Well, I think it's about time for another sample of my novel. I've done quite a bit since the last update (almost 10,000 more words!), and the whole novel is up to around 35,000 words now. I'm frankly amazed the story has run out the way it has. I had intended The Fall to only be maybe the first 5-10k words, but I'm at 35k now and I could easily see this story going another 15-20k until it's played out. And that's just the opening events of the history of Terranis.
So, my little project to flesh out the history of Terranis with a novel has grown exponentially, and is looking to be more like a trilogy or more of novels. Sufficed to say, I'm pretty excited at the opportunity to do so much, and proud of the world I'm creating that is so vibrant and alive to allow for such a level of detail to be achieved.
Anyway, I'm sad to say this'll have to be the final sample. Now that I'm approaching a story long enough that I can start looking at submitting it for editing and publication, I know a lot of studios still get pretty upset if you share this sort of stuff on a blog, unfortunately, so I'm gonna have to call it after this sample. But I hope you've enjoyed what you've read thus far, and I look forward to sharing the final work with you in a published format. Enjoy the sample!
“Approaching the atmosphere,” Liuetenant Biggs reported quietly from the shuttle’s helm. The interior was largely silent, aside from noises being made by the shuttle itself, whether knocks and judders as it maneuvered or beeps and tones from the onboard computers. There were six of them in the shuttle: Admiral du Saniel and Captain Legun sat in the back with Commander Desoto, the Bastille’s chief operations officer, while Liuetenant Biggs and Ensign Izaki piloted the craft, and chief Robbins manned the weapon systems. The four not focused on piloting the shuttle watched a display mounted into the ceiling, just behind the pilot chairs, which showed the death throes of the Bastille and the Astaroth vessel. The vessels had pulled themselves apart, and were hurtling towards Terranis, their fates locked and unchangable. It would be some time, at their current velocities, before they would finally crash.
“The Enemy vessel is still largely intact. Only about a fourth of it was destroyed in the impact,” Legun said, studying the display. Even now, he carried his datapad, though it was currently off. Renoir idly wondered if he would ever need it again.
“But its main engines are gone, and it’s falling into the atmosphere. The impact will likely annihilate both ships,” Renoir’s tone grew remorseful as he spoke the last few words. He paused for a second before speaking again, the remorse gone. “I almost wish it was falling on Belladrix. The extra .2 G’s would give the impact a nice punch.” His tone grew slightly wistful, and Legun’s mouth even twitched into a smile for a second.
The display began to fill with static as the shuttle hit the atmosphere, and the sensors were temporarily overwhelmed by the reentry. The shuttle also began to rock more violently, and the passengers clutched their safety harnesses. The rocking and rumbling subsided after a minute or so, and everyone relaxed again. The static on the display began to fade.
“Wait...” Lieutenant Biggs said with surprise. “I...sir, I think we’re being hailed.”
Renior glanced at Legun and Desoto, who looked just as confused. “By who?” he asked. Lieutenant Biggs worked at the controls for a few seconds before responding.
“It...looks like the Great Enemy vessel is hailing us!” The passengers again looked at each other in confusion.
“Offering terms of surrender, maybe?” Commander Desoto said hesitantly.
“I doubt it,” du Saniel responded. “Put them through!” He called to the front. He undid his safety harness and stood, gripping an overhead safety rail and taking a couple steps forward. The display began to fill with gibberish as two utterly alien communication systems struggled to interface. After a few moments, the gibberish began to resolve into a more coherent image, and a few moments more brought it to something du Saniel could actually interpret.
Not that he could see much. It seemed to only be a swirling field of smoke, with hints of fire at the edge of the screen. A rumbling came out of the speakers, laced with static, intermixed with random clangs and clatters. Despite the static, the sounds came through with an unnatural quality that left all six humans feeling slightly disoriented, as if the sounds weren’t reaching each of their ears at the same time.
A long moment passed, and then the static was broken by a voice, deep and resonant, possessed of an ageless quality and clearly not human. “So, these are the insects that have kept me at bay, reduced to sacrificing their vessel for the sake of bringing me to the ground.”
There seemed to be something moving around in the smoke, but they could only see the suggestion of movement from something massive. du Saniel felt his chest seize up as he heard the voice. This was the first time he had ever communicated with the Great Enemy directly. Perhaps that had been one of the oddest things in all his decades of fighting them; they almost never actually bothered to communicate with humanity as they slaughtered their way across the galaxy, they simply destroyed and consumed. By any objective standard of human morality, they were simply evil incarnate.
Although Renoir would be lying if he said he didn’t fear the Great Enemy, his long experience had given him the knowledge and confidence to keep any trepidation under control, and face them with cold objectivity. And yet, he still felt his chest clench at hearing this alien voice, and...was that sweat starting to form on his brow?
He cleared his throat. “I am Grand Admiral du Saniel, commander of the Solar Alliance forces in this system. To whom am I speaking?” He glanced at Legun and Desoto; both had their eyes locked on the screen, their own brows starting to glisten.
“Such lovely titles you give yourselves,” the voice responded. As it spoke, Renoir felt a flicker of confusion as he could swear he could smell smoke and ash, but the sensation faded when the voice stopped. “But they say nothing of your victories. Perhaps I should share a few of mine. I am known as the Scourge of Rydenock, the Devourer of Horus, and the Doom of Altair. I am fear, and I am hate.” As the voice recited its supposed past battles, a sense of familiarity came to du Saniel, remembering stories of past battles of the Judgment War. By the time the voice finished, he knew who he was talking to.“I am the Dreadlord Astanathos.”