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MadeBrazen

From Dust

Recommended Posts

MadeBrazen

Tidied this up a bit. Thanks again to anyone who does invest their eyeballs here.

 

A little sci-fi story I am writing. I have never got so far with a tale, but am enjoying the creative process. I welcome any opinions or guidance on how to improve and hope you enjoy it if you read some.

 

Thanks.

 

SUMMARY

 

Jonsen Spar is just a child when he learns he is not like his peers, nor anyone else at Harper, the mining colony on the dusty planet of Galogi.

When Harper is attacked by an unseen force from orbit, he makes the decision to leave and starts a journey that will take him from a remote existence on the fringes of the Human Expanse all the way to it's corrupted core.

 

----

 

FROM DUST

 

Prologue

 

 

329NE, Senye, Capital Planet of The Human Expanse
"Enduring people of the new world. Our Forefathers spent their lives in dispute with each other. Granted with the precious gift of a world to call home, in their naivete they squandered it away, waging war against one other in the selfish and fruitless pursuit of ego and power.

It is only in leaving our mother planet behind that we have managed, through astounding feats of will and fortitude, to become unified as One Nation under a New Sun, and to find a lasting peace and true prosperity."

 

Anadae Tobe listened to the Munity Councillor deliver the rehearsed rhetoric, the man's lengthy drawl and over-emphasis on each word grating at him. The Councillor's eye twitched annoyingly each time he flicked his combi-lens for the next page of his speech and his chin wobbled its subcutaneous sag at each supportive gesticulation. Considering it was possibly the most important speech in the fat man's short life, he was throwing himself into it with an idiotic fervour that caused the wobbles to come disgustingly often.

"The time has come where our peace has become threatened. Yesterday, the milling operation run by Noma Ohura - one of Senye's most esteemed benefactors - at our southern-most reach in Niagahara, suffered an attack. The first attack of its kind - ever. An attack against Humanity - by an alien species."

 

Tobe looked around the high-walled room at the people seated in the arc-rows below. They were all here - all in one place. All of the heads of the weaker half of the human race, here to hear word on the occurence at Niagahara. The rooms black-gloss pillars, standing in representation of the seven states of the human spirit - Wisdom; Compassion; Love; Honour; Endeavour; Fortitude;... Freedom - now enclosed them all like a giant cage. It would not take much to crush them all, one foul swoop right now, to change the course of history. He watched as the people reacted to the Councillor's words, wide-eyed looks of shock on their faces, outbursts of commotion breaking out across the High Chamber. They were utterly oblivious.
"People, please."
The Councillor raised his hand for silence, head dipped, adopting a reverent pose like some biblical prophet. This one would have to be watched, thought Tobe, his ego would need deflating soon. As if in answer to his thoughts, Tobe's combi-lens flashed briefly, in notification of an incoming message. The words, painted across the slim membrane on his iris, appeared hovering in front of him.
We wish for Councillor Iroqane to want to step down, second light tomorrow.
Tobe looked to the upper balconies of the High Chamber. It was only his combi-lens that allowed him to see through the pearlescent screen which would appear as a wall to anyone else, the row of Elders sat motionless up there, watching the proceedings. One of them looked directly at him, her dark eyes set grimly into her pale skeletal features, devoid of emotion yet seeming to contain unlimited knowledge. Looking back into the depths of that hollow gaze he acknowledged the request with the faintest of nods. It would be done, and as the Councillor continued his speech he let his mind wander eagerly into the black realm of how. Perhaps the man would become acquainted with one of those strange sticky organisms his studious serf had brought him.
"We were all aware of the remains found on Ffiolte, and we have made adequate preparation. However we do not know completely about this particular race, or if they were indeed the race that inhabited the ancient moon. We know they reside in the as-yet unnamed mountainous region to the north of the capital on the Neptunan continent. They are in the medisphere. We have been able to identify heat and electronic signatures in this area. Their numbers are low when compared to our own. We do not know their purpose, but we do have reliable indication of their capability. Thorough consideration by our key pyschologists and philosophers, and extensive examination by Senye's top scientists of compound elements left at the attack site can confirm our safety. We are technologically superior and likely of higher intellect. There is nothing to fear."
In amongst the murmurs and whispering, a wave of relief washed visibly over the crowd at the Councillor's words. How easily they were convinced, thought Tobe. Set the stage, employ the actor, and let their weak minds fill the gaps themselves. Like all of the best lies, its murky origins lay in truth. They had known about the Sasqa since before landing on Senye. Tobe himself had lead the team up into the medisphere to find them in the icy mountains, all those years ago. It was a triumphant mark in his career, elevating him to the upper echelons of the secret Novalum society that he had brought one back, alive. The attack at Niagahara was not by the Sasqa either. A little death to bring the idea to life, he had enjoyed planning it. And what a convenient coincidence that the businessman Ohura was there to burn in the wreckage of his beloved company. He was one of a few venturing a little too far for comfort, getting carried away with his enterprises and squeaking about rights and taxes. Something was needed to bring them all together again, to abort the embryo of even a whisper of a republic, before it formed. Something to unite them, unquestioning, toward the cause of building the war ships that would go into space. The Novalum knew they would face the creatures in force soon, for they had signalled their own kind years before the Light-Ships had even put down on the world. And it was their holy planet after all.
He would have done it differently, though. So much subtlety - why hide when they were clearly a superior evolution to the human template? They could easily make the people do what they wanted, instead of coercing them. The Priman deserved to be worshipped. But it was not his decision - not yet anyway. So, they would be told what was deemed necessary, the Laws would be passed and the future of the human race decided.
"Our most pressing concern is more serious, however."
A hush fell upon them then, the robust Councillor pausing for dramatic effect.
"We have learnt of a beacon that has been sent into space, communication from these beings to another unknown planet. We are working to translate the message to learn of its full content, but portions have been revealed by our Free-Think systems. They have transmitted details of our numbers, our locations, our technology and our military capacity.
Along with the Aegis and the other Frontier Commissions, we have spent much time deliberating over the facts to decide what is best for mankind at this uncertain time. It is with a heavy but resolved heart that we must officially conclude - Humanity is now at War."
Tobe only saw a flash of the movement in the corner of his eye, even amongst the subdued outbreak of reaction in the chamber. The assassin stood, raising a weapon to aim clearly at Tomas Skarolowski, one of the Aegis Exemplars, seated in a dedicated closed booth on the upper levels of the chamber. As soon as the assassin spoke Tobe knew he had enough time; the man's last words making him a martyr.
"They are lying! Death for the truth!"

Tobe aimed for the core, to ensure he would not miss. His pistol flared and hissed as it released the impact round, taking the man hard in the chest and whipping his body around before he could fire.

