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View Full Version : Genesis: The Awakening (Sci-Fi - WIP - language - 8k+ words)



Etherhibba
July 18th, 2015, 02:50 AM
*Critique welcome and encouraged. Series is currently ongoing and chapters 4-6 are on the way.

Genesis: The Awakening
A story by Tyler P. Skymba

PROLOGUE

Earth is long gone to the Human race. Here in the future, religion is dead and there are no nation states or interspecies wars anymore. We, as a race, came together 90 years ago and Unified under a single government. The movement was glorious; born on the Internet, millions of activists from across hundreds of nations came together to destroy the greed that plagued humanity. In a war that raged for nine years across the globe, the New Progressive Unitist Movement (also known as NPUM) managed to stealthily take control of the world’s strongest nations and disable nuclear weapons across the globe in an effort to conquer those refusing to unify with the rest of humanity.

Lead by a strong strategic genius known as Maxwell Genesis, humanity entered a golden age of prosperity living in a hybrid system of capitalism and socialism. The newer generations began to abandon their religions as they became more infatuated with Maxwell. After a short period of governance by a Republic-esque system, Maxwell took complete control back from his colleagues after being voted out of office and named himself Overlord of humanity and his new “Human Federation”, beginning a new monarchy that would rule over mankind.

After decades of prosperous living, low death and crime rates, numerous technological leaps and high birth rates, Earth was quickly becoming overpopulated and its resources were depleting rapidly. Overlord Genesis knew in order to ensure that humanity would prosper for ages to come, they would need to expand beyond Earth. Thus, the brightest Federal scientists from across Earth came together in London, the capital of the Federation’s administration, and began to focus their efforts on perfecting the terraforming technology necessary to colonize other Earth-like worlds. Robotic probes were sent to all known planets with Earth-like properties to find one large enough to sustain a rising human population. After nearly five years of searching, humanity found its next home; Astra, a world in a neighboring solar system nearly twice the size of Earth.

Time was quickly running out for life on Earth, as the damage done to the planet left it barely habitable. Humanity could never have saved Earth, as the government needed to use whatever resources could be found in order to sustain the rapidly growing population it could never have been prepared for. Now that it knew how to sustain such a population, and with a strong plan for the future, the Federation began to use construction drones to build the massive cities that would house humanity, sending millions of these mass-produced machines and massive tons of raw materials to complete the massive effort as soon as possible. Overseen by specialized team safely aboard a vessel miles above the atmosphere of Astra, the drones cleared massive areas of forest and jungle and began building quickly, finishing the first city within an Earth year. This massive city was meant to serve as the new capital for the Federal administration, as well as provide space for billions of people to live comfortably in, and was named Asha by the leader of the oversight team above the planet.

Able to now support the 18 billion humans crammed into increasingly deteriorating cities on Earth, Overlord Genesis ordered humanity to begin the massive exodus that would ultimately save humanity. Bringing all animal and sea life from Earth was no easy task, however the Federal Fauna Assembly ensured that humanity’s diet would not need to change on Astra, and neither would their love for animals. Gigantic domed environments filled with animals were built outside of the walls of cities, and massive ecosystems were assembled within these domes. Domed parks were built periodically throughout the cities to provide the comforts of nature within an otherwise concrete industrial fortress. The same was established for various ponds and simulated oceans, as terraforming allowed for the recycling of Astra’s natural water bodies.

However, in order to ensure that these habitats would not be disturbed, and that humanity’s cities would be left alone, the order was given to wipe out all local animal and mammal species as well as any invasive plants and fungi. As much of a tragedy as this was, it seems to have been for the better, to allow for all of Earth’s former species to come to Astra. It seemed to be that humanity’s Federation was becoming the future society many humans dreamed of. A decade passed, and millions were birthed each year living in a near-utopian society of equality and prosperity...until one fateful day, everything changed.

As Astra’s cities became more developed, and plans for even further galactic expansion were drawn up, a pair of drone miners beneath Asha’s underground industrial complex discovered an anomaly unlike anything their AI could anticipate. The following crew of scholars and military representatives were little more prepared for what the drones had found. An enormous structure, with carvings unlike anything mankind has ever seen. Walls lined with fluorescent pods humming with a rhythmic energy, the tomb seemed to center around a set of large statues carved out of a native rock, resembling four large beings; one spewing tentacles out of its mouth-stomach with twelve arms/legs holding its blob-body up, another standing on three legs with a thin appearance and a single arm sporting a hand of seven fingers, a feminine creature with metallic gears composing its back and the head of a plant, and the largest one resembling an Earth centipede with a singular eye instead of antenna with an extended body.

After a week inspecting the tomb, the central statue formation rapidly crumbled to reveal a particularly large, humming pod bursting with light. A mere moment later, the pod detonated, causing a massive and traumatic explosion that would quickly destroy the entire city of Asha and scar the surrounding areas. In mere moments, ten billion human lives were lost. Overlord Genesis was obliterated with the rest of the city, and humanity developed a severe case of Xenophobia fueled by a propaganda campaign organized by the Overlord’s son, Vexx, who was originally tasked with overseeing the development of more cities. Within days after the widespread success of the campaign, Overlord Vexx assumed direct control via his royal blood, with no objections from his late father’s court. With Asha lost, Vexx established his favorite city, Ignis, as the new capital of humanity. Populated by eight billion, the most densely populated remaining city, Ignis would quickly develop to be the center of the Federation.

Humanity now had physical proof that it was not alone in the Milky Way Galaxy. While Federal scanners searched the rest of Astra for any other tombs, Overlord Vexx made immediate efforts to bolster the Federal Military. Previously, the Federal Legions had served exclusively as a peacetime police force, and under Overlord Genesis their funding and numbers dwindled steadily. Vexx made sure to boost the funding of all Federal Military branches substantially, and began the start of a new program designed to create the shield humanity needed to defend itself against any xeno threat, large or not. For such a shield to succeed, it would need to be incredibly strong, able to defeat any xeno beast and withstand the most incredible blasts.

