Read a sample : Requiem of Souls: Into the Fire Part I
On this page you can read the first Chapter of my ninth Sci-Fi book “Into the Fire Part I Requiem of Souls”, available on Amazon Kindle . If you like it, please don't hesitate to share via the social media buttons at the bottom of the page.
SPOILER ALERT! If you haven't read the previous books, reading this sample can spoil some of the story line, which I don't recommend.
Artwork by Christian Kallias
Chase gazed into the regen pod where they had put Poseidon. He had tried to heal him earlier, but just like with Zeus, he couldn’t do it. Whatever Arakan had done to them, it seemed that he had a power that prevented Chase’s regenerative and healing abilities from working. Chase knew this meant that they would have to proceed very carefully from now on. Especially when the time came to fight and kill Arakan.
“How is he doing, doc?” asked Chase absently.
“It’s a miracle he’s still alive, really” answered the doctor. “We had to amputate every tissue infected with that black— whatever that thing is.”
“Have you managed to analyze the substance?”
“Our scanners can’t seem to penetrate it; it’s as if it’s not even from this dimension.”
Perhaps it isn’t. Thought Chase.
“We suspect Arakan is talking to a being that could be from another plane of existence. Perhaps that came from this— shadow.”
“I’m afraid, Admiral, that I would need to see that shadow, as you say, and put him under a medical scanner to tell you if they were related.”
“Somehow I don’t think that will be happening.”
“Then, unfortunately, I can’t answer your question.”
Chase didn’t need an answer. Something inside of him told him that whatever or whomever that shadow was, it was responsible for his grandfather’s death and Chase’s inability to heal him. Chase looked at Poseidon’s wound. Not only was his arm missing but most of his shoulder and some of his chest as well.
“How can he still be alive?”
“The regen pod is barely managing that. But I suspect it’s because of this,” said the doctor, pointing at the Trident next to the pod.
“Poseidon crashed and almost died while we were operating on him. The Trident started trembling on the other side of the room. Before I understood what was happening, it flew next to him and glowed for a long time. Poseidon’s vital signs grew stronger in minutes. I also suspect Olympians are very resilient by nature. No human could have survived this, that’s for sure. The initial wound perhaps, only if treated properly. But with everything we had to remove, so much tissue, muscles and nerves…”
“I guess the god of the seas is not easily killed,” said Chase absently. “What’s next?”
“You tell me, Admiral. We could equip him with a cybernetic prosthetic arm, but other than that…unless you want to retry your healing powers on him now that whatever infected him is no longer part of his body.”
Laying his hand on the glass of the regen pod, Chase closed his eyes and projected his mind to reach Poseidon’s, trying to heal him through the glass. Even though he couldn’t touch the Olympian at the moment he immediately felt the same painful and resistive feedback he had when he tried healing Zeus.
He sighed. “Let’s make the prosthetic arm. Make it a strong one and have Yanis help you design a warrior’s prosthetic. I get the feeling we’ll need Poseidon’s help before this is all over.”
* * *
Chase was walking inside the Hope’s corridor. He needed to be alone for a little while; to reflect on what just happened but also what was to come. His solitude was interrupted when the walls around him glowed gold briefly.
“How could you let this happen?” cried Ares.
His mentor’s words cut through Chase’s heart like a knife.
“I’m sorry for your loss. Don’t think you’re the only one suffering, though.”
Chase just realized that Ares was also part of his family, his uncle in fact. He didn’t want to think how many more family members he had lost when Olympus was destroyed.
“Is that supposed to make me feel better? My entire world has been destroyed! I’ve lost almost everyone I know or cared about.”
“And there’s nothing I could have done to prevent that, Ares. And don’t get all high and mighty with me; you weren’t there either! Where the hell were you?”
“By my sister’s side.”
Chase wanted to keep reprimanding Ares. If only he had been on Olympus, he could have done something about it, at least warn Chase.