 

Immediately two more of them had drawn their crude firearms, not dropping to the floor like the rest of the panicked crowd. Tobe shot the first one in the face, her features disappearing in a cloud of red mist. He was not fast enough to stop the third. All in a moment the Exemplar's regalia shredded around his body, ribbons of material filling the air as the bullets tore through him. Tobe took the shot at the third assassin, but the man had reacted like a cat, twisting his body and leaping clear, the round striking the buttock of a nearby Librium Minister, prompting a yelp as she fell painfully to the floor.
The room had erupted now into a frenzy of confused screaming, the people scrambling madly over each other for safety. From where Tobe was stood the angle down hid the third assassin who was pressed to the floor behind the rows of curved benches. A wisp of catacyls burn twirled elegantly from the end of his pistol, its sights held trained, unwavering, at the area where the assassin refuged, and a moment of tension passed while Tobe's focused senses brought the room to silence.
It was the man's weapon that appeared first, a rudimental sub machine-gun of antique design, unleashing a rattling hail of gunfire in Tobe's direction. Tobe instinctively shrank at the assault, furniture being blasted to pieces around him. He watched from under his raised arm as the killer sprang out from his hiding place, still shooting and looking up at Tobe to concentrate his fire. Tobe reacted instantly, firing in attack to suppress the incoming volley, forcing the man to submit his accuracy as he ducked to dodge Tobe's rounds.
Abruptly the assassin's weapon jammed in protest at the prolonged aggression and without hesitation he tossed it aside and went for the Chamber exit. There was something in the way the man moved, intense and lithe, as he made to escape. He was a Priman. Tobe moved quickly then at the realisation, the mans odds at escaping but also the importance that he catch him increasing tenfold. He leapt nimbly over the rows of seats on a direct diagonal toward the Chamber exit thirty feet away, firing his pistol across the distance as he moved. The third shot caught the assassin in the shoulder blade as he disappeared through the door.
It did not take Tobe long to reach the doorway and he saw with a grim satisfaction the assassin's blood spread on the wall where he had shot him. Anticipating the danger before he opened the Chamber exit, he kicked the doors in the centre to fling them outwards in their sliding arc, throwing himself clear against the back wall. In confirmation a hot bombardment of pistol fire answered as the door opened, to be met with no-one there. From his covered position Tobe pointed his own weapon down the walkway, estimating where the assassin would be and discharging his magazine. Another moment of silence passed as Tobe ejected a red-hot cataclys cannister, reloading a new one. He peeked out to see the walkway empty and moved again, pistol ready in front of him.

Ensure the man is captured alive, Commander.

 

The message that flashed up in front of him was unnecessary, both the sentiment and also the condescending use of his formal title, and he blinked it away irritably as he moved along the walkway. They still did not give him the credit he deserved. Of course the assassin would be captured alive. Skarolowski was a key component of their future plans - deeply invested with the ideals of the Novalum and being styled for position as Lodestar. Years of foundation work had been destroyed with his life. This man would need to answer for that. This man that was the confirmation of a rebel presence, and a goddamn Priman with it. A traitor. And with the gall to be so bold, while the whole world watched, under Tobe's eye. Yes, he would catch the man alive. The very thought of the ensuing torture once he had him thrilled Tobe, whatever information the man could give, he would get it and make sure he returned the favour of discomfort to the man in full. And then he would kill him.

More blood was splashed on the back wall where Tobe had hit him again, and he smelled the salty metallic vim in it, even amid the cataclys sulphur. Like a hunter closing on his prey, his killing instinct heightened. The assassin had taken the stairwell up, Tobe following the red trail where the man was bleeding.

 

At the top he slowed at the doorway which led to the shuttle pad. It hung half ajar on its hinges where the assassin had booted it open, smashing the lock. Tobe knew the man would not try the same trick twice but still his senses warned him of danger as he passed through, pistol held ahead of him.
The shuttle pad stretched the breadth of the building roof. Numerous shuttle cars stood dormant, all sharing similar state-of-the-art angular designs that gave the impression they would take off at any moment. But Tobe knew the assassin would not take one as his choice of escape, for he would be shot down instantly by the building's defences. Instead he looked between them and under them as he scouted by.
The assassin was there then, his backup pistol lain down beside him, crouched on the edge of the building looking out into the night. Behind him the great city stretched as far as the eye could see, millions of lights twinkling like a carpet of stars under the mauve sky. The man stood, turning to look directly at Tobe, holding a wound in his side but letting his arm drop and standing as proudly as he could, blood spilling from his hand.

His look of hatred told Tobe he had landed a killing shot, but with an effort the man settled a grim determination across his features. Tobe had him, there was nowhere he could go, they were a mile and-a-half up in the sky and Tobe's pistol was pointed directly at the man.

 

His voice hoarse and blood staining his teeth a grisly red, the assassin spoke, his eyes lighting up like those of a fanatic. "Enjoy damnation, freak!"
Although he saw it coming and rushed forward in a vain attempt to reach him, Tobe was too far away. The man turned and jumped from the building, out into the abyss.
Tobe reached the edge, and looked over to see the man's body falling into the darkness, spread-eagled in a posture of quiescence. And seeing the explosive planted on the building ledge he realised the real meaning of the assassin's words.

 

1.1

 