Thus, the Paladins were born. A specialized branch of the Federal Military turned into an Order of living weapons dedicated to the protection of humanity, “to serve as its shining light in the darkness of space”, at any cost. Using a native substance dubbed “Luminum” experimented with over the past decade, volunteer soldiers both male and female were infused to become more than mere humans. However, the Luminum had more than its share of side effects, and beyond granting the body enormous physical strength and altering the mind to the point of tactical genius, Paladins would require numerous implants throughout their body to regulate and contain the Luminum. These implants often prevented the substance from causing massive damage to the body beyond what it had already done, as well as protect various organs.

Each infusion is unique, however. The Luminum reacts to everyone differently, granting them unique abilities of their own in exchange for further damage to different parts of the body. After the initial infusion, the body can never be exposed to Luminum directly again. Should the various implants be broken and go without repair for too long, the effects would likely be lethal, or so Federal researchers have observed. Few Paladins have suffered this fate, thanks to the alloyed armor worn to protect the body against physical blows and bullets.

With each unique infusion comes a need for different implants. Some Paladins need certain implants, others don’t. Those gifted with “Luminous Speed” often only wear the now-traditional robes and light padding to soften blows, due to their ability to frequently avoid attacks. Those without this ability wear a lightweight native metallic alloy that has the strength of steel with the weight of cloth. With weapons both heavy and light, specialized strengths and insightful minds, the Paladins serve humanity as more than a military order; they are mankind’s saving grace, their trump card. Any time explorers find an anomaly of any kind, the Paladins are the first to respond to ensure that any possible threat is stopped before it can even begin to act.

Since its founding, the High Order of Federal Paladins has investigated many remote anomalies found by both probes and excavation teams. Thirty years have passed since the Paladins were founded, and their numbers now weigh in the hundreds of thousands. Humanity has reclaimed its moral, and continues to prosper under the protection of its grand military. Only this time around, Overlord Vexx has enforced a more martial set of laws. In pursuit of glory, Vexx seeks to make a name for himself by ensuring that no citizen of the Federation openly sympathizes with the idea of being at peace with xenos. “The Great Alien Threat” has given him way to force his way of thinking upon the population of Astra. Religion, in any form, is openly illegal for the first time since the initial founding of the United Human Republic, the democracy that preceded the Federation. Such outrage has sparked the beginning of an underground rebellion, that of which has been struggling to fight against the Paladins tasked to stop it.

Loyal to the Royal Federal Court and seeking humanity’s best interest, the Paladins have faithfully served Vexx in these matters. However, it was not long before the process used to make Paladins was replicated, as “Rogue Paladins” began to appear in skirmishes with Paladin forces, resulting in the first ever casualties. For nearly three decades these occasional skirmishes occurred, and for the most part the Paladins acted as inquisitors, hunting down any rebels they found. The winds of change are in the air however, and all of humanity feels the dice rolling as tradition is challenged by the growing Genesis Rebel Movement. Aiming to restore the laws of the beloved late Maxwell Genesis, the rebels refuse to yield to the Paladins or the Federal Legions, even knowing that civil war is likely inevitable.

Now, at the start of a new day, an incident that will shake the very foundation of galactic civilization is about to unfold, as a peculiar anomaly has been discovered.

CHAPTER I

On the surface of an unfamiliar terran border world in the early stages of evolution, an eerie silence has fallen onto an Federal research and exploration encampment. Anxiety is rampant throughout the camp’s crew as the recent discovery of an alien anomaly has prompted the propagandist xenophobia of many to rise while they await the arrival of the Paladins. With the protection and insight of the Paladins, the crew’s scientists will have the Federation’s blessing to begin studying the anomaly with whatever tools they need. Through studying these anomalies, human scientists hope to learn more about alien life, mainly their potential strengths and weaknesses, due to Federal oversight.

As a cool breeze blows over the encampment on an otherwise humid planet, the roaring of an engine can be heard as Federal drop ships bearing the Paladin’s sigil of a burning shield make their descent to the encampment, piercing the twilight hours of the morning. After landing, the engines of the craft shut down as soldiers line up to traditionally welcome the Paladins to another world claimed for humanity. The door slides open, and out steps Imperator Jack Soza, leading commander of the 5th, 6th, and 7th Federal Paladin Companies. A young man not older than 28 years of age with tanned Caucasian skin and deep blue eyes, Jack Soza is a commonly respected Paladin and a gifted strategist. Standing 5’8 with the Paladin’s traditional shaven hair style, he holds a .50 caliber machine gun painted a dark red on his back holster. With a single metal strap visible patching a Luminum infection on the left skin of his throat, he stands strong in his standard battle armor.

Two rows on each side of him chant “The Federation will never fall.” three times in a row per tradition, and salute him as he walks past to meet with the camp supervisor, Ulysses Paragoa, a proud man of aborigines decent, wearing a standard grey officer outfit with a clean shaven appearance and a bald head. “Imperator Soza, my friend! It's a pleasure to see you again alive and well. Legionnaires, dismissed!” Ulysses announces as him and Jack begin to walk together, towards the edge of the camp. “It's good to see you as well. It’s been awhile since we’ve worked together on something of this nature, and with all that's been going on back home, I’m hoping this goes as smoothly as the last anomaly.” Jack replies, smiling as the two reminisce about old times.

“I’ve been meaning to respond to your e-mails, but the situation with the Rebels is becoming...unnerving, to say the least.” Jack says, looking around the camp as equipment is being moved by drones. “I understand, don’t worry about it. I knew what I was in for when I became a Paladin’s friend, trust me.” Ulysses replies, flicking through files on a tablet. “Ah, here it is. I’m going to be honest here, I pulled some strings to get you out here today, and I think it's important to tell you that some files have come across my desk that mention you periodically. Someone has been trying to find you, and from what I’ve seen it could mean trouble.” Ulysses explains, showing Jack the tablet. “Federal office of Xeno…What the hell is this? Why would anyone in the Federation track me instead of just coming up to me in a public place? There's laws preventing Paladins from doing anything to civilians. Ulysses, why do think your bosses are after me?”Jack says, careful not to raise his voice.

