Flash Fiction Friday 018 – Cave Diving

The ship sailed low over the ground, its oraculum glowing faintly against the barren earth.

“You sure this is the right way? Thought the next farm was….nevermind. There it is,” Liam said as he adjusted course and allowed the vessel to drift towards the the gaping maw in the landscape. Once they were alongside it, Liam dropped anchor and turned towards Henri.

“Now remember lad, this place is still being seeded. Air’s gonna be a little thin. You start getting light headed, you come back.” Henri started to climb from the ship and down the ladder when Liam’s hand caught his shoulder. “One more thing. The oraculum can make some strange things when its getting started. You hear a skitter, you come back. We’re terraformers, not soldiers.”

“Yeah, yeah.. I got it pops,” Henri replied. Old timers always thinking just cause he was new, he was dumb.

As Henri descended the robe ladder and past the safety of wood and rune and into a world of stone and dark, he felt his breath catch. The change from the ship’s air to planet still got to him, even after all the training. Slowly, he started to climb down the maw and into telhe earth. Veins of green glow told him that the oraculum was settling in nicely to the area as they dove deep into the planet. According to his lessons, this area would be ready for a colony in six months and well on its way to self sufficient life.

Henri found a ledge about fifty meters down and settled himself on it for a little break. The walls of the cave were damp with dew, another good sign. On one end of the ledge, the glowing vein seemed to disappear around a bend. Rising to his feet, Henri followed the vein into a tunnel. He had to crutch as his fingers traced the element deeper into the bowels of the planet and he lost track of how long he had been following it.

Suddenly, he seemed to step into a vast cave. Oraculum veins and ore glittered silently above him like rainbow constellations. All about him, dark entrances and exits yawned their darkened mouths. He stood in the middle of the room transfixed, spinning ever so slowly as he took it all in when his ears caught the sound of skittering along one of the walls.

He stopped dead in his tracks. His heart pounded as he strained against the darkness. The skittering drew closer. It was accompanied by a low level keening that seemed to throb through the stone floors.

Henri ran towards on open mouth in the wall, following the faint green glow. The sounds of his heavy breaths and heavier pounding of feet drowned out the any sounds of pursuit. Several desperate minutes past before he slowed down. There didn’t seem to be a chase, but the vein he had followed also ended a few meters in front of him. Darkness loomed before him as he realized he chose the wrong tunnel. Frantically, he started to back track.

Up above, Liam leaned back and waited. After an hour, he noticed a small bundle under an empty bench that contained Henri’s guideline. He swore softly at both Henri failing to take it and his forgetting to check. They weren’t expected back for several hours, so Liam waited, hoping the rookie would find his way back. When his recall time came, Liam sighed and tossed the guideline into the maw. Raising anchor, he set sail for base. This was dangerous work and the empire had plenty of bodies.

Rose Nexus Updates

Whew. Draft 1 of Rose Nexus is complete. In fact, I am about halfway through my first draft edits on it.

This story turned out to be a bit more than I had originally intended. I thought it was going to be just a simple little short story. Instead, I managed to get it into somewhere around 24k words currently. Of course, that is making this first revision a bit of a challenge. After all, when I started writing, there were several things I glossed over because they weren’t really that important. Now I have to go back and fill those parts all in.

In addition to the general growth of the story, it has expanded the scope of the world as well. For those of you who follow me on twitter, you have a bit of an idea. For the rest, here is a little taste of the world.

The Romulean Empire was blessed with a mysterious substance known as oraculum. This moss-like substance allowed them to create flying ships and conquer all of Terra. In addition, it was discovered that oraculum would allow the Romuleans to extend into the heavens and explore the cosmic sea itself. They quickly began to colonize planets and extend their influence into fourteen provinces.

Another boon was the discovery of magic. The gods blessed Lord Caesarium with immortality and magic. Caesarium, in turn, granted his people with its uses and long life. Of course, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t struggle. Colonies revolt, pirates raid the Cosmic Seas, and unknown horrors lurk in the darkness.

This is the backdrop that our hero Brennus finds himself in. A relatively young magus (mage), he is sent to find the source of a mystic illness. Will he succeed or will he be crushed by foreign magics?

Of course, with the expansion of the world and setting, Rose Nexus is likely to only be the beginning. I have several other stories planned for the Romuleans as they attempt to control their empire. The current plans right now are for those stories to stay in the 20 to 30 thousand word range. Nothing intimidating. A good afternoon read (hopefully).

Of course, the motivation to get these out quickly does need your help. Follow me here or on twitter. Beat me up on facebook. Heck, with enough interest, I might even figure out the whole newsletter thing. Or just keep an eye out on Kindle Unlimited.  Regardless, I’m excited about exploring this universe, and I hope you will be as well. (Here’s another taste, a flash fiction I put up a while ago.) And as always, I mustache y’all to stay fantastical.