Non Trek Fic - The Phoenix and the Dream King's Heart

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by CaptainSarine, May 12, 2011.

  1. CaptainSarine

    CaptainSarine Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2009
    Location:
    Lyon, France
    Hi all,

    This is a non fan fic project I have been working on. Since it is sci-fi, I thought some people here might enjoy reading it...


    Prologue​


    “Something must be sacrificed if we are to have peace.”

    In a tiny pocket of multiversal space, created by a supreme quantum act of will, the enheightened of the Lyridan Expanse had gathered to discuss their hostilities with the Panthion, a rival group of ascended beings who were the protectors of the Ilonan Cluster. Although in some form of reality the gathering was an accumulation of subatomic particles and seven-dimensional constructs, for the comfort of all those involved a mental framework, a dreamscape, had been developed. It appeared as if, for all intents and purposes, these supremely divine beings shared a table in the den of an expansive rustic lodge.

    Sat on the left hand side of the table, the being who - when ascending to the godesshood - had chosen the name of Lydia tried very hard not to grit her multi-dimensional teeth. Although Zeran’s words had been innocuous on the surface, none of them doubted what they meant... nor who they were destined for.

    “I assume you have spoken with our... compatriots.” Lydia glanced at Aghos, the Lyridans' head of security and defacto God of War. “Would they be amenable to such a compromise?”

    Lydia swallowed a snort. Of course they would be amenable. Her fellow gods and she - assisted by the Lyridan mortals who owed them all godly devotion and worship - had been, to put not too fine a point on it, kicking the Panthion's collective arse ever since the war began ten years earlier. This latest attack on the Ilonan capital world had only served to emphasize that - though perhaps in a more brutal fashion than had been expected.

    Which means that any sacrifice that may be required will be coming from my side.

    From the glance Zeran cast in her direction, he felt the same way. "I have conferred with the Panthion hivemind. They are willing to discuss a cessation of hostilities."

    “About time,” muttered Hades. His 'scape form was the most extravagant - heavily muscled, his red skin seemed to shift and slide with the reflected light of invisible flames. Add the five horns that rose like the tips of a crown from his skull, and he looked like the demon he pretended to be. “After ten years you would think that they’d be sick of fighting this crazy war. They started it.”

    Lydia felt that was a bit unfair. Although the Hive attack on Growlash had been the catalyst that set off the war, every single man, woman and ascended being in that 'room' knew that the whole thing had been precipitated by someone sitting around that table. And whoever that person was, they're indirectly responsible for what is about to happen, Lydia thought sourly.

    “In return for the ceasefire, however, the Panthion hivemind require a show of good faith on our behalf.”

    Here it comes, Lydia thought. She set tendrils of her own matter stream flexing in preparation for the coming battle. She wasn't going to go down without a fight.

    “What kind of show?” Heran, the second most powerful being present, asked. She leaned forward, pressing her ample bosom against his arm. Lydia saw Zeran glance down at the marvels on offer, momentarily going cross-eyed. For fuck’s sake, she thought. Thousands of years of evolution, ascendancy, godhood, and Zeran is still thinking with his dick.

    It took the lord of the gods a moment to realise that he had actually been asked a question. When he did, he cleared his throat gruffly, moving away from Heran, and readjusted his robes.

    “They have requested a gesture be made to prove our good faith and to atone for the atrocity that was inflicted upon their people.”

    More than one set of eyes rolled towards her at the mention of the “atrocity”. She rolled her eyes. A week ago, they had all agreed with her plan to bring an end to the war by forcing the Panthion to come to the bargaining table. The use of the biological weapons against the Ilonan homeworld had been applauded by every single one of them. Apparently, that fact had been quickly forgotten.

    She had had quite enough of this shit, she decided. Putting her hands flat on the table, she spoke for the first time.

    “So what do they want?”

    Zeran turned his snowy old head to face her. He might look like an old man, but his eyes still blazed with the same strength and vigour they had possessed all those millennia ago, when he had been a scientist developing the quantum folding device that propelled their people to the stars. Despite herself, Lydia felt her face burning slightly at the intensity of that gaze.

    “Excuse me?”

    She fought down the urge to hide under the table like a little girl being scolded by her father and held his gaze.

    “What. Do. They. Want? The Panthion. You’ve told us all that they want something. What is it?”

    If she had been expecting him to beat around the bush a little longer before answering, she was disappointed.

    “Phoenix.”

    Lydia held back a sigh. Of course. After her fellow gods approved her plan, she had set the destruction of Ilona Prime in action. As the patron goddess of the planet Thycia, she had a mighty fleet at her disposal. A fleet led by the King of Thycia’s most prized ship, captained by his finest captain. The Phoenix and Asher Lee. The Panthion were asking her to hand over a man who her people adored. It would end her.

