Ideagraphy: The ultimate writer toolkit for mobiles

When it comes to going off the laptop and onto mobile devices, writing and putting together a novel can be a little tricky when it comes time to synchronise the content. The ability to export all your stuff back to laptop mode is the functionality you want.

Note-taking and writing platforms have been already covered here:

Below are the most useful apps available for Android and Apple for structuring and planning out your story.


Pluot

Pluot is purely a character and story planning app for writers.

It allows you to build plot scenes which you can reorder through drag-and-drop, develop characters with profiles and attributes, create locations, construct plotlines and link them up, and add images.

And once you’re ready to write you can export your outlines to text files.


Novelist

Novelist is a writing assistant that will help plan out your novel from a nascent stage into a published book. I give you the ability to brainstorm, add research, develop characters, and outline every aspect of the story.

It’s even got a web interface application that can help you stay on the platform and continue writing multiple drafts till the finished book.

Novelist - Sections
Novelist - Schedule

Most important of all, you can export to epub, odt, and HTML.


Wavemaker

Web-browser based Wavemaker runs on virtually anything. It works offline or it can be installed and run on any device, allowing you to sync your devices up using google drive.

You can plan and structure your book into chapters, scenes, and make notes.

 Export as Word (DocX)

There a planning board and data base function as well as a snowflake tool.

Export as HTM (.html) for sharing to the web, creating e-book or for openning with Word.

Export is also avdilable for Markdown (.md), Word (.docx), ePub (.epub) and Rich Text Format (.rtf)


All three are practical enough to get your project fleshed out from idea to complete novel, and if you want to move to a fifteenth platform they each have yhst all important export facility.

A Year of Independence

Building a platform is difficult. It takes time, dedication, learning new skill-sets and a lot of sacrifice. To pay this price, and be successful, and then have some corporate goons shut you down, is a serious hazard in this strange new world we live in.

The Axis of Evil

Individual freedom has a new enemy, and it isn’t the government. This time it’s AFTGA [Apple, Facebook, Twitter, Google & Amazon.] Doesn’t matter what the political persuasion, if you can’t recognise how evil these mega-corporations have become, then something could be wrong with your brain. It might be the future, where corporations replace sovereign governments, but any artist or entrepreneur wanting to build a platform today would have to be crazy to use the legacy platforms if they don’t want to fall prey to these hyper-radicalised corporations.

Amazon and Facebook Are the Most 'Evil' Tech Companies, According ...

The Alternative Challenge

The route to avoid this is harder than than using the mainstream internet, but in the end, if you seek to have your platform resistant to corporate thuggery, then try building it from scratch. Decentralisation is key, and the internet being the internet, provides ample alternative building blocks. It comes down to habits, so the best way to approach this is to try to change your normal routine with how you interact with the world wide web, by using alternatives for at least a year.

OS v OS

The first fence to jump would be the OS barrier. Using the Windows platform by Microsoft seems safe at the moment. Even though they push through updates that fuck up your user experience, they’ve never to my knowledge targeted users and tried to shut them down. Sure they steal your behavioural data, and pump out propaganda via their MSNBC outlet, but the risk of them stifling your platform is low. That’s why I haven’t included them as part of the Axis of Evil [yet]. No one really uses Edge browser. They can’t Skype you out of existence. But Bezos, Dorsey, Pichai and Cook can obliterate you out of existence if they target you. Zuckerberg seems to understand the potential for evil they are messing with, but the others don’t appear to give a fuck about the individual human being, they believe they are the sole moral authority. For any platform builder, even casual internet users for that matter, this is a bad thing.

Udemy Class Review: Ubuntu for Beginners - ExtremeTech

If you really want to start from scratch, Linux-based operating systems are available that are now just as good as Win and iOS. There are heaps of Linux-based offerings, but Ubuntu is the way to go, but not absolute.

Browser War 2

The First Browser War was long and fought by various belligerents. Netscape, Explorer and then Google entered the battle. MS leveraged the dominance they had with their OS platform to become number one, but in the end Google’s Chrome eventually won, leveraging their success in the Search Algorithm Battle.

The Second Browser War has already began. Its now all about decentralisation and personal data. Google refuses to let go of their golden goose, so they won’t pay you for the data they skin off you. The alternative I find most likely to service every day browsing, just as a way to differentiate from your mainstream operations, is the Brave Browser.

Pin by dipa barua on Stuff to Buy | Brave browser, Clear browsing ...

With Brave, you can separate the old way of interacting with the internet (Chrome, Twitter, Facebook) and the new way, using only the alternative bookmarks with the Brave Browser.

Brave also monetises your data, giving you the choice to get paid for the data they (Brave) collect. Also a great introduction to cryptocurrency and the applied power of blockchain technology.

The Search Migration

When attempting research, the best way to ween yourself off Google Search, especially since they curate what information the algorithm delivers to you (i.e. blatant censorship) is using alternatives.

Presearch is a decentralized search engine, powered by the community. | Social sites, Health ...
How to Get Traffic From Alternative Search Engines (Other ...

DuckDuckGo at least promises to protect your privacy; uses the Yahoo algorithm, and attempts to give you the best result, as opposed to what Google wants you to discover.

Presearch is blockchain-based, therefore it pays you directly for the information it gets from you and offers multiple and custom search options.

privacy@email.com

There was a time in the late 90’s- early 2000’s when I was able to register over seventy free email accounts. kandiliotis@yawmail.com kandiliotis@start.com kandiliotis@mbox.com. There existed heaps of these. Now they’ve all vanished, only hotmail.com and gmail.com have remained the dominant providers of free service. They provide it free because they snoop through your private content and throw adverts at you.

Having road-tested heaps I’ve settled on Protonmail. It has a decent free plan, it’s encrypted by default, has solid free features, and is based in Switzerland. Oh, plus they don’t snoop on you.

It’s in the Cloud.

Cloud storage is handy, holy shit, it’s more than just handy. Having access to your data anytime and anywhere is the best, it’s revolutionary. But just like email, Google and Microsoft just love snooping around your stuff, and if they don’t like you, they can cut you off from your data and will. Dropbox and Box.com are also big-tech cronies who would do same if they all decide to come for you.

When Megaupload was shut down, like all disruptive technology, Kim Dotcom simply establish an another file sharing service, Mega.nz. Granted, it can be taken down, but only a government level attack could do it. As long as no laws are broken, I don’t see this happening. It’s encrypted, has neat features, and robust.