​The man called Herger watched the young boy, one foot on the step of The Worm’s pilot cabin, peering in. The child appeared to be holding himself back, restraining an adolescent urge to climb in fully and fire the old monster up.
​Herger had just finished a designated quarter-hour break in the temporary wreck-room, a cavity on a previous tunnel route with a reasonably flat floor to it, offset from the current dig-tunnel still a half-mile underground but at least a little closer to the surface. Herger was a big man for a Galogian, years at the pickaxe shaping his form into a bulk. The miles of tunnels had always felt cramped for him, but he had long since gotten used to it. He was returning to his second shift operating the giant rock separator to be met with the child stood at the entrance of the pilot cabin, his pilot cabin, studying the pod with keen interest. Most people knew Herger wasn’t one to have people muddle with his things, let alone his old darling and especially not if it was one of the grubby little tunnel-monkeys.
​The scrawny boy’s grounded foot lifted an inch as he craned his neck in to see further. It was far enough for the man. “What you doin’, boy?” he called, his tone firm and his voice gruff.
​The boy froze, hanging at the cabin, his head turning fearfully to look to the voice asking of him. “Um..n-nothing, sir.” He stepped down, almost silently, eyes dropping to the ground as he made to slip away.
​“Hold it.” There was something about this one, the big man couldn’t pin it, something odd. A fleeting notion, but there all the same. The boy had stopped, halted mid-step. “Do you even know what you’re lookin’ at, boy?” he asked.
​For a moment the child hesitated, an inquiring but wary expression on his face when he turned back. ​“I was just looking at the controls, sir,” he gulped. “I… I wanted to see how it works.”
​Herger eyed the child from his feet up. Typically dirty for a tunnel-monkey, he thought. Shoes made of steppe-hare hide, but more worn than they should be. His clothes looked home-made instead of hand-made by the town tailor, like everyone else. They were hanging from his slight frame, tattered and frayed. One of the poor ones, he thought, maybe lost a father down there. Wouldn’t have been the first. But nestled in behind the blackened face, hiding under a mop of dark muddy hair, the man saw a pair of sharp, crystal-blue eyes, more wary than fearful and with a brightness not dimmed by the low light in the tunnel.
​“I ain’t reprimandin’ you, son. Calm down.” Herger tried to speak gently, but his ever dust-coated throat rasped somewhat. “Are you leaving or do you wanna see how she works?” He gestured toward the cabin, inviting the boy to step up. The boy didn’t move, and just stood with his arms down at his sides, staring curiously. Not being a patient man, Herger changed tact, “Ain’t gon’ tell you twice, boy. Get on in there, move it.”
​Visibly relaxing at the tone he was more accustomed to the boy moved swiftly, pulling himself up to disappear into the cabin. The big man approached the cabin door to find him sat eagerly in the pilot seat, eyes wide at the plethora of glowing dials and buttons in front of him.
​“Boy, you don’t have even the slightest on how this thing works and you think you’re gonna drive her? Move over.”
​A flash of fear but the boy obliged, lightly hopping over into the next seat.
​Herger hauled himself into the pilot seat. His head almost touched the steel roof. “Now. If you wanna see what she can do, you’re gonna be the co-pilot - needs two men driving this thing.” He looked down at the boy, just a rodent to his big size but a piercing look in those blue eyes. He ignored the pressing feeling of curiosity. “Your job is to monitor these displays, see what’s up ahead and make sure I ain’t getting into nothing funky. Alright?”
​“Yes, sir.” The boy nodded, and a faint hint of cheerfulness peeked out from behind the dirt on his face.​
​“We ain’t in the Fleet, boy, we’re in the mines - my name ain’t sir, it’s Herg.” Herger let that sink in for a moment before asking, “Now, d'ya know why she’s called The Worm?”
​The boy looked up to the man, screwing his face up a little but the apprehension fading. “Because.. it digs holes in the dirt?” His features told that he knew his answer was amiss.
​Herger shook his head, snorting a little, but smiling through his wiry beard. “No, not cuz she 'digs holes in the dirt'. If that was all she did, they woulda called her The Mole, wouldn’t they?”
​“What’s a mole?”
​“Sheesh, you’re a wet one, int ya? Forget it. She’s called The Worm cuz a worm digs so it can eat. If it don’t dig, it don’t eat. If it don’t eat, it can’t dig. You know what this machine digs for, right?”
​“Cataclys.”
​“That’s right. And you know what she runs on?”
​“Cataclys?”
​“Bingo. Smart one, int ya. She done run’s on the cataclys she’s done diggin’ for. If she ain’t diggin’, she ain’t finding no cataclys, and she ain’t runnin’. That’s why they call her The Worm.”
​The boy digested the mans’ words for a moment before asking, “How did they start her in the first place?”
​Sharp little beggar, thought the old miner. Maybe too sharp to be breaking rocks with the rest of the men. “Well they must’ve brought some with them, didn’t they, boy?”
​“Oh.”
​Keen to guide the lesson from something he did not know much about to something he knew a whole lot of, Herger rested his big hand on a domed red button on the control panel. “OK, this here’s the ignition button. It’s also the kill switch, nice and large in case you need to power down in a hurry, so you ain’t gaffing around looking for some dinky thing while Galogi is fallin’ in on ya.”
​The boy watched Herger press the button in firmly, holding it down for a moment as if feeling some balance mechanic of the machine. A series of penetrating clicks rung out from somewhere way toward the front of The Worm, echoing along the cave walls, loosing small piles of dust from the seals of the cabin interior. The clicks gave way to a seemingly distant but loud report contained within the belly of the beast, unleashing a tremor that shook everything about them. It would have surprised anyone who was not expecting it, but the boy Jonsen Spar had heard The Worm fired up a thousand times before. He had not though been sat in the pilot cabin while it happened and when the blast was immediately followed up by another and another, sending wave after pulsing wave from up front, a thrilling charge ran through his core, something inside of him stirring as The Worm’s engine slowly rumbled itself to life. The massive machine began to thunder like some godly hammer, its firing rate ever increasing until the sound became a deafening roar, the power dissipated by each blast of the barrage rocking the very world around him until his view became just a blurred smash of instruments, metal and rock. Just as the boy wondered if Galogi would give in to the thunderous rumbling of The Worm deep in her earth, the sound and the shaking stopped, the last fire echoing away and the world in front of him returned to normal except for a dull vibration and the distant low frequency hum that resonated as the background music to life underground for all the miners.
​“Alright, she’s purring.” Herger seemed satisfied. “See that there gauge?” he pointed to a dial, dead-centre on the control panel in front of them. “You don’t want that dial sitting even one millimetre either side of this here critical zero.” He tapped lightly on the dial with one finger. The gauge wavered in the left quarter of the red safety bar, the smallest of quivers saying it was in tune with the engine’s song. “If the frequency is out by even one hertz, this bitch will shake herself apart.” The man’s tone was serious when he looked at Jonsen, “Seen it happen.”
​Jonsen knew instinctively not to ask for further detail, instead nodding silently and turning to take in the wealth of controls, dials and screens in front of him. It was all new to him - sure, they had their Personal Versatile Displays at school, but they used word files, image files, lists, inventories and spreadsheets, nothing like this. These screens had coloured graphs and shapes mixing with numbers, symbols and words he was not familiar with.
​Noticing the boy’s interest, Herger set about explaining the numerous functions of all of the different controls before them. He took great pride in the fact that the drive controls were 80% manual, citing the reason as there wasn’t a computer in all of Novus Orsa that could replace good old human instinct. He seemed to know the exact use for everything, and spared no detail in explaining the inner workings of the sixteen inter-oscillating parts to the sixty-foot drill head, how the drive shaft had no less than forty-six cog spurs and was made of carbonite, the same material they used on the Light-Ships that brought the first colonists to Galogi, and the only material that could cope with the great force the cataclys drive put out. He showed Jonsen how to drive the beast at full throttle when you needed it, and how to concentrate the output to refine the material they were excavating down to a fine granule through gentle adjustments to the forest of levers at the pilot control.
​Listening distantly to the rising notes of passion in Herger’s explanations, Jonsen focused on the screen to his right, a digital graph with many trends set on it, all different colours. He picked out some words he did know; stratos, tinestone, granite, monachite - rocks and minerals the children were taught about from an early age. The graph seemed to indicate material quantity, make-up, maybe - in percentage? And set out.. maybe over distance? The units were listed to the power of up to 9, they couldn’t have been metres, surely. Without realising it, his hand went to a pebble-sized planted sphere on the dash in front him, below the screen. Turning it, the graph changed, its trends moving and swopping, intertwining as he rolled the ball with his fingers.
​“That’s your sonoscreen. Tell’s you what we’re getting out into, out to 10 million cubes - cubic metres, that is. Yours starts at 50 cubes, mine here is what we’re actually minin’.” Herger had an identical screen to his left. “How’s your math?”
​Volume, not distance. It was 3-dimensional. Jonsen looked down at the panel, for another control to affect the depth along with the direction. It was there, next to the ball, a planted wheel this time.
“It’s ok.” he answered.
​“Good. You know the rocks?” asked Herger, testing his student.
​“Some of them,” said Jonsen, still fixed on the screen. He was watching a glowing yellow trend skitter across the bottom of the graph as he rolled the planted sphere and turned the wheel, its line standing out a little more than the rest, but instead of a word to identify it there was a symbol, looking to him like a crescent moon sliced apart by a thunderbolt. “Is that catacyls?” he asked, turning to the man.
​“That’s right, boy. That’s what we’re after.”
​“There is a bar of felsic in the way.” Jonsen continued to work the screen controls, probing.
​Herger found himself answering as if it he were talking to his actual co-pilot. “Is there a way around?”
​The boy rolled his fingers a little more, interpreting the information before stopping and pointing up and out to the left, his gaze looking through the pilot cabin and out into the deep. “That way.”
​Again Herger smiled. “Alright boy, if you say so. 3-15 Dead we call that. Away, then - engaging.”
​Jonsen did not pay attention to the time in the compact pilot cabin. They broke into the deep earth, hammering their way through tonnes of rock and dirt, sometimes moving ten centimetres every ten minutes, sometimes ploughing through a hundred metres. Piloting the machine was like riding some giant creature, enticing it this way and that, its movements organic as it burrowed its way down into the depths, ever willing to go deeper. All the while Jonsen listened to the man, absorbing the knowledge, applying it where he could. Herger sent away Toie Marg, his actual co-pilot, stating the boy was keeping their efficiency above sixty percent, which was the mining average. The co-pilot was happy, he could spend the time sinking sour-tops, the bitter drink that all the miners went to at the end of a hard day. At the end of the shift, their efficiency hit sixty-two percent, something Herger had never seen a plum-pilot do - the boy had an aptitude for it.

