This thing is really growing. Hopefully you guys have been sticking with it, and possibly even enjoying it. Only a few more sections to go before we reach the thrilling conclusion. Well, maybe not thrilling, but definitely the end.
For those of you interested I finished the first draft of Time Snatch last week, and am about 20,000 words into the sequel which is tentatively named Time Lapse, for now. I’m pretty excited about this second book, because I think the story has a lot of directions it can go. A lot of times it seems I’m the last one to know where any of these stories are headed, but I suppose that’s what keeps it fresh and exciting.
I’ll be going back over Time Snatch at the beginning of September and doing a quick second draft and then I’ll be looking for some beta readers to help me tighten up the story, so if that is something you think you’d be interested in, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also, I pulled out the manuscript for Birth of God, from the Gods and Children Trilogy. I’ve been reading through that again, and am feeling the motivation to jump back into that series once I’m finished with the Time Snatch series. That story is a long time coming, and one that I am very excited to share in the future, so be sure to stop back here for the latest news and updates.
I’m starting up an email list, so if you’re interested in getting an email when Time Snatch and the Gods and Children series are ready and live, then sign up on the little bar on the right side of this screen. I promise I won’t use your information for any nefarious purposes. One email the week before release, and one email the day of release. That’s it. I promise.
Okay, enough rambling, lets get to what you probably came here for.
Masters of the Universe, Part Eighteen
Ryol’s body was a foreign vessel. Arms and legs ignored commands issued by her brain, and she remained locked in her own black sea of thoughts that romped in untraceable strands and tangents. Giving in to the chaos, she rode the winds of thought wherever they carried her. The breeze seemed to blow in a circle, though, always returning her to the Graesian’s words and the thought of her mother dead. Being cut off from the flow of information streaming across the universe was unbearable, and Ryol hid in the wreckage of her mind, not daring to peak from behind the curtain.
The voice called out from across the chasm that cleaved Ryol’s mind into opposing halves of discontinuity.
I need you. Come back.
The words were foreign, but she understood. She searched for the source of the voice, but could not find it from inside her locked mind.
Pain ripped Ryol from the void. Tendons tensed, muscles jerked, and the world came pouring through unaccustomed eyes in waves of liquid fire that danced along her optic nerve before bursting in a firecracker of color in her occipital lobe.
She closed her eyes, waiting for the pain to recede.
“Are you okay?” The voice said, this time coming from outside her mind.
Ryol shielded her eyes from the harsh light overhead and looked into the face of an alien. The haze enshrouding her mind lifted slowly before a flood of memories came rushing back.
“Hari, what happened?” She said, tracing a line of blood that slithered down the human’s cheek. “Where are we? Where is Gerald?”
The questions came quickly, but she stopped when it became obvious her words had caused the man pain. Hari wiped a tear from his cheek which only served to smear blood across his face. Light cascading over nose and cheeks cast long shadows, making the man appear a hollowed version of his former self.
“Gerald’s dead.” Hari’s voice was soft, barely breaking the silence, and Ryol strained to hear. “He sacrificed himself so we could escape.”
“And have we?”
Ryol studied her surroundings, she was lying on the floor with legs tucked to her chest in a tiny room, barely large enough to accommodate the two of them standing. Hari squatted, taking up the sliver of space left unoccupied by her. She put a hand against the cold floor and twisted into a similar squatting position. Hari placed a steadying hand wet with sweat on her shoulder. Against her bare skin the contact was warm and carried with it a connection to a world outside of herself that had seemed forever lost moments before.
“No, we haven’t gotten away, unless a broom closet counts as an acceptable hideout.” Hari said.
Ryol noticed the shaft of wood clutched between whitened knuckles in the man’s trembling hands. The tip of the stick came to a fractured point that looked simultaneously blunt and sharp. The head of a mop lay in the corner like the tentacled remains of a jellyfish. She wondered what good the makeshift weapon would do against the Graesian armor.
Ryol sat silently for some time, reconstructing lines of thought that might help them escape.
“Listen, maybe now would be a good time for you to tell me what the hell is going on?” Hari said, without trying to dull the edge in his voice
“I’m afraid by coming here; I have put your world at terrible risk.”