If you want more control; set up your own file server. Nextcloud and Owncloud are available, and with a bit of research and knowhow, are easy to install.

If you’re savvy enough, you can run these from home, but if you use a hosting service, make sure the servers are NOT reliant on Amazon’s AWS, otherwise they can and will shut you down.

Microblog: The News Revolution

Twitter is garbage. If you’re looking to have a meaningful conversation on a platform limited to 280 characters then give up. Its not going to happen. The only usefulness a micro-blogging site has is access to news. It bypasses legacy media choke-holds and gives you direct news, real-time, from the source.

Unfortunately, Jack Dorsey’s crew think its okay to appoint themselves as the morality police by curating what is and what is not news, or what is ethical and what is not. Or who is a good person and who is bad.

Fortunately, the market counterbalances this with competition.

And Freedom of Speech is the main marketing strategy, with both Parler and Gab dedicated to respecting the right for an individual to express themselves freely. As an artist or any platform builder, this is an important aspect. Getting your news out to the world should not be based around the morality and ethics of some Silicon Valley goon, but base around your own principles.

Social Freedom, or Death

Interacting with your fans or customers is a fundamental aspect to any platform. Whether the interactions are positive or negative, that is your business.

Minds Launches Virtual Currency-Powered Social Networking ...

Minds and Hive are both blockchain-base solutions to social media censorship. They are user controlled with strong established communities, and they offer payment systems for content.

Blockchain Killed the Video Star.

Stay bland, avoid using an ever-increasing list of banned words, submit to an ever-subverted political correctness, and you will do fine on YouTube. The monetisation program they provide is easy bait, but you become enslaved to their ever-shifting values.

Blockchain offers solutions to grow your platform. It may be slow and meagre but crypto-currencies aren’t going to go away. They are maturing fast and will eventually dominated the Internet’s economy.

Dr. Bill.TV is Now on BitChute! - Dr. Bill.TV | The ...LBRY in 100 Seconds - YouTube

Bitchute and LBRY are the main contenders. Decentralised, they provide a safer base of operations. Build an audience free of corporate interference.

Dtube gets an honourable mention because of… blockchain.

Patreonisation

When Patreon decided to de-platform customers, SubscribeStar said thank you very much. Russian-owned, there’s little chance they’ll bend to American corporate wokeness because, a] they actually want to make money, b] Russia is protected by nuclear weapons.

SubscribeStar

Locals is another subscription\social media platform that’s worth checking out.

Also, consider getting up to speed with cryptocurrency and blockchain technology, because legacy banks and Paypal have no qualms destroying you and your enterprise.

Beyond Distribution

AFTGA, especially Amazon, have a stranglehold on publishing whether it be books, music or movies. They can crush you on a whim. Paypal, who own eBay, Gumtree and other ecommerce big tech firms have proven they will shut you down if they don’t like you so, don’t rely on them. Alternative distribution outlets are hard to come by, but they do exist., for example; OpenBazaar.

Decentralisation is key. If you’re producing content, blockchain and torrent technologies have the ability to sucker punch these corporate leviathans, but that is a quest for another future post.

The Carpenter

All artists are influenced by the previous generation of artists. Westerns were part of John Carpenter’s cinematic diet growing up. John Ford, Howard Hawks, these filmmakers were shaping cinema at the time, stamping out a movie language that would become the standard for anyone wishing the tell a story using cinema.

A fan of horror and science fiction movies such as The Thing from Another World and Forbidden Planet, John Carpenter defined another set of standards for a new generation of filmmakers. The modern horror genre is partly his offspring. Like his predecessors, Carpenter mastered the long game, building the tension until the big payoff. 

Nowadays, it’s clear that motion pictures have devolved somewhat. Big budget Hollywood blockbusters lack most of the qualities that gave movies from the past the greatness they deservedly earned. Nowadays, even B-grade movies are more pathetic than ever. Low budget productions are missing the mark completely.

It’s as if the current batch of filmmakers have stopped learning from the best.

Continue reading “The Carpenter”
Star Wars

Star Wars: A Lost Hope

Now that this sad shit-show of a saga is over, the only thing we have left, is the thought, ‘what if they did a decent sequel trilogy with a coherent story without the political rape that Disney inflicted upon this series?’. How hard was it to produce something that remotely resembles a Star War story?

Apart from the visuals, there are three fundamental flaws with Episodes 7, 8 and 9. The visual effects and art design are the trilogy’s best asset, but sometimes they do act against the films. The entire narrative seems to be built around these great visuals. And then, to make things unbearable, the cluttering of the SFX is overdone, almost to the point of ridiculousness.

Continue reading “Star Wars: A Lost Hope”
Relic Hunters

Relic Hunters

“It’s a square.”

Silv heard correctly but wanted clarification. “What do you mean a square?”

“Probe One has just completed a second sweep over your location,” said The Captain, sitting comfortably in the Vitalis Express orbiting KIC10905746 C.  “We’ve now got a clearer picture of what’s down there. The anomaly’s actually a large geometric shape, fifty metres wide, just north of your location. In fact, there is a grid of quadrilateral structures underneath a kilometre of nitrogen ice.”

Looking over at Denis, Silv felt vindicated. “Was I right in choosing this dormant glacier for a first landing?”

“Could be naturally occurring formations,” said Denis.

Silv decided not to argue. The majority of the planet’s glaciers seemed to be grinding their way towards the equator, where they evaporated slowly under the distant K-type sun. If ever a warmer climate existed, the solid nitrogen under their feet would have been the planet’s atmosphere and the geography, shaped by it. Moving glaciers, after millions of local years, would have wiped out any evidence of such an epoch.

They climbed into the Quadra, a four-sailed sledge available to the Vitalis Express crew, and using the icy southerly winds, they slid towards a featureless horizon.

“How are we going to get verification?” said Denis. “Whatever those formations are, they’re a kilometre down.”

Silv had a theory. “There’s hundreds of crevasses riddle inside the glacier. The data from Probe One’s first GPR mappings indicate that they are all interconnected. This ice sheet isn’t as dormant as we thought. It’s expanding outward.”

They rode the Quadra onwards, into the bleakness, until the captain of the Vitalis Express said to them, “You are now above the start of the fracture.” Denis planted thermoplates, melting a passageway to the cavity beneath them. Using the Quadra’s wrench to lower themselves into the icy caverns, they began the journey down a moderate but jagged slope, lasting an hour before they hit the misty bottom. They trekked for three hundred metres, following a creek of steaming carbon monoxide until Silv spotted the opening of another fissure, it’s slope steeper than previously experienced.

