Auberon and Natasha, now two of the most wanted criminals on Arkos, have fled to the Westside. They have taken temporary refuge in Edenoud with Dion, son of Heron, as they contemplate their future. However, a dream has prompted them to return to the Eastside to warn First Minister Odessa. What could be so disturbing that would cause them to jeopardize their own safety? Will the First Minister listen or sound the alarm?
The investigation of the incident that took place in the Chamber of Prayers is reaching its conclusion. Tendai Theodor has a sense the report will cast blame on him. Can the power of his office protect him? To balance the forces he feels are aligned against him, he journeys to the under‑earth to seek out an ancient and, some say, mythical enemy, the Nephilim. Are they real or just the stuff of legend?
Meanwhile, First Minister Odessa has not lost sight of the inexorable destruction of the universe. While she has continued to support efforts to locate a new home, she has genetically engineered a new servile class and a method to seed them on a planet in advance of the Celesti arrival. But where is this place? The answer lies in a curious conversation that Director Jo’el has with a surrogate for his long‑missing brother, Davin. It leads to a series of star maps recorded hundreds of thousands of years ago on clay tablets.
The Celesti face another problem. They are dying. However, something is happening to Auberon and Natasha that holds promise for the continuation of their species. If it is successful, can it be replicated, or is it an isolated incident?
Prophecy: Eve of Darkness weaves a compelling tale that is a blend of human nature, science, theology and philosophy. It spans the vastness of space from one universe to another and the underground world of Arkos to a distant planet called “Terra Nova”. It holds up a mirror to the human soul, but it will require thought and contemplation to decipher what lies below the surface.
Prophecy: Eve of Darkness, Chapter 2 – Kismet — Background, Commentary, and Excerpt
This guest post is an opportunity to explain #wwit in my third book, Prophecy: Eve of Darkness. I would like to thank Lisa for giving me this spot on Way Too Fantasy. I write speculative sci‑fi, and she reads mostly speculative fiction. Now, all we need is a great cab!
My wife, Natasha, got the inspiration for her gif from Chapter 2, “Kismet”. So, that’s our excerpt for today.
First, some background…
Given this is the third book in the Terra Nova series, a bit of a sans‑spoiler primer is in order. The setting is on a planet inhabited by two humanoid species: a governing minority called the “Celesti” and a governed majority called the “Gendu”, formerly the “Alidyr”. Auberon, Natasha and Odessa are Celesti. Their most prominent feature is an electromagnetic field called an “aura” that surrounds each of them. An aura is comprised of a luminescing, translucent, pale‑yellow part called the “corona” and an invisible part called the “shadow”. These three are known as “Transcended”. Their elite status in society has been determined by very prominent coronas. One of the things Transcended can do is communicate through their shadows. Such dialogue is indicated by indented text in parentheses in bold italics.
Auberon and his life‑partner, Natasha, are wanted criminals, put in that position by their old boss, Minister of Science and First Minister Odessa. They journey east across the River Danu for two purposes: one, to warn that same minister of impending danger that Auberon has foreseen in a dream, second, to return a senior member of the Holy Order of Taru, Sunim Kaiyam, to her place on the Westside. What follows, is it kismet or random chance? You decide.
* * * * *
Chapter 2 – Kismet
“First Minister, you have a priority link from Minister of Health Danika.”
“Thank you, Minos. I will take it.” She rose to her feet as a life-size hologram of Danika appeared before her.
“This is Minister of Health Danika. Good morn to you, First Minister,” she said, bowing her head.
“Good morn to you,” Odessa replied, bowing her head.
“Thank you for taking this link.”
“I am pleased to have the opportunity to converse with you.”
“Something very unusual happened earlier today. Apparently, Dr. Kyros was contacted by your former aide, Auberon.”
“Interesting,” Odessa said with a smile. “Enquiring as to the status of Sunim Kaiyam?”
“Yes, but also information about her present location and release and return to the Westside.”
“He will probably attempt to make contact with her. We have an opportunity to affect his capture.”
“Do we really want to do that?”
