The evil essences of the universe’s dead worlds are descending to the core of the planet Solaris, drawing ever closer to their nightmarish, planet devouring goal.
Julieth has found a moment of calm, but the voices within her call her downward to battle the essences. The surviving members of Julieth’s league, a cyborg and horde of were-beasts, gather for a desperate attempt to halt their planet’s destruction and save their own lives.
For if the League can reach the planet core and devise a plan for destroying their unslayable foe, they may be able to at last find peace…
Breakwater Harbor Books presents by Scott J. Toney
NovaForge (Nova Trilogy #1)
NovaSiege (Nova Trilogy #2)
NovaDark (Nova Trilogy #3)
The Ark of Humanity
Scott J. Toney
Breakwater Harbor Books, Inc.
Scott J. Toney and Cara Goldthorpe, Co-Founders
Copyright 2017 by Scott J. Toney
All Rights Reserved
Cover by Bradley Wind
Author email – [email protected]
First Printing, January 2017
NovaDark is a work of fiction. Any similarity to real people or places (past or present) is strictly coincidental.
This book is dedicated to Kelly Carpo, author of “God’s Gardener”, who entered my life as a fan of my books years ago. Her book lifted my faith in a harder time and it is her words to me that brought faith to the level of importance it holds in the Nova Trilogy. She is a blessing and I am honored to call her fellow author and friend.
As always Ivan Amberlake has been greatly important in editing and encouragement. He is a phenomenal author and editor and his dedication to me and my writing is valuable beyond words. If you have not yet checked out his The Beholder series I highly recommend the read.
Bradley Wind created my cover and it is stunning. His eye for design is fantastically irreplaceable.
It amazes me how perfect two people can be for each other. My wife Laura fits me and my personality completely. Love and life by her side is as exciting as the first day we met and always filled with depth. I am thankful for all I have and am reminded daily that I am eternally blessed.
My children are the inspiration and driving force of my days. Annabel, I love your ever inquisitive mind and faith. Benjamin, I love your dauntless courage and heart. You and your mom are the stories of my life that I cherish most.
Julieth awoke in a hot sweat. Her body shook and there were nail marks on the stone below her. Her fingers were sore, with dried blood around her nails. Ivanus lay nearby. His beast-body rose and fell as he slept. Bayne also was unconscious on a nearby stone bed.
She remembered the nightmare she had vividly.
“They are coming, Julieth. The essences search for a way to reach me inside the planet. Already they are destroying me. I don’t know how long I will be able to resist…” the Earth Mother had cried to her.
Julieth had promised she would come, to do whatever she could to stop the essences. The Earth Mother was sending Ineal to them.
Daylight bled through the bottom of Julieth’s structure’s door. It was peaceful, almost serene. There was no peace here, no time for peace. Would there ever be?
She stood, her body shaking, and went to Bayne. When she laid her hand on his forehead it was incredibly hot. At least you are still alive. She kissed his forehead gently. The stillness of his body sent shivers through her.
Julieth walked to where Ivanus slept and placed a hand on his were-beast shoulder. His hair was coarse. He looked nothing like Ivanus in human form. The warmth of his body calmed her though. She was relieved to be back with him. At least I have you. She allowed a smile. She went to the room’s door and opened it slowly. It creaked. Sunlight swept into the chamber.
“Julieth.” It was Ivanus’ voice.
Julieth’s heartbeat quickened as she turned. The sunlight lay in a blanket over Ivanus’ body and he now looked like the man she had fallen for. “Ivanus. You are awake.”
He stood and came to her, only a torn garment around his waist. He put a hand to her face.
It felt good, that touch.
He kissed her deeply.
Then he stepped back and looked to her eyes. “I missed you.”
“I had a dream last night.” She brought herself back out of the euphoria of being with him. She had to focus. “It was about the Earth Mother. She spoke to me.”
Ivanus stepped toward the door. “Let’s take a walk and talk about it. Fresh air will do us both good.”
“We should not leave Bayne…”
“He is no boy. Remember that. Remember everything he has done. He will be alright while we are away.” Ivanus took Julieth’s hand and they walked out of the structure together.
The morning air was surprisingly cool. Usually the two suns above Solaris kept the atmosphere warm, but today there was crispness to the breeze.
They walked for long moments, not speaking. It was good to have Ivanus’ hand in hers.
What was that in the sky? Something white moved slowly above them. She could almost see through it. It wasn’t large and was wispy. Julieth pointed at the thing. “What is that?”
“I don’t know. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
The thing drifted slowly, passing over where one of the suns was. The sun’s rays ribboned through it down over the land.
Julieth watched it intently. “Whatever it is, it is beautiful.”
“Tell me about your dream. What does the Earth Mother want?” Ivanus drew her thoughts to why they began speaking.
