Seven Planets: in a parallel solar system, the people from seven different planets engage in a race against time that will decide their fate. The main characters’ destinies are intertwined with hatred, love and ambition, in an attempt to either govern or free the people of the KIC solar system. Imaginary and unique planets, races and cultures will get together in fantastic adventures in order to fight against their charming enemy's thirst for power.
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Maria Grazia Gullo - Massimo Longo
The exoskeleton and Parius's object
Translated by Laura Jurinic
Copyright © 2019 M.G. Gullo – M. Longo
The cover image and the graphics were created and edited by Massimo Longo
All rights reserved
Maria Grazia Gullo - Massimo Longo
Copyright © 2019 M.G. Gullo – M. Longo
The Sea of Silence
General Ruegra was staring at the space through the large porthole of his cabin. It was fascinating to see the entire planetary system of KIC 8462852 and its seven planets in orbit. In that occasion he could only see five of them: Carimea, his own homeland, had already a grey atmosphere, which meant that it was destined for a leadership position; the blue and enchanting Medusa, which was as magnetic and dangerous as its dwellers; Oria, which was small and barren like the Moon, and white because of the reflection of the light of our Sun. Not too far from Oria, there was the bright green Sixth Planet, which was the most socially and technologically advanced among the planets; and Eumenide, with its pinky atmosphere, which was as fascinating as its dreadful inhabitants.
All this was soon going to be property of the Anic population, and he was going to be appointed Supreme Leader. He only had to be patient and complete his plan: with the parchment in his hands everything and everyone was going to bend to his will.
General Ruegra was staring at the space through the huge porthole of his cabin and he could feel his hunger for power grow inside him. It was the year 7692 since the foundation of the Anic civilization.
Ruegra was abruptly woken up from his dreams of glory. The spaceship had hit something: they were crossing the Bonobo's rings. It would have been better for him to proceed towards the control deck. Although landing on the planet was a standard procedure, it could still have some surprises in store.
As soon as he entered the control deck, he was greeted with deference by his subordinates.
The procedure was not going as smoothly as previously planned: something had hit the ship, as he feared.
"Damage in area 8, General. A rock hit us." the Captain reported immediately.
"Isolate the area immediately and proceed with expulsion."
The captain ordered to initiate the evacuation procedure in the designated area:
"Immediate evacuation of the area...
Isolate it! Do not waste any time!"
The official immediately executed the order. Nobody dared making Ruegra notice that this move was going to cost the lives of many soldiers in vain.
The bulkheads that were separating the area from the rest of the spaceship were shut down. Only a couple of soldiers were quick enough to jump under the closing bulkheads in order not to be swept away. Unfortunately, they were not spared from witnessing their companions, with whom they had shared their existence up until a few moments before, desperately hit on the bulkheads and then disappear into the void.
The detachment was completed, and the area was abandoned.
All the Carimea's ships were war spaceships and were shaped like an enormous trilobite. They were characterised by a pronounced segmentation in order to quickly expel any damaged areas. In this way, the crew would optimise their performance during battles. Both middle section and tail, which was shaped like an oyster shell, could be expelled. Only the control cabin, composed of a big plate with a semi-elliptical profile that would become polygonal in some other sections and the "spine" of the ship, could not be expelled.
They were surrounded by the infinite stretch created by the enormous grey rings that were enclosing the planet Bonobo. They were composed of big debris of the black death of an asteroid that had got too close to KIC 8462852.
Bonobo, the second farthest planet from the dwarf, also consisted of a big mass that had attracted toward itself a great amount of debris. In this way, it had spared the smaller Enas and had created one of the most enchanting sights of the entire galaxy.
The planet was located right at the centre of the rings. It was so wonderfully rich and diverse that it was used as the Anic imperial reserve for hunting, slaves and supplies. Its anthropomorphic population was stuck at the beginning of civilization. Bonobians walked upright, had grasping feet and were largely covered in body hair.
They were as big as gorillas but were as naive and accommodating as children. They would quickly procreate and were strong, which would make them perfect.
Bonobo was the only conquest made by the Anics that had stayed under their control. And it was only because the two planets would describe similar and simultaneous orbits around KIC 8462852.
Carimea had managed to conquer other planets too, but they would constantly lose control because of the uprisings fuelled by the Coalition of the Four Planets, whose aim was eased by their closeness to the orbits.
The spaceship landed in perfect timing. At the headquarters the supplies had already been prepared for the allocation. Ruegra stepped on land only to talk to Mastigo, the local Governor. The General did not like that particular Evic, but his way with the local population was effective. He belonged to one of the leading tribes of Carimea.
