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Gods of Kiranis: You Can Start Praying
Gods of Kiranis is the first of an epic seven part Science Fantasy series called Kiranis, charting the machinations of the Prophet Naveen. Its intricate plot; a mysterious structure (the cage) has encompassed Earth, captures the reader's attention from the beginning, and keeps him wondering and wanting more.
ZiN Daily presents to you an extract from Ronald A. Geobey's Gods of Kiranis, first instalment in the Kiranis series (https://www.templedarkbooks.com/gods-of-kiranis).
THE FIRST DAY
Station 6, Earth Orbit, 2380 CE
The corridor was long, silent and peaceful, the perfect place for Cana to escape the chaos of life on the station. From here, he could fix his deep blue eyes on Earth and pretend that the world was perfect. Any other day he would have cast the images to his Pops and lifted the old man’s spirits. But not today. With the terror of last night’s dream forced into chambers of deep memory and deeper fears, Cana was transfixed by the hurricane raging far below. He imagined this meteorological event as something akin to a spiral galaxy, its arms of benign clouds birthing stars and worlds as they slowly rotated, and he imagined his Pops saying, ‘This world is fascinating enough for me, Cana. You’d do well to ground yourself from time to time.’ Cana had smiled at his grandfather, who had simply pursed his lips and nodded knowingly. For Cana had long wanted nothing more than to escape the world and everything in it.
The serenity of the orbiting station on which he now served belied the ferocity of the earthbound storm devastating an island chain in the South Pacific. He heard someone approaching but he continued to stare at the event below, feeling humbled by the silent majesty of nature’s wrath. ‘I heard they started evacuating people down there,’ the newcomer commented casually. ‘There’s some archaeological dig going on.’
‘In the Solomons?’ wondered Cana, pushing back a blond fringe with habitual absence. ‘Never thought of that part of the world as having anything of historical value.’ ‘I thought your lot considered every part of the world valuable.’
Cana glanced briefly at Randall Lyons, a friend and colleague ten years his senior who pretended to have little respect for anyone or anything in the interest of remaining in touch with the younger staff. It did not work, however, for Lyons kept his hair shaved close, his uniform neatly pressed and his mind on the job; in every way the opposite of how Cana presented himself. ‘My lot?’ Cana challenged, turning back to observe the wonder of the raging storm.
There was a twinkle of mischief in Randall’s brown eyes. ‘You know…that so-called church you’re part of.’
Cana smiled thinly. ‘That so-called church is fast becoming the most influential religion on the planet,’ he replied. ‘But you know that.’
‘You know I tried to join once? Your church, I mean.’
‘Really?’ Cana decided to allow this nonsense to proceed.
‘Just curiosity, of course. Don’t believe a word of it.’
‘You don’t know a word of it, Lyons.’
‘True. But I wanted to. Anyway, they rejected me. Said I failed the medical. A medical! To get into a church!’
‘Yeah, now I know you’re talking crap. They never said anything to me about a medical.’ ‘You got one for this job, didn’t you? Your record’s on file. Nothing to it.’ ‘So, the Church just demanded my medical records?’
‘Well, they’re the most influential religion on the planet, right?’
‘Everything’s a conspiracy with you, Lyons. Maybe you should try…’ Cana stepped closer to the massive window as something caught his eye. ‘What the hell was that?’ ‘What?’
‘A flash. In the middle of the hurricane. Is that…’ he pointed to something between them and the clouds. ‘Is that heading for us?’
Lyons had not been focusing on the storm and it took a moment for him to see the object. ‘It looks like…I think it’s a missile!’ He turned around and moved to the opposite wall, slamming his hand on an intercom screen. There was no response.
Transfixed by the rocketing object hurtling towards them at immense speed despite concerted countermeasures from orbital defences, Cana knew he should run. Shock overwhelmed him, convincing him otherwise. ‘I can’t get anyone up top,’ said Lyons, his fear evident as he returned to the window. The object was larger now, mere seconds from reaching them. Cana dropped to his knees, lowering his head and joining his hands and beginning to mutter prayers of salvation. Lyons shouted in disbelief, ‘The hell are you doing? Get up!’
The missile tore silently past the window, blackening outer layers of glass as hairline fractures spider-webbed ominously. Then the station trembled and groaned, a sea monster woken from rest. Explosions rocked the superstructure and the station lurched violently, turning until Cana and Lyons lay prostrate on the weakening glass surface. Now Earth looked far too close for comfort, and they scrambled desperately to their feet. An alarm began blasting, flashing red lights announcing the onset of evacuation procedures. ‘They’re gonna seal off the corridor!’ Lyons roared. ‘Move! Move!’