“Look Jack, I’ve heard rumors that there are deserters in the Paladin ranks. Mostly people that have spent a lot of time on missions like these. Don’t you see how many guardsmen they post out here now? Its nearly double what we used to have! Look, before you were promoted to Imperator last year, you used to spend a lot of time out here with me on these missions. The way I see it, they probably look at you as a potential deserter.” Ulysses explains, flicking through more files. “Me? I’m in charge of 3 of the 12 Paladin Companies! Why would they-” Ulysses interrupts Jack, and says “Look, I don’t think you’ve done anything. Your one of the best Paladins I’ve ever met, and you’ve always been a good friend to me. I’ll tell you what, I’ll keep an eye out for more files about you, and I’ll call you next time I find something. For now though, we have a job to do here.”

Agreeing with Ulysses, Jack calms himself down. After locating the proper documents, Ulysses proceeds to bring Jack and the three Paladins that came with him to the dig site, where the anomaly lies in a protective bubble. Armed sentries surround the site behind a metal barricade as drones continue to move rubble. The anomaly, a 6-foot tall obelisk-like pillar composed of obsidian and humming with energy, is being studied from a distance. “That sound isn’t comforting, is it?” Jack comments as Ulysses replies “We’ve had to keep the guards on hour-long shifts because of that sound. People reported becoming paranoid after more than an hour of being in the dig site. Even the researchers need to work in shifts; whatever this thing is, it isn’t good for our health.”

A worker drone moves a piece of the barricade aside as Jack removes his right glove. His squad of Paladins move in and their positions around the anomaly. Rose, an Asian-decent female Paladin 30 years of age and standing 5'6 dressed in traditional Paladin-Acolyte robes with black hair tied in a pony tail performs a Luminum injection, an ability few possess the ability to survive and utilize, which allows her to use highly concentrated Luminum injections as fuel to project raw power from exit points carved into her palms. Upon the completion of the injection, she forces the concentrated Luminous energy out of her palms, manipulating it to form a protective barrier around the anomaly. “We’ve got ten minutes, start already boss!” Rose yells, panting as she continues to funnel the energy out of her arms. “Odin, Max, get ready!” Jack announces, followed by a two-pronged reply of “Yes Imperator!”.

Ulysses signals Jack to move closer, as Odin and Max hold their left arms out, ready to conduct raw energy in the case of another explosion. Jack moves in as close as possible, the rhythmic humming becoming increasingly unbearable as he finally touches the anomaly, taking in the raw alien energy keeping the obelisk active and slamming his fist into the ground, sending the raw power into the soil. After a few moments of remaining still, Jack lifts his fist, and signals Ulysses that all is well. Rose clamps her palms together, triggering her palm-mechanisms to shut and thus ending the barrier. A sigh of relief is shared among everyone in the dig site as Jack checks with Rose, making sure that she is stable after the endeavor. “Another job well done, Imperator and crew. Someone retrieve the other researchers, it's time to study this thing up close.” Ulysses announces, walking down towards Jack.

Just as Ulysses reaches Jack and begins to speak, the tip of the anomaly shakes off as a small probe launches out of the pillar, landing itself softly near Jack’s feet. A black disk with metallic bands, it seems to stand still, humming the rhythmic sound from before for a moment before planting itself in the dirt. Jack looks to Rose as she injects herself again, creating an emergency barrier with Ulysses inside. “Stand behind me, Ulysses! There's no telling-” Jack is interrupted as a colored holographic image begins to play, scanning within the barrier for a brief moment. After a short delay, the holograph takes the form of what appears to be an alien life form, standing in a fashion similar to humans, with strands of flowing black hair, tar-colored skin, a semi-muscular build and deep blue eyes.


Humans, do not be alarmed as this image does not wish to harm you. This probe has scanned you to identify what language you are currently speaking, so to allow this recording to be translated to your own understanding. Please keep in mind that names and words belonging to my species may or may not translate well, and will be said in the best possible translation.

*Ulysses and Jack look at each other in shock, and then back at the holograph*
I would like to begin by saying hello, my name is Krittya and I am an Ambassador to foreign species on behalf of my people, translated best as The Sentinels. I acknowledge that any delicate information given here will undoubtedly be shared to your highest authorities, and so I will begin immediately.

My species desires nothing but peace with Humanity, as we have not been an aggressive people for a long time. The information the Conclave has gathered tells us that your species does not share this desire for peace any longer. We know what has occurred on your new hive planet, and I have been authorized to act peacefully despite the desecration of our holy burial grounds.

Odin: “Burial grounds…?”
In a past age we set across this solar system on a holy mission to bury those that united our people’s warring clans into the Conclave. Their wishes were to be buried in harmony and nature, and since our hive planet has lost its green, we set out to various infant terran worlds, burying our holy leaders. With a rogue clan in our midst sending saboteurs to burn the bodies of the holy dead in the name of their evil god, we began to set traps to dissuade them, those with the power to wipe their accompanying armies out.

Max: “I think I understand why so many people hate religion now…”
We succeeded, and peace for three of your human centuries followed. All that can be told is now known by you. It has been decided that humanity is not at fault for the destruction of our most holy Gemini’s tomb, despite it initially being sealed to bar entry as a warning.

Jack: “It was sealed?!”
It has been seen that humanity is now wary of foreign species due to the trap being triggered on your hive planet. We seek to move past this incident and move forward together, to benefit us all. A secondary probe will be sent as soon as this message is triggered, and should arrive within two human weeks. On the second probe there will be instructions for the recording of a reply. We hope that peace can be obtained through diplomacy, not mindless war.
Arevgaseda, Humanity.