Hari nodded with pursed lips. “What are those things?”
“Graesians. They have broken their oath to the Alliance, and betrayed my people. Their planet is poised on the brink of collapse. They are a desperate people left with no choice in their own mind but to turn to violence.”
“Can’t you call for help or something?”
“No, something has severed my link with Lenora.”
“Won’t somebody notice you’ve gone off the radar and send help?”
Ryol turned her mother’s computer implant over in her hand. It was no longer the warm thriving being that merged with its host in a symbiotic relationship of unrivaled computational ability. Now, it was as dead as her mother.
“There is nobody that can help.” Ryol felt the loss of hope burrow like a sliver into the deepest parts of her heart.
The muscles in Hari’s face slackened making him appear tired beyond his years, “What do they want?”
“They want your planet, along with its resources.”
“We’re kind’ve attached to those.” Hari said, scratching his head. “Can we stop them?”
“I don’t have an answer for that. Perhaps if I could return to Lenora, but the Graesian’s are blocking access to the Inter-Dimensional Portal.”
Hari held up a hand to silence her, his eyes bulged white with fear.
Click. Click. Click.
The abrasive scraping sound of hardened claw against tile grew louder with every approaching step. Ryol flinched against the buzzing that swarmed her thoughts, uprooted her calm, and undermined her courage. Wringing her hands in her lap, she resisted the urge to cover her ears and drown out the white noise, knowing she would need access to all her senses if she hoped to survive.
“They’re coming.” Hari rose slowly to his feet with his makeshift spear held in front of him.
The clicking and buzzing stopped, and Ryol saw the shudder of quivering muscles ripple through Hari. He sucked in long slow breaths through his nose, before quietly expelling the air in a quiet rush from his mouth. The rhythm was like the repetition of a mantra, a meditation in purposeful energy that did nothing to alleviate the anxiety burning in Ryol’s stomach.
Something scraped against the door handle from the other side and for the first time in her life, Ryol tasted the metallic flavor of fear. She didn’t have time to savor it as the door swung open and Hari leapt out into the hallway with a warbling scream. The Graesian, stunned by the fervor of the human flying towards him, backed away trying to shield himself with a sickly long arm. Hari’s forward inertia carried him into the alien with the smack of flesh against carapace. The Graesian stumbled, found the wall, and used it to rebound towards Hari who jabbed his makeshift spear towards the aliens face. The Graesian tried to twist away from the attack, but the thin shaft of wood punctured the alien’s obsidian armor where the shoulder meets the throat.
Ryol gripped the door frame and watched green ooze spray from the Graesian’s neck as its claws wrapped around Hari’s neck and dragged him to the ground. A shrill death cry rose to soul piercing crescendo that set Ryol’s teeth on edge before the sound drowned in spastic gurgles of blood. Hari rolled off the top of the Graesian’s lifeless body with a moan, flopping like a fish onto his back, his shirt soaked in a widening circle of red blood from where an enormous stinger protruded from his stomach. She knelt beside the man, ignoring the mix of red green liquid coating the floor, and studied the sac of venom pulsing like a beating heart that remained attached to the stinger, stealing a little more of Hari’s life with every beat of its toxic purpose.
Ryol smoothed Hari’s sweat soaked hair and pushed calming thoughts into his mind. His whitening fingers relaxed their grip around the arcing blade of the stinger for a second before a spasm ripped through his body. He released a low guttural scream for mercy that went unanswered as a mixture of sweat, blood, and pale yellow venom were thrown from his convulsing body. Ryol supported the man’s head, but could do nothing to ease the suffering that wracked his broken body.
She lowered her head until her ear hovered inches away from the man’s mouth, hoping to make sense of the babble of words he spoke in a ragged whisper.
But there was no understanding, only pain.
Hari clung to the last thread of life afraid of the unknown that awaited him in the black embrace of death until the pain unbearable. With a soft sigh that carried the very essence of life upon its vapor, his body went limp, and Hari died.