Whatever had struck the station had destabilised the internal orientation, and Cana was struggling to keep his balance while watching the nearby door begin its inevitable closure. The window which had looked out from the corridor was now a transparent floor beneath them; and it was shattering. The station rolled again, meaning they had to climb to reach the door. Lyons was quickly there, holding on to the frame while reaching out to Cana. ‘Come on!’ he yelled, his voice barely audible above the still barking alarm. Cana grabbed Lyons’ hand and was pulled through the opening just as the window fell apart and the vacuum of space took Cana by the legs and the lungs. For a terrible moment, Cana thought he would die, but Lyons managed to drag him through and they collapsed together as the door closed and oxygen returned. Freezing and catching their breath, the two men exchanged glances, with Cana nodding his gratitude. ‘We…have to…keep going,’ Lyons gasped, ‘in case they eject…the domestic levels.’
Cana was horrified at the thought, but he knew enough not to argue. They found a network of service ladders in maintenance ducts and made their way upwards through the station. With the gravity rollers thrown out of sync, the twenty-minute climb was a disorienting experience, as ascending the ladders changed from a horizontal affair, to one of decline and then incline, all caused by the changing orientation of the station. Emerging from the domestic levels, they were met by soldiers gathering fleeing off-duty personnel and directing them to safe areas. ‘What the hell happened?’ snapped Lyons as he fell out onto the floor, the maintenance duct was sealed and the sound of clamps and hissing hydraulics heralded the onset of the ejection procedure.
A soldier turned to him. ‘What did you see down there?’
Lyons glanced at Cana, who nodded and replied, ‘Something shot up from the eye of a hurricane and came straight at us.’ The soldiers around them stopped and listened. ‘What are you talking about?’ one of them snapped. ‘What’s that got to do with all this?’ ‘All this?’ Cana looked around. ‘I don’t understand. Isn’t that what hit us?’
The first soldier stepped closer. ‘You don’t seem to get it, kid. We’re one of the few stations left. Most of them were torn to pieces when the cage appeared. It just materialised in orbit and knocked out everything in its way. We might have suffered a lot more than a loss of stabilisation if we’d been anywhere else.’
The soldier nodded. ‘I’m sure everyone’ll be debriefed once we get our house in order. For now, just make your way to the Yellow Staging Area. Follow the yellow lights.’ Lyons shook his head and gave a mocking laugh. ‘What do you mean…a cage? What sort of cage?’
No longer in the mood for idle chat, the soldier grabbed Lyons by the arm and pointed him in the direction he was to take. ‘The yellow lights,’ he repeated forcefully. Cana took Lyons’ arm and they walked away. As they passed a younger soldier, he leaned in and whispered, ‘It’s around the whole planet, man. Never seen anything like it. The whole world…in a cage!’ He shook his head and walked away.
Cana and Lyons followed the yellow lights, joining the rest of the refugees. Lyons was staring straight ahead when he spoke, so Cana never had a chance to learn if he had been genuine when he said, ‘Now you can start praying.’
And a cage it was – a complex planet prison positioned around Earth in hundreds of component sections. Each of the sections maintaining equidistant and synchronous orbits were like massive satellites, huge hexagonal pyramids casting ominous shadows upon the world as the energy from fiery exhausts kept their positions intact. Spiked defensive arrays decorated each pyramid, and there were visible clues that these satellites could do more than merely defend themselves.
With the entire monstrosity rotating to match Earth’s axial tilt, what might have been a control array above the Arctic was forming from larger sections extending thousands of kilometres into space. And while the myriad pyramid sections prepared to advance tube-like corridors and wireframe nodes to connect with their counterparts and complete this technological web, autonomous systems bore witness to the awakening of a single man, bound in a stasis tube in a nondescript area of the northern polar array.
Disoriented at first, Conner quickly came to appreciate the difficultly of his circumstances. Clamps held him captive in an open capsule of cold metal, his ankles, thighs, neck and wrists locked in place so he could not move his head to look farther than his enhanced grey eyes might permit. But he did not need to see the observer to know he was there. ‘I can feel you staring at me,’ he snapped. ‘Release me.’
A man moved from the shadows while remaining in their wake. Perhaps a handsome man, his close-shaved hair and the purposeful configuration of his dark stubble troubled such a conclusion, giving instead the impression of shadows of fangs along his jawline. He smiled a cold smile, dark eyes locked firmly on the captive individual elevated above this enigma. ‘What else can you feel, Conner?’ he asked. ‘Are you aware of the journey you’ve made?’