    She shook her head. “Out of the question. I’m not going to let those insects devour Asher Lee and his crew and project it into the minds of every man, woman and child in my domain. I’ll have a religious rebellion within moments and…”

    Although she had a whole speech prepared, Lydia trailed off when she saw Zeran shaking his head.

    “They don’t want us to hand them over,” he said. “There will not be any devouring.”

    “Then what?”

    “The Panthion have asked us – have asked you, my dear Lydia – to exile them. The Phoenix and her crew will be sent to the Darkland Expanse, where they will live out the rest of their days travelling the space ways. An Ilonan minddweller will be birthed in each of their minds, transmitting the thoughts of every single member of the crew back to the Ilonan Cluster so that the hivemind can share in their despair.”

    Lydia blanched. Of everything she had expected... Exile? She couldn’t decide whether it was worse than a summary execution or not.

    “How exactly do the Panthion expect to force the Phoenix crew to stay out in the Expanse?”

    Lydia straightened in her chair as Hades asked the question. “Exactly! What is to stop them returning? Or even settling somewhere in the Expanse?”

    Zeran was shaking his head. “The exile will be permanent. The Panthion have a… a weapon, something they call a Trenchant Wave. Some kind of quantum construct based in multidensional space, equipped with a wavelength identifier that can trace the movements of the Phoenix. Any time they come within a few hundred lightyears of their own space, the Trenchant Wave will throw them back to the Expanse.”

    “As to them settling on a planet in the Expanse,” he continued as Lydia felt her heart sink, “the Panthion have thought of that as well.”

    Light flared in the centre of the room, fading to reveal a strange insectile creature – five separate sections, chitinous armour, nine eyes and numerous tendrils extending from a beak-like maw. Lydia wrinkled her nose. Rising, but the Panthion’s creatures made her skin crawl.

    “This is a darkeling. A space faring swarm creature evolved on one of the Ilonan colony worlds. The Panthion will direct a group of these creatures to shadow the Phoenix. If they spend more than four solar days in one place, the darkenings will move in.”

    Lydia felt sick. The Panthion seemed to have thought of everything in order to keep the Phoenix on the run. She would be sentencing her people to a life of constant pressure and unending danger. They would be hounded from one place to the next, and when the people of the Darkening Expanse learned what they were, they would turn on them. The Phoenix would become a cursed ship, rejected by all and assisted by none.

    She realised that her fellow gods were all looking at her. She forced her eyes to focus on Zeran, ignoring all the others.

    “Do I have a choice?”

    He looked at her with what might almost have been described as pity. “There is always a choice, Lydia. But those choices have consequences. If you refuse, we may be forced to offer them something else. Or we may have to start the whole war up again. You designed the burrowing disease to bring this whole stupid mess to a close, and it worked. What is one ship when compared to the lives of billions?”

    What indeed? One ship in exchange for peace. One man in return for billions. She shook her head. There was no way she could say no.

    “You need to let me tell them,” she said finally. “And you all need to understand that I will not abandon them completely. If I can find a way to bring them home, I will.”

    One by one, her fellow gods nodded. She could see the relief in some of their eyes and realised for the first time that if she had decided to be difficult, this might have sparked off a whole different war. She entertained the notion for a moment, but rejected it almost immediately. She was nowhere near powerful enough to fight against her fellow gods. Not yet, at any rate.

    “Of course,” Zeran said for the rest of them. “We totally understand. We are in agreement, though?”

    Taking a deep breath, she nodded. Meeting his eyes, she tried to convey that though she was accepting this, she had no intention of doing so indefinitely. One day, she promised. One day I’ll find a way to bring them home.

    Zeran smiled at her, the benevolent father once again. “Thank you, Lydia. I will convey this to the Panthion.”

    “When will it happen?”

    His smile remained fixed on his face and Lydia felt a shiver of forboding run down her spine. “I’m sorry, my dear, I thought you had understood. It already has.”
     
  2. CaptainSarine

    CaptainSarine Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2009
    Location:
    Lyon, France
    Chapter 1​


    The Phoenix was a cursed ship.

    And yet, Danterian Ko thought as he sat in the engine room with his friend Wicka Bay, I still call it home.

    The two friends were ensconsed in a small chamber at the top of the engine room. In front of them, a part of the wall had been replaced by a glastile panel, allowing them to see out at the starfield beyond. Sharing a lunch pale that Dan had brought up from his kitchens, they were both staring at the approaching station. A huge metal sphere hanging in space, constructed of a lattice work of interconnected branches, Bastion Shadow was one of a handful of such stations spread across this area of space. So far, the Phoenix had only visited one of them, but that had been more than enough for the entire crew to gage just how powerful the mysterious Wanderers were.