“He is a criminal.”
“True, but he can also help us out of an inconvenient situation.”
“Returning Sunim Kaiyam presents complications. Auberon can smooth these rough edges.”
“Are you suggesting we let him take her?”
“Allow a criminal to take someone under our care and protection. Outrageous!”
“I would point out that this ‘care and protection’, in and of itself, would also be considered outrageous if it became public. If things go wrong, would it not be better if Auberon is discovered with the Sunim rather than us?”
While Danika was uncomfortable with such compromises, she could not deny the strength of Odessa’s argument. “Very well, I will leave this matter in your hands.”
* * * * *
Auberon and Natasha made their way to the Ministry of Defense and Security. Presently, he stood in front of the doors of a secure room where Kaiyam had been brought to receive medical attention for the injury she had sustained at the Temple of Taru. He had used his shadow to invisibly bring himself to this point. However, he would not be able to simply gain entry by following someone unseen into this room. Once open, the entrance was also protected by an energy barrier coded to the bio-sign of the authorized individual.
This would call for something different.
He closed his eyes and concentrated. Soon, his aura began to increase in brightness, and the outline of his body began to became less and less defined. Then, it disappeared altogether. He was now just an elongated source of light floating above the floor. However, his shadow directed his light inward, allowing him to remain invisible.
In this incorporeal state, he had heightened senses that allowed him to “see” in all directions. Normally an advantage, it would block his current endeavor. He hovered against the doors then “closed his eyes” and also disabled his remaining physical senses. Now, for all intents and purposes, he was totally blind to his surroundings.
Were he visible, an outside observer would see the doors act as a barrier to a distended vertical ovoid of light — almost. However, a small wispy part of him passed through to the other side. He was now essentially split into two disproportionate parts: the substantial part of him on the outside of the doors and a ghostly twin in the room.
“One…two…three…” He now restored his senses to one of his avatars.
It would allow him to confirm his location, and he would know where he was: either in the room or in the corridor. With this certainty established, the other avatar would fade from existence. If he found himself in the corridor, he would have to try again.
Gradually, the outline of his body returned, and he became corporeal but still remained hidden from view. He had been lucky. He was in the room. Outside in the corridor, the other ovoid of light faded away.
He opened his eyes and saw two women seated at a table having tea. One was Sunim Kaiyam. The other was Minister Odessa — flanked on either side by three guardians. A trap! What else could it be? She was the minister who had charged Natasha under the Code. He admonished himself for being so careless.
“So, you have returned, Auberon,” Odessa said with a smile. “I bid you welcome.”
All Transcended could sense the presence of one another, even when invisible. Her greeting made him reconsider his original assessment. That and the fact the guardians had not reacted to her statement. He stopped bending the light around his body and became visible.
“I told you he would, Odessa,” Kaiyam added.
“Good morn to you, First Minister…Sunim Kaiyam,” he said, bowing his head.
“Guardian Giselda, would you and your men please wait for me outside in the corridor.”
“Yes, First Minister.”
It appeared the guard detail was not even aware of him as it exited the room. He breathed a sigh of relief.
“You did not expect to see me.”
“No, First Minister, I did not.”
“I heard that Dr. Kyros had a visitor earlier this morning.”
Auberon had assumed that the end of his encounter with Kyros would have dissuaded the Doctor from reporting the matter. It was obvious that he had been incorrect in his assessment. On reflection, he attributed it to some of the unusual things Kyros had come across in his examination of Jo’el and the ether. It would have made the unusual more commonplace.
“Your appearance is…different,” she noted. “Natasha too, I assume.”
This was a subtle admonition, not only to his clothing and his absent aura but also his eyes that were no longer Celesti.
“Look the same to seem the same.”
It was a modification of the expression: Look the same to be the same. It was commonly quoted in the 12 Celesti ministries to promote unity. Although, the more cynical referred to it as conformist propaganda. Auberon was using it to communicate that he had not forgotten his Celesti roots. Odessa smiled and nodded her head.
“Where have you been, Lufero?”
Auberon hesitated. He was at a loss as how to respond.