“The essences are attacking the spirit at Solaris’ core. They will reach her shortly and when she dies the whole planet will die. She, the Earth Mother, speaks to me in my dreams. She is sending Ineal to us so that he can take us to combat the essences.”
Ivanus’ eyes were crisp and deep, almost like those of an animal. They were beautiful to behold. “How can we fight the essences? They are no longer in human form. There is no way to destroy them, even if the beast blood running through the veins of the beast-infected protects us.”
Julieth watched the white thing above. “I don’t know, but the impossible must happen. We must discover a way to defeat them or our planet is doomed. Humanity is doomed.”
There was silence for a moment as Julieth and Ivanus watched the thing.
“A cloud.” Riad’s voice resonated behind them and they both turned. His cybernetic arm was reconstructed, thanks to the bot Ivanus discovered in Riad’s crashed ship. “I have not seen one for a long time. Where there are clouds there could be rain.”
“Rain?” Julieth asked in awe as she watched it.
“Water falls from the sky from them. The planet must be spewing steam into the air somewhere for clouds to form in this desolate planet’s sky.” Gears spun and clicked in Riad’s arm. “I agree. Something must be done to stop the essence horde. I believe I have something that could help us locate them. Come with me.”
They walked quickly through Kaskal’s streets, kicking up sand as they moved. Dry sunlight clung to their forms. The buildings around them were mostly clay and stone, crumbling from old age.
As they reached Riad’s structure several men stared at them, seemingly standing guard outside.
He commands a presence no matter where he goes, Julieth thought as they entered the barely illuminated dark of his chambers. The light of the droid, KR4, flickered in the room’s center. “Did you bring us here because of the droid?” she asked.
Riad’s cybernetic eye glowed
A shiver ran through her, sending goose bumps over the flesh of her wings. “The box Ivanus’ essence was in… that we put the second essence in from Gest…” The box was warm. It tremored in her hand. She felt a pulse through the coarse wood. “I had forgotten all about them.”
Riad took the box back from her. She was glad to be rid of it. “It seems they want to join their brethren in pillaging the planet. We could use that and let them lead us to the others.”
“You would release them?” Ivanus’ bestial voice came. “Yes. That could work. The beasts are immune. We could amass the beast army and follow these essences to the rest of their kind. Or we could just feel what direction the essences are moving toward in the box and go that way.” He eyed Riad. “The only one who would not be safe is you. Bayne has been bitten and Julieth seemingly is protected by the good essence bonding with her. Would you allow me to bite and change you into one of us?”
The illumination of Riad’s eye pulsed. “I will come with you and I will take my chances. No man, beast or essence controls me. There won’t be anything left of them when I am through.”
Julieth smirked. “A one-man army. I’d expect no less.” She turned to Ivanus. “The Earth Mother says that Ineal is coming to guide us as well. We should tell the beasts and construct a movable cot for Bayne.”
The three exited Riad’s hovel into the sunlight, each going their separate ways. Julieth went to prepare Bayne. Ivanus went to the beasts. Riad went to the city gates, to stare at the sun, hatred for the essences and determination burning through his soul.
Deep Space - Starship Expanse 1
The starship’s main cabin was vast, a wide room with digital screens lining the walls and blips of light recording statistics from across the galaxy. The Graens had explored space since their race had memory, tracking everything large and small they came in contact with. Where there was injustice they fought. Where there was peace they observed.
Only one Graen occupied the cabin. The large man with a cybernetic hand lay slumped in exhaustion over the holo-table in the room’s center.
He rose in panic, fumbling through the room, tripping over a droid scurrying across the floor.
“Blast!” Phain cursed as his hands thrashed against the wall the beeping came from. He lifted his hand to the screen and dragged it, quickly moving to where the alert was logged. “No, it can’t be.” He was in awe. Phain punched the screen’s com link. “Cross, get up here, now! We’ve got a rescue alert coming in from the Phandar system, planet Solaris, the locals call it!” He rubbed his eyes and scanned the alert again. Hundreds of years had passed since that ship had crashed. What had they even been doing there in the first place?
“Who’s sending the alert?” Cross shouted over the com.
Phain scanned the screen. Cross wasn’t going to believe this. Where was the commander’s name? Riad! Where had he heard that name before?
It came to him suddenly, a shot in his chest. Riad was a name used over and over in the history logs. More than that, he was Phain’s great, great, great, great, great grandfather. How could he still be alive? His heart raced as he pulled up an image in the ship’s log.
A face much like Phain’s own stared back at his. It was weathered and aged… but still.
Those were his eyes.
Julieth stood outside a massive cave mouth inside the city of Kaskal. Sparse clouds drifted by above her. She stood watching the things, still in awe. Rain. The beast army amassed in the caves below with Riad at its front. Several beasts carried the unconscious Bayne on a sling cot.