“I can hear your thoughts,” said Ares. “And I’ve been beating myself up just the same. I’m mad at you, the universe, and myself more than I can express, Chase. But the fact of the matter is, Arakan played us, and he did it very well. You were in the middle of an important battle, I— I should have stayed on Olympus.”
“Well, I think we both feel guilty for what has happened. But what’s done is done. It’s not your fault, Ares.”
“It feels like it is. Just when I finally made peace with my Father, and instead of staying there, enjoying this new understanding between us, I was drawn to Erevos. Checking on a mute Aphroditis. I was so impatient to let her know that soon she would be free of that infernal machine siphoning her soul one atom at a time.”
Chase felt that if Ares could cry in his current energy form, he would be doing so now.
“Look, this war has been crazy. We never have time just to stop and think for a second. Arakan took out your people, your Father, your entire world. But now is not the time to feel sorry for ourselves. I know I must sound heartless in a moment like this, to tell you to delay feeling your grief, but we need to look ahead; and stop Arakan!”
“I know. I wish I could be the one that kills him.”
“Take a number; we all want to!”
Ares allowed a small chuckle to escape.
“Ares,” Chase continued. “Any idea why your father hasn’t materialized in energy form like you did?”
“We have traditions; normally we don’t stay in this form. Once we die, we go to Elysium.”
“Yes, but these are hardly times to follow tradition.”
“I agree. Perhaps that presence I sensed near Arakan has something to do with it. I understand you tried healing Zeus and failed.”
“Both Zeus and Poseidon.”
“How is uncle doing?”
“I think he’ll pull through. But yes, I couldn’t heal either of them. Whatever that presence or shadow you saw with Arakan, it has given him some power that prevents my healing powers from working.”
“If that’s the case, then that’s very, very bad news for us.”
“Tell me about it. Don’t think I haven’t thought about the implications of that.”
“And where did those thoughts lead you? Any plan?”
Chase shook his head.
“No, not yet, but I’m working on it.”
* * *
Chase appeared in front of Emperor Altair, causing him to jump from his desk.
“Sorry about that, Emperor.”
Altair cleared his throat, and Chase corrected himself.
“Sorry— Altair. We need to talk.”
“I take it this has something to do with the Gorgar home world?”
“Yes, we need to secure it. We can’t allow Arakan to get his hands back on his main supply planet.”
“That’s all good and well; it does seem that this place was instrumental in the Furies creating various armadas quickly. I’m not sure we have the resources left to divide our forces, though. Not if Arakan has a sizable fleet still under his command.”
“Unless we get actual intelligence on this, I’m going to presume that he lost a good part of whatever fleet he had. And while I’m sure he’s not stupid enough to have only depended on a single world for his resources, he will try to get back to it. The way he sacrificed most of his ships lately tells me that he feels overconfident about his ability to build more and to build them fast. Otherwise, he’s a fool, and I don’t think a fool could have destroyed Olympus, killed Zeus and almost wiped out an entire race in the process.”
“I don’t think he’s a fool either. His plan to divert us with Droxia and then Asgard so he could move to Olympus and do what he really wanted to do was quite cunning. That’s not the actions of a fool.”
“I’m glad we agree on this. Nonetheless, Arakan’s days are numbered. Even if I have to give my life to achieve this goal, Arakan and the Furies will fall. The sooner the better too.”
“Careful, Chase. I can feel vengeance behind those words. And anger. I’m angry too, of course, and I want the Furies dealt with as much as you do. But let’s not lose ourselves in the process.”
Chase knew the Emperor was right. But, with grief and darkness so fresh in his heart, Chase did want retribution. He wanted to see Arakan die, probably almost as much as Oryn. And that was a dangerous path to take. However, he also knew he had to save his aunt, and if his father was indeed still alive, he had to rescue him as well. If Menelas truly knew where the soul ships were hidden, then they couldn’t fail in rescuing him. Father or not, they needed those ships. The thought of still having a direct member of his family be alive made Chase feel both excited and scared. One more person he could lose in this war.