 

1.2

 

“Who’s your Pa, boy?” Herger broached the question as he brushed his slacks down, standing aside the powered down rock-separator.
​“…Wilson Spar, sir.”
​Once more a timidness had crept over the boy but this time Herger knew the reason. Willy Spar was a recluse. A former miner, he had not been in the tunnels for maybe five or six years. The man was responsible for an accident which took not only his own arm but the life of a fellow miner, a young man with a young family. He was a dull, broken man, hollow to the world and more often than not on the wrong end of a crate of sour-top and his name throughout the colony was dirt. It explained the way the boy looked, somewhat neglected, hungry. What wasn’t clear though was the spark this child had. Herger knew of Willy Spar from his days below ground and he was a good miner, yes, but never exemplary. He searched his mind for a memory of the boy’s mother, but could not recall a picture of her, only the news that she had left on the Star-Barge at the last collection, nearly eleven years ago. He pitied the boy then, he would have been young when she left them.
​“How is he?” he asked.
​“He’s ok.”
​Not knowing what more to say on the matter, Herger changed the subject. “You did good today, boy. You might just make a pilot one day. I want to see you here again tomorrow morning. But clean, you hear?”
​“Yes, sir- I mean… thanks Herg.” With that, Jonsen thought of tomorrow. And with a wide-eyed look of shock whipping across his face, he thought of today, realising he was late for schooling. Quickly bidding Herger farewell and leaving the old miner stood by The Worm in wonder at the strange child, he shot away in swift departure.
​His gangly legs carrying him as fast as they could, he sprinted as only a youth can through the labyrinth of tunnels, the way imprinted into his mind from hours spent underground. The adrenaline had his blood thumping in his head as he took the ageing tunnel lift to the surface, its built-in scanner reading his ident-chip that was tucked into his wrist strap next to his PVD clip and clocking him out.
It had been like the first day in the mine Jonsen had never had. He knew what being the son of Willy Spar meant. There were those who treated Jonsen as if it had been him who drove the rock buggy into the tunnel support that day - they were the few who snarled at him and spat by him. Most of the community just ignored him or didn’t notice him at all, like he was just another rock in the miles and miles of tunnels they had made in Galogi's earth. But the man Herger had been nice to him - kind even. Sure, there was Ms. Firken, who stopped by occasionally to check on his father, but that was different, it was almost a pitying effort and Jonsen had grown tired of the way she looked at him, like a sick puppy. Herger was the first person to treat him.. normally. And at the same time, sitting in the co-pilot seat of the rock separator had unearthed an unusual sense within him, something that had been buried just under the surface for his whole life, a feeling he could never quite uncover, dormant and waiting to be dug up. Operating the giant machine had felt intuitive to him, easy almost. He could not have known what the sensation was, but it was intoxicating - a powerful tonic in antidote to hours and hours of mindless sorting and moving and digging rocks.
At ground level the mine entrance tunnel led him out into the open air of the Poseidon dig site. The sky was a washed orange, both pale and rich at the same time, as always in the light during late summer. Somehow the colours appeared more vivid to him, more beautiful than normal. He let the warm rays of Solo, the Galogi star, momentarily touch the skin on the parts of his face that were not layered in dust and, despite the ever-present acrid tang of artificiality that it came with, the air washed refreshingly through his nose and mouth taking with it the memory of the staleness of the mines. There was no time to change his clothes but Jonsen made use of the well to wash himself as best he could quickly, its water cool from the hidden depths where it was pumped up by hydraulics connected to the mine lift. Invigorated, he made off following the shuttle rail out past the boundaries of the dig site and through the rocky pass that led into it.
​It was a two-mile journey, Jonsen making a game of it, at a run the whole time seeing how far he could push his limits of stamina. It made a change making the journey on foot and the grand view of the townsite coming into sight was not lost on the boy. The inter-connected IFA-branded colonisation life caravan sat, large and white, in the centre of the settlement - the master. The little domed homes - its minions - crowded in shelter around it. Filling the gaps were the generations of haphazard industry that spanned in an awkward circle, their scrounged walls and wonky ceilings in contrast to the geometric simpleness of the life pods from another world. Behind the settlement stretched a seemingly endless expanse of bland, rocky mountain ranges and orange sand dunes, fading off into the thick atmosphere in the distance before the horizon - The Dust, they called it. The town was a remote outpost of humanity, having no place clinging to the fringes of what looked to be, in all directions, a lifeless sandy rock. But there it was, its numerous smoke columns reaching doggedly to an empty sky, its raggedy shacks and buildings standing defiant and oblivious in the afternoon sun - Harper, the larger of the two colonies on the planet.
Jonsen made his way into the dusty townsite and found its main street devoid of people, their presence replaced by an alien silence. All of the children were in their schooling classes within the large life caravans already and most of the adults were either underground or otherwise taking care of whatever was their designated responsibility in the community. It was an unusual sight for the boy and without the normal bustle of people giving them life, the dusted metal structures seemed fragile. He could not recall a time when he was not in keeping with the shifting movements of the colony and with his haste forgotten he slowed to a walk, taking pleasure in the novelty of this unseen face of the town. He let the feeling soak in before hauling open the unlocked vaulted door to one of the outer caravans that was known as Leto, letting himself into one of its long corridors leading to his class.
The corridor was empty, the youngest children's class already underway behind the first door. In series on the ultra-white walls, each one highlighted by a cool-green light bar at its head, hung a display of colony posters. Jonsen read them for the thousandth time as he passed.
For The Colony... You Are Galogi...
Each one had a striking red motif to it and imagery of the Galogian people, standing together. He walked the corridor every day, and the posters had never changed. He knew they were meant to invoke a culture of unity; that they were symbolic, rather than literal. To Jonsen, they succeeded only in making him feel more separate. At least in the mines he could employ his well-practiced disappearing act and vanish, unnoticed and unbothered into the hollows to get on with the almost hypnotic process of mining. Here at the school there was no escape, he was an outcast in plain sight. Under the cold white light of the caravan classroom he could not hide from the contemptuous jeers and stares of his peers and the condescending tone his teachers would use when talking to him. Here, where the lesson that they were all an equal part of the colony was reinforced daily, yet every face he saw and every conversation he had ever had told him the exact opposite. Even the curriculum alienated him. Rocks. Community. More rocks. It felt immaterial, his entire life seeming already mapped out in front of him, destined for a life underground contributing to the community. School was just the period before he could begin his predestined existence beneath Galogi's surface, and they filled the time with ensuring he had the right mindset to accept this unquestionable fate. It was hard to feel a part of the community when the only real lesson he had learned in his young life was that he was not.
