I am slowly pushing my way through the next round of re-writes for Wrath of the Empress. In fact, I have a treat…if you think of some chapters from Wrath as a treat that is.
It isn’t much, still a bit rough. But, here you go, the first two chapters of Wrath…
Jonica felt the wind on her face and smiled. She hadn’t felt this free in along time. She took a deep breath and felt that something was amiss. The air was dry and thin and her body felt numb. She tried to grab onto the frame of the Runner’s cockpit, to brace herself against the feeling of falling. Jonica nothing in her grasp. Her eyes snapped open and she realized she wasn’t in the Runner, wasn’t flying through the fields, wasn’t even in her ship. Jonica plummeted towards the red-orange sands and rocks of Mars.
“Slag! Where in the Pit am I!” She screamed.
The wind that howled by her tore at her words. Her ams and legs started to work, pumping around trying to move. Something. She realized she was going to die. ”
A chunk of debris shot by her, firey and smoking piece of the Blood Bitch’s ship. “At least I got the pod out. Meph might find someone,” she whispered to herself. Better find someone, cat.
Skygirl, you are safe.
She felt something take hold of her for a moment. Her stomach lurched. You are safe, sky girl…now wake up…
Jonica snapped awake in crash webbing. Reality slammed into her. Kesh coming into her life. Lyra coming out of the pod, the Collector, Pryce appeared and Kesh leaving with the Eridani. She shook her head, trying to figure out where she was. Looking around, it looked a little familiar. Then, she saw Zas and she let out a curse.
She flailed for a moment, coming out of the Gate sleep suspension,c asking her mind to blank out for a moment. She wasn’t sure why Zas demanded that they do that. But, that was the deal. And for her left hand to be whole and for Lyra to be safe, she had to do what Zas said. She hoped that Lyra and Meph were safe on Poveglia.
“You awake?” Quick asked, far to close to Jonica’s ear to be comfortable.
Jonica snapped her head to the side to see the mismatched eyes of Quick staring back at her. “Yeah. Can you get me out of—”
Before she finished, Quick snapped the release. Jonica dropped into a kneeling squat. She spun around, trying to strike Quick. She overextended her hand and struck the grav-chair with a speed that shocked her. She let out a hiss of pain. Slag this speed thing needs some getting use to.
“Have you taken the last of the Gods’ Blood we gave you?” Quick asked.
Jonica revealed the empty ampule. “Yeah,” she said before tossing it to the thief. Quick snapped it out of the air with more speed than Jonica had. “How long have you been taking this…blood?”
“Of the God of Speed? For some time,” Quick said. She slipped form the door hatch to standing besides Jonica before the latter could blink. “And it has made us all better.”
Jonica rolled her eyes. God of Speed, what a backworld concept. There had to be a rational explanation for it.
Quick smiled under her half mask, the faint pulling of her eyes was enough of an indicator to Jonica after the time she had spent with the masked women and Zas. “You still don’t believe?”
“No. It is The Bloodied nobles of the Empire. You, your sisters and Zas all assimilate the powers of the Blood the same way.”
“Why does it work on you as well?”
Joncia was silent. “Random mutation,” she said.
Quick shrugged. “If that is what you believe.”
“Come,” Zas’s deep baritone voice announced over the intercom. “The ship is close. Is Jonica awake?”
“Yeah, I am,” Joncia shouted back. Her head hurt, body hurt. Bad dreams, nothing more.
Kesh looked up from the gunmetal grey metal desk he had been given by his Master. 38-Jorrin hovering nearby in his grav-chair, droning on and on about gravity theory. Kesh’s hand and part of his mind kept up, writing down everything with a stylus on an off electric orange script on a half filled computer slate. He had sectioned off of his mind to record things. It allowed him to think about something else while 38-Jorrin spoke. It was the only way he had been able to survive the mind numbing drudgery the first time around. It hadn’t been half a day before Kesh had been “shown” the desk nd chair and the lessons began anew.
“What is the name of therom for solving this?” 38-Jorrin asked, touching a complex problem with a slender finger which illuminated with a red hue. The problem floated above Kesh’s head. Dancing in a slow constant rhythm to “help memory,” according to 38-Jorrin. Kesh still didn’t understand why they called themselves by their number first and then their name. It was a strange thing, as were most things that the Eridani did.
Kesh blinked for a moment, looking at the strange glowing forms before him. 38-Jorrin’s fingers tapped softly on one arm of his hovering chair, waiting.
He had no idea, but had to try something. He opened and started with, “I—”
“I know you aren’t paying attention, Kesh,” 38-Jorrin said with a sigh. The Eridani’s musk struck Kesh again harder as the Eridani moved a little closer. The overpowering peppermint nauseated Kesh. It had been years and it would take time to acclimate to the smell again. If I stay.
38-Jorrin looked at Kesh with his elongated diamond eyes, “What is wrong, boy?”