“I know. I don’t want to go there either. But Zeus—” Chase paused. “Zeus was my grandfather.”
“I had no idea, I— I’m so sorry for your loss, Chase.”
“Thank you, Altair. Now, I would like you to head to the Gorgar home world, take a third of the fleet there, and defend it at all costs. I’m sure Arakan will try to retake it by force. We can’t let that happen!”
“What if the forces he sent are too much for a third of the fleet?”
A fire lit inside Chase’s purple eyes.
“I have an idea about that. One that Tar’Lock is not going to be happy about. But I’m through reacting to this war and always trying to just survive it. It’s time to go on the offensive. It’s time to shake this motherfucker’s confidence and send a similar message of fear that he has struck into our hearts.”
Altair’s face grew somber. “What do you have in mind?”
“Have the Gorgar build more Warheart class ships for us. And, now that the Asgardians are joining the Alliance, let’s have both Olympian and Asgardian designs provided to Yanis so he can create the most powerful Earth Alliance ships yet.”
“I’m not sure I’m comfortable with this plan. Doesn’t that make us no better than the Furies in exploiting this poor race?”
“Alright, let me rephrase it, then. Go there, and explain it to the Gorgar. Explain what every living being in the universe is facing and what will happen if the Furies win, and ask them what they think and what they are willing to do about it.”
“And if they refuse to help willingly?”
“Then use your best judgment as to what you should do, but you know as well as I do that in letting their world fall back into the hands of Arakan could have irreparable consequences.”
“Why don’t you make it an order, then, Admiral?”
“Because, just like you, I don’t want to do that to the Gorgar without their consent. Not if we can get them on board of their own volition. You should take Ryonna and Tar’Lock with you. If anyone can help you convince his people to help, it’s those two.”
“I think she would still like to slit my throat, and I’m not sure it will be a pleasant trip.”
“Don’t worry about that, I’ll talk to her. I should go; there are so many things I need to do, and so little time.”
“Wait— just a minute.”
“Why? What is it?”
“Come here,” said Altair, gesturing Chase toward the nearest viewport. “I want you to see this.”
A moment later, a new ship jumped around Asgard’s orbit. Chase recognized it instantly from the 3D holo-images he had seen. The Victory had arrived. Chase hoped its name, and the fact that it arrived in these troubled times, was a good sign of things to come.
“That she is. And, she’s all yours, Admiral.”
* * *
Chris could feel something was off when he entered the training cargo bay. The lights were blinking red, and something didn’t feel right. Ahead of him Argos was kicking and punching the air at relatively slow speeds.
The room was filled with a strong wailing sound. Before Chris could ask what was going on, he took one step too many, and gravity sucked him down hard as he realized what was actually going on.
Chris could feel his muscles contract, and he was having difficulty standing up. He couldn’t imagine even doing what Argos was doing.
“Are— are you insane?” reprimanded Chris through grinding teeth. “How many Gs is that?”
“Nearly two hundred,” said Argos as he kept slashing the air with his limbs.
“I thought the system couldn’t go over one hundred Gs?”
“I found a way to disable the safety protocols.”
“Uncle! They’re called safety protocols for a reason!”
“You may want to take a few steps back. I’ve been using this for hours; my body is only now starting to get accustomed to this many Gs. Barely.”
“I’d love to be— able— to—”
Argos touched a few controls on a wrist device, and the lights turned back to white as the artificial gravity returned to its normal setting.
Chris let himself fall on the floor, and he panted heavily. “Thanks…that was rough.”
Argos ran to Chris’ side.
“I should have locked the doors. I’m sorry. Are you alright, Chris?”
“Been better, but I’ll live.”
“It’s time I show you how to heal wounds on your own. Did you break anything?”
“I think about half a dozen small bones, yeah. Hurts like a bitch, too,” said Chris with a painful chuckle. “Right now, I’d rather you heal me first; then we can talk training.”
“That’s not how this works, boy. In battle, you may need to heal yourself while you’re in excruciating amounts of pain. So this will be a good exercise.”