The Evics were big, grey-green reptiles that could walk on their chunky and strong hind feet. They were slightly smaller than the Anics and except for their faces, were entirely covered in scales. Their faces, which were half shaped like an ellipse, would stretch out from the ears and take the form of half a bell. They did not have any cheekbones and their snake-like noses were barely visible. Being aggressive, yet not particularly brilliant, they were the only ethnic group that could compete with the Anics for power by number and strength. They would wear a long, silk waistcoat that would cover their knees and that was buttoned up on the chest with a couple of buttons. In order to have their support, Ruegra had appointed one of them as Governor of Bonobo.
The General was greeted with grandeur in the glass hall in the government building, from which a wonderful tropical landscape could be admired. It was a marvellous night and the sky was ignited by the reflection of the rings.
Ruegra was looking through the glass that was reflecting his own image.
The complexion of his strong body, which was covered in slough, would change based on the colour of the surroundings. His figure could barely be noticed among the trees of the outdoor. A stiff crown made out of keratin slough and 30-Kidus tall (or 11 inches) was adorning his figure, starting from the head. The crown would open up in case of danger and would become an armour that the Anics used to employ at the beginning of the civilization to intimidate the enemy. Once opened on the arm, it was going to be using a shield.
By his oval face, the slough would shrink and become somehow uniform in colour. Below his high forehead, the eyebrows and the blue keratin eyelashes would make his big, green eyes and his high, softly coloured cheekbones stand out. His big and slightly deformed nose, like one of a boxer, clashed with his other features. His mouth was well proportioned: his green lips were big and plump.
The Anics were the biggest in terms of height among all the people in the solar system and for that reason they had always been on top of the predatory pyramid.
Just like all the Anics, Ruegra would usually wear a skirt with two side slits that would show the slough around his body. On his shoulders he would wear a cape, meant to indicate his caste and role. His was gold, which indicated a position of command and was decorated with smoky-grey profiles and an embroidery of the same colour that portrayed an Atrex bird of prey.
"I salute the most invincible amongst the Carimeanis. You are always welcome in our land, my General. How did the journey go?" Mastigo greeted him with a slight bow.
"It went well. The mission is evolving in the right way." lied Ruegra. "I only need to rest. The rings always make the spaceship dance a little." he said in order to get rid of his speaker.
Mastigo served him a local fruit cup so that he could refresh up after the long, interplanetary journey. It was better for the General to sit down as he had to report an unusual occurrence.
"I have a weird occurrence that needs to be submitted to you." Mastigo began telling. "Two Bonobian days ago a commercial spaceship was intercepted as it was entering our territory without permission. The guards were not able to stop it in time. Hence, it dived into the Sea of Silence before we could assess its actual dangers.
We have done some research and we found out that the owner has allegedly sold to an Eumenide woman. I have sent out some soldiers on patrol to examine the alleged landing area. But as you know, it is impossible to receive any sort of communications from the Sea of Silence. Therefore, all we have to do is wait."
Ruegra was annoyed by the Governor's persistence on such an irrelevant fact and asked:
"What is so strange about that? I do not understand..."
"Look where it was heading..." said Mastigo pointing at the map of Sea of Silence.
"That is where the Bonobian old sacred fortress is located..." whispered Ruegra.
"That is why I took the liberty to report such a trivial occurrence. I have sent a team to examine the area. It could just be a coincidence, but better safe than sorry. That place is full of mysteries. It would make the ideal headquarters to start an uprising, considering the lack of communications and radar signals. It's like a black hole.
"You could be right. Keep me updated, Mastigo. Now it's better if I take some rest. Tomorrow we leave at dawn."
That night Ruegra had other things to think about. After he had retreated to his chamber, he sat down on the soft sofa and poured himself a drink of Sidibé, a spirit obtained by local cacti. He was staring into space whilst his thoughts were chasing one another like clouds before a storm.
The journey he had just finished had been a total disaster, contrary to what he had just stated to his trusted ally.
He had been to the Moon of Enas, more precisely to the mining colony of Stoneblack, an outpost famous for its marble. The general was meant to meet a man that his very own father respected very much: an old enemy of Carimea.
The colony was governed by the Trik tribe. They were people of Carimea, like the Anics, but they had secondary influences on the command of the planet.
They were servile, yet untrustworthy. They had always proved themselves to be traitor as soon as the wind changed direction. Even his own friends might have been able to plot against him on that Moon. Hence, he had to make that inspection look like a surprise visit with the intention of bringing back some Lunar Amber to his brother upon his return.
Ruegra walked right in front of the officials. He brought his elbow next to his shoulder and with his hand parallel to the floor and next to his mouth, he greeted them. That gesture indicated silence in front of his command as well as complete obedience. They were still and holding their breath in his presence.