Kesh cocked an eyebrow. “I’ve been back on your ship for half a day and already you’re throwing this at me? Again?”
“You have been gone for ten years. Your studies need to renew as soon as possible boy. There is a greater need for you to understand all of this. You don’t know what is coming.”
“You have yet to tell me what you are teaching all of this to me?” Kesh asked. The stylus ends tapping on the slate with a steady cadence.
38-Jorrin let out a long slow sigh. “You have always been a little thick, haven’t you, Kesh?”
Kesh smirked back, stopping the movement of the stylus. “Its a human flaw you’ve said I have.”
The Eridani shook his head and turned away from Kesh. “When I first became Dreamer of the Urtherain, I thought I’d get by on my knowledge.” His voice took on a familiar one to Kesh. The lecturing drone.
Not this story again. Kesh groaned inwardly.
“Yes, this story again,” 38-Jorrin said, turning around with a small smile. It always unsettled Kesh when his Master did that. “I thought that all I needed to was to use the knowledge I had to be the Dreamer. I was wrong. I found that my knowledge wasn’t enough. I had to expand my mind. I had to learn and learn things that I had never thought I would use. All because I needed that knowledge. Dreamers are more than their knowledge. They are forever expanding it to understand, to learn…and to dream. Why?”
“So you can see the universe in a different way.” Kesh said, bored. He took a breath, “To be able to grapple with the complex math for the Gate.” It was always the same.
“Right, and wrong,” the Eridani said with a smile in his voice.
“Alright, then explain,” Kesh said, turing to look at 38-Jorrin.
38-Jorrin waited for him to stop, and smiled. “What would be the point of trying to teach you if I have to lead you by the hand to—”
“Then, I’m a lost cause and you can shove me back where you found me,” Kesh said throwing his hands up, disgusted.
“That won’t happen,” 38-Jorrin said. “I seriously doubt I can even talk to the captain again after what I did.”
“What did you do?” Kesh asked, genuinely curious.
38-Jorrin looked amused. There was something inscrutable about the look. “I think I should let you relax for a time. I will see that the cook brings you food.”
“More like have the servant of 56-Torn will bring it,” Kesh said.
“Kesh, I know you think we are keeping you as slaves, however—”
Kesh stood up with a sudden violent movement that caused 38-Jorrin to stop and push back the hover chair. “Think we’re kept as slaved? There is no think. You keep humans and Quith as slaves.”
“Explain,” 38-Jorrin said.
“We do your menial jobs for you.”
“Because we cannot do man of them, our bodies have broken down to that point.” 38-Jorrin said, gesturing with a palsied left hand to his own emaciated body.
“Yet, you could make robots. I’ve seen them.”
“For many jobs we need an intellect behind it. AI’s are…tricky. If given to much freedom, they rebel. To little and they can be destroyed trying to reason out what to do next.”
Kesh narrowed an eye. “We can’t leave the ship? Not exactly free.”
“Where would you go? We take people who have no home. We—”
“You took my ship when we were going to Centarui,” Kesh said. Though he knew what the Eridani would say next.
“And, as I told you, you would have been killed in the resulting gate explosion.”
“You chose that for us. We had no choice in the matter.” Kesh pushed himself back int he chair, it scrapped against the deck. He folded his arms, looking at the floating problems with a sneer.
“Is that what we are talking about?” 38-Jorrin asked. “You want a choice?”
“Yes!” Kesh shouted. “That is all I have ever wanted. A choice.”
38-Jorrin waved a hand at the end of the classroom chamber with a gesture, the door opened. “There you go. A choice. A simple one.”
“Stay here, learn from me, learn about what you can achieve. Or you leave. I will make sure the ship leaves you alone. You can leave and go back to your pathetic life as it was before I took you.”
Kesh stood up and took a step towards the open door. It was a chance. A chance to leave 38-Jorrin and the Eridani. To go back to Jonica, Blue, and Lyra…even Meph.
“If you leave, you won’t last the week,” 38-Jorrin said, a slight frown on his face.
“What in the Pit is that suppose to mean?” Kesh turned around. “What are you talking about you grayskinned peppermint freak?”
There was a small smile on 38-Jorrin’s face. “Nothing.”
“You said I had a choice?”
“You do. Leave and stay in ignorance. Stay, gain knowledge and find a possible way to survive the impending doom of the galaxy.”
Kesh felt himself vibrate with anger. Yet, there was as small part of him. That sane portion of him that realized that the Eridani was right. He knows more than you do. Listen to him. For a long moment, Kesh stared at the open door. He bit his lip and the coppery tang of blood made him look back at the Eridani. So small in their chairs. So frail. And yet…
He turned and returned to his seat.
“Very good. Now, what theory?”
“Third Law of Thermodynamics,” Kesh said, defeated.
“Good lad.” 38-Jorrin continued to drone on and on about something while Kesh took notes with his portioned off mind. I’ll find a way out of this. He looked at the Eridani and smirked. I’ll find a way out, with the knowledge I need.