“What about you? I may hurt from the sudden and unprepared hit from gravity, but you seem to hurt somewhere else.”
Argos exhaled. Chris could feel both the turmoil in his uncle’s head as well as the pain in his heart.
“I had barely learned that Zeus was my grandfather, and he got killed, and there was nothing I could do about it. And like all the other shit that happened these last few months, it’s all my fault. I don’t understand why your father hasn’t executed me already. I don’t think I deserve to breathe right now.”
Chris could see tears form in his uncle’s eyes, but mostly he could feel the pain in his heart and soul. Even though he wanted to tell his uncle that he was on the right path now, a path of redemption, Chris felt that trying to convince Argos in his current state wouldn’t work. So he went with distraction instead.
“Are you gonna repent on your sorry ass all day, or are you going to show me how to heal myself?”
Argos looked down for a second and sighed.
“There’s nothing to it, boy. Let me show you how it’s done.”
* * *
Arakan was laying on his back, looking at the ceiling in his chambers onboard his ship.
You know they’ll come for you, now, said the shadow.
They can come; I’ll be ready for them, answered Arakan.
Don’t make the mistake of underestimating your enemy, Supreme Commander. Especially the Ultra Fury.
The Ultra Fury is a myth; he’s just a Fury.
No, he’s not. While you are the strongest pure blood Fury that lives, he has an incredible amount of power, and more importantly, the will to stop you.
I won’t be stopped!
I can feel that you truly believe so. But you’ll have to be smart and not let your pride blind you. The battle with Chase draws near; I can feel it.
I’m ready. I will rid the universe of the Ultra Fury.
His friends are also powerful; Oryn, in particular. Her thirst for revenge might be hard to contain.
I should have killed her like I did her mother. But—
She reminded you of her.
Yes. I— I should have killed Zeus back then, not Zalara.
What’s done is done. You can’t change the past, and right now you need to stay focused. And I have some bad news.
What is it?
The Alliance has taken back the Gorgar world.
Arakan sat up on the bed.
Should we take this world back?
Are you actually asking for my council? Willingly?
What if I am?
Well, it’s about time. I think the Gorgar served their purpose, allowed you to create armadas you could easily sacrifice to get your plan in motion. And it worked. You’ve killed Zeus, and Olympus is no more. That’s the first crack in the Earth Alliance. But it will grow bigger until it shatters.
Arakan got up from his bed and walked toward the viewport. The ship was approaching the wormhole. The tantalizing purple and blue tendrils around its bright white surface looked like energy-based snakes performing a hypnotizing dance ritual.
“But if we let them have this world,” said Arakan out loud. “They could grow ships themselves, and fast.”
You know as well as I do that this war won’t be won by who controls the biggest firepower. It’s a battle of wills, and you are ahead. They will come for you, and soon. How you deal with that will decide the fate of this war.
Still Arakan didn’t like the idea of just abandoning the Gorgar world just yet. But there would be time to think about this after they got back on Erevos. The supreme commander knew that Chase and Oryn would surely come for him, and soon.
“All I have to do is to kill Chase.”
Yes…do this and the Alliance will fall.
* * *
Onboard the Hope, the Engineering doors split open.
“We need to talk,” said Chase.
Kvasir’s tattoos flashed rapidly for a moment.
“I take it you want to talk about the machine, don’t you?” answered Kvasir.
“Yes. You need to tell me everything you know about it, and most importantly, how we can swap the Ares-controlled clone so we can get Aphroditis out of the damn thing.”
“I have to warn you about something, though.”
“I don’t know what state Aphroditis will be in when she gets out of the machine. I’m not sure she’ll be the same person that went in. The machine exerts tremendous amounts of mental and physical pressure to the person inside.”
“I had felt that when she appeared to me in visions. It seemed like she was living in a pure hell made of suffering and pain.”
“Yeah, that’s how her brain would interpret it, I guess.”
“Zeus said you modified the machine so that it would trap the Furies in their dimensional prison instead of destroying it.”