The mining colony employed as criminals charged with forced labour and war prisoners as cheap labour. The guards would keep an eye on one slave in particular...It was Ruegra's man. Not only was he the highest-ranking slave, but he also had gained the respect of his fellow slaves and had managed to represent them.
The General, flanked by the Captain and followed by some soldiers, was put in the command relax room, which was reserved to the official.
The Captain did the honours and asked if he could offer him something.
Ruegra did not waste any time. He declined the offer and ordered:
"I want to verify the conditions of the political prisoners that were taken in during the war against the Sixth Planet. Let me talk with the highest in rank."
"Yes, precisely. Bring him to me."
The commander nodded at the guards and a few minutes later they came back to the room accompanied by a middle-aged man. He looked tired and physically exhausted, but he still had the proud and fearless look of a warrior.
"Leave us alone." ordered Ruegra.
He was alone with his enemy with the sharpest mind. He remembered that during the battles he had managed to change the odds that had predicted his death thanks to his strategic thinking and despite having only a few Sixthians under his command.
He hesitated a couple of seconds before talking. He had already thought about several strategies during his journey. He knew that it was very unlikely that he was going to catch his enemy off guard. It was time to pick one and begin the confrontation.
He decided to go with the adulation, hoping that his old age and his tiredness had made him more vane.
"I salute you, Wof. I can state that you do not look bad despite you were not granted an ideal treatment. However, I have ordered that books and knowledge are given to you."
"Long time no seeing." said Wof, staring at the General with his deep, black eyes. "What brought you to this place forgotten by the light, where darkness is sovereign?"
"I came here to talk to you about my father. I remember that as a kid he would fantasize about a parchment you knew all the secrets about. Now that I am getting old I sometimes think about him and I wonder whether there is some truth in that story."
Wof tried to conceal his surprise by caressing the white locks that were contouring his ebony coloured face.
"Your father was telling the truth, but apparently he did not think that you were trustworthy enough to know all the details. He also knew all the secrets that you are talking about." Ruegra was stunned. His father had often mentioned that mystery, but he never had the urge to dig into it.
"What is wrong, General? Are you wondering why he had never told you more about it?"
"Maybe my young age and my impulsivity made me a bad listener."
"I would rather say that your features are passion for power and conquest."
"Power is necessary to maintain the order and the stability." underlined the General, after he had stood up irritated.
"You have faith in the order, employed at the service of a single person and in the stability of a single tribe." replied Wof.
Ruegra began walking nervously. He had already lost his patience, but he knew well enough that no torture or extortion were going to work on the man who was sitting in front of him. His only hope was gaining the man's trust.
He played his last card and lied:
"You know, I truly respected my father. When I was a kid you used to say that I looked just like him... At that time, I saw you like a master...."
"What makes you think that I will reveal how to find the parchment? That pureness you had as a child disappeared quickly, Ruegra, and the will to prove yourself was taken over by the thirst of power."
"I am not the Anic that you remember during the war. I would know how to manage power equally. My father did a mistake by not telling me everything." the General burst out in anger.
"If you had to come to me, that means you were not worthy of your father's trust. What kind a father hides knowledge from his son? There is such misery in that gesture of his. Who better than him knew you and who am I to reveal everything to you and completely ignore his evaluation? As you can see I cannot do anything but respecting his will by honouring his memory." stated Wof. Then he got up and said goodbye to his hangman.
That scene could not leave the General's mind, who kept staring into space with a glass still in his hand in that Bonobo warm night.
The following morning, Ruegra personally examined the work that had been completed to substitute the broken area of the spaceship.
Mastigo had perfectly followed-up and his mechanics had delivered an excellent job, as per usual. They took off at the appointed time and sailed back home.
The days were passing by and Ruegra was in a hurry to go back home. He was scared of plots, even though his brother, who had taken the lead in his absence, would provide the General with regular reports on the situation. There was nothing to worry about. Carimea was a mixture of races. Different tribes were fighting against the Anics for command, but the latter had eliminated a conspicuous number of opposers during their long domination. It had been founded by several groups of the different solar systems, the majority of them were adventurers, fortune seekers or former prisoners that were looking for a land where to have a fresh start. Only a small section among them came from the planet. In fact, the local populations had been barbarically subjugated and isolated.
On the way back, whilst he was sitting on the command chair in the dashboard, Ruegra was thinking of Wof's words. That "My father knew" kept resounding in his mind.
Then all of a sudden, he thought of all the times his father would leave during hunting season and before all the wars. His favourite destination was indeed the Bonobian land, especially the Sea of Silence.
While those thoughts were navigating his mind, he had an epiphany and thought:" How have I not thought about this before?" Something or someone there might have given him more information on the parchment.
