge that await my attention.”
“Thank you sir.”
As Kiir walked down the metallic corridors of the carrier, he wondered what mysteries would exist beyond that gate. Yet, he still could not put the deaths behind him. While the pilot from earlier was reported to be in a stable condition after his rescue, it did nothing to soften the impact of the previous fatalities.
The officer left Kiir to the privacy of his room, which was exactly as the Commander had described – basic amenities only. There was some attempt at luxury with the presence of a hand-carved wooden table and an artist’s impression of the Super Dreadnaught Sajuuk. The room was otherwise simple in layout.
Nothing to do but wait, he thought as he lay down on the cramped military-style bed, Maybe what I need is a good rest.
His eyes closing, he was barely able to catch the echoing countdown announcement before slumber overtook his exhausted mind.
“Synchronised hyperspace jump in T-minus ten seconds…”