“I sent him to the Westside on an urgent matter,” Odessa replied. “One, I take it that has been attended to.”
“Yes, First Minister,” Auberon replied, unable to hide his surprise.
Another thing that was out of place was the degree of cordiality between the two women. It was as though they were longtime friends.
“Come sit, Auberon. Have tea with us.”
He sat down at a small table with a place setting for three. The adrenaline rush in expectation of a potential confrontation began to abate.
“How was your journey here?” Odessa asked as she poured him a cup of tea.
“And Ansuya, she is well?” Kaiyam asked.
“Ansuya?” Odessa asked.
“I am glad,” Kaiyam replied.
“You two…seem very well acquainted. How long have you known one another?” Auberon could not help asking.
“We met shortly after you departed for the Westside,” Odessa replied.
“Our familiarity? There is no formality with the Children of the Light…” Kaiyam said.
“…and the Liberators,” Odessa continued, completing the thought.
“I have never heard of such a thing.”
“It is an ancient legend known to both Gendu and Celesti. However, it is probably obscure to us, known only to those who study anthropology and ancient literature,” Odessa replied. “It is said that, long ago, the Celesti were protected from a race called the ‘Nephilim’, the Fallen Ones, by the Children of Taru.”
“It is one of the texts of the Codices,” Kaiyam continued.
“ ‘And, in the east, there came a light.
And, across the water, there came a light.
And, from the light, arose the children.
The children, the Children of the Light.
“ ‘And the Nephilim saw the light.
And these Fallen Ones saw the light.
And they feared what came from the light.
The children, the Children of the Light.
“ ‘And the Nephilim came to the east.
And these Fallen Ones came across the water.
And they came to hunt the children.
The children, the Children of the Light.
“ ‘But the Children of Taru came to the east.
And the Children of Taru came across the water.
And struck down the Nephilim, the Fallen Ones.
And protected the children, the Children of the Light.’
“That is how I knew I was on the Eastside, Lufero. The Children of the Light have a blood debt to the Children of Taru.”
Auberon looked at Odessa as if to ask: Is this true?
“Please give us a moment, Kaiyam,” Odessa said, bowing her head.
Kaiyam nodded in return.
(“This ‘blood debt’ is the superstitious stuff of myth and legend. However, it is in our interest to be silent in this matter,” Odessa said calmly. “There are inconsistencies. You have questions.”)
(“Yes, First Minister.”)
(“It was not safe for you and Natasha to remain on the Eastside.”)
(“So, you fabricated a charge against Natasha under the Code.”)
(“You knew I would rescue her.”)
(“Yes, it would be natural for her to call for help and for you to respond.”)
(“An assumption not without risk. I am still a novice when it comes to flight.”)
(“Be that as it may, it was the only option available. Did you think it a betrayal?”)
(“We did at first.”)
(“But no longer.”)
(“And your return to the Eastside?”)
(“I had a dream last night, a dream about a lottery, a new Council led by Minister of Justice Qadhi and the Day of the Shield Bearers.”)
(“I am not aware about such a day, but you are correct about the new Council.”)
(“From what I gather, only Transcended can participate in the Arkos Shield. Your actions were to remove us from this sacrifice.”)
(“Because Natasha was chosen in the lottery. Also, there was pressure on me to expel her from my staff and hold her for questioning. I could not conscience this injustice added to such a sacrifice.”)
(“And you knew that I would not leave her to this fate.”)
(“Nor would she forsake her duty despite the prospect of imprisonment.”)
(“Yes, that is my Natasha.”)
(“Even worse, you would join her as, how did you phrase it, a ‘Shield Bearer’.”)
(“Yes, I would.”)
(“I could not let that happen. As the brightest of the Transcended, we need you to lead us after this crisis has passed.”)
(“While I now understand your reasons, I disagree.”)
(“Why am I not surprised, Auberon,” Odessa said with a smile.)
(“My dream was a warning against this course of action.”)
(“And so, your return to the Eastside.”)
(“I would have returned for Kaiyam in any event, but this gave the matter a greater sense of urgency.”)