    Behind them, the ship’s massive engines groaned and roared, spewing steam and oil into the air. The smell of scorched metal stung Dan’s nostrils, almost completely masking the smell of the stew he had prepared for Wicka to enjoy.

    He glanced at her, tearing his eyes away from the ever larger station. Dressed in oil-streaked trousers and shirt, she looked the very picture of an engineer. And yet, to Dan, she was also completely different. It wasn’t just that she was a girl. As far as he was concerned, she was the girl. The dream girl. Her long red hair seemed to spark in the engine room light, let free momentarily from the green beret she usually wore to keep it away from her face. Sensing his gaze, she turned to look at him, her mouth full of stew, the spoon still stuck between her lips.

    “Whut?”

    Dan shook his head, turning away to stare out at Bastion Shadow again. Now that they were closer, he could just about make out the massive holes in the spherical surface, moon-sized portals into the station’s interior. A handful of other ships, most of them completely foreign to Dan’s eyes, flickered around the holes – other ships coming in to dock or departing on new adventures.

    “Nothing,” he replied, tracking one of those ships – a blade of pure silver surmounted by three engine nacelles – as it darted out of the topmost hold, narrowly avoiding a collision with a larger bulk freighter. “How’s the stew?”

    “Hm-mm,” Wicka said, chewing and swallowing another mouthful. “As good as always, Dan. Thanks for bringing it down.”

    “I know how busy you are whenever we pull in to station. I doubted you’d have the time to come up.”

    “You’ve got that right. Things have been even more hectic since… Well, you know.”

    He nodded. A week ago, the Phoenix had been summoned to the Morphac Nebula, fifteen starleagues away. Summoned by a god, no less. The so-called King of Dreams. No one was really sure why, nor what the King and Captain Lee had discussed. Whatever it had been, it had drawn the Phoenix back to Bastion Shadow only three months after their last visit. And the rumours were that this might be it. After three years. A way home.

    “Do you think it's true, what they've been saying? That the captain has found a way to get us home?"

    Wicka stopped licking the bottom of the bowl long enough to afford Dan a pitying look. "I wouldn't believe everything you hear, Pots. You know as well as I do that the gods' verdict was final. We've been banished. Forever."

    Dan found himself nodding. "But that's just it. The gods passed judgement on us. And they say that the King of Dreams is a powerful god in these parts. If anyone can get us home..."

    "Getting home isn't the problem, Pots." She twisted her body so that she was looking at him directly. The sounds of the engine room - bangs and creaks and throbbing beats - rose from behind them. "Listen, you were just a kid when we got thrown out here. The rest of us..." She trailed off. "We know."

    He thought that her characterisation of him was a little unfair - there were only a few years between them. And he had been fifteen when they were exiled. Hardly a kid.

    She didn't seem to notice his reaction, though. "The gods made it very clear. Even if we manage to find another god powerful enough to send us home, we wouldn't be able to stay."

    He nodded. "Because of the Trenchant Wave." The powerful quantum disturbance field had thrown the Phoenix into the Darkland Expanse. And every time Captain Lee had tried to lead his people home, it had swept out of whichever dimension it had been born in, sending them further and further into the border regions.

    "Not just the Wave. If that was all there was, we could just ditch the Phoenix." She shook her head again. “No, the real danger is the darkenings. Wherever we stop, they’ll follow us. And they’ll destroy everything in their passage until they get us.”

    Dan felt a cold shiver run down his spine. The darkenings. They were like some kind of dark myth or legend rising out of their collective past, a bogey man. He could still remember the last time they had attacked. It had been just before his mother passed – he was seventeen. A group of crewmembers had managed to convince Captain Lee to land on a planet and try and start a new life there. The gods’ furor could only follow them so far and for so long, they had said. Maybe now they could make a home.

    By the time the darkenings had finished, the planet had been stripped bare and Phoenix had almost been destroyed. What had once been a crew of three hundred men and women had been decimated, leaving less than a hundred alive. Ever since, the Phoenix had never stopped for more than a few days in any place. Any longer and they would bring the darkenings down on them once again.

    And yet… Dan could not get the murmurs he had heard out of his head. If there was a way home and Captain Lee had been able to negotiate for their safe passage back to the Expanse…

    “Don’t get your hopes up, Pots,” Wicka chided him. “You’ll only end up getting hurt.”

    Dan nodded glumly. He supposed she was right. It wasn’t the first time that the Phoenix had found or been offered a way home. In the ten years they had spent in the Expanse, they had encountered more than their fair share of races, creatures and excelled beings who had the power or the know how to seemingly defeat the Panthion’s decrees. So far, though, none of them had worked.