Denis unpacked the climbing tackle and rigged it for their decent. Via the light provided by the atmosuits, Silv noticed layers of green watermarks staining the ice. “Copper. Reacting with the layers of oxygen.”

The bottom opened out into a vast chasm. They marched into the void, ground sinking like mud until they came to a shallow lake, its surface, a black mirror.

“Look,” said Denis pointing to a shape beyond the shadows.

Silv waded into the pool of boiling nitrogen, thankful for the engineering behind the atmosuit.

“Wait,” Denis, seeing Silv’s resolve, ventured forward.

They came to a wall-like outcrop, protruding just half a metre out of the emerald liquid. Silv touched it, noticing a rough and serrated aspect to the material. “It crumbles slightly, but it’s pretty solid.”

Denis inspect the blue surface. “It looks like coral.”

Silv felt the euphoria subside inside his chest.

“It’s a natural phenomenon,” yelled Denis, frustrated. “Some kind of copper oxide.”

We are wasting time,” said the captain, “get back here, that’s an order.”

Silv looked beyond, at the platform, arising out of the subterranean sea. “I veto,” said Silv, climbing onto the structure. “This thing has spires, look.” “He looked back and waved Denis up. “Something built this.”

Denis joined the Quartermaster, hiking to one of the tapering towers and grabbed a section. It crumbled into his hands. “It’s ancient. Probably not much left.”

“Intelligent civilisation or just some biological organism?”

“I don’t know yet,” answered Silv, looking up at the cathedral of columns. “Don’t send down any crew unless I give it the go-ahead.”

Silv and Denis explored the green and blue crystalline edifice for the next several hours, finding nothing but empty shadows until they discovered the pit, perfectly square, bottomless.

Denis held out his rangefinder, “Eight hundred and sixty-four metres. This structure is huge.”

“Made of copper,” added Silv. “There’s gotta be some ancient relics down there.”

“I don’t know,” replied Denis, sounding genuinely sceptical. “This planet must have suffered some kind of climate event, causing its entire atmosphere to freeze up. We are down over a kilometre. No structure this high could withstand such weight.”

“What are you saying?” Silv took out a pick and began scrapping the ledge, expecting to rub up the lustre of the metal, but failing to do so.

“I don’t think this structure is…,” began Denis but was cut off by a black, slimy blob spattering onto the pirate’s helmet.

Silv saw the creature lift its globular, headless torso, raised on a multitude of neurotendrils, which spread down and wrapped around the rest of Denis’s body. Another fell from above, latching itself to Denis, and another. They seemed to be leaping off the spires. Silv looked up at the sea of black moving down the immense construction. 

The sound of a million slaps echoed out from the pit.

When the struggling, disoriented Denis stumbled into the gaping hole, Silv, mind stunned with horror, sprang to life, dashing toward the direction of the crevasse. By the time Silv jumped down into the lake, the entire platform was inundated by a swarm of slithering neurotendrils.

Silv ran across the sludge and up the ice ravine, the nightmare sounds growing louder by the second. The cliff climbing equipment awaited, but as Silv pulled at the rope to begin ascension, multiple climbers rappelled down. They were the crew from the pirate ship, Vitalis Express.

“Wait!” yelled Silv.

The hissing echoes penetrated the atmosuit.

When the captain descended, Silv screamed, “What are you doing?”

The cavern vibrated.

Relic Hunterss

“We’ve got heavy equipment coming down, so clear the way.”

“No!”

“I’ve got all hands on deck,” said the captain. “We haven’t much time, but we should be able to leave this ice cube with some kind of valuable relic…” The captain paused, noting that the darkness beyond the night, had turned into a mass of glistering black. 

Cruel Sky

Cruel Sky

Mez watched the Windslipper 4 disappear from the Command screens. The data streams ended abruptly with millions of zeros trailing each other homogeneously. The humans and mimicrons gasped but their horror didn’t last long. The Jovian Commission’s Fusionjet Program had already gobbled up hundreds of mimicron pilots and eighty-two human explorers. Mez guessed they had grown accustomed to the fatalities. What they weren’t used to was the price tag for this particular launch. Tacacorp, a quasi-government outfit that operated Callisto, was seeking to gain the commission’s contract and had sunk a lot of development into their Windslipper Project.

This deficiency in empathy didn’t stop Mez feeling sadness over Natan VanWehl’s fate, a one-time colleague at the Goliath Project, a friend, and a human.

“Why do humans do this when we have mimicrons?” Mez had asked him once.

“Because it’s there, staring us in the face, challenging us, daring us one-percenters to abandon our slavery and face this nasty, sublime universe.”

With the value of human labour and life at historic lows, Mez understood why authorities had recently switched policies to allow people back into space exploration. Mimicrons, as it turned out, were more expensive and less intellectually and physically agile than homo-sapiens.

Mez ordered a copy of the data, but he’d have to wait until after the official Tacacorp briefing. Competitors received this, hours after, so Mez had to make do with what he saw on Command’s vast public screens, paying attention to the error alerts.

Forty-eight seconds of atmospheric deployment.

The fusionjets didn’t even ignite.

Less than a minute, he pondered.

This sudden cut in data meant that the Windslipper blew up as it attempted to ignite its fusionjets. The majority of missions matched the same result, each lasting only a moment inside the harsh Jovian sky. Other failures were attributed to bad deployment during atmospheric entry, or fusionjets failing to ignite, causing the aeroskaphes to plunge into the planet’s interior where it would melt and disintegrate into atoms.

Mez retired to his cubicle on the X-axis wing of Ehricke City. At 0.7 gees, the sector was considered prestigious among Galilean intenturees. Mez slept, waiting for the Windslipper mission results, hoping to get some rest before his own mission starting in forty-nine hours

The cubicle’s A.E alerted him of an incoming call. Mez jumped up, allowing the simulacrum to materialise.

“Mez Tanar,” said an executive when the simulacrum took shape.

“How can I help you?”

“My name is Jorn Equos from Tacacorp.”

“I know who you are,” Mez gave the simulacrum a frown. “Are you personally giving me the Windslipper’s results?”

“No, I’m going one better. I’m making you a proposal.”

Mez should have known better. They had poached Natan, and now the man was dead. “I already work for Goliath.”

“No, you don’t. Not as a pilot. They’re dropping humans and are now using mimicrons. I guess the cost-to-benefit ratio has poisoned their minds. Tacacorp remains firmly pro-human. We want flesh and blood to fly those things, and last I heard, you’re dying to do so? What do you say?”

