Final Reckoning Part 1 Excerpt
For your reading enjoyment, an excerpt from the forthcoming Season 40 story, “Final Reckoning: Part One”…
Laurasia, late Eocene. c. -40MY
They called it Forever Beginning. It climbed like a spike of ancient coral from the sweat of the flat, open plain. Flowers and vines coiled up its basalt flanks, a bloom of colour sprinkled over gossamer-thin walls of crystalline feldspar. Balconies of carved bone and polished siltstone spread out in fan-like brackets from its hundred towers. Ten thousand generations had called the crystal city home; ten thousand more would live there before it would finally crumble away to dust and memory. The libraries held the wisdom of a million minds, the creative outpourings of an entire species. The Great Chamber of Forever Beginning had known the compassion of the great sage Ygolac, the arguments of thought-binder Ssliacx, the cantos of musicians Rxialc and Udiial – songs Silurian voices would still be chanting under the light of distant stars ten thousand more generations hence.
Now the Great Chamber echoed to the alien footsteps of the Emissary. The Oracle had been finally brought to Forever Beginning.
Icyracx – Prime of Forever Beginning, Sage of Eight Minds, Daughter of the Sleeping Star – watched the slim, awkward form of the Emissary descend the broad steps into the hall. It’s dark, slender shape crossed the bone floors, as ungainly as a spider. The raking light through the vast spread of polished feldspar panels cast the Emissary an alien shadow over the delicate tracery of Chamber walls. Behind his spider-form, a sphere draped in black followed the Emissary. The Oracle; Icyracx could taste the strange energies drifting from the artefact.
The dark corners of the hall rustled. Icyracx flicked the gathered shadows a glance. The entire court had congregated. Behind the curtains of flowering vines that fell in green knots from the vaulted ceiling overhead, the sages and scholars of the crystal city watched silently. None wanted to miss the arrival of the Emissary… None wanted to miss the arrival of the Oracle.
The boat upon which the Emissary had crossed the vastness of space and time sat now on the upper level of the broad Chamber’s steps. It seemed a fragile thing: a slim, tall box of polished wood with an ornate circular device of white bone and black metal sigils and pointers hidden behind a glass panel near the top of its forward face. An oscillating weight of burnished metal hung behind a longer glass panel below the circular device. The Prime imagined the device to measure and count some simple cycle. The curious box seemed hardly sophisticated, substantial or large enough for the Emissary and the gift he brought – but with her third eye, Icyracx sensed the exotic coils of modified geometry, bound tachyons and loops of hadron/artron flux that had spiralled into reality when it had materialised. Oh, this box was no simple box; the decorated wooden panels and antiquated bone and metal mechanics hid a chained sliver of a black hole bottled inside a vast block-transfer shell: a time-space vessel powerful enough to skim through even the primal wildness of the vortex. The Ancients, Icyracx knew, had considered such technology – even experimented with it. But such devices had been dismissed as contrary to Nature; an affront to the Creation Song of the Greatest One. Long ago those same Ancients had awarded the Silurian race to guard and treasure this precious, unique world, and not to lust after worlds they had not been given – that were not theirs to take.
Clearly, the Emissary knew no such proscriptions. In a sudden moment of insight, Icyracx pitied its loneliness. And once again, she questioned the wisdom of their welcome.
The Prime stood from her bench. Her advisors and counsellors rose with her. The Emissary paused, bowing slightly. Behind him, the draped sphere halted.
The Prime considered the strange creature. It was bipedal; its limbs thin, its head wavering and bulbous, pallid and hairless save for odd patches around its crown and toothed maw. Science would class it warm-blooded, a form of placental, brood-bearing life – perhaps genetically related to the furred pests that stalked the forests and the edges of the broad salt sea. Was this what shape life took among the distant stars?
Icyracx shunted her curiosity to one side and found her voice. She spread her forelimbs, her talons unsheathed and outstretched in a gesture of peace.
“From beyond the horizon, from beyond the vast, black curve of space – we bid you welcome, Emissary…,”
The Emissary bowed. His dark eyes promised them a treasure in exchange for a simple service: the Oracle – in exchange for its safe-keeping. The Emissary’s arrival was anticipated for half Icyracx’s lifetime. But it was the Oracle – the promised treasure…
The Emissary pulled the dark drape from the floating shape. The mirrored sphere glowed in the warm Eocene light.
Icyracx half-closed her two eyes; her third glowed faintly, the colour of blood. She tasted the scent of probability, the flavour of time itself. The Oracle spoke to them – it spoke to the scholars and the dreamers; it spoke to the Prime, calling to her from across the vastness of both time and space. It spoke to her of what might be, and what could be. It spoke to her of what was yet to come…
To those that could hear, the Oracle spoke of nothing less than the future.
c 2014 John G. Swogger