A familiar sense of trepidation had set in when he reached the classroom, the door beeping sardonically in recognition of his ident-chip as he entered.
“Jonsen Spar. You are late.” The voice of Jonsen’s teacher, Harlow Brin, was tinged with disgust.
The man did not follow his announcement, instead leaving the entire class to stare at the child stood in the doorway to the classroom, sweat mingling with the dirt that he could not wash away, looking very much like he had just run two miles to school in the dust.
​Jonsen looked around at his peers, some a couple of years younger, some slightly older, a mixture of amusement and abhorrence on their faces. Only Ms. Firken’s daughter, Una, who was sat off to the side of the class, did not share the reproachful stares of the other children. Instead Jonsen saw a flash of the pitiful look her mother would give him, but coupled with something else, concern maybe.
​His instinct was to withdraw, he felt his shoulders cramp and his eyes pull to the ground. He found himself thinking of co-piloting The Worm again. Seeing the controls in front of him, feeling the surges of energy which he could guide and divert. And he thought of Herger’s words, something that no-one had said to him before. You did good today, boy. He felt his mood stir, the same sensation as when The Worm’s engine had starting its firing program. A notion that this was what he was supposed to do. A confidence. It rose within him, straightening his back with it and drawing his face up to look directly at his teacher.
​Jonsen realised then how small Brin was, not just physically, but in spirit. He had not seen it before. The man's years on the dusty planet had dried his skin, pulled bags down from his eyes and hunched his back over. A sour demeanour painted his whole stature. Like a dune-bug that landed in his hand for an instant and then was gone, Jonsen felt for a moment that he knew the man. His position as the children's teacher was in capitulation. Jonsen could see clearly in his eyes the disdain Brin harboured at a wasted life, and how deeply the resentment was buried for who he was and could have been but was not.
​“I apologise, Sir. We were behind on quota so I stayed to make it up.”
​It was a fitting response. Everyone knew the cataclys quota was the most important thing to the colony. Not schooling; mining. It was why the children worked in the morning, when they had the most energy, and schooling afterwards. If the colony did not hit quota their resource supply for the next eleven years would be stripped back to a minimum, meaning rationing for everyone. But to make quota meant a bounty of food and materials to sustain a colony twice the size. That was the deal.
​Not expecting the usually reticent child’s boldness, Brin faltered for an instant, searching for a response to quash the light in the child’s eye. How ridiculous, it was a child, it was not even a battle. “How very noble of you, Master Spar. May I ask on whose authorisation?” The sarcasm leeched from his mouth like dribble.
​“I made the decision myself.” Jonsen let the words come.
​“Really? Well, seeing as you seem to forget your position in the world as a minor, and a very minor one at that, you can make up the time after class to remind yourself. Plus an hour more." His tongue was like a snake, writhing in enjoyment over every word. "Perhaps you will not make the same mistake as others before you and know what your priorities are."
Jonsen was not sure it was himself speaking then, his heart rate accelerating in anticipation of what he would say next.
"You speak of my father." It was a challenge, not a question and they both knew it.
The room had grown quiet, the children silenced in surprise at the stranger stood in the doorway.
"I speak in general, child. You will watch your tone," hissed Brin.
"My father is too injured to work. He did not choose to stay at home."
Jonsen's look confirmed the meaning of the comment, his icy-blue irises crystallising before Brin's very eyes. It was a knowing and direct insult to the shape of Brin's existence, and the man felt the bite of the blade. Brin had always thought he should of made the trip to Senye when he had the chance, while youth and opportunity was still ahead of him, but it was his fear of the unknown that had held him back. Now he was stuck on the dusty planet, too old to make the trip. His dominion withered around him then, in the only room in his world that he had a small grasp of power, the child had made him feel helpless. He thought of his life and felt shame, then hatred, welling up inside him.
"Your father is a useless excuse for a man and a murderer," he spat, venomously. "And you - "
Before Brin could continue a crash sounded from the side of the class, interrupting the tirade and turning all heads to see the source. Una Firken was stood up, her chair and desk tipped over on the floor at her feet.
"I'm sorry, Mr Brin. I don't know what happened. I just slipped." The little girl stood there timidly, looking desperately helpless at the mess before her.
Brin glared at the girl, annoyed at the interruption, his temper still flaring. "Well don't just stand there, child - pick it up!"
A moment passed as Una gathered up her things. With his rebuke checked, Brin used a handkerchief to wipe his brow, taking hold of himself before turning back to Jonsen.
"Spar - sit down."
A part of Jonsen wanted to fight. Wanted to stoke the fury Brin had let loose before it weakened completely, and words came to his mind that he felt could tear into the man and break him. He had never felt like this in his life. He had summoned the storm and now the urge was to let it wreak its ruin in full force. But, taking in the man, he looked behind the face of retribution and saw that it was forged, saw that in truth the man was wounded. With just a few words Jonsen had sliced into the outer shell of this adult and had hurt him. As the true understanding of what he has done first dawns on a child who has killed an insect, the realisation sent a chilling uneasiness through him.
Saying nothing more, he moved to where his seat was at the back of the class and sat down.
With tension hanging in the air like the hint of sulphur after cataclys burn, the class continued for the rest of the afternoon. Brin stolidly and robotically dragged over the subjects, a hollowness to his lectures on the geological make up of the Azalarah region of the planet and then moving into factoring data in the context of a shortage of provisions for a theoretical community.
Jonsen listened but was too unsettled to pay proper attention. Conflicting emotions rattled around inside him. He felt angry, but guilty. Potent, but cautious. Even more confusing was the thought that came to him in hindsight that the little yellow-haired girl Una had purposely tipped her desk over in a clumsy effort to save him from Brin's reproach. The silly little girl who would occasionally appear at his house with her mother, spending the time giggling stupidly and obsessing over making clothes for her clay dolls. She had put herself in the firing line, for his sake. She must have been taking after her mother, believing in some delusional responsibility to look after him, like her mother did with his father. He did not need the dizzy girl's help, he thought, he had never needed anyone's help his whole life. However, he knew that she had helped him.
Solo began to lay down behind the horizon, its orange light becoming burnt as the layers of dust in the air it shone through became thicker. The white walls of the cubic schoolroom took on the colour, giving the impression of warmth. In truth it became cold at night on the planet and the temperature in the still air had already dropped when the children had left for the comfort of their IFA issue dome homes.
Jonsen waited behind in his seat, silently, expecting Brin to pick up where he had left off, now they were alone. Instead the man sat meekly at his desk, poking absently at his display. He did not speak to Jonsen or even acknowledge he was there. After the time that Jonsen had been late had passed, plus an hour, Brin spoke tiredly, not even looking at the boy.
"You can leave."
Jonsen waited for more, but nothing came. Quietly he stood, clicked his PVD closed and left the room, leaving the man to his solitude.