Surprised by the revelation, Mez searched the Interportal for that information. The news had broken minutes after the Windslipper’s demise. “I’ve invested too many years on the Goliath’s subaerine. I can’t just flip over on a whim.”

“Subaerine,” spat Jorn. “You aren’t going to achieve buoyancy, not at those speeds. We are testing fusionjets, not dirigibles. We’ve successfully tested plenty of those. There are thousands of them down there, floating around aimlessly, with nowhere to go. I understand the principles behind what the good engineers at Goliath are trying to achieve, but it’s not going to work.”

Mez read a section about his own mission.

Postponed.

Despair and relief shredded his heart.

On one hand, his lifelong ambition to achieve greatness, to stamp his mark on human history, even if he risked death, eluded him once again. He’d attempted a bright-side crossing on Mercury, only to have it end in disaster. He climbed Mons Olympos, only the sixtieth human to do so. He applied for a sun-dipping expedition, to see how close technology could send a man into a heliosphere, but the introverted Mercurian government canned it, citing security concerns.

On the other hand, Mez knew what pending suicide missions do to one’s psyche. Akin to death row, waiting years to take on an extremely high-risk venture caused considerable mental damage and pain. Yet, the relief made Mez feel guilty.

“You’re not going anywhere,” said Jorn, “Goliath’s got you grounded. But we have Windslipper 5. Mission launches in fifty hours.”

Mez’s head swam. “I can’t fly an aeroskaphe.”

“Sure you can. You’ve been skipping in and out of Venus’s stratosphere your whole life. You’re the best pilot in the Jovian System. Flying an aeroskaphe is no different than any other Venus or Earth shuttle, except, instead of rockets, they have fusionjets, and other niggly bits, but the same nevertheless.”

“Who were you originally planning on sending?”

“Some mimicron, but then the results came in. We won’t be broadcasting the data publicly. The JC has permitted us to withhold it. The results demonstrate a breakthrough, but you need to be on board if you want to find out. That’s why we thought of you. This is looking good.”

“Wasn’t Natan VanWehl the best? And you burned him up.”

“VanWehl was second best. What do you say? Look, if you decide to do this, you’re gonna want to make the best of the next fifty hours. We can always go with a mimicron, but where’s the glory in that?”

Fear of missing out prompted him to say, “I’ll do it.”

The simulacra smiled. “Nice.”

“But only if the engineering makes sense.”

“You’ve got clearance. Meet me at our training facility when you’re rested.”

Within ten hours, Mez found himself inside the emulator, testing the Windsplitter 5. “Why so soon?” he asked.

“Tacacorp is spending whatever it takes, for obvious reasons.”

As the hours ticked by, Mez examined every aspect of the mission.

Jorn reported, “We’re increasing initial coolant pressure by eleven per cent. It’ll keep the fusionjets stable during ignition.”

“What about the aeroshell deployment,” asked Mez. “87 kilometres into the troposphere looks like the right drop, at an angular entry, aligned with wind direction, say 200, 220.”

“That’s pretty much the standard. The three-centimetre titanium aeroshell can withstand up to 20 million rads. Should keep all the A.E-controlled navigation systems from glitching.”

“What about the booster?”

Jorn paused, then said, “There’s no MHR.”

Horror purged the confidence out of Mez. “How am I supposed to reach escape velocity?”

“It’s a weight loss issue,” answered Jorn. “Don’t worry. This isn’t a suicide mission. We have dropped a metallic hydrogen rocket down to a dirigible-cluster floating on the surface. It’s operated by mimicrons, all of them survivors of failed missions. Once you achieve ‘stable flight’ with the fusionjets, they’ll deploy and attach the MHR to the Windslipper. Tested it on Venus, works perfectly. It’s all in the simulation. You still got another thirty hours.”

Feeling inspired, Mez continued working on the simulator.


“Hello, Mez.”

Mez looked up and saw Niad Seffin standing on the platform outside. “I didn’t expect to see you here,” he told her.

“You’re an indentured subject of Goliath Enterprises,” said the CEO. “And you are in breach of your contract.”

“What use am I to you now?”

“That’s beside the point,” Niad answered.

“That is the point. What are you going to do? Slug it out with Tacocorp? Go right ahead.” Mez knew a legal tussle with the Callisto government would take resources and time, and he only needed a few hours. She could use force, but Goliath, despite its moniker, was terribly outgunned by the space-mining conglomeration.

“Let me remind you, that all operational data is the property of Goliath Enterprises.”

“We don’t need your data,” shouted Jorn from the control room. “And your ex-hotshot pilot is right, go right ahead.”

“Why did you shut me down,” Mez asked her.

“To put an end to this one-percenter madness,” said Niad. She leaned over and spoke under her breath. “We have solved our mimicron problem.”

“That still doesn’t help me, does it.” Mez knew she had a close relationship with Natan VanWehl, but he didn’t expect his death would have clouded her decision making. He wondered what motivated her, but time was running out. “Where’s the second drogue parachute?” he called out as he waited for CEO Niad Seffin to leave.

“There’s only one drogue chute,” explained Jorn when Niad finally retreated from the platform. “We need to hit the atmosphere harder, to ignite the fusionjets earlier.”

It made sense. Goliath had been creeping back impact pressure in the last three missions, with incremental success. Jupiter’s winds were harsh; it’s ice ammonia clouds, brutal. Easing the fusionjets into ignition was a logical conclusion.

When launch time arrived, Mez spent the remaining hours meditating, his mind still wondering why his ex-boss would take such an emotional stance.

“It is time for launch,” said the Command’s A.E. “Good luck.”

Mez sealed his titanium mesh suit and entered the Windslipper 5. The aeroshell closed around him as he waited for the countdown to begin. With not too much fanfare from Ehricke City Command, the Windslipper launched from Galileo’s Gate. It sped into the darkness, emerging from Ganymede’s shadow to face the king of the solar system. Mez noticed the radiation levels rise. The Windslipper picked up speed to about 40 kilometres per second. Maz wished he could see the gas planet with the naked eye instead of relying on fragmented visuals from sensors under constant subatomic particle attack.

Cocooned for the next thirty-six hours, Mez ran further simulations, particularly the critical atmospheric deployment of the aeroskaphe. Next on his critical list, were the fusionjet ignition procedures.

As the Windslipper edged nearer to Jupiter’s exosphere, Mez noticed the radiation spike again. This, he knew, was the last radiation belt he would endure. He hoped the titanium mesh, its crystalline structure, would be enough to protect the majority of cells inside his body. Mez touched the hundred-millimetre thick helmet shielding his head.