Rose clamps her palms shut, taking a knee to catch her breath. Jack and Ulysses look at each other, then at Odin and Max, and finally at everyone else in the dig site. The guardsmen begin to chatter amongst each other as Ulysses looks down to at the probe. “The Overlord needs to see this, and something tells me he’s not going to be too happy.” Ulysses says as a drone walks over and places the probe in a protective casing. “I took the raw power of the anomaly and scattered it in the earth below us. That probe must be significantly different from what we’ve seen so far.” Jack says, looking to Rose.

“Are you stable, Rose? Do you need a medic?” Jack asks, kneeling down to meet her face. “I’m fine, it was just sudden is all. I just need some food in me and I’ll be fine.” Rose replies, standing up and walking towards the camp. “I think we all have a lot of thinking to do, Imperator. That was a lot to take in, and it doesn’t seem like the Federation will react well to this.” Odin says, patting Jack on the back. “I know, but I’ve always hoped it wouldn’t come to war in our lifetime.” Jack replies, walking back to camp in a state of deep thought.

CHAPTER 2

An uneasy feeling crept over the camp as Ulysses informed the few off-duty guards and scientists that had not witnessed the probe's message of what occurred. Savoring the relative peace of the dawn, Jack stands at the edge of the camp, reflecting on what has happened. "No doubt about it, the Overlord will bring us into a war of unwarranted genocide. These people, these aliens, offer us peace. Wither genuine or not, this offer of peace is-" Jack thinks to himself, before being interrupted by Odin. A 45 year old Caucasian man standing 6'2 with the right half of his face completely covered in metallic casings to prevent the further spread of Luminum throughout his head and sporting a red robotic right eye for normalized depth perception, Odin is perhaps the physically strongest Paladin ever to be created. At the cost of much of the right side of his upper body including his arm, Odin maintains the strength to lift nearly twice his size.

"What are you thinking, Imperator? Are you making sense of what we've just seen?" Odin asks while looking into the barren distance with Jack. The partial grassland that can be seen is sparse with small critters wandering about, with few trees in the distance. "I'm thinking this planet's a dump, and we never should have come here." Jack replies. "If it weren't us, it would have been someone else, and that someone might have gotten this all wrong." Odin replies, as the two look to each other. "I meant humanity, Odin. We should have stopped exploring this region at Gamma 3, instead we've found the evidence that the Overlord needs to use his precious living weapons for mass destruction." Jack responds, checking behind him to ensure that they are alone in this conversation. "Sir, were you expecting Vexx's agents to never find xenos out here? It was going to happen eventually, after all its what we exist for." Odin replies, as Rose approaches the two.

"Imperator, Ulysses needs you. He wouldn't say what for, I'm guessing you already know, though." Rose says, looking to Odin. "I'm going for walk, Imperator. Radio me if you need me, but ask Max first. Little bastard needs to start pulling his weight if you ask me." Odin says, as he begins walking off towards some critters scurrying about in the brush. Jack follows Rose back to camp, as Ulysses finishes a conversation with some Legionaries. "We've got our orders, sir. That thing has to come with us, and so does the drone carrying it." LB-501 says to Ulysses. Appearing to have given in, Ulysses hesitantly agrees with the Legionnaire, and allows him and his comrades to instruct the drone towards a recently arrived shuttle. "What the hell's going on, Ulysses?" Jack inquires. "My bosses know, Jack. It took them less than an hour to find out about this, and they're already acting. They want to take it back to Astra, but who knows what else this thing is capable of!" Ulysses explains, frantically taking Jack aside.

"It's not safe for you to be here any longer, Jack. I wish I could have you stick around and clean up, but the longer you and your squad are here, the more suspicious you'll look to the Administration. I've requested another squad, you've gotta head back to Astra, right away." Ulysses says. "Your right, I've gotta get my people out of here and get back to Ignis ASAP. If we don't try to dissuade the Overlord, this will be full on war." Jack agreeing replies. "Like I said before, I'll call the next time I get something with your name on it." Ulysses says as he watches the drone-carrying shuttle take off. "Oh, and be safe, Jack. Next time I'm on Astra we'll go out for a drink, on me."

After an hour or so, Odin returns from his walk and the squad departs for Astra. Settled in aboard the drop ship, Jack consults the others regarding the situation. "As you well know, Overlord Vexx as built humanity up from its post-tragedy state into a force to be feared by all those who would threaten humanity. However, he has always preached the evilness of the xeno to his people, especially we who serve him as humanity's shield in the darkness of space. You were all there, and heard the message the xeno probe delivered. This is a sentient race that appears to seek peace, and wither or not their offer is genuine we will undoubtedly be pulled into a war against them by the Overlord." Jack takes a deep breath before continuing.

"We exist to protect humanity, not to wage mindless war against those who would be our friends. Overlord Vexx may have issued our creation as Paladins, but that does not give him the right to treat us as slaves of war. That is why as soon as we reach Astra I will petition the Paladin High Command to refuse to partake in any war that follows if initiated by the Federation. We are treated like beasts, kept from the rest of humanity and made unable to live lives separate from our duties and form families in peacetime. You all know this, and I expect you to support me in my mission to work to prevent the inevitable genocide. After all, we know not if humanity is the only species to possess Paladin-like protectors, or worse-" Jack explains, interrupted by Max, the youngest Paladin in the Imperator's squad.

Growing his hair long like Overlord Vexx, the 21 year old Hispanic-origin recruit responds to the Imperator's words. "Imperator, I agree with what you say, but I will not have my strength wasted during war of any kind! We have these gifts for a reason, and it is our duty as Paladins to serve humanity, even if it means following our Overlord's orders into this war." Max explains, as Odin shakes his head."If the Overlord sought our best interest, he wouldn't create laws to segregate us from other humans. We're seen as a higher power by the people, and we can't just throw away our lives because some asshole sitting on his father's legacy says we should. I stand with you, Imperator, and I will make sure those who respect my power among the ranks of the other companies do the same."