 

1.3

 

Despite each of them reaching two storeys high, the large cubic life pods that marked the centre of the town and known collectively as Harley-Quinn, had long since renounced their capacity to house the ever-growing colony population, its many rooms now allocated only for Frontier agents and their affairs and a few in the outer pods, Leto and Vesurha, for schooling. With their great size and simple, clean shape, the pods were as much a monument as a facility, looming as an overseeing historical reminder of the people's forefathers and, perhaps more pertinently, the omnipresent influence of the world they came from.
The rest of town spilled out into the surrounding dusted landscape, in no particular organised fashion except for a straight strip of no more than 100 metres in front of Harley-Quinn that had become the main street, named Carowan after the first human being to step foot on the planet. This was where the mess hall, infirmary and, now that Galogi had gotten through the initial colonial period and was classed as a Type C planet, - fit for guided civilisation, primary purpose as a resource planet -, where a few sanctioned enterprises were set up to stimulate the beginnings of economy and trade.
Darkness had fallen when Jonsen finally left the classroom and walked out into the main street. For the second time that day he was out of sync with the standard schedule of the colony; Carowan had only a few people wandering its dusty length, the children now in their homes, only a small population of adults congregated in the social areas drinking sour-tops and talking quietly. On his normal routine the town was busy with the rush of community winding down for the day. But now the constant hum of the giant machines that was the sound of daytime had fallen silent, in its place the subtle buzz of energy powering the town through a network of cables buried under the dusty earth. Harper was safe in its blue light bubble, cocooned on all sides by the far-reaching darkness of the Dust.
Jonsen made his way along the strip, a few of the adults in the drinking parlour looking at him, a few staring, but mostly he passed by unnoticed. He walked out past the collection of Current Generation IFA provided shelters, functional little domes, built from the same hard wearing and insulating material that the Harley-Quinn pods were made and of the same modern style, a reward to the colony for meeting their quota at last collection. Passing out further, the next group of homes were also IFA issue, brought to the planet from the first drop, following the planetary re-classification. The difference in design between the two styles of IFA home was prominent; although both were dome-shaped, the material used on the older models was a faded polygamy of carbonised plastics which was beginning to show wear from its constant exposure to the cycle of exotic heat during the day and biting cold once their sun had set. The dust in the air, unremitting and immeasurable, had set itself into their various cracks and chips over time, and the ground they were planted upon was slowly but surely beginning to swallow some of the outermost homes back into its sandy depths. A fringe of chipstone, dark brown in contrast to the bleached yellow sands of the townsite, encircled the older style IFA homes. It was here that Harper's underground cable network ended and where the extension of sewage pipes stopped. Where the warmth from the central cataclys generators began to dissipate and where the blue light eminating from the centre of the colony began to fade. Yet, reaching further out into the Dust, the flattened ground of the main settlement gave way to a series of mounds in a broken grid formation, each topped by a faint trickle of smoke and with trenches cut into the earth offering ways around them.
It was essentially a slum, the homes all carved and shaped down into the mild orange surface rock, small guttered waterways lining the paths between them that were barely wide enough for the residents to slip. This dogged part of Harper was a result of the Third Generation missing the required material quota and the progenitor lightships in orbit not releasing more than the bare essentials the colony would need for the following eleven years, including new dwellings. This coupled with the fact that Harper was obsessively fastidious in its reuse of material, setting aside every last scrap for fortification of the water supply system, or repair and maintenance that the army of underground machinery demanded, or any other need that supported the planet's primary enterprise, meant that the population had outgrown the available accomodation and had to make do some way. In line with the official ethos, 'for the good and prosperity of the colony', it was here where the families who were considered, by democratic census, to contribute the least to the community were settled and it was here where the boy and his father lived.
The scent of the cooling desert sands gave way as Jonsen slipped into the gaps between the homes into the familiar smells of yellow-spiced stone-goat cooking on cordite grills, mixing with the heavy odour of human bodies. His home looked like all the others, burrowed into the ground, a doorway, two windows and a chimney, except it was sat on the outer rim against the final rock face before the Dust. He had come to like its place on the edges of the community, with what always felt like one foot out in the untamed sands, and a feeling of comfort washed over him as he crouched through the low doorway pushing the leather strip curtain aside.
His father was sat at a surface cut into the far corner, his shape almost a shadow in the low light, but with some candles set out in front of him tracing a golden halo around his silhouette. He was concentrating on some papers laid out before him and didn't seem to hear Jonsen coming in.
"Hey, Pa."
"You're late." The boy's father did not turn around when he spoke. His voice seemed to harbour a tone of rebuke.
Jonsen hesitated, for his father's moods could be unpredictable. He waited for a moment and the man looked back, eyes wide with the wild glare the boy had known all his life. Sometimes it was dulled and the colour would wash from his yellow eyes, but always a fierceness shone out that he had learned to be wary of. As his father took him in with that somewhat savage gaze, something piqued the man's attention and he turned to bring his full focus upon the boy.
"You're taller."
It was a question and a statement at the same time and Jonsen straightened as his father stood. The man was still a presence to behold, though time and grief had worn away at him. He had only a slight hunch, his pride still forcing his chin up and his shoulders down. His skin was leathered from the dry desert air and looked hard to the touch. He did not wear the prosthetic limb and instead his arm stump hung at his side, tied into his faded shirt. Still, Wilson Spar gave the impression he could easily tear a man in half as he loomed over his son.
The boy has grown, thought the father, looking at his son carefully. In spirit, as well as in height. And soon he will be taller than me, for he is like his mother.
"What happened today, boy?" He asked, enquiring the set of his son's shoulders he had not seen before.
Jonsen knew it was not the answer his father's yellow eyes searched for, but he gave it anyway. "I was late for schooling, so Mr Brin held me back to make up the time."
His father probed him further, "Why were you late?"
"I lost track of time... I was helping Herger in The Worm." He was not sure how his father would take this news, they did not speak about the mines much, if at all. But with his words a dawning appeared in his father's look and the man's hardened features relaxed somewhat.
"The Worm, huh? That old bastard let you drive it?" He was genuinely surprised, but at the same time an interest had come over him, an eagerness in his voice that Jonsen had not heard for a long time.
"I was co-piloting. Herger showed me what to do." Jonsen told it how it was.