“Yes, near the end of the first Fury War, he approached me and implored me not to let the machine destroy the Furies. I should have known better than let myself be convinced though. We wouldn’t be in the mess we are now.”
“What’s done is done. What I care about now is to make sure we can modify the machine so it can do what it was supposed to do all along.”
“That will require the soul ships. And some modification of the core programming of the machine. I don’t think whoever will be in it when it activates will survive though.”
“I’m hoping Ares’ energy base form will.”
“I don’t know how the laws of our physical universe affect him, so I can’t even start to theorize about this. He could survive or be consumed by it. There’s no way for me to tell, I’m afraid. Since the machine was never used to achieve its primary function the first time around, I don’t even have logs to try and make an educated guess.”
That was not what Chase wanted to hear. He had already lost so many people in this war. He had found a new family, but part of it had already been taken away from him. Chase wondered why Zeus hadn’t appeared to him the way Ares had after his passing. As much as he dreaded the idea, Chase knew where his next stop should be.
“I think Ares knows that this could very well be a one-way trip,” said Chase absently.
“It might very well be.” Kvasir paused for a moment. “How is he taking his father’s passing?”
Chase shook his head. “Not well. And between you and me, neither am I.”
* * *
In bed, Chase held Sarah in his arms.
“Are you alright? I know Zeus’ passing has been hard on you,” said Sarah.
“It’s been crazy lately, indeed, and I feel it’s not going to get any better.”
“I don’t like it when you say that, it scares me.”
Chase kissed Sarah’s forehead and gently stroked her crimson hair.
“I don’t know what the future holds, and right now I just want to stay in your arms.”
“That’s romantic of you, but I can tell you’re worried. And with both your aunt and father trapped on Erevos, I’m surprised you are in bed with me at the moment.”
“Rushing there without the clone ready won’t achieve anything.”
“You could get your father out; try and get Aphroditis out later.”
“I don’t know why or how, but I can feel it in my bones that if we don’t achieve both these objectives at the same time, we won’t get a second chance.”
“When will Argos be ready with the clone Olympian body?”
“Soon. He has to make sure that the body lasts for as long as it takes us to deliver the final blow. So he can’t grow a temporary body like he did for Spiros.”
“And all of this is contingent upon you getting the soul ships, just like in my vision of the future?”
“I wonder why I didn’t see Oryn in that vision. You’d think she’d be one of the pilots, and not me.”
“I remember Aphroditis telling me that the future is always in movement. It’s possible some of the details aren’t gonna play out exactly as they did in your vision. We do affect the outcome of everything with each and every one of our actions. I still refuse to believe the future is written. The fact that she sees possibilities, and not certainty, at least proves that the free will of living beings is what shapes that universe. Not some grand written destiny that will play out no matter what.”
“I agree, and I’m here with you until the very end. But think about it, if it hadn’t been for her, you wouldn’t have come to Earth; we wouldn’t have met.”
Chase was all too aware of this. How it all started, and how much had been lost along the way. That single moment when he held Saroudis at gunpoint; it changed not only his own life but also everyone else’s around him. A single moment in time, where everything he believed up to that point was thrown out of the window, and a new path began. A path that saw millions die, but also billions saved.
“Well, if only for that I’m grateful,” said Chase, kissing Sarah’s hair.
“About your mother?”
“Yes, what about Athena?”
“While you were fighting on Asgard, she kinda hinted at—”
“At what, love?”
“Marriage. On Olympus, though that’s obviously not happening anymore.”
Chase felt a strong pain in his heart.
“No, not on Olympus, but— I know I haven’t talked about it, but I really look forward to making our union official the first chance we get. I’ve debated if we shouldn’t do it now.”
“If that’s a marriage proposal, you’re going about it all wrong, love.”
“I am, aren’t I? You know we are already married in the eyes of the universe though, right?”
Sarah’s eyes sparkled like beautiful emeralds.
“Good save, soldier.”
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