He linked his intuition to Mastigo's report on the commercial spaceship. Maybe someone was ahead of him.
He ordered to immediately change route. They were going back to Bonobo.
Mastigo, who was surprised at seeing them come back, ran towards the ship.
"I salute the most invincible amongst the Carimeanis. General, why this sudden return?"
"I have reflected upon the landing of that spaceship, which convinced me to come back and personally deal with the situation."
"Once again you chose wisely. My informers did not come back to Bonobo. Hence, I decided to visit the land in person. I found out that they had been eliminated by the strangers."
Ruegra was hoping that his Governor had not destroyed all the possibilities of gaining information as he knew his ways.
"Nothing is left there." reported Mastigo straight away, who looked as satisfied as a said child that has tortured his little preys.
Ruegra constrained himself from attacking his speaker and asked him where the crew had gone to.
Mastigo took a deep breath, knowing that it was not going to be good news.
"We could not find it. They must have fled."
"Not only did you destroy all the evidence, but you also let the crew flee! You were such an incompetent! Lead me there!"
Then, on a second thought he realised that it would not have been a good idea to let Mastigo know about his plans.
"Set a crew for me. I'll leave without you."
A stone sword was hanging over their heads
"Shall we get ready? We might not be welcomed upon our arrival!" exclaimed Oalif, the wittiest of the group.
The crew was formed of four members of the planets that were fighting against Carimea's rule. They had been chosen because of their personal history as well as their physical and mental abilities. Together they would form a team that was able to go on any mission, both physically and strategically. Their duty was guaranteeing peace and it did not just imply military actions, but also intelligence-linked activities and coordination among the different populations.
The Council of the Four Planets Coalition had appointed them "Tetramirs", which meant that they could benefit by the Government from special authorities and jobs until the completion of their mission.
The small commercial spaceship was crossing Bonobo's big, grey rings and was proceeding towards the Sea of Silence.
That sort of spaceship was designed for the transport of goods. They were shaped like a parallelepiped with blunted edges on the front in order to provide aerodynamic movement. On top of that, they had placed small, releasable wings that were used when crossing the atmosphere. At the rear, there was a big hold door that would open in three sections like the crown of a flower and was used during loading and unloading. These spaceships were slow and bulky. They would take off and land in parallel with the ground without any room for manoeuvre, just like all the other spaceships.
"Declare yourself." a metallic voice came from the radio.
"We're merchants, sir." replied Oalif.
"We can see it. But who and what is on board? Do you have a license?"
"Settimo from Oria, sir."
"License number, now!" insisted on the guard.
"You are not in our list. Change route immediately. You do not have any permission to land in this area."
"The signal is weak, sir. I cannot hear you. License number 34876." said Oalif for a second time, pretending not to hear what the guard was saying.
"Permission to land denied!"
"We can't copy you, sir." insisted the Bonobian and then he addressed his crew members saying:" We're in, folks! We're crossing the fog in the Sea of Silence!"
Oalif was an experienced pilot, and being a Bonobian, he was a world-class connoisseur of his native planet. However, he did not fit in with the simple and mild traits that were usually to ascribed that ethnicity. His tribe had never given into the Anics, and for that reason it had paid an enormous price. During the last war, after that they had lost control of their own planet, they had been exiled and hosted by the Coalition of planets, who were plotting a domestic uprising. Their aim was regaining control of the planet.
Oalif's body was covered in dark body hair that would barely show his fair skin. Only the area surrounding his green eyes and his cheekbones was hairless. He had a thick, pointed bear, long up to his chest, and would wear his long hair in a ponytail at the back of his neck.
Oalif was the perfect man for that mission, but unfortunately, he would have had to stay on board in order to avoid prying eyes. As a matter of fact, he was wanted: his face was well known, and they did not know whom or what they were going to meet.
The spaceship landed in a green, sunny clearing crossed by a wide river with shallow and crystal-clear waters that would show the river floor. The latter was covered in a great variety of colourful stones, just like in an impressionist picture.
"The best way to hide something, is doing that out in the open. Oalif, switch on the camouflage panels as soon as we disembark. And thank you, you've been great." Ulica , the Eumenide complimented him,.
"This place is incredible. Once you venture inside, the surrounding fog disappears and the KIC 8462852 rays begin warming up the atmosphere as if it was summer." noticed Zàira from Oria as soon as she landed.
"Hurry up. We have little time to find a shelter before twilight. Mastigo will not leave us with a lot of time to find the monastery" ordered Xam from the Sixth Planet, who was the fourth member of the group.
"Let's venture along the river." suggested Zàira." The forest that surrounds it will cover us while we pick the most convenient route."
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