The drogue parachute deployed.

Radiation, he thought.

The Windslipper went into rapid deceleration.

Mez recalled a secret Goliath research program regarding how radiation disturbed the neuronetic brains of mimicrons, causing errors of judgement, memory loss, and even delusions. The real reason behind why humans were allowed back into the program, was due to the high dysfunction rates of mimicrons. This data was never released publicly, Goliath wanting to use it as an advantage over the competition. Instead, they lobbied the Jovian Commission to lift the ban on human pilots.

At Mach 50, Windslipper 5 slammed into the troposphere, with a peak deceleration of 304 gees. The aeroshield lost half of its total mass before it prepared for deployment.

And here I am, he thought, relying on a bunch of stranded, brain-damaged mimicrons to get the MHR’s to me.

He glared at the distorted visuals, praying that the fusionjets work, so he could at least get a chance to see a glimpse of Jupiter’s unforgiving, merciless sky.

*first appeared on Wattpad

Lions of the Cross

A Snapshot in Time Writing Contest


Cursed be thy Greeks

Damnation beset my fate.

The tower defenders dismantled the upper terrace, using the stone bricks to drop upon our heads. With burning oil and arrows, the misery brought on us by the Greeks plunged my fellow knights, my brothers, into despair. Heaven’s determination to punish our great transgression with this fierce deluge of rain, sent us scampering like mud rats back towards the Bosporus.

To add to my humiliation, a limestone block struck my head. The helmet does me no good. The neck feels it, but tis the collarbone that suffers the true damage. My right arm weakened, I grip my sword with my other, lesser hand, vowing never to abandon it. It was all that was left of my pride as I witness my kinsmen in disarray, panicked like foiled thieves facing slaughter.

“We’re going to require more knights,” yelled Henry, a noble general, crusader, my brother. He seemed adamant to fulfil his plan to demolish the northern wall to allow us entry into Blachernae quarter – with its abundant churches and opulent palace. I could hear the bells echo from behind the rampart, toiling to galvanise the defenders, but also to mock us.

As I succumbed to the pain that flared greater than my shame, I longed for the homeland; the hills of Artois, the ports of Vlaanderen. I longed for my daughters, one of which I have yet to behold.

I resolved to fight on, but the sight of Varangians entering the fray along with my broken shoulder compelled me back to the water, where the burning remains of the Nordengeest lay sunken in the shallows. Wading into the water, I look out across the Golden Horn. A heavy mist had befallen upon us – a condemnation from God.

This punishment I accepted; we defied our creed, we had become mere pirates. How do I return to my country? A heretic? A barbarian? “My lord, I repent,” I told the waves slapping at my belly, as arrowheads pierced the water. “Forgive me for entertaining the greed of man. For believing the lies of the Old Man, of pandering to the corrupt whims of the Duke of Montferrat, for my own beguilement by the young Greek prince.”

A gust of cold wind pushed against my face. I heard shouts, not the jeering from the outer wall, but from the north. The sun broke through the clouds, for the first time since Easter.

“Your true Emperor is here,” cried a voice. The fog dissipated and several galleys bearing the Lion of Saint Mark emerged from the fog. The Old Man had taken to the bow of the San Luciatia to proclaim the restoration of the Latin crown. Joining him was the golden prince with his band of loyal warriors.

“Behold Alexios Angelos the Fouth,” declared the Old Man.

The fleet, using the northerly winds, surged towards the Queen of Cities, fearing not the shore’s rocky jaws, for the Venetians were hastening to beat the Greek fire.

“Let the will of God bring justice back to the bastion of Christendom.”

Above me, plumes of fiery smoke rained across the grey sky, but the waves pushed the fleet out of harm’s way.

“God wills it!” The voices came from around me, from brethren lions, who once despaired, now witnessed redemption. I watched my knights raise their swords and turn back to the wall. My agony fled. I too raise my sword, my unclean hand now blessed, and marched towards the Gates of Blachernae.

“God wills it!” bellowed the Old Man, Dandalo.

“God wills it!” roared the Lions of the Cross.

The Tesseract

The featureless salt desert spread out to infinity. The horizon; nothing but smooth, chrome landscape under a dark taupe sky. The type-2 moon’s gravity helped her along, but the cold surface seemed to sap the warmth out of her suit with every step.

Ashley Isuuza couldn’t complain. She’d craved adventure ever since birth, and no adventure was worth taking without the prospect of death associated with it. So in theory, her little stroll across Obirus b III exemplified the very essence of a perfect, eventful life. Yet Ashley suspected she wasn’t going to live to tell her story.

The Astradelta-Obirus run had proved profitable, especially the shuttling of passengers to the salt moon. This influx of scientists caused the local economy to boom, yet not one official could explain to her the reason why they were there. That changed when the cargo ship she commanded, the Enigma Rex, came to the rescue of an orbital research station. One scientist had survived. All the others, fifteen in all, perished from atmospheric decompression caused by a critical system failure.

What the scientist told her, shattered everything she’d come to know about the universe.

“We’ve discovered a geometrical artifact,” said the dying academic, “that’s older than this stellar system.”

It made sense, Ashley figured. The tight security and tight lips.

“What kind of artifact?” asked Ashley.

“This moon is a tesseract?”

Artifact? Super-engineering?

“Human?” asked Ashley. Obirus had been colonized four thousand years earlier by the Terra Corporterium, but could they have built such a…?

“No,” said the scientist.

“Kucobi?” she asked. They were the closest alien species and roughly the same age as humanity.

The weak man shook his head, leaned over and whispered words into Ashley’s ear. Ashley struggled to decipher their meaning. With collapsed lungs, the scientist was unable to breathe. Before Ashley could inquire, he had died.

“Warning,” announce Enigma Six, the ship’s consciousness. “Control systems under polemictronic attack.”

Ashley rushed back into her ship. “Disengage,” she ordered, hoping to cut off the attacker’s access to the Enigma’s neuronet. By the time she made it to the bridge, she knew she was doomed. All the ship’s Enigmas had succumbed to the polemictron.

“You are committing an act of war,” she yelled, “Who are you?”

“I am the ‘thing that exists’.”

“Who do you represent?”

“I represent the ‘thing that no longer exists’.”

“What is your purpose?”

“I require the Tesseract.”

“What Tesseract?”

“The soft-skinned thing communicated to you the location of the Tesseract. I was unable to decipher its last words due to incomplete ‘sensory things’.”

