Lagrandil Book 4: First Thousand Words

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Here is a bit of original fiction.  I’ve just pulled an all-nighter and put the first thousand-odd words together of book four in my Song of Lagrandil sci-fi/fantasy series.  I’ve gone for characteristic introduction, exotic position, and a little bit of conflict.  Let me know what you think.

All rights reserved, of course, duh.  I’m not litigious but don’t make me sue your ass into the stone age.  This is my baby.

***

Chapter 1

Ryan Richard Hunter MacOrin hurtled through the air with nothing to stop him but the ground that waited a kilometer below.  Make that nine hundred meters.  He really ought to do something about that but it was harder than he expected with voices shouting in his head.

[You know that prophecy that you were going to die here?]  Prince Leif Martel wasn’t really shouting in his ear.  That wasn’t possible as they hurtled through the air at terminal velocity with hurricane-force winds whipped by them by the planet’s heavy gravity.  [I know that it’s true because I’m going to kill you!]

Leif wasn’t shouting in his head, not really.  A silver band gleamed in bright contrast with Leif’s loam-colored skin and wheat-colored hair.  He had to wear the Kroyant armor so that Ryan’s shifting engine could lock on to his coordinates and shift them along with the rest of the troop.  The headband on Leif’s head picked up what Leif subvocalized and sent it flashing over to the other nearby bits of Tech.  The words came through with perfect clarity, and not even the vacuum of space could have stopped them.  In theory, that is, because Ryan wasn’t quite that ready to push the rediscovered technological wonders quite that far.

A deeper voice came through the link.  [Lord Ryan told you he was going home.  If you wanted another method of travel you should have said so when he offered you a ride.]

Ryan turned his head and met his best friend’s eyes.  His crystal blue eyes flashed with youthful delight even as the change in his body’s position sent them all into a slow clockwise spin.  Ryan could feel what his father would call a shit-eating grin stretch from ear to ear at the sheer joy of flight.

Well, falling, but his father’s physics lessons taught him that the only difference between flying and falling was a matter of rates.  To fly instead of fall you just needed to move up as fast as or faster than you moved down.

The look Leif gave him back was somewhat less joyful.  Ryan would describe it as a mix of terror and murderous intent.  He didn’t blame Leif, much.

Leif shifted his scowl over Ryan’s shoulder.  [Lord Ryan didn’t offer me a ride.  He told me to put on his armor and grab hold of the legacy.  Twenty seconds later I’m about do plant my head like a post into some farmer’s wheat field.]

Ryan turned his head to see what sort of response that was going to gather.  Wolf might have been named for a Terran-origin mammal about half the size of a man, but Wolf was a man and a half.  Two full meters tall, his black bodysuit and kimono whipped around one of the most sleekly muscular frames Ryan had ever seen.  Every time he thought about it he could come no closer than a tiger to describe his self-appointed bondsman and bodyguard.  Even so, the spinning sky and rushing ground made the immense warrior look thin, his gray hair and gray eyes seemed frail as an entire planet reached up to squash them all like bugs.

However daunting the world might seem to Ryan’s eyes, Wolf’s expression was as calm as morning rain when he looked ‘up’ at the onrushing ground.  The silver metal band around Wolf’s forehead gleamed as well when he replied.  [That is no wheat field.  It is ma-ee.]

[Maize.] Ryan corrected out of habit, using the modern word instead of the old Kroyant, which was itself a mutation of an even older Galactic tongue.

Leif sputtered as his friend had a joke at his expense.  [It is spitting close is what it is.]

Ryan shrugged.  If Wolf could identify the crops in the field he was probably right.  A tiny number in the back of his head grew ever smaller.  300… 250…

[Right,] Ryan send.  He did not wear silver bands like his friends had on their heads, wrists, shins, and waist.  They needed access to Tech on the outside.  Ryan turned his thoughts inward, and the millions of tiny bits of Tech woven through his genetically engineered body responded.  The Tech inside of Ryan wasn’t anywhere near as big and powerful as the Ranger’s armor his friends wore, but it had never been meant for that.  When Ryan’s distant ancestors had started designing their children they had one priority above all others: the ability to communicate and interact with other pieces of Tech.

Ryan’s thoughts turned inward, and then bounced outwards again.  He was synthetically aware of the two meter-long ‘stone’ rods that he held in either hand.  They looked like polished obsidian rods to his human eyes, but his artificial senses reported them as tightly-coiled bundles of a thousand million patterns of energy and information, each pattern storing data or waiting for some command to fulfill its purpose.  He shivered again with the realization that he held more power and information in his two hands, literally, than every book and army on the planet combined.  Of course, the legacy rod had been designed to withstand Q-level space combat.  He could toss it into a volcano for safe-keeping if he could figure a way to retrieve it later.  The shifting engine in his left hand was ordinary Tech, tougher than any natural substance in existence.

Ryan held the ends of both rods, and his companions held the other.  They formed a sort of parabolic m-shape as they hurtled through the air towards almost certain death.  Their death would have been certain if Ryan didn’t act.  He reached out to the coordinate shifting engine, and the mighty Tech patterns within its body roared to life.

A flash of golden light wrapped around them all in a momentary gleaming sphere, but Ryan could see numbers and lines of force within the flash that his companions would never understand.  The flare of energy was not the Tech’s real effect.  It was a sensor pulse that gathered in more information about its cargo’s true coordinates than Ryan wanted to think about: mass, velocity, and composition of every strip of cloth and bone among them.  It didn’t take them apart and put them back together like the old children’s stories about Cling-Hots and Furry Troubles in space. 

Ryan already had a destination in mind, and the Legacy within him interpreted that destination for the coordinate shifting engine.  The engine sought out and defined a set of coordinates as close to Ryan’s intention as it could manage, the same size and shape as the first sphere of light.

Then the engine reached out to the boundary between hyperspace and Newtonian reality, and switched the two around.

Anyone but another Orion only saw a flash of light, and when it was gone the Kroyant warriors had vanished along with it.

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