At least I am still writing my funny ideas. I did finally decide that I couldn’t write the later stuff without writing the first stuff and that will probably take up two thirds of the book at least but the initial, and I’m only just sketching it out now, is a rich, complex story of corruption, betrayal and I’m not even touching that, to be honest. Mi Kee has disappeared somewhere although the words are still there or in a pile of printouts alongside me.
I’ve gone back to the first landing where the prisoners were dumped on the planet to die and the Admirals thought they could rule and live as Kings until they realised the red rocks in the sky were approaching them.
Standard sentence on my writing – this is stuff is raw, in development and will be for a good while.
It also means it is error ridden as far as I’m concerned and will all get changed as things develop.
Thanks for your interest.
Chapter I – The Trials Of Magic
Destraight – an excellent name for a planetary prison – an old unstable planet ideally suited for prisoners the Dwarven race had taken and was quietly moving–on without the worry of them returning at some point so these specially selected prisoners would not be returning – they had become too much of a problem to hold in captivity.
During the years, three Dwarf Armada Class ships – Andromeda with Admiral James Droga; Surreptitious with Admiral Martan Matira, and the Ancient with Admiral David Jamesson – and yes, there was sufficient head clearance for non-Dwarven races – approached; and along with twenty thousand sleeping prisoners/politicians per ship there were Guards, Hounds and hunting Cats to control them and hunt those who tried to escape – no-one was going anywhere they were not instructed to go.
All were asleep and would stay that way until placed upon the planet.
In reality the Dwarfs considered them as disposable, apart from Admirals Droga, Matira and Jamesson, who would return, and that was probably the Admiral’s thoughts as well and no-one else’s as who else would turn their ships around and sleep until their return to Dwarvia, apart from the ship’s crews, still on the ships, and their quarters were armoured as with very little fuel the shields were virtually non-existent but the ships had value and were worth returning to Dwarvia.
Dwarvia had been creating and winning too many wars recently and whilst its empire had been increasing, more and more its cities were encircled by prisoner camps, whilst promotion for its ever increasing numbers of Admirals was matched by the ever increasing numbers of wars occurring, and finally Dwarvia was changing from a planet to a prison, and three of its most aggressive Admirals were now leading the three Armada Class prison ships.
All the Admirals, at five foot four with slate grey eyes matched the Navy’s strength and build requirements, although in two cases the rumours; not spoken in front of them if you wished to live, were of surgery to shorten their height, and their eye colour dyed to match that of famous historic Admirals so it does save the Author from having to invent their build, height and eyes for the Colour Trioptics biography.
Some crew staff would stay awake on the return journey but in five year shifts so they would only lose ten years of their lives. The Admirals would lose, perhaps four weeks of their lives but they were selected for having no dependents and the ships would be virtually on auto-pilot for the return with only ship’s crews exposed to problems – something that had attracted attention in its day but Dwarven clans closed up and nothing, apart from cries and bodies being found, nothing attracted any attention afterwards and as has been said, very good Dwarven Political connections were essential for your career.
The only issues for the Admiral’s now was those lights in the sky approaching the Prison Ships but the planet seemed ideal for the Admiral’s own plans.
Landquakes, typhoons and tidal waves abounded but these all seemed to hit just one side of a planet that turned very slowly and the Admirals would be dead by the time it finally turned and didn’t consider this a problem; the other side of the planet had a distant sun producing a temperate area but for unbeknown reasons the planet seemed to be held in some kind stasis that no-one understood, so its erratic and slow movements were almost non-existence, mirroring the Admiral’s own thoughts as they pondered their careers and a homecoming to no-one but a pension.
The Pension Authorities were, even now, already trying to delete the Space years they spent asleep from counting as service time towards their pension, leaving them with another twenty years service to achieve but with no service available so Bureaucrats could cut their Pensions. They were all active and in the seventies but another twenty years’ service – if they could find the dwindling positions at SITCOPLEB – was not something crossing the Admiral’s minds, except in bright fiery words linked to hell and ‘planet away’ you daft Dwarf Bureaucrats.
The words across the sentinel wires had been caustic in the extreme as the Admirals discussed their futures and the futures of the Bureaucrats if they ever got their hands on them, but the messages would take fifteen years to arrive in Dwarvia and the Admirals could live with that.
On Destraight the Admirals would have authority, once the Vis-Moot took place; Guards; Cats, Hounds and controlled prisoners would be under their control – the only problem was that something seemed to be wrong on the planet and they enlarged the scope of surveillance to watch the prisoners being dispersed to various areas of the country.
The initial aims were to populate the north, south and central areas of Destraight. It would be called Ascania in the north; the main landing areas here would be called Toshonia, and the central area, Stovania. The Admirals in a rare show of co-operation had decided that James Droga would own Stovania; Martan Matira, Toshonia and David Jamesson would own Ascania – no-one was going home – least of all them.
The prisoners were looking at each other as if they had just found something and they weren’t speaking to each other; they seemed to know what others were thinking without speaking.
The Guards were panicking as the Cats and Hounds had stopped taking voice commands and instead of being trained wild animals held by specially trained handlers were walking up to prisoners and Guards and lying down for their bellies to be tickled. The Admirals, looking at the space screens saw something else they didn’t like as objects approaching seemed a lot closer than this morning and they were also thinking, and thinking fast.
It led the Admirals to finally look one another in the face, instead of the boots, gut or anywhere else they usually looked to avoid facing each other. Their thoughts were interrupted by a young aide – she wasn’t even forty yet – something that turned them bright orange, “Admirals, COMSATNEV is on video – signal is only fifteen years old, so it’s fairly new!”
James Droga looked at the young ComSatNev liaison, “this better be good!”
“COMSATNEV has aborted the mission. This planet is on the boundaries of dimensional planetary interplay. There are several black holes and planets are not following guidelines. Trouble at home has started as the peace agreement prohibits dumping prisoners into deep space and this mission is to be aborted and all personnel put to sleep until fuel arrives. Fuel is being sent out and will arrive in forty years but everyone must be brought back and put into stasis again before they return. The signal will wake everyone when the fuel arrives.”
“Well,” said Martan Matira, “it’s a little late, ComSatNev disciple to do this with all the prisoners on the surface and dispersed over the land; the Cats and Hounds seem out of control and some kind of planetary environment is affecting the prisoners and Guards … perhaps you should go down and explain it to them and I suggest you do it quickly. Look at the incoming rocks, ComSatNev, and we have used all our power to arrive here so we have virtually no shields left. For your instruction to be effective we would need everyone back on the ships and be returning before those rocks arrive; looking at my fellow Admirals, I think we are agreed that urgently leaving this ship before it is destroyed is an excellent idea, so please tell that to COMSATNEV after we have made the planetary surface although on second thoughts, we need the power to land and you don’t as you will not be telling people the mission has been aborted,” ComSatNev became a bloody torso as three handguns left her lying on the spaceship floor and the Admirals descended to a life they intended to rule.
The decent side of the planet looked okay; the Guards were just failures, leftovers and of little value without guidance, and guidance from the Admirals would very quickly be there in substance. They would be ruling; not returning home to a pension that wasn’t worth the Geld. The self-build camps were a combination of silicone, concrete powder, air and water dropped into moulds – needing only power to generate the structures and that was already in operation which bearing in mind the objects in the sky approaching, was a good idea.
The sun-shell power nodes were already reacting and the camps were rising although everyone else seemed to be rising as well and looking at the sky before they headed for the still building structures. The Guards were now releasing prisoners against all orders and it seemed more like a riot than a prison camp.
The Admirals had the yet another inkling that as in any battle, all plans became yesterday’s future thoughts and when they Admirals finally landed, they were immediately were met by aides who sang out in unison, “You must Vis-Moot on the planet, Admirals. Nothing is legal without the three of you in Vis-Moot on the surface?”
James Droga looked at the other two Admirals, “We can legally take over whenever we want if we Vis-Moot and tell them that we are appointed to rule … then we rule.”
David Jamesson looked at his fellow Admirals, “Just a few seconds on the Vis-Moot and it’s legal … even if they send someone else here in forty years … we own and control the planet – legally – we never received the recall order and the ships won’t survive to prove us wrong. No-one is going back!”
They looked around as the buildings kept rising. For some reason it looked like the designers had played with castles as children. Walls were going up, towers and baileys were obviously designed into the building as were killing areas – this was being built as ancient history, not the modern world the meetings had planned … yet another screw-up.