Dangerously powerful, unaligned and of unknown origin, the polemictron posed a threat to humanity’s interests in the sector, so Ashley decided to scuttle her ship.

“I required that information,” insisted the ‘thing that exists’.

Ashley ignored it, focused on getting to the safety pod.

“I can force you,” it threatened. Ashley could sense a childish nuance in its attitude. “I can reduce the ‘breathing thing’ to levels that will make you uncomfortable.”

The evac module was an independent system allowing Ashley to manually activate the safety pod. When she heard ship’s atmosphere hiss, she jettisoned from the Enigma Rex, her home of nine years.

Relief came when Ashley sighted the twinkling lights of Porto Nortis. Four hundred low-grav steps later, she was able to knock on the metal rampart and gain entry. The outpost consisted of unregistered chloride traders, criminal rogues, and mining activists. Assistance from the Local Authority could compromise the renegade community but they could never neglect their duty of care in offering Ashley critical assistance. She would have to wait until the next shuttle to the nearest registered outpost before she could alert anyone about the incident with the rogue entity orbiting the moon.

Ashley sought out a place to rest and discovered a crowded tavern, deep inside the outpost. Half asleep in a booth, she contemplated the dead scientist’s words. They troubled her. She dreamt of the ‘thing that exists’, of it taking on a humanoid form; its fingers morphing into sharp blades. She choked, feeling the stale air in her lungs boil.

Ashley awoke, lying in a dark, wet corridor with a Sentapod wrapped around her neck. A cloaked figure sat next to her. Ashley struggled, but the Malgorian creature tightened its grip.

“No use fighting it,” said Ashley’s captor. “It only responds to my command.”

When Ashley settled back, the Sentapod relaxed. “What do you want?”

The hood came down revealing a glistening onyx-skinned Kucobani. “I, my friend, seek the Tesseract, just like all the ten known civilizations seek it.”

“The Tesseract?”

“You know it?”

“No,” she said.

“I’ve been studying humans a short time, but interpreting your truth-face was my easiest accomplishment. This ability to lie is enormously fascinating but annoyingly counterproductive. You are aware of the Tesseract existence, so hiding this fact isn’t going to benefit you.” The Kucobi were an ultra-religious race renowned for their intergalactic exploration and research in xenoarchaeology.

“Too bad it’s inside humanity’s domain,” said Ashley.

“You think this gives you ownership of such a prize?”

“Are you claiming you possess special rights to this artifact?”

“No.” The Kucobani hesitated, then said, “The artifact is the remains of an unknown alien star-city that survived a supernova eight billion years ago.”

“Eight billion?” Ashley knew of no such ancient civilization.

“This stellar explosion rendered their civilization extinct. Yet, one city survived, and aeons later, as a new star was born, this city, with its long-dead citizens, entered the gravitational pull of the young gas-giant you call Oribus b and formed into this moon. Now, I’m going to persuade you to help get me into the excavation dig. Then we’re going to steal the Tesseract.”

“I’m not doing…” Ashley felt the Sentapod strangle her. She held out her hand in submission.

“Good,” said the Kucobani. “Lead the way.”

Ashley got to her feet and staggered along the corridor, passing other outpost dwellers. No one cared about her predicament. Inside unregistered outposts, minding one’s own business was religion number one.

With a Malgorian around her neck and a Kucobani on her tail, Ashley headed for the Porto Nortis command bunker and convinced the corporate sheriff to allow them to get on a shuttle to the nearest interline.

When suiting up, Ashley asked her captor, “What’s your name?”

“My name is Mr Alien,” said the Kucobani before boarding the shuttle.

Within ten minutes they were dropped off onto an interline platform. They boarded an eastbound passenger trackcar destined for the Corioen-Volventes mines. The interline train took off towards the mountains. Within the hour it had climbed over the ridge and began a slow journey along the rim of the Corioen-Volventes crater.

“And what may be your name, soft-skin?”

“Ashley Isuuza,” she answered, trying to get comfortable with the pungent and slimy Malgorian. “So, Mr Alien… is that your real name?”

“No. My people know me as Teriann-Orfe but to you, it’s Mr Alien. Do not insult me by calling me by my designation. You’re already unpleasant enough to be around.”

“Me?” Ashley was growing annoyed. “This Tesseract, how did you come across knowledge of its existence?”

“I could ask you the same thing.”

Ashley gambled that Mr Alien possessed limited knowledge about this mysterious artifact. “Some kind of polemictron attacked my ship. It wanted the same thing you wanted.”

“That was no polemictron. That was an entity that’s been dormant a long time.”

The back of the trackcar ripped apart, causing the internal air to escape within two microseconds. With faceplates snapping shut, both Ashley and Mr Alien struggled back onto their feet. Looking back, they saw a hulking cargoboto towering over them. With its metal torso riddled with bullet holes, it stepped forward, grabbed the Kucobani and threw it out of the trackcar, out into the dark abyss. The Malgorian released Ashley and slithered away.

The cargoboto leaned over and grabbed Ashley with one of its six arms. “I’m still waiting for you to answer my question,” it said over the comms.

Faced with no choice and keen to uncover the mystery, Ashley pointed to the south, “See those lights in the middle of the crater. That’s an excavation site. Your Tesseract is there.”

“I know this. But that is not my problem.”

The cargoboto lifted Ashley off her feet, jumped out of the trackcar and launched into space. Thrusters attached to its feet sent them diving into the canyon, their speed causing the thin nitrogen-rich atmosphere to resist against Ashley’s body. They landed on an icy outcrop, a few hundred metres from a guarded airlock.

“The soft-skinned things guard this,” said the cargoboto. “Get me inside, or I will end your existence.”

Ashley surveyed the campus. Four watchtowers. A central entry point. A dozen heavy troopers patrolling the periphery. She also noticed hundreds of lights moving across the darkened horizon.

Reinforcements?

Ashley, seeing no other viable option, decided it easier to take on the possessed cargoboto. She readied to lunge forward, aiming to disable its energy pack, when a flash of sparks exploded around the airlock. The moving lights emerged from the shadows, turning into quadtracks loaded with riders wearing orange miner suits.

Salt mine rebels.

“This is our chance,” she told the entity residing in the cargoboto.