"What are we if not rebels then?" Max says, looking to Jack. "You were named after Overlord Genesis, right? He would not have us waging war against potential allies. When Earth nations seeking peace saw the rise of his growing government, many joined Maxwell's movement, desiring peace for their people and those already sworn to the soon-to-be Overlord. He accepted their petition to unite peacefully, and there were no casualties apart from those few nationalists that refused to coexist with others as one people." Jack explains. "Despite all that happened, Maxwell Genesis sought peace for all humans. I believe he would not want war, he would want peace for both sides despite those lost once hearing the truth." Jack continues as Odin types away on a nearby tablet, sending emails to the many Paladins he has come to know.

"It's going to be a few hours before we reach Astra. I'm hoping, as my hand-picked recruit, that you will change your mind and help me keep the Paladins out of the firing line. Without us, Vexx won't have the trump card he needs to attack these aliens." Jack concludes as Max nods, looking away and putting his feet up on the bench. Rose pulls Jack aside, her face full of concern. "Imperator, I'm sorry if I seemed to be rude planeside." Rose apologizes, looking into Jack's chest. "I know you lost your sister yesterday, Rose. There's no need to apologies to me, I understand what it's like to lose someone so close. You knew you didn't have to come on this mission, but I'm glad you were here to see this." Jack replied, patting Rose on the shoulder and smiling. "I refuse to let something like that weaken my resolve, boss. What we do is important to me, being a Paladin changed my life for the better." Rose says, smiling back. "I appreciate you listening to me like this, Imperator. It means a lot to me, especially now." Rose says as Jack replies "Your one of a kind, Rose. Anytime you need an ear, I'm here for you."

Several hours passed as the ship neared Astra, exiting FTL travel before nearing an off world checkpoint. "Imperator, we are cleared for landing as expected." the pilot says as Jack nods. "Proceed as planned to the primary landing platform in Ignis, refuse all incoming calls to the shuttle." Jack orders as the ship begins to descend. A few moments later, the ship docks on the primary landing platform atop the largest structures in Ignis. Upon docking, Jack and the squad prepare for confrontation. "Sir, the Acolytes are here to greet you. They're outside the door as we speak...be ready, guys." the pilot says, preparing to open the door.

As the door opens, Jack is greeted by a column of Federal Acolytes, an elite branch of the Royal Court's agents that have been dedicated to overseeing the Paladin companies on Astra as a result of Paladins going rogue. They are trained in unique ways to kill Paladins that attempt to go rogue or are strongly suspected of doing so. Dressed in black robes with red trimmings similar to the one worn by Rose, they carry with them unique weapons and devices capable of killing Paladins quickly and efficiently.

"Imperator Soza, good that you have returned on time. I have been instructed to welcome you back from another successful mission." the Acolyte standing in front of the formation says, sporting a black robe with blue trimmings to signify higher rank, standing slightly shorter than his underlings. "Ah, Sentinel Kenneth. Something tells me you are here for more than traditional pleasantries." Jack responds, making sure to stand in front of his squad. "Well, you're certainly not wrong Imperator. While I am indeed here to greet you as Legion soldiers would in past years, I am also here to inquire as to why you've returned with such haste." Kenneth says, placing his hands behind his back as he grins with a twisted smile.

"No doubt the Overlord will call each Imperator soon to discuss a solution to the xeno message I'm sure you've heard by now." Jack reluctantly replies. "I hope you will remain faithful to our Overlord, Imperator. It is he that ensures our race's survival, and allows for you to continue your work without our supervision as well. It would be a pity if I needed to euthanize someone as well respected as you. " Kenneth sneers, ordering his Acolyte company to leave. Jack glares at the Acolytes as they leave, many with their hoods up to humble themselves in the Overlord's capital. "What a bunch of assholes." Odin says, looking to Jack. "Go eat and get ready, tonight we kneel before the Overlord." Jack announces as he walks off alone.

CHAPTER 3

Hours pass as the shadow of the moon begins to crawl upon the enormous megacity. Concrete towers hundreds of miles high radiate with life and energy as their lights flicker on for night. In the streets below, automobiles running on renewable dark matter flow through the city constantly, with Legionaries posted on every street corner as military police. In the base of the High Paladin Command Center, Jack sits alone in his designated quarters, luxurious for someone of military stature, though likely due to the Paladins now being an order of their own separate from complete military command. Sitting on his personal leather couch leaning over and covering his sweat-filled face, he contemplates what must be done to keep the Paladins out of a war they likely want no part of.

With enhanced minds per side effect of initial Luminum infusions, Paladins are able to see more logically than the common human. Yet it is largely due to this, in addition to their vastly superior physical and personal strength, that has resulted in such strict laws being created to limit what Paladins are able to do, and how they may live. Thinking to himself, Jack ponders such thoughts. "If we are such tactical geniuses, why do the rebel brothers and sisters continue to fight us? Why do we fight amongst each other in our own governance? Is it just human error, or something much more? I don't-" a loud knocking interrupts the Imperator's thoughts. "Imperator, we've got ten minutes to prepare." Odin says, as rapid footsteps can be heard in the hallway. A moment passes before all seems quiet again, and Jack opens to door to find an empty hall. "Impatient bastard." Jack says to himself, smirking as he walks back inside and shuts the door.

Equipping his armor piece by piece, Jack hears another knock on the door, not 2 minutes later. Finished gearing up, Jack opens the door to find Rose waiting patiently. "Imperator, I was wondering if I could walk with you to the assembly." Rose asks, slightly smirking. "Sure, some company on the way would be nice for a change." Jack says as the two leave his quarters. As they walk, they pass through gleaming silver halls decorated with many fine garments, portraits of Earth and hand-sewn Paladin symbols. With the headquarters of the Paladin order attached to the Royal Nexus structure, only the finest decorations are permitted for these halls. "I've heard troubling rumors lately, Jack."