(“To advise me as you have in the past.”)
(“Yes, First Minister.”)
(“Your advice is so noted. We have four or five years before this crisis is upon us. You have until then to find a solution.”)
(“I have also been contacted by Jaden Leah.”)
Odessa gave Auberon a look that was a mixture of curiosity and concern. (“I see…In that case, we will need more time to discuss this further. However, right now, time presents a problem.”)
(“I will return once Kaiyam is safely on the Westside.”)
(“Keep me posted.”)
(“Yes, First Minister.”)
(“Because of your status as criminals, I cannot lend assistance to you or Natasha in this matter. I have already done too much.”)
(“Understood, First Minister.”)
Odessa stood, walked away from them, then turned. “I am called to other matters,” she said. “I take it you will be able to make your way back to the Westside?”
“Yes, First Minister.”
Then, an uncharacteristic sadness seemed to descend upon her. “Well then, until Taru, Kaiyam,” she said, bowing her head.
Auberon and Kaiyam stood.
“Until Taru,” Kaiyam replied, bowing her head.
“Peace be with you, Auberon.”
“And also with you,” Auberon replied, bowing his head.
* * * * *
Can someone actually walk through walls? Until now, it would have been the stuff of science fiction and fantasy, but I bumped into a lecture given by Professor Jacob Biamonte (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1CdmpHLSZRU) where he describes a theoretical example of how a ball can pass through a wall provided no one is watching. So, I decided to speculate how it might be done. That’s why Auberon disables all his senses before he attempts to enter the room where Kaiyam is located. When I wrote this part, I was essentially blindfolding him to meet the conditions of quantum nonlocality outlined by Professor Biamonte. I’m also implying that Auberon’s aura has quantum properties, but more of that in later posts.
And now for Natasha’s very cool gif.
Wall | Natasha Evelyn Overttun
When Auberon passes into the room, it would appear he has walked into a trap. However, Odessa’s security detail is not aware of his presence. It speaks to the ability of a Transcended like the First Minister to encrypt visual and audio information. It was inspired by the story of the Tower of Babel, in particular Genesis 11:5: “Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.”
In the conversation that follows, Kaiyam quotes a passage from the Codices of Taru that refers to an ancient story where the Gendu save the Celesti. Odessa discounts the story, but is she too quick to judge? People said the same thing about the legends of Troy until it was discovered by Heinrich Schliemann. (FYI, I am laying the groundwork for a prequel story/series.) The tone and feel have been inspired by The Five Books of Moses: A Translation with Commentary by Professor Robert Alter, especially the use of the word “and”.
Kaiyam refers to Auberon and Natasha as “Lufero” and “Ansuya”. Where the heck does that come from? The answer is in the second instalment of the Terra Nova series, Genesis: Vision of the New World. I will only say this. In choosing names, they each have to sound cool. In this case, they also have to sound cool together. “Lufero” has an obvious reference to light. He is the brightest of the Transcended. “Ansuya” is an Indian name that means “learned woman”.
About the Cover
A prophecy can be a divine message, the interpretation of a divine message or a glimpse of the future. While a receipt of information may not always be clear, it can often provide some transparency. The future, on the other hand, is by its very nature confusing, murky and uncertain. It implies something hidden. That is the mood that this image conjures with hooded robes clothing a featureless, incorporeal being against the outlines of a ghostly body suggested by the background.
We cannot see the focal point of the cover. Yet, it exists. It is a feeling that we are being watched by unseen eyes following us from a faceless, unknowable figure. It creates a sense of foreboding that is the one of the themes of our story. That dread premonition is clearly expressed by the word “Darkness” in the title as it appears to be shallowed by the negative mirror image of the background.
Terra Nova Link Round Up
Prophecy: Eve of Darkness:
Prophecy: Eve of Darkness – Cover Reveal:
Genesis: Vision of the New World – Excerpts and Commentary:
Universe: Awakening – Excerpts and Commentary:
For a deeper dive:
Through My Wife, Natasha, on Twitter: @neoverttun