Martan Matira was sneering as he realised his fellow Admirals were actually smiling, “You two planned this. Now tell me how long will our high-tech civilisation last with this pathetic nonsense – whose idea was this besides yours? We’ll need the Guards, Hounds and Cats to keep them under control for us to rule if we are now playing with ancient toys. We don’t have any control over anything or anyone without modern weapons! We need authority and modern weapons and you’ve built a children’s nursery!”
“At this distance, Martan, the committee decided that a modern world was unsupportable, so they opted for a historic solution that would not require modern weapons, anyway, the Vis-Moot gives us authority and the Guards will obey instructions or be buried head-first, and with their feet sticking up. A few exhibitions should curtail disobedience!”
“Well, we still have the Vis-Moot to complete and I suggest we complete that as a matter of urgency. I don’t intend to be standing around as those rocks hit those ships and they decide to land somewhere,” It took them some time to find the Vis-Moot area and also to find a slight problem.
There was now a castle and walls stretching from them for a distance of ten to fifteen miles, while walls behind and directly in front of them, bisected the horizon for another ten miles.
Directly facing them were the guards barracks but with some prisoners still milling around instead of being dispersed and swift orders soon had them herded out of the castle and through the gate onto the other side of the killing area and to what already seemed to be some medieval town although completely and artificially built using stone powder.
James Droga exploded, “Where is the Viz-Moot equipment? We need to beam our authority to everyone.”
“Perhaps, James, we just need to control the guards and they are our authority. Everyone knows we rule … perhaps we are better just assuming our roles as leaders?”
“With the Viz-Moot, Martan, no-one can dispute our authority!”
“Yes, I can hear you, James and we can conduct this conversation as normal Dwarfs. There is no Viz.-Moot that I can see but I can certainly see Guards and prisoners and that I feel will have to be our goal. We have our lands to secure and I intend to move towards the castle before those rocks arrive. I would suggest you move to your lands and with haste.”
Martan Matira watched as James Droga and David Jamesson moved towards the two remaining scout ships. They might have enough power to take them to their new lands but he doubted it, still, at least they were away from him but he had plans of his own and the first was to get into the castle before the rocks arrived.
James Droga and David Jamesson kept a very close eye on the power in the ships. James was heading for a town he’d named Zapril while David headed for Ascan – one Admiral in the north; one in the south and James Droga for some reason had gone west. Martan watched them take off and thought that life would be interesting and he was quite correct – only a lot sooner than he expected.
One of the first things, Admiral Matira noticed on entering his castle was that only one floor had been completed. The rest of the castle had been completed but some computer glitch had only then furnished one floor. His next problem was that he’d to walk to the west in order, after a long climb to reach the only inhabitable areas of the castle. The kitchens and food stores were to the east but his bedchamber was hard against the west wall. The map he was presented with showed three stairways to the tower; a gateway that led below the castle and only one way into the castle that he could understand. The internal Guard’s barracks; sleeping quarters and armoury were all linked to his bedroom … there needed to be some serious thought about this, he decided.
He used one of the stairways to the Tower and again felt his eyes drawn to the ever-increasing rocks in the sky which seemed to be becoming larger by the day.
James Droga was also being surprised. As he approached Zapril he saw nothing – no buildings, no people – nothing. He keyed in his destination again; chose autopilot this time, and found himself moving to the north-west and the scout started to land in David Jamesson’s domain.
He checked the map again and his destination placed him in Ascania but on the edge to the north-west of David’s lands and with the scout running out of fuel, he had little chance of avoiding landing and as he landed he could see a castle, manor house and Guards barracks – not the promise he expected to be honoured. Martan and David had carved him up to take the lion’s share of the country. He’d see about that – the Droga’s would win!
As it was, all three of the Admirals were having surprises. Due to computer glitches all castles had only one floor furnished however five castles had been built for the three Admirals but not necessarily near each other, and three into five definitely didn’t go.
An unpopulated four storey block almost half-way between the castles of Martan Matira and David Jamesson was also built, but in the area allocated to Stovania and in addition to Admiral Droga’s castle, a separate manor house and a Guard’s barracks had been built.