    He supposed that in a few years he would probably be just as cynical about their chances as Wicka. What does that mean, though? he wondered. Did it mean finally accepting that the Phoenix would never get home? That they truly were cursed to spend the rest of their days wandering these sparse territories until the last of them used his or last breath to pilot the ship into a sun?

    “Well,” Wicka said, dragging herself to her feet, “we’re about ready to dock. I’d better get down there.”

    He looked up at her, trying not to stare. In his twenty-five years, he had never seen anyone more beautiful than Wicka Bay. Not even the silver modules implanted in her forehead, skull and left temple could marr her beauty. Nor the purple shaded optitronic prosthetic eye. No, as far as Dan was concerned, those signs of her status as a mech-tech just added to her allure.

    “Cards later?” he asked.

    She nodded. “You’re on. Have a good one, Pots.”

    “You too.”

    He watched as she wrapped one leg around the pole that descended to the engine room floor, sliding slowly down until her feet hit the decking. She winked at him and then vanished into the chaos of her domain, her voice already raised as she shouted orders at the other mech-tech engineers. Dan stared at the place where she had been for a long moment before turning back to the outer view.

    The ship was holding station above one of the upper landing bays, due galactic north of Bastion Shadow’s centre. From his vantage point, Dan could see a dozen other ships descending towards holding plots within. In a few minutes, it would be their turn.

    Still thinking about what Wicka had said, Dan leaned back against the softly throbbing wall and thought about home.

    XXX​

    Asher Lee would never get used to seeing a sun inside a world.

    Standing beneath the harsh glare, he raised a hand to shield his eyes. The small singularity that provided heat, warmth and energy to Bastion Shadow was stronger than any sun he had ever encountered in his travels. And the desert, spread across the inner plane of the spherical station, didn’t help matters.

    Behind him, Esther Gray and Tave Bantu, his two seconds, shuffled in the sand. They had been standing outside the tent for a good few minutes, waiting for the mysterious Wanderers to answer their summons. He had rung the bell, just as Fryr had instructed him to, but nothing had happened. He was starting to wonder whether he should try again, and Fryr’s warning be damned.

    “Captain?”

    He turned. Esther Gray’s auburn hair flashed in the sun, a few blond strands looking like burnished gold amongst the copper. Although her face was starting to line, she had a soft beauty he knew belied the core of hard steel in her heart. Full red lips and eyes a true shade of emerald only served to highlight both her attractiveness and how long it had been since he had taken a woman to his bed.

    Don’t think that way, he reminded himself, trying to drag Penni’s face from his memory. It was becoming more and more difficult, despite the captures of her he had in his rooms back onboard Phoenix. It had been so long.

    “Captain?” Esther asked again. He shook his head, vanishing the blurred picture of his wife.

    “What?”

    “Shouldn’t something have happened by now?”

    He shrugged. “You know as much as I do. This is the first time I’ve come to negotiate with the Wanderers’ direct. We don’t have any experience. None of us do.”

    “Except the paradhan.”

    Asher glanced at his other second. Tave, as usual, got straight to the point. Fryr had, somehow, met the Wanderers before. When that had been, and how it had come about, was as much a mystery as why he wasn’t here to talk to them himself.

    Tave hated mysteries. A big man, broad-shouldered and muscular, he was Asher’s oldest friend, after Esther, and master-at-arms of the Phoenix. A panopoly of weapons hung from his waist, and Asher knew that even more of them were hidden within the folds of his long coat.

    Asher opened his mouth to answer, but was distracted by the rustling sound of the tent flap being pulled aside. He spun to find a bald man, dressed in sack cloth, peering out at them. Asher felt nauseous at the sight of the man’s two eyes, bulbous and over sized, the pupil a single point of red almost lost amongst the white.

    The man picked Asher out and bowed his head.

    “My lord. Please. They are expecting you.”

    Pulling the flap aside, the bald man motioned for Asher to follow him. Esther and Tave went to follow, but the bald man shook his head.

    “Only the one who rang the bell may enter.”

    They had been expecting this from Fryr’s descriptions. Still, Asher glanced back to make sure that neither of his seconds would cause any problems. To his surprise, Esther seemed the more reluctant. He met her gaze and shook his head. After a moment, she stepped back, but she didn’t look happy about it.

    None of us are happy about this situation. Turning back to the bald man, he followed him into the depths of the tent.
     
  3. Count Zero

    Count Zero No nation but procrastination Moderator

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2005
    Location:
    European Union
    Interesting. At first I thought this would turn out to be an adaptation of the Trojan War due to some of the names used. It's an intriguing premise.