"Oh? Aside from what we both already know, what?" Jack inquires as they enter an elevator up. "Different from our line of work, Jack. Corpses have been disappearing lately, civilian corpses, and nobody knows who's responsible for it. People have been saying Rebels have been taking them, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was-" Rose stops herself from continuing as the elevator door opens to reveal Acolytes about to enter. "Excuse us, please." Jack says as he grabs Rose's hand and moves through the group. The two look back as the hardly-phased group of young Acolytes enter the elevator, seemingly ignoring the two completely.

"Uh, anyways I think they may have my sister's corpse, she went missing this morning." Rose explains. "Civilian corpses or not, Vexx's government is up to something boss. We should stay up to date with this." the two enter the audience chamber, a large U-shaped room with many rowed seats and tables built into the floor. "I agree, we'll have to ask around later. Perhaps Ulysses knows something about this." Jack says as the two take their seats near Odin. "You guys haven't seen Max have you?" Odin asks. "No, thought he'd be with you." Jack responds, looking around for him. "The kid's smart, I doubt he's not here. The Acolytes wouldn't be holding a loyalist like him during this for anything.

The remaining dozens of officials, Paladin leaders, and high Acolytes take their seats as an armed escort of select Acolytes and Paladins enters the room, forming two lines and saluting the Overlord has he walks past them, accompanied by his many advisors. Standing 5'6 and dressed in a lightweight black alloy robe with flowing brown hair and the Emerald Crown of humanity on his head, the 33 year old Overlord stops for a moment to overlook the crowd before continuing. "The Federation shall never fall!" is chanted by the escort as well as some government officials and Acolytes. As the lights dim in the room, each door is securely shut as an electromagnetic barrier rises over them, preventing any possible intrusions. Overlord Vexx stops as he approaches the podium facing much of the room as his guards kneel behind him. A moment of silence passes as Jack spots Max across the room, sitting with the Loyalist Paladin Imperator Dessa and many of her advisors.

"Welcome, established high officials of the Human Federation. Indeed, welcome all military representatives, high Paladins and Acolytes, as well as those underlings chosen to be here this evening. No doubt you have each heard the most recent news from our exploration corp., as the very same xenos to destroy not only our former capital, but my own father our late Overlord Genesis and 18 billion human lives have admitted to the crime! And yet, they seek peace and dare to hint to our own fault for settling on a world apparently sacred to them, with no visible signs of such religion on the surface. Many of my advisors have dared to insist upon a cautious peace, however I would rather take full advantage of this opportunity." Vexx pauses for a moment before continuing.

"We know that the xenos are out there, and we know that they cannot be far from us now! You all know what must be done to secure humanity's future as the dominant species of this sector of space; we must conquer these xenos before they do the same to us! They have already committed genocide, even if accidental, against mankind. Making the mistake of trusting such a species will be the death of the rest of mankind, and with our Paladins standing strong to shield us from the xeno threat, we need not fear these creatures! Now is the time to act, we must follow through with their message with one of our own; to lure their leaders into a trap, and deliver swift retribution for our former Overlord's untimely demise. A trap, I insist! Not just any trap, but one under the guise of a whole-hearted diplomatic mission." Once again Vexx pauses, grinning before continuing.

"There is a reason you are all here tonight, and it is more than to hear what I am sure all of you feel in your hearts and minds right now. To ensure that the Federation is successful in its mission to protect humanity's best interests, we must ensure that no one consorts with the xenos. For the time being, all of you must report each day to a respective Acolyte for shadowing. A necessary step to ensure our success in this endeavor. Once the mission has succeeded, my Acolytes will part ways with you and all of you will be truly free once more." Vexx finishes as many in the audience uproar out of disapproval.

"Overlord Vexx! We already live our lives as sworn servants to the Federation, living under strict laws that dictate how we many live our lives, I must insist that you loosen this iron grip over we Paladins, otherwise more will continue to flock to the rebel ranks!" Imperator Ansi Mengzi announces as the audience quiets to listen to her speak. "This is a Federal court, and I will be heard! I speak for the 8th and 9th Paladin companies, as well as our brothers and sisters in the 3rd specialized shared company as well! We protest these actions and demand justice!" Ansi exclaims, cheered on by many Paladins and a few officials.

"Settle down, High Paladins! These laws are in place for your own protection, and you know it. Civilian life is one you could never handle living again after serving as mankind's shield. The Acolytes have strict orders only to euthanize those Paladins caught in the act of fleeing their oversight here and abroad, those who are loyal to the Federation have nothing to fear!" Overlord Vexx replies, insistent in his words.

Loyalist Imperator Dessa Yana stands up and grabs the audience's attention. Sporting dark black armor with a gold Paladin symbol welded into it, her colors have become a staple Loyalist color, and are worn by many of her company's Paladins as well. "I agree, my master." she says, shocking many in the audience. "We Paladins pose a threat to not only our enemies, but all of mankind! We need these laws and Acolyte supervision and support to do our duty effectively. The 1st and 2nd Paladin legions hereby comply with your demands, my high master. Another new loyalist will now speak before you, if it pleases your lordship." she finishes, outraging all but few government officials, the Acolytes, and her loyalists. Max stands up next to her, and begins speaking to the Overlord.

"My high master, it is an honor to have the privilege to speak to you. I swear not to allow my fellow recruits to fall to the heretic rebel movement! Max says, followed by a wave of chanting and applause from the Acolytes and loyalist Paladins. "We Paladins exist to serve and protect mankind, and as our high Overlord in turn that means serving you as well! May we be ever vigilant in the coming era, as we continue to shield mankind and its Overlord from dangers near and far." Max announces, recieving applause from the Overlord himself and a pat on the back from a nearby Acolyte, something of a rarity in the relationship between the two orders. "That's it, I'm putting a stop to this shit before it begins." Jack says as he steps down from his seat and walks up to the railing.