The other issue was that no-one was allocated nor lived in the four storey block or the other two castles and the Admirals immediately decided that these builds must be their property whilst the freed prisoners, Cats and Hounds were now spreading out to find land and security before any Guards found them again but already the different types of prisoners were seeking their own refuges and some were below ground but all were as far from the Guards as they could be and they moved they found other buildings, small towns and villages in odd spots but spread across one continuous country and that spread as far as the eye could see or in some cases the tentacles.
The computer glitches appeared to have ‘gone to town’ in the screw-ups and apparently built towns without rhyme or reason and there were sixty thousand prisoners interested in them.
Perhaps they should have been interested in the rocks in the sky that were becoming bigger and closer but had they more interest themselves than in just surviving.
It might also have interested them that back on Dwarvia: yet another coup had occurred; the War Party were ruling again; planets were being invaded, and a build-up of prisoners on Dwarvia was occurring. It didn’t take long before old ideas were forming again and some Armada Class ships started to be constructed again. The general consensus was: we’ve already colonised this planet; if we build five more ships then that is another hundred thousand we can rid Dwarvia of, and we have five admirals who will be ideal for the project.
The vote was unanimous and five names were volunteered to lead the relocation: Marcel Droga; Stefen Matira; Peter Jamesson; Percival de Bowed, and Argus du Storme.
Back on Destraight the prisoners moved away at speed from the castles and there was almost a feeling of euphoria although how long that lasted for was another question. The land was new and even if it wasn’t their land there was no religion, politicians, or newspapers so life was good, or so they thought but Destraight stretched for hundreds of miles and travelled more towns than a politician in a bus so there must be so land free for them?
Their species ranged from magical to rock, bird, horse, human, dwarf, elf but did include a killing element, apart from the politicians who didn’t give a damn about anyone but themselves however, they could live as and where they chose.
Some above ground, some below – others became the ground as they sunk into a life that beckoned and they knew.
A lot of the people found they could communicate by thought and their image of the King or Queen in her or his chamber seemed to be defined by the thoughts of the people.
The Admirals and Politicians might feel they ruled within Destraight but these people felt they lived the land and would rule it although a politician ruling in Destraight would need to be in tune with the people and that was never going to happen as the people decided who would rule them but they started to consider their own existence as the rocks in the sky became larger and larger and the sea started to rise. Areas that had been dry for miles were flooding as the sea swept in.
The Admirals were also losing touch. Their scouts were out of power, and whilst they’d never really spoken to each other unless forced to, now they couldn’t speak to each other, or the ships still circling above the planet.
They were as marooned as the Guards and prisoners – whether they liked it or not. All they had were the Guards assigned to them and desertion was already rife as the Guards realised they weren’t being paid, and if they were paid, there was nothing to spend it on with no food and life was definitely going to get harder with the rocks in the sky getting bigger and with sea levels rising but at least some lakes were forming and with them some fish were being swept in but life appeared to be being swept out – moving from prisons to a long forty year sleep then deposited on a world they didn’t know with no support, food and still chained made you need to remember the only thing these people had in common was being captured and imprisoned by the Dwarves and they were now facing death and slowly.
Some were human; others were stone; some were Dwarf politicians who supported the wrong political parties. The War Party of Dwarvia had attacked any planet and any people it didn’t like and often those they claimed to like. The dwarfs used planets that contained nothing more than war engines, troops and weapons to attack peaceful people.
The War Party had ruled for aeons on Dwarvia and as long as the wars were fought somewhere else and the wealth returned to Dwarvia, most didn’t care until other worlds learnt to fight; developed their own weapons and body counts started to appear in Dwarvia as Dwarfs found their families dwindling and prisoner camps springing up across Dwarvia; questions were being raised and then raised again as the War Party labelled dissenting Dwarfs as traitors but that didn’t change anything of the Dwarf’s attitudes nor of their complete lack of thought for defeated peoples.
One Dwarf is an opinion; two an argument, and three a war.
Some of the prisoners had their wings clipped to stop them flying; some were still sealed in their own private prisons as fluid but compared to those whose beaks were hooded so they couldn’t eat or drink, a lot seemed free; apart from the plastic chains on their lower extremities.