A glint flickered in his father's eye and he peeled away from the boy, looking into the middle distance, his mind going to a place Jonsen was not sure where and a smile breaking out across his face.
"That old bastard. The fumes must be getting to him down there! The old goat has finally gone soft!"
He was laughing as he spoke, a deep husky laugh. It had been so long since Jonsen had heard the sound, rougher now, but the notes the same, and it brought a flood of feeling to him from the past, from a time when his father was happier. He could see his father was still casting his mind back and the inevitable strain skittered then across the man's brow, Jonsen knew he had arrived already at the memory of the accident down there and wondered if he had lost him again that night so quickly.
As if in response his father looked sideways at the boy, and Jonsen saw him with an effort snap the memory back into a locked place in his mind, forcing the jovial mood back into his features.
"And you!" He boomed, closing in on the child once more, a devilish look now in his eye, "So what? You are a man now, eh?" Playfully he squared a fighters stance to his son and threw some feigned punches with his intact arm at the boy. Jonsen played along, bringing his own arms up in defense, fascinated at this mood that had come over his father.
"So what was your average then, pilot?" His father teased, still jabbing and ducking while he spoke.
"Sixty-two." Said the boy, while desperately trying to dodge the man's lightning quick fist. But at his response his father stopped instantly.
"What? Sixty-two percent?" He asked the question as if the boy must have been mistaken.
Jonsen nodded in affirmation.
"And it was your first time in it?"
"...Yeah."
His father was bemused, but he could see the child spoke the truth. After all of his years underground, his own average had only ever been sixty-five, and that was a good rate. A sense of fatherly pride swelled within the man and he launched himself at his son grabbing him in a playful headlock. "Well you're a bloody natural then, aren't ya! Well there's no surprise there, you are my son after all!"
Jonsen could smell the bitter sour-top on his father's breath now that he was so close, but it did not matter, to feel his father's touch was like a warming blanket and he embraced the play-fight, laughing and playing the part his father wanted.
That evening they spoke together like they had never done before. They talked of mining mainly, Jonsen's father sharing stories from his own time underground and disclosing precious nuggets of information from his intimate knowledge of the earths and the deep, asking the boy for his own thoughts and opinions and discussing the finer points of action and reaction when it came to blasting the minerals, which it turned out was a shared favourite method between them. The man was invigorated, passionately arguing when the boy was mistaken and, when he thought he was beings perhaps a little brash, gently guiding the boy back onto the right train of thought. Jonsen revelled in the interaction, not letting any detail go untouched on and instantly bringing up new subjects when the one they were on became exhausted.
As the time passed, the man spoke with a growing respect for the boy as he came to realise how apt the child truly was, a quick intelligence looking out from behind those ice-blue eyes. The boy was becoming a young man, the nervous child-like energy replaced by a countenance which was maybe even a little too mature for him yet. He was not yet up into adolescent height, but was not small anymore, his skinny frame now built upon with the beginnings of lean muscle, and his sleight shoulders ever so slightly beginning to fill out. He remembered then that he should expect the change, for it was not just his own genes the child had and the boys mother was not like anyone Wilson Spar had ever met before. She had arrived from out of nowhere, appearing one day from out of the Dust, a tall stark figure, with auburn-gold hair down to her shoulders, wearing clothes like nothing at the colony, unable to speak and suffering from a desert thirst that threatened to kill her. He had taken her then like a newborn, carrying her back to his IFA dome and nursing her for three days, through fits of delirium and unconsciousness before her eyes finally opened on the fourth morning and she saw him sat at her bedside with a clay cup of red-lichen tea for her.
Her name was Freya and her eyes were the most wonderful shade of malachite green, even in her weakened state they shined with a fervent glow that speared his heart then and there, claiming it forever. She had insisted he hide her, so he did, and for the next three months she lived out in the Dust, in a small cave a mile from Harper. He brought her food and comforts from his own provisions and during that time she came to love him back for the care and protection he gave her. She was not like the other people back at Harper, she was taller, and once she had quickly made a full recovery, she was much stronger. She could run like a steppe-hare and did every day, as if she had to burn the excess energy away. He would find her some mornings sprinting and bounding across the rock faces near the shelter and she would spring down to him and take the meal of stone-goat or dew-chicken he brought and wolf it down ravenously like a wild animal, picking the bones for every last morsel.
Freya told him she was from Senye, which was the capital planet of the Human Expanse, presided by the Interstellar First Alliance 8 light years away from Galogi in the Novus Orsa system. She could not tell him why she had left, but when the time came for the Star-Barges to arrive in orbit at Galogi, she became highly agitated and distant from him, spurning his daily visits and requesting that he stay away. But once the collection and the drop was made she turned up at his door again, freshly washed and with a blue-star cactus flower in her hair.
Somehow she passed her presence at Harper off by claiming to be one of the new residents who had made the five and-a-half year journey on the Star-Barge from Senye to bolster the colony. With a population of 4200 people, she slipped into the community unnoticed and by the end of the first year, she was living with Wilson and they did not even talk about it. Every so often she would disappear, sometimes for days at a time. Wilson knew she found Harper to be claustrophobic - he questioned her absences at first, but she swore him to secrecy, and he was content enough to let the occurences pass for her beauty and his happiness were unbounded at that time.
She gave birth to Jonsen Acriyaut Spar right onto the cold sands of Galogi and under a canvas of sparkling stars - stating that she wanted the child to see Senye as well as knowing his home planet. Having the child meant that Freya stopped disappearing as she embraced her new found motherhood with tender instinct and love. It was during that time that Wilson's love for life peaked.
The baby was three when Freya began to act strangely. She became dismissive toward Wilson, and a gulf opened between them that he could not traverse no matter how he tried. She began to disappear again at night, returning first thing in the morning just before Wilson had to leave to the mines. He saw her less and less often and when he finally confronted her, her green eyes filled with a deep well of sorrow and all she could say was 'I'm sorry.'
And then one morning she was gone and did not return, leaving a black hole in Wilson's heart that would never be filled again.
The sombre mood fell upon the father as he thought of the boy's mother and how proud she would have been of Jonsen today. He had tried to hate her for leaving them, for leaving him, but he could not. He could not bring himself to tell Jonsen that his mother had simply disappeared one day, instead he invoked a tale that she was a skilled nurse and that nurses were in dire need on Senye so she had to go. The childish story had stood for the time being. Looking at his son then, he could trace the shapings of Freya's face in the boy's, and he pulled Jonsen close in to hug him so he did not have to see.
"I'm proud of you, boy," He whispered.