Conner closed his eyes and took a series of long, deep breaths. When his eyes snapped open, the man from the shadows laughed: ‘Amazing, isn’t it? All it took was a beacon fired from the planet and the Cage was able to travel across the galaxy.’
‘This isn’t my time.’
‘No, we’re four centuries before your time. When it began.’
‘Why?’ asked Conner. ‘What am I supposed to do?’
‘You know who I am?’
Conner tried to nod. ‘They were calling you the Prophet. Omega said you were dead.’
The Prophet chuckled. ‘Times change,’ he replied. As he moved closer to Conner, the shadows held him possessively as if refusing to let him go. ‘Speaking of such things, I should give you a little warning of what’s coming.’
‘Just tell me how to get home. There’s something very important I need to do. I don’t understand why I’m here.’
‘You will, when you see an old friend.’ The Prophet retreated into the shadows opposite the captive man. ‘Is that it?’ Conner shouted. ‘You put me through all this and leave me with a riddle?’ He struggled in the bonds, his considerable strength – both physical and otherwise – rendered worthless by his captor. ‘Get me the hell outta here!’
As the blackness swallowed the Prophet, the clamps holding Conner in place snapped open and he fell forward, hitting the floor hard. He launched himself into the darkness to grab the man, but there was no one there. The only sound was the thrumming of machinery as the Cage maintained its position around Earth. Conner lay on the floor for a time, trying to decide what to do as he caught his breath.
Within hours, scores of military vessels were emerging from the atmosphere to approach the mysterious structure, exploiting the ability to pass through the still disconnected wireframe without incident. Powerful energy readings were emanating from the gigantic north pole section, suggesting that these areas housed the control centre of the alien structure. Charged with leading one of the many reconnaissance missions to a pre-determined sector, Captain Adam Echad of the Nostradamus did well to keep his trepidation from his bridge staff. He issued orders and stood firm and confident, eyeing the massive section towards which he was heading. But his confidence was a façade, for something had been nagging at him since he awoke that morning. The dream had been powerful, vivid, and intense. So vivid, in fact, that the thought of turning to observe his crew caused him to relive the disturbing scene:
In his dream, he had walked onto this very bridge to find it staffed by skeletons. They acted as if they were alive, addressing him and each other with mouths devoid of tongues and perpetual grins. Voices were normal in tone and tenor, even without vocal cords and lungs to define them. In his dream, Adam accepted this, despite having his body and organs intact and being
dressed as would be expected. It was as he took his command chair that he noticed the lines. They were red, passing through every skeleton at the point where their hearts should be, some lines running away from the crew to the exterior of the ship, others leading off the bridge through various exits. A sudden flash heralded red lines of horizontal light stretching across the bow window. Now, as he looked at the strange heart-lines of his skeleton crew, every one of those lines were directed at him…at his heart. And they did not pierce him as with the others. They ended with him. They began with him.
As the Nostradamus rose ever closer to the monstrous object above and he found himself focused once again on the real world, Captain Echad could see red lines of horizontal light along the darkness of the alien metal. He found himself looking down to his heart, instinctively raising his hand to his chest as he took a deep breath. An irrational fear struck him, and he was reluctant to turn to his crew lest he see skeletons and red lines. Someone was calling him. ‘Captain?’ the female voice repeated.
Without turning around, he replied. ‘Yes, Lieutenant.’
‘We found what looks like a docking conduit, Sir, with an entrance large enough for the ship. Should we go in?’
Adam nodded. ‘Let the fleet know. Ready weapons.’
The Nostradamus led the reconnaissance fleet of ten ships into a huge aperture between two of the horizontal blue lines, where flashing red lights on either side guided them in along strips of yellow as if awaiting their entry. He inhaled slowly, turned to look at his crew, and then exhaled with relief; berating himself for his stupidity as he saw that they were all very much alive. For now.
About the Author: Geobey has degrees in Ancient History, and Theology; as well as a Ph.D. in Ancient Near Eastern Studies. He is a fan of Star Wars, Star Trek, and Battlestar Galactica; as well as a reader of Heroic Fantasy from the likes of David Gemmell, David Eddings, and Raymond E. Feist.
He lives with his wife, two daughters, and his Shichon, Monty, in Ireland, and has been writing since 1991. You can find him on Twitter @Ronald_A_Geobey