"Ah, Imperator Soza! What says the only Paladin to lead three companies on his own?" Vexx asks, smiling after hearing of Dessa's support. "Vexx, I will not allow you to choke us further!" Jack exclaims, as the entire audience falls quiet in shock of Jack's tone. Few dare talk to the Overlord in such a manner, and certainly not as freely as when Overlord Genesis ruled mankind. "How dare you speak to me as an underling!" Vexx yells as the two Acolytes directly behind him stand up, their hoods removed. "We work to protect the best interest of mankind, and I now believe that you no longer seek our best interest! The only reason Dessa supports you is because she and her companies are spoiled like favored children by you!" Jack explains, as Odin stands up to stand beside him. "We Paladins suffer enough under your rule. I refuse to subject my people to unnecessary war and harsher treatment by the already cruel Acolytes! We will not stand for this, my lord!" Jack finishes and Vexx orders his Acolytes to back down.

"How dare you insist that I have forsaken mankind's best interests! Simply because I seek a more structured and ordered elite does not mean I have forsaken our race. Meanwhile, you dare speak out against me despite my gifting to you three entire Paladin companies! I had hoped that by doing so, your potential would come to better serve the Federation, not further stir the possibility of damned civil war!" Vexx yells, as he and the audience falls silent. Never before has Overlord Vexx publicly acknowledged the possibility of civil war with the rebels. "I serve mankind, not your tyranny and never an unjust war machine!" Jack exclaims one final time as a wave of applause lead by Imperator Ansi follows. "Jack we must speak immediately after this. Meet me by the 3rd Legion's checkpoint outside. Make sure no one follows you, it's time we talked alone." Odin whispers among the roaring applause, noticing Imperator Dessa's distasteful look of them. "Oh, and be careful of that one, now she has Max is caught in her spider web."

Among the applause, Overlord Vexx leaves, followed by his escort as his advisors consort him. As he leaves, loyalist Paladins and Acolytes begin to argue with the other Paladin majority, as Rose quietly slips out to avoid conflict. Seemingly at the same time, many other Luminum-channeling Paladins leave as well, likely due to their desire to remain out of such conflicts due to their immense power. Jack leaves a heated argument with a high Acolyte to meet with Odin near the Legion checkpoint outside. In a shaded area near the pillars lining the entrance to the chamber, Odin awaits jack with his hands behind his back as usual, standing tall with important information to relay. "Imperator, I'm glad you came so quickly." Odin says, looking back at the chamber where much noise is now coming from. "It's a shame that we are so divided, isn't it? The damned loyalists get pampered like the Overlord's dogs, and we get the scraps." Odin comments.

"It's a damn shame there's never any scraps to be had, otherwise it might not be so bad being oppressed." Jack responds as the two smirk. "Tell me, what do you see there?" Odin asks, pointing towards the assembly chamber. "If you want the truth, I see-ah!" Jack exclaims as Odin jabs him with a tiny syringe full of a clearer shade Luminum, just enough to paralyze him momentarily. "Jack, I'm sorry it had to be this way." Odin says, helping Jack to the ground as Rose appears from behind one of the pillars with multiple other Paladins. The group swiftly take Jack's body behind the enormous pillars and open a hidden hatch in the shade as Odin and Rose stand guard. "We didn't need to do it this way." Rose said, looking to Odin with distaste. "This method is crude, and if Jack is permanently harmed in any way, I'll take your other eye." Rose says, glaring as she walks away. "We're done, sir." one of the Paladins says as Odin continues to look around, making sure no one witnessed what had happened. He then entered the metallic hatch, shutting it behind him and locking it.

AtleanWordsmith
July 22nd, 2015, 07:16 AM
I had to come back a few times to tackle this from different angles. I think what stands out the most is that the way it's written all feels a bit... impersonal. It strikes me as being told from a completely outside perspective, like a recording being analyzed or something of that sort, and I'm finding it difficult to achieve any real sense of immersion from that perspective. It's a shame, because it seems like you've put a lot of thought into this, and I feel that if I could just break through the surface, I could get into it.

That's the biggest issue I see, personally, but that could just be me. You've got some great elements in there, and I'm looking forward to reading more of your work. I hope this helps you! Keep on trucking!

Etherhibba
July 22nd, 2015, 08:09 PM
I had to come back a few times to tackle this from different angles. I think what stands out the most is that the way it's written all feels a bit... impersonal. It strikes me as being told from a completely outside perspective, like a recording being analyzed or something of that sort, and I'm finding it difficult to achieve any real sense of immersion from that perspective. It's a shame, because it seems like you've put a lot of thought into this, and I feel that if I could just break through the surface, I could get into it.

That's the biggest issue I see, personally, but that could just be me. You've got some great elements in there, and I'm looking forward to reading more of your work. I hope this helps you! Keep on trucking!

I appreciate your input, and would like some advice on how to tell the story from a better perspective.

EDIT: Would having Jack himself tell the story be better?

AtleanWordsmith
July 23rd, 2015, 03:04 AM
You could have Jack tell the story himself, or you could narrate in the third person from Jack's perspective. A great way to keep from limiting yourself and give the reader a broader view of a story is to tell it from the perspectives of multiple characters. If it's done right, the change of pace offered by multiple perspectives is good for keeping the reader engaged. You just have to make sure that it doesn't get too cluttered.

bdcharles
July 23rd, 2015, 04:09 PM
Hi,

Great vision. Really massive. I am there.

I do have some comments though ... starting with the start:

Prologues, prologues. Sci-fi fans love 'em. I know I do, though I am told agents less so. With your prologue, which is incredibly long, I personally would happily read a full expanded story that covered that period, so ... something to think about.

I think to get an effective prologue, the text needs to be very condensed, almost like a fable. That often means letting rip with the tell and damning the show and actually skimping on quite a bit of detail and extraneous wordage. Where you have twelve words, distil into five if you can. Remove "was", "for", "to" and all that stuff. Swap out so-so verbs for majestic ones. Take for example this sentence:

"Humanity could never have saved Earth, as the government needed to use whatever resources could be found in order to sustain the rapidly growing population it could never have been prepared for."

->

"Humanity could never have saved Earth, and the government used up resources to sustain the skyrocketing population for which it was catastrophically unprepared."

Just an example.