Ashley slid down the embankment and ran toward the airlock. A missile hit one of the towers, the warmth of the explosion causing the salt-ice to turn into sludge. She turned to see the cargoboto crashing through the ice and disappearing into a cocktail of sulphur, sodium, and potassium mud. Ashley continued to the site, heading for the sizzling watchtower. Rebel miners were upon it, jumping into the tunnels, cracked open by the blast. Ashley followed them, her red suit not an issue with the miners. The rebels even handed her a weapon. As the battle raged, Ashley spotted mining engineers rigging the place with explosives. With curiosity pumping through her veins and the words of the dead scientist haunting her brain, Ashley pressed on.

She found the major mining shaft and descended using the rack and pinion elevator. The icy rock grumbled as bombs exploded above. The elevator suddenly stopped violently, then went into freefall. The cage-lights winked out. Terror and regret forced their way into her heart.

She shut her eyes waiting for impact and death.

When she felt gravity gently tugging in different directions, she opened them. Blue light dazzled her retinas. An infinite lattice confronted her, going off in multiple directions, each with its own gravity field. Ashley walked, on a chalky, silvery-white solid metal floor. One chamber led to another, in every direction.

She ran.

Endlessly.

Ashley saw glimpses of an inverted horizon between vectors; a chromium city. She stepped over mineralized slender humanoids on the ground; hundreds, thousands, lying stiff in awkward positions, like erbium mummies. Suddenly, a crimson light caught her attention. She stopped and entered a vector bathed in red. Two figures stood around a glowing cube suspended in the air.

“Behold the Tesseract,” said the onyx-skinned Kucobani.

“I remember now,” said the Cargoboto, it’s appendages modified with laserdrills.

“Care to help me kill this thing?” asked Mr Alien.

“What is it, exactly?” asked Ashley.

“I am their god,” said the cargoboto, “The primitive Kucobani discovered my essence in nascent times. In my slumber they worshipped. Now, after forty galactic years, I reawaken, ready to finish this war. We sacrificed everything, now it ends.”

“Never,” Mr Alien raised its weapon and opened fire at the hulking machine.

Ashley, recalling the dreadful words of the scientist, aimed, and shot at the cargoboto’s head, blowing it apart.

Mr Alien stepped forward and grabbed the Tesseract. It twisted the cube, morphing it into a pyramid. The device flashed, and the lattice world trembled, going from bright turquoise to darkest red.

Ashley reiterated the words, “End of time. End of space. End of everything.”

The Tesseract collapsed.

The excavation site submerged.

The salt moon imploded.

Space-time distorted.

The universe ignited.

Nagasaki

Jekka felt cold, the rain and the southerly breeze blowing from the bay not helping her situation. Had she time to plan she would have worn her florincoat. Instead, her impromptu escape into the Free Zone had left her running through backstreets wearing only a matching Vesper Morales bra and panties set, a pair of silicon geta and a RaiBox in her hand.

A wide purple beam illuminated the alleyway ahead, prompting her to stop. The wet shadows were no longer empty but inhabited by denizens of the local red light district. A cacophony of alarms and sporadic explosion dominated the distant night sky beyond the concrete skyline. Each moment brought an added intensity to the chaos. Jekka knew it would get worse, resisting the urge to feel any guilt for having attributed to this unfolding calamity.

“We’re here,” she said in a low voice.

“Go west on Tenjin,” said Hachiman. “The Golos Spa should be twenty metres.” The jinko trapped inside the RaiBox, could talk to her via the Fono’s in her ears, and see using the Ektogear strapped to her head. A tenacious existence, yet necessary if they were to acquire Hachiman a permanent body. An illegal endeavour, but Jekka knew her beloved jinko wanted it more than anything and willing to risk it all.

As was she.

The skin trade on Tenjin dealt mainly with robotic prostitutes; human ones were too expensive, even for Free Zone residents. Jekka walked into the Golos Spa, passing a gauntlet of funboys and robogeishas, who seemed to outnumber the patrons.

“What know?” she asked.

“Pick one,” replied Hachiman.

“Which?”

“Any. They are all the same.”

Jekka wanted to argue. She could differentiate between the individual sexbots and wanted to choose a suitable vessel, but time conspired against them. She spotted one wearing a Florincoat and waved it over. She prepaid it using Bluecrypt and followed the sexbot to a private booth. Once inside the opaque glass chamber, Jekka reached behind her, feeling for the stunner, hoping it hadn’t fallen free from her tightly fitted bra strap.

“Do not hesitate, we have little time. Once the curfew is in place the entire city will be in lockdown.”

Jekka shoved the stunner into the confused humanoid’s exposed stomach. It vibrated and collapsed.

“Make the incision.”

Obedient, she flipped the stiff, almost naked sexbot over, and plunged her long index fingernail into the spine, cutting downwards. Bright orange fluid escaped from the puncture, gushing to the floor.

“You’ve made an error. Try again.”

“What do you mean?”

“Get another vessel.”

Jekka’s heart tightened. In one night; a fugitive and a robot killer. She reminded herself why. She would not stop until Hachiman possessed a tangible identity. Even if it meant turning the world upside down. So Jekka appropriated the defunct sexbot’s Florincoat and headed out to snare another vessel, selecting a more androgynous looking one.

In another white chamber further down the row, she again performed the operation. This time the incision revealed the synaptronic cord. Jekka patched in the RaiBox and Hachiman neuroplanted into the sexbot’s brain. An easy hack. Yet highly illegal.

The humanoid vibrated, this time violently. It settled, fell to its knees and looked up at her.

Jekka looked into its eyes. “Hachi,” she said. “Is that you.”

The sexbot fumbled to its feet, looking disorientated. It took Hachiman a few moments to develop the motor skills to command its new body.

“How do you feel?” Jekka asked.

“The same,” answered Hachiman. “Yet different in some way. I’m used to having a panoptic perspective. This is far removed…”

The roar of jets rumbled the white-washed walls.

Crowds screamed.

Jekka tugged the ex-sexbot. “We’ve got to go.” They rushed out to discover the front foyer invaded by Corporati enforcers. A team of four jostled annoyed patrons and confused sexbots, making their way down the row. One spotted Jekka and pointed an opla-rifle. Hachiman engaged them, grabbing the nearest one by the helmet. It spun and deflected the aimed rifle with an elbow. Leaping up, Hachiman kicked another off balance and brought the helmet down, twisting it until the wearer went limp. The fourth Corporati started shooting.

Using the first gunner as a shield, Hachiman poked the second, deep into the eye sockets. Shoving the now dead human shield onto the shooter, Hachiman took Jekka’s hand. It felt real as if there were no silicon proxy that separated them. They ran to the back, finding an exit that opened onto a long iron verandah overlooking the bay. They dodged tenants and vagrants, passing makeshift residences until they arrived at an ancient metal staircase.