Destraight encompassed all races the Dwarfs had fought and captured, and these had been sent to die but freed prisoners were freeing others as they found them; their main attitude however, was to find Dwarfs and extinguish them from life … the Guards were not of a retiring nature but retiring seemed to be the order of the day, night and any other period of time you wished to consider your life. The Guards moved as fast as they could to the castles in Ascania and Toshonia, and they were running fast as birds rose in the sky to repaid them for the suffering they endured.
The computer programs for some reason had built all castles with just one habitable floor and one of the castles was mostly buried in the ground but still with one floor as the computer glitched, yet again.
David Jamesson actually smiled as he sat in his formal dining room eating a piece of pig that had been happily running about some hours earlier.
He’d made sure that more than enough supplies were delivered to his castle before he left the Armada Class ship but to find a live pig and eat recently killed meat was something David could live with, although the pig obviously was living with anything.
David Jamesson’s castle was worrying him a little however; previously bordering on the ocean it was now landlocked for some twenty miles to the west and the southern half of his land split by the sea sweeping in to some ten miles south of his castle.
Martan Matira felt the same about food although in his case it was beef that he found, or something very close to it. His only issue was the prisoners being split between his land and David Jamesson’s. The thousands drown as the sea swept around the lodge with the water slowly climbing to just below the fourth storey was unfortunate but he could always find new prisoners.
Martin had heard reports of his land to the east growing by some four hundred square miles although he wasn’t personally supervising it, but his land was now cut in two and he didn’t supervise that either, still he was isolated from the other Admirals and that was good. That there was no longer a western or northern area to his territory was something for the future as he was cut off but stuck in the middle and he watched the red rocks in the sky moving closer, wondering about the flashes from where the ships had been and the waves now sweeping in behind his castle to the south.
Not all questioned everything – one dwarf – a distant cousin of Martin’s was at Martin Matira’s castle and to him the magic there felt alive as he accepted it.
Rafus had convinced himself, he could feel a magic field anywhere and he felt the magic as everything moved and this created magic in Toshonia.
He stood on the battlements with his books as they charged but their charge on Rafus was that he could only feel magic – he was completely useless when he tried to use it.
James Droga was on survival rations and remembering he hated dwarf politics and the incestuousness breeding of the major families more than anything but by the time James realised the food supplies on the ships needed raiding they had been stripped of everything.
He had people out hunting and already some fields of what seemed to be corn had been found plus some rodents that would go into a pot, no matter what they were or where they came from and he had no problem sharing a rat stew with fellow Dwarfs.
James Droga’s claims to virtually half of Destraight would make life interesting although the prisoners, currently some eighty miles away and heading in his direction could possibly make things even more interesting.
He also stood there watching the red rocks that continued to increase in size as they moved closer but he also watched water that seemed to be boiling and now comprised two lakes.
One issue, unbeknown, still united the Admirals although there was little else that did.
All of them felt they hadn’t been sold a pup but a monumental suppository, placed strategically, and it was still climbing up as the rocks were still climbing closer, and now the land was starting to rise and meeting the seas rushing in.
The lands rising were hot and the seas meeting the rising lands were generating a fog to the south of Martin Matira and a hundred to a hundred and forty miles to the north. For David Jamesson, the seas were so close he needn’t bother taking a bath, even if he had been inclined to do so, whilst James Droga was finding his starched uniforms were becoming pliable in the damp atmosphere all of them could not remember this in the briefing notes. This side of the planet was stated quite incorrectly, to be stable and unchanging.
Martin was also hearing reports of a steaming and fast cooling causeway between the east and west of the land he felt Toshonia and he owned. The causeway was hot but the sea was sweeping over it and cooling it; however his reports also recorded that the causeway was growing into a rocky mountain and still hadn’t stopped. It now looked as if he would have a range of mountains to the west of his land … still it should stop those prisoners from arriving at his castle – the meat from those animals was his, not prisoners who could never win, and certainly wouldn’t if he had his way.
For the crew on the ships it had been fast. No fuel; no shields, and the strong survivor suites lasted as long as it took to lick some sweets.
Those ships the rocks didn’t hit; the gravity of them spun the Armada Class ships around until breaking beams hit into survivor suites and oxygen followed the rocks in escaping. They never had a chance to consider survival before becoming just more space debris and their bodies mingled with the dust they would probably have wanted to be … in time.