Here's some repetition:

Overlord Genesis ordered humanity to begin the massive exodus that would ultimately save humanity

You also change tense about 60% of the way through the prologue. It's ok - I understand that you want to focus readers on the Luminum. I just think you could leave aside most of the detail and just use the last five para's or so - the ones in present tense - and, honestly, consider the previous stuff for a whole preceding story (unless you did that already?)



For the rest, just a few things that jumped out:

On the surface of an unfamiliar terran border world in the early stages of evolution, an eerie silence has fallen onto an Federal research and exploration encampment.

- the unfamiliarity will be implicit as we know nothing about this world or this story, so you can drop that work with no negative effect and actually several positive ones, namely around the idea of having readers experience the world rather than have it reported to them. It seems like the universe is ready made without it. As for "the early stages of evolution" - great phrase; but it sounds a bit academic and textbooky. Describe the things that characterise its early stage - volcanic activity? Mineral rich atmosphere? etc. The first para also spoils alot because we want to discover this world / these worlds, not have too much spelled out for us. We readers want to see the spiralling anxiety and mounting xenophobia. We want to wait with bated breath as the power games which dictate whether the Federation will grant permission to study the anonmaly play out.

Next para:
As a cool breeze blows over the encampment on an otherwise humid planet,
- rep of encampment. Also is this the same world as the previous para?

Watch the infodumps:

"A young man not older than 28 years of age with tanned Caucasian skin and deep blue eyes, Jack Soza is a commonly respected Paladin and a gifted strategist. Standing 5’8 with the Paladin’s traditional shaven hair style, he holds a .50 caliber machine gun painted a dark red on his back holster."
- work these descriptions into the goings on. Maybe Imperator Soza gets annoyed with some uppity underling, "fixing him with his deep blue eyes, in a steely glare" or something along those lines. Make us readers respect JS. Let us bear witness at his strategising. Give him some authority that suggests this if you like, some medal or stripes or other indicator. We can get the idea that his hair is "traditional" style if you make it a common descriptor. Tha said, you use the word "traditional" quite a number of times, so ... see if you can work out some other way of conveying that look, if doing so is important.

But to summarise I do like this a great deal. I would say it is quite "early-draft" but all the data, the vision, is obviously there. Next is to make it rip forth in the way the story clearly deserves. Good luck :)

Etherhibba
July 27th, 2015, 06:41 AM
Hi,

Great vision. Really massive. I am there.

I do have some comments though ... starting with the start:

Prologues, prologues. Sci-fi fans love 'em. I know I do, though I am told agents less so. With your prologue, which is incredibly long, I personally would happily read a full expanded story that covered that period, so ... something to think about.

I think to get an effective prologue, the text needs to be very condensed, almost like a fable. That often means letting rip with the tell and damning the show and actually skimping on quite a bit of detail and extraneous wordage. Where you have twelve words, distil into five if you can. Remove "was", "for", "to" and all that stuff. Swap out so-so verbs for majestic ones. Take for example this sentence:

"Humanity could never have saved Earth, as the government needed to use whatever resources could be found in order to sustain the rapidly growing population it could never have been prepared for."

->

"Humanity could never have saved Earth, and the government used up resources to sustain the skyrocketing population for which it was catastrophically unprepared."

Just an example.

Here's some repetition:

Overlord Genesis ordered humanity to begin the massive exodus that would ultimately save humanity

You also change tense about 60% of the way through the prologue. It's ok - I understand that you want to focus readers on the Luminum. I just think you could leave aside most of the detail and just use the last five para's or so - the ones in present tense - and, honestly, consider the previous stuff for a whole preceding story (unless you did that already?)



For the rest, just a few things that jumped out:

On the surface of an unfamiliar terran border world in the early stages of evolution, an eerie silence has fallen onto an Federal research and exploration encampment.

- the unfamiliarity will be implicit as we know nothing about this world or this story, so you can drop that work with no negative effect and actually several positive ones, namely around the idea of having readers experience the world rather than have it reported to them. It seems like the universe is ready made without it. As for "the early stages of evolution" - great phrase; but it sounds a bit academic and textbooky. Describe the things that characterise its early stage - volcanic activity? Mineral rich atmosphere? etc. The first para also spoils alot because we want to discover this world / these worlds, not have too much spelled out for us. We readers want to see the spiralling anxiety and mounting xenophobia. We want to wait with bated breath as the power games which dictate whether the Federation will grant permission to study the anonmaly play out.

Next para:
As a cool breeze blows over the encampment on an otherwise humid planet,
- rep of encampment. Also is this the same world as the previous para?

Watch the infodumps:

"A young man not older than 28 years of age with tanned Caucasian skin and deep blue eyes, Jack Soza is a commonly respected Paladin and a gifted strategist. Standing 5í8 with the Paladinís traditional shaven hair style, he holds a .50 caliber machine gun painted a dark red on his back holster."
- work these descriptions into the goings on. Maybe Imperator Soza gets annoyed with some uppity underling, "fixing him with his deep blue eyes, in a steely glare" or something along those lines. Make us readers respect JS. Let us bear witness at his strategising. Give him some authority that suggests this if you like, some medal or stripes or other indicator. We can get the idea that his hair is "traditional" style if you make it a common descriptor. Tha said, you use the word "traditional" quite a number of times, so ... see if you can work out some other way of conveying that look, if doing so is important.

But to summarise I do like this a great deal. I would say it is quite "early-draft" but all the data, the vision, is obviously there. Next is to make it rip forth in the way the story clearly deserves. Good luck :)

Thanks for the input, I appreciate another perspective on this. I think I'm going to re-write the first 3 chapters and prologue utilizing the advice I've recieved here. I'll post it here once its done for further review.

CodyWright77
July 30th, 2015, 02:30 PM
I agree with the Wordsmith. If you want an example of really good 3rd person told from multiple character's perspectives, go with Joe Abercrombie. Read a book or two (if you think you can stop there) and see how he does it. He's second to none with this technique in my opinion.