“Do not weep, you will soon be reunited in the Dimension known as Death with your friend and mother.” The voice reached Ryol’s ears as a mocking laughter.
Ryol looked up from Hari’s battered body and saw Tzalear’s massive form blocking the light at the end of the hall. His long deliberate steps filled the sterile hall with the maddening clicking of hardened carapace against the tile floor.
Ryol stood to meet the Graesian that towered over her like an indomitable force of the Universe. She felt small. Inconsequential.
“I will stop you.” She said, hoping the words would muster the courage she felt draining.
“How? By force?” Tzalear held a clear blue orb in his hand, and Ryol instantly recognized the Inhibition Shield as the one severing her link with Lenora. “Take it, and you’ll be free to return home.” He dangled the device over her head.
Ryol wanted to give into the rage she felt swelling inside her, to throw herself in fury against this beast and bury her fists in his skull until only dust remained. Her eyes drifted to the shaft of wood protruding from the dead Graesian at her feet and with a foot against the alien’s chest for leverage she yanked the spear from its neck. She held the bloody weapon between trembling hands and imagined burying it in Tzalear’s heart.
Revenge for Hari, for Gerald, for her Mother.
But she couldn’t. To kill another creature would be to violate the oath she had sworn to the Alliance. To break the promise of peace that bound countless lives across thousands of Dimensions would be to forfeit the Lenorean’s legacy.
No. Even if it meant her own death, she would never break that pact.
“Weak, like your mother.” Tzalear said. “Too weak to rule the Universe.”
She couldn’t overpower the Graesian, but there must be some way to lift the Inhibition Shield. A fraction of a second is all the time the Alliance would need to reclaim, and protect this planet. That was the least she could do to repay the sacrifice Hari and Gerald had made on her behalf.
Tzalear threw his head back and filled the hall with a disorienting buzz that reverberated off the walls until it seemed to be coming from all directions. Ryol clutched the stick to her chest for comfort and backed away. At that moment a line of thought resolved itself in her mind and she knew the action that would lead to the highest probability of disrupting the Inhibition Shield.
“Go ahead little Lenorean.” As if reading her mind, the Graesian thrust his arms to the side, exposing the onyx exoskeleton guarding his heart. “I won’t stop you.”
Ryol’s mind balked. Her eyes twittered between the aliens exposed chest, and his unfeeling eye, wishing she could plunge that shaft of wood into his pitiless heart, but knowing hers was a different path to follow.
“You will never have this world.” Ryol twisted the spear in her hand, and placed the jagged edge against her breast. Tzalear cocked his head to the side and then lunged forward, realizing too late what was happening.
Time slowed in Ryol’s mind as she leapt into the air and watched the ground rush towards her at half-speed. A lifetime of memories replayed in her mind in the second it took for gravity to pull her towards the grounds unforgiving embrace. Her grip remained firm as the shaft of wood jammed into the ground followed by the full weight of Ryol’s body.
The wood slid into her chest, and pain became the only existence she had ever known. It cut and tore through her every fiber, ripping asunder the pieces of a body that had forever worked in harmony. Her mind wanted to dull the pain, pull away, and shield itself from the agony, but Ryol would not run from this this. Would not dampen it.
Instead, she amplified it with thoughts of her lost mother, of Hari and Gerald who had welcomed her into their world only to be repaid with death, and of the millions upon Lenora who would suffer for her failure. Ryol gathered all the hurt, focused it like a laser, and then released it like a tidal wave into the Graesian’s mind.
The onslaught of agony overwhelmed his defenses in an instant and the world filled with Tzalear’s haunted shrieks. Through her failing vision, Ryol saw the Graesian stumble back, the clear blue orb dropped from fingers now used instead to claw at his head, hoping to tear away the pain that wedged itself into his consciousness.
Ryol followed the journey of the glass sphere towards the ground with her eyes, and felt psychic relief when the Inhibition Shield shattered into millions of irretrievable pieces.
The invisible barrier fell, and she felt the reconnection with Lenora like goose bumps spreading across her mind.
Her struggle was complete.
Darkness swooped in, and in its numbing embrace carried Ryol away into the Dimension known as Death with a smile on her face.