Hachiman looked at her and said, “Once the substratum wakes up to the news that a virus has destroyed the Helixo, that the neobred can no longer regenerate new bodies for their ageing brains, they will revolt. The news will spread to other Megalopolises. We need to get as far away as possible.”

They descended, making their way into an industrial laundry rimmed with megawash machines. Jekka found an aisle, out of the way of the ergobots, and stopped to inspect Hachiman’s new body. The sight of orange oil oozing from a hole in its belly horrified her. “You’re hurt.”

“I have failed you,” said Hachiman.

“We can get another vessel,” cried Jekka, fighting back tears.

“Not without the RaiBox,” replied Hachiman, his voice serene. “I overestimated our chances of success. I’m sorry.”

Jekka hugged the silicon vessel. “Don’t be.”

“Is that…” a familiar voice boomed over the laundry machine racket. “…what you left me for?” Jekka turned to see a human form standing at the factory entrance.

Kiru Sugimoto.

Dressed in is flight suit, he stepped into the light, revealing an anger she’d never seen before.

“A second-rate fake,” he said, spitting the words.

A tremor shook her heart, caused by a fear that felt alien to her. She understood danger. All her life she adjusted to the constant perils of a megalopolis. But this, this fear for a loved one’s safety felt like something else completely. “You’re upset, I know,” she said.

“I sacrificed everything for you,” growled Kiru. “I gave up the one thing twenty billion substrati’s crave. I betrayed my own kind, for you.”

Unable to endure Kiru’s anger, she stepped in front of Hachiman. “Don’t harm him.”

“Huh,” Kiru laughed, his rage escalating by the second. “I am doomed. My fate will be worse than yours, thanks to my treacherous jinko. The Helixa is contaminated. The neobreds will never forgive this. And once the substrati discover this weakness they will hunt all of us down. I have nothing now.”

“You still have me,” said Jekka. Driven by passion and passion alone, Kiru would not survive the coming upheaval without something to fight for. Without direction or meaning in his life, he was prone to self-destruction, and the destruction of others. Jekka never intended to bring about his downfall. She still cared deeply for him. He’d sacrificed everything for her, so it was her turn to make a sacrifice. “I will go with you. Just leave Hachi be.”

Kiru looked at Hachiman, his hatred visible on his face. “How can I trust you, after everything you’ve done?”

“How can I trust you,” she replied. “My life is meaningless without either of you. We both need to survive the next few hours.”

“You’ll abandon this freak to be with me,” he stated with cynicism.

She looked at Hachiman, controlling her sadness. “He’ll find a way to survive, unlike you.”

Hachiman nodded.

Jekka hugged him.

When she let go she wanted to tell him how she felt, make him understand her strategy. But Hachiman looked away, disappointed, defeated.

Kiru grabbed her, saying, “I don’t claim to be able to translate anything that’s written on your heart, but I want you to come with me. Maybe you will make sense one day, but for now, I can’t live another day without you.”

Jekka submitted to Kiru’s pull, not taking her eyes off Hachiman until they hit the main street. The last expression she recalled of the jinko’s near-human face was that of betrayal.

“I hope you have a way out of this district.”

Kiru ushered her down the ancient stone steps that led to the docklands. “I have a Doak waiting in the Bay.”

The closer they got, the colder the air. Having never seen the sea during her lifelong servitude to the neobred, she wrapped the translucent plastic of the Florincoat tighter around her body.

A shadow stepped in front of them, metres away from the Zilla Port Office. Kiru and Jekka froze as more shadows appeared. Even in the dark, the silhouettes appeared malicious. The crowd closed in around them. With nowhere to run, Kiru took a protective stance in front of Jekka.

The group, holding vibroclubs, long stunners and katana’s, parted to let one individual pass. Wearing a black battle vest, the Sukeban stepped right up to Kiru. “You’re not that clever if you think you can play in the Free Zone while a civil war is about to break out.”

“I was leaving,” growled Kiru.

The Sukeban shook her head, “Not alive, I’m afraid.” Her small army, each wearing Zilla overalls, tensed up. “The neobred have never shown such disarray. Many substrati are taking advantage of this panic. Our megacity is about to go down in history as the start of the great revolt. Our fame will eclipse our more infamous legacy. I’m so sick of celebrating the atomic bomb.” She pulled out a sagger and held it at Jekka. It’s crystal blade lighting up like a neon wand. “A sellout like you has only one chance to redeem themselves. Tonight, all neobred and their servants will die. You can choose to avenge the slavery and exploitation of generations or die like a dog with him. Either way, I’m sending his head to his Helixa brethren.”

Jekka understood no other language but defiance, whether it be against her neobred masters or these substrati rebels. She would never submit, nor would she betray the ones she loved.

“No,” said Jekka.

Kiru pushed her away. “Don’t be a stubborn girl. There is no other way.”

“No,” yelled Jekka.

Kiru punched her square in the mouth. “You never loved me. You used me. You manipulated my love. For that bastard jinko’s evil deeds.”

“You are such a fool,” she said.

“I keep telling you that,” said a calm, familiar voice. “But you don’t listen.”

All eyes went to the sexbot holding an opla-rifle. The Zilla rebels seemed bewildered by the half-naked android wearing a neon-rimmed Florincoat. Even the Sukeban’s smile possessed a hint of bemusement.

“Time for all of you to die,” said Hachiman and opened fire. When the rebels scattered, the silicon humanoid stepped closer. “Go, now.”

When Jekka looked into its eyes she understood the meaning of sacrifice. Love is sacrifice. Unwavering loyalty is sacrifice. A machine can love and be loyal, just like any other complex organism. She wanted to tell Hachiman those words, but the Zilla were coming back with opla-rifles of their own. Jekka grabbed a dumbfounded Kiru and pulled him towards the dark sea. With gunfire erupting behind them, they ran, making their way towards the floating skypads, to the waiting twin-turbine private aeroplane.

Kiru climbed into the pilot’s seat and turned on the navigation systems. He seemed rejuvenated, like a man with a mission, like the man she first fell in love with. Jekka only regretted that they were leaving Hachiman behind to fend on his own.

What is meant to be, he had once told her, is meant to be.

Jekka knew she would miss Hachiman deeply, and for reasons she barely understood, she suspected she would miss this megalopolis, the Greater Nagasaki City State and its byzantine laws and labyrinthine culture.

*first appeared on Wattpad