The demise of the ships wasn’t missed by the Admirals, who’d never intended to return to Dwarvia but as good Commanders lied to everyone for their own ends and they now started to worry as it appeared that their own ends were approaching, and at speed.
There was some protection built into the castles which at the moment were swaying and shaking but for Martin Matira a more urgent problem now was the seawater now sweeping in from the east as the rocks in the sky approached even closer. His castle might stay upright but it was becoming surrounding by seas and Martin was now running towards the causeway where the area to the north had stayed flat, whilst to the causeway to the south was rising as hot rocks, still the waters flooding in behind him were reducing his land to about fifteen miles – north to south, and some thirty five miles – east to west.
The irony for Martin was that he now had prisoners behind him heading for the causeway, as he was, whilst on the other side of the causeway, more prisoners awaited … life was going to become interesting for Admiral Martin Matira and his crew and already he was thinking of how he could blame his fellow Admirals for the treatment the prisoners had received. It was going to be difficult but at least he was taking the livestock with him and that must be some bargaining point – providing the Guards held together and with the heat from the causeway, their boots as well.
It took a day before Martin Matira saw the causeway for himself and the prisoners were there first – apart from those who could fly and they were already settling on the mountain rocks that seemed to grow as Martin watched but already he and his guards were outnumbered by some two to one. The odds would have higher had less prisoners died when the seas swept in around the Lodge and their camp. The Guards in an all-out battle might win until their guns ran of power but Martin was already trying to organise a meeting with the prisoners; in the end he just cupped his hands around his mouth and shouted, “We have food and we’ll share it. If we work together we can survive, if we don’t, we all die,” he watched as several of the prisoners nodded and then began to speak to others. Fairly obviously there were some prisoners here who didn’t need nor had the ability for speech, and looking at them he could see prisoners from every planet he and the others had fought on, and the tentacles, arms, fists and faces remembered him and he automatically moved back into his squad of personal guards – not that it would make any difference if there was trouble.
Someone now handed him a small hailer, and he waited as he tried to get some saliva working around his jaws. Dribbling to be honest, seemed a better bet but he put his hand over his mouth whilst he thought of anything and everything that would make him salivate and also give him some idea of what to say to survive, and finally he gave up on trying to be smart.
He needed them to co-operate and they needed him to acknowledge he needed them there were a lot of needs!
He finally realised this and his thoughts started to do more than buzz around like mattock flies over a battlefield.
He used the small hailer again, “We have plastic boats that will get everyone, eventually, the ten miles to where the land starts again or it is only five miles to the lodge but there is no food and our food is alive but I don’t how we can take the animals with us. Do you want to take the risk or just wait until the rocks eventually cool and we can all move along the causeway. The main problems are we’re two miles from the sea sweeping in around the Lodge and ten miles from the sea sweeping in from the south. We have a fifteen mile gap between the seas closing in. They may stop; they may not? We can try and get to the Lodge and wait it out there, or here, or we risk the causeway and getting burnt.”
“If I may speak, Admiral?”
“Who are who?”
“Rafus Matira, Admiral – a distant relative.”
“Speak, Rafus, but quickly and briefly.”
“There is a cooling spell in my book. I cannot say how long it will last and for how long along the causeway it may function. The causeway is nearly fifty miles long. If we wait until the seas close in from the north and south, we could as a last resort use the spells to lower the temperature, even more – it might work, Admiral? It would buy us time.”
“With these rocks getting closer to the planet, Rafus, that may be all it does buy us, but I don’t have a better plan and no-one wishes to speak for the prisoners.”
His planned speech was interrupted by a rangy seven foot shape moving forward.
It’s feet and lower half were difficult to describe but its legs appeared to be wood and the lower areas above the legs stretched about five feet to its rear, but its chest was a foot in width but two foot in length and whilst it possess arms, they appeared to move as they wished, however its voice possessed a clear timbre and those arms if swung would deliver more than woodworm.
“We don’t have your style of Government, Admiral. We decide together what will happen.”
“What have you decided?”
“The seas haven’t reached us yet. The causeway is too hot. You have food and we all need to live – we wait and we will never be friends but we may be able to suffer each other. Some of our winged friends may extract meat from your herd but at a minimum and they will repay that. The choice is yours, Admiral, not ours. We need you but you surely need us more than we need you.”