 

 

Edited by Bandalamente

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Archaic Flavour.

I've only managed to skim-read this thus far, but from what I've read you're a talented writer. You writing style is very descriptive and informative. You also have a rare talent where you're able to retain your integrity without sounding pretentious and insulting the reader's intelligence. The story is touching, but still available to a wide spectrum due to the characters' grit and believability. Will definitely be reading this is it's entirety when I get a chance later today. Keep up the good work!

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Mokrie Dela

A couple of things. Firstly, this is a lot of text for people to read in one go. I can see you tried to post them in separate posts, but that didnt work - the forums have a filter set up to avoid double posting. In stories that do end up being quite long, it's probably best to wait for a reply before uploading the next part. If you take a look in one of the topics in my sig you'll see the format I've used (and index in the first post) which seems to work well imo.

Now, to the story:

I found this very curious. I didn't read the introductary summary, simply because I always find the story works better without one: anything worth explaining should be explained via the story itself.

It's an interesting setting, and the characters worked well, i felt. A slighty touch of mystery with the boy - there seems like there's more to him than what we're seeing. Room for development, sure, but i like what i see.

 

The layout out is great - nicely spaced and easy to read. And the writing itself is good quality. I won't go into this in ultra-detail, but there wasn't a whole much i saw wrong.

The only thing I'd change is the overall format - splitting it into "chapters", and posting a chapter in it's own post makes things easier to read (and in the long run, easier to follow), Beginning each chapter with a heading (larger text: CHAPTER ONE or just a location/time stamp) helps also.

I'll read the second part when i get more time, but from what I've read: keep it up

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MadeBrazen

Wow, this has been on here for ages with zero feedback, I was thinking its just gotta be way too much for anyone to bother (which you guys both confirm!) - and also getting a touch of the writers heebie jeebies of self doubt!

 

So thank you so much for taking the time to reply and the feedback, a nice little boost of reassurance.

 

My brain is brewing up a prologue with some action, I am hoping it will come out in a digestible chunk so will pop it back here if it does.

 

Thanks again.

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Ziggy455

Okay. I’m not sure you know how this works. Simply put: I critique in two stages; design and story. I’ll start on the story and we’ll go from there.

 

Your characters are great. Character is the illumination of action, and the best way to show a character is not through endless stacks of descriptive paragraphs, but one of the most important techniques for your reader: dialogue. Each character, from Herger to Bleet has an individual voice which I know you put a lot of effort into to nail. Their dialogue magnifies who they are as characters, from the gruff Herger to the uptight, somewhat pretentious weedy man of Bleet, down to the quiet, submissive Jonsen.

 

I like the small change in Jonsen who stands up for himself after finally being acknowledged and taken seriously for once. That’s sharp writing there.

 

It’s great. Your pace is fine and the writing is very good even for my standards. There isn’t much else to say with the story or the characters except that more is needed because it’s a solid story with an obvious culture and universe behind it and you’re doing fine in telling your story.

 

First, I’ll tell you – this is too much prose for a single topic. Nobody is going to want to read through all of this. I suggest removing the last two chapters and focusing on just the first one involving Herger and Jonsen within the Worm.

 

 

Design wise, I like it—it’s a very descriptive, long-winded style which does not bore the reader but retains enough to keep the scenes going vividly. Dust is envisioned in my head as a living, breathing place as are the mines below.

 

The story maintains pace but at times your description can go off on a tangent and the reader can become very bored when the flow hits a dead stop because you’re too busy describing something. William Strunk gave the line Omit needless words which is something I like to stick by. When looking over your draft just ask yourself if certain words are needed and can they be removed. If they can be without destroying the flow then you know they weren’t necessary in the first place.

 

I know you want to create a large piece with big words that dazzles the reader and shows how smart you are, but it can be a tiring thing. There are large chunks of what feels like endless description, which works but not when trying to propel the pace of the scene forward.

Focus on reading some of your paragraphs and checking for flow. For example:

 

Jonsen hesitated, for his father's moods could be unpredictable. He waited for a moment and the man turned, his eye's wide with the wild glare Jonsen had known all his life. Sometimes it was dulled and the colour would wash from his yellow eyes, but always a fierceness shone out that Jonsen had learned to be wary of. As his father took him in with that somewhat savage gaze, something quelled inside the man and he brought his full focus upon the boy, a penetrating inquisitiveness now overtaking him.

 

 

Jonsen is mentioned three times, it’s not a big problem. It’s just something that can be removed with another red-through.

I’d like to break down your writing more, but if you can upload the next chapter only I’ll be able to give you a more detailed analysis as there’s way too much for me to focus on here at the moment.

Edited by Ziggy455

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Ziggy455

DOUBLE POST. Sorry. Damnit.

Edited by Ziggy455

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MadeBrazen

Hi Ziggy

 

First off you are a legend for taking the time to guide someone like me, it is really appreciated.

 

I value the criticism as much as the support and have started in with some edits.

 

Funny that paragraph you quoted has been niggling at me, I didn't notice the repeated names considering Im so embroiled in the writing but have changed it up straight away. The numbing tangents you mention have concerned me too, its so tricky coz I'm writing it and have a load of what I believe is relevant info I want to squeeze in but do sometimes feel like I'm rambling.

 

I had the prologue done, but you have prompted me to go over it once more! Will pop it on here in a bit.

 

Thanks mate.

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Ziggy455

Good to know, mate. I'll give it a read when it's up. :)

Edited by Ziggy455

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MadeBrazen

Popped it in there! Something aint right. But hopefully you guys can help and maybe me reading it after leaving it for a while will too.

 

I realised I know sweet FA about politics. But its my universe so I made up a new structure. Hurrah and up yours modern world government!

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