Rain. She stared at the sky. What would it look like? What would it smell like? Could I drink it? With all that she knew about the chaos going on with the essences attempting to attack the planet’s soul, somehow the thought of rain was what consumed her mind… her curiosity. She had spoken with the Earth Mother again in her dreams last night and knew that Ineal would soon join them.
Julieth reached up, gripping the lip of the cave mouth. She clasped it, watching the cloud darken above her. Faint energy pricked the feathers of her wings as a brisk wind moved through them.
“Julieth!” Ivanus called from the tunnel dark. “We must leave! The army is restless!”
Julieth breathed deep, turned, and stepped into the tunnel mouth. They had a respite of peace here in Kaskal after defeating Bayne’s army. It was short. She wished she could remain in it. But darkness consumes, she reminded herself. If we have any hope of a future, we must be strong and face our enemy before they consume our world. She moved steadily through the dark, down a winding corridor, always with a hand on the wall beside her. The ground was hard and cutting wind swept past. She felt as if she was being swallowed.
Then she heard it.
Her heart raced as she turned, running at full tilt back to the cave opening. It was the most beautiful sight she had ever seen. Water fell in pounding lines before her, sweeping down the dried, cracked surface of the ground and moving like rivers in its crust. In the streets nearby she heard shouts of joy from Kaskal’s people. She had never heard such happiness before. Julieth held out her hand and let the rain trickle over it. The water was cool. She felt bathed and refreshed. She cupped her hands and allowed the water to collect there before bringing it close and dunking her face in it. Rejuvenation. Something fresh and new. This is what I needed before entering the dark.
“Julieth!” Ivanus called.
She watched the beauty drizzling before her. It lessened and then she saw a stunning display of color in the sky. What miracle is this? It arched away from Kaskal. If it is an omen, then may it lead me and remain with me until we are all safe to lead the lives we choose. A bow of color in the sky… of hope.
She turned, filled with inner warmth as she entered the dark of the cave. She walked for long moments, her hand touching the wall. Then she heard the commotion of the beasts in the distance awaiting her.
“You look beautiful even in the dark.” Ivanus’ voice startled her.
“I didn’t see you.” She held out a hand towards where his voice had come, grasping until it met his deformed hand covered in fur. She let go of the tunnel wall, allowing Ivanus to guide her through the depths. “It is raining in Kaskal. It is so beautiful.”
“I wish we had time to enjoy it.”
“I wonder what this journey will bring… if we will be able to rescue Solaris’ soul from the essences. It will be a long journey.”
“As long as I am with you.”
There was silence between them for moments as they walked. Julieth found herself wishing Ivanus was in human form. After a while longer they reached the beast army and Riad. His cybernetics shimmered in the dark. It was good to have some light so that she could make out some of the forms about her. Stalactites and stalagmites loomed as giants above and below. She went to Riad and the box in his hand. KR4 perched on his shoulder.
Riad looked dryly at her, with deadpan earnestness. “The essences within want to return to their brethren. They are leading us toward the planet core. I suggest we move now and then when we are exhausted, rest. There will be no way of telling time in this dark.”
Ragoor stepped up beside them. “That is not entirely true. As beasts we can sense the pull of the planet’s suns. With that we can know the time. But yes, we should move.”
Riad gave Julieth a gun with a light on the end of it, allowing her to have better vision. When she shone it directly at a beast its body would morph into human form until the light drifted again.
The dark was consuming.
Sometimes the passages became so narrow that she thought her wings would be ripped from her back as she squeezed through.
They ate food brought from Kaskal.
Julieth’s body ached with exhaustion.
After descending the passages for what seemed ages the group finally decided to stop for the day. Julieth rested against a stone wall, chewing a block of replicated food. It tasted like sand. If only Ineal were here, she thought, remembering how the man had grown a fruit tree out of desert sand when she first met him. Where is he? Surely he should have joined us by now. Julieth shone her weapon’s light on the cot Bayne slept in close by. The boy had yet to stir or change to beast form, but his chest still rose and fell.
“A long day…” Ivanus spoke as he sat to her side, his warm body against hers. “… and longer tomorrows to come. At least we are together.”
Julieth reached a hand up, touching his maw in the dark and kissing its side. “We need sleep now. Pull me close.” Ivanus pulled her in. The warmth of his body allowed her to relax. Slumber came over her quickly.
Images of the essences and the Earth Mother swarmed her mind. The essences infecting her own body spoke to her in waves. It was a fog. Were they real? Was anything real? Darkness. Silence.
Light. Brilliant light radiated through her dreams, causing her to forget all she dreamt. The light pulsed and she awoke, her head resting on Ivanus’ human chest. His face was handsome above her. She suddenly remembered where she was and looked around. In the center of the chamber was a nude man’s form, radiating light like a sun around them. “Ineal,” she whispered.
by Scott Toney / Science Fiction / Fantasy / Christian have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes