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Joined: Tue May 05, 2009 2:02 pm
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I've had a blast on this site for years now, and I've reached an amazing milestone: 1000 posts! To celebrate, I'm gonna give you guys a sneak preview of my next novel: Mektar 2: Reflection! Note that this chapter is unedited, and may differ from the final version. Spoilers for my first book are within, fyi, but just so you know I've written this one such that you need not have read it to get the plot. Enjoy, and here's to a thousand more posts and five more years!

Part 1: Adrian

Chapter 1

My first thought upon waking up and coming to my senses was "Huh. There is an afterlife." Because, well, I should be dead. At least, that's what it felt like. I was groggy, confused, and had a massive headache. But, as I took in my new surroundings, I knew that was the least of my problems.

The sky was a sickly green, certainly not the product of smog. The air was thin, like at a mountain peak, but I could breathe just fine. The ground below my naked, prone frame, dark gray in color, was slightly sticky, unlike any soil I'd seen before. And the temperature was actually fairly pleasant. If this was heaven or hell, every major religion got its descriptions completely wrong.

Strange tree-like things were all around me. Their trunks were a lighter gray than the ground, and their branches, which extended outward in a symmetrical fashion every foot or so up the trunk, were almost entirely covered in what looked like black grass. Other, smaller, black 'plants' were present as well. Some spiraled up from the ground like inverted cones, while others looked more like ivy with circular 'leaves'.

As I stood up, I could hear voices. Strange, high pitched tones, mumbling words over and over. Things like "Food", "Go Away", and "Mate", which made no sense. My skull was throbbing. I was probably wounded, delusional, going crazy, perhaps in a state of near death or a special level of hell. These voices were getting to me. I had to move.

I ran. From the voices, from my past, from myself. Where exactly I ended up didn't matter. I had to leave this strange place somehow , find my sanity again. As I ran, I caught glimpses of what was making the voices. Beasts of a sort unseen, from winged, yellow-orange, legless 'scorpions' the size of my arm, to blueish rodents smaller than my thumbnail. And every last one of them was speaking.

I kept moving, on and on. The black forest seemed endless. Its creatures grew louder and more grotesque. Some small, mottled black 'lizards' with disproportioned jaws and six legs even snapped at my feet as I bounded past.

Was this my fate, wandering this shadowy plane of horrors forever, as punishment, or karma? I never even had evil intentions, I only wished to bring order through conquest. Or was I so far gone that my own morals are reversed, and I was, in fact, the most vile of beings? I wasn't even sure what I was contemplating. Did people even think I was evil? Was this my subconscious mind talking along with the beasts? It was all so very painful.

These thoughts of mine spiraled out of control, much like the plants I was running through, at greater and greater speed. Just when I thought this wilderness might be endless, and that I would succumb to madness, I burst into a clearing. Within it: a building, a sort unlike any other. It was painted bright red, about five stories high, and was shaped like a dumbbell stood on end. Small hemispheres bulged out of it in regular intervals, what they were, I had no clue. I could tell it was a building because to my left a dirt road led off into the distance, and at its end, a door in an archway.

I paused to catch my breath for a moment, when something dashed through the exit. It was a very large insect, about four feet tall. It was white, with eight splayed legs, and two arms tipped with grasping pincers. It turned its head towards mine, and four large, redish eyes above spiderlike mandibles became visible. Its antennae were twitching rapidly.

"Do my eyes deceive me? Is that a human? Here, on Iaoue?" It took me a moment to realize that the white thing had just used complete sentences, and that they were probably directed at me. It made about as much sense as anything else that happened today, so I decided to play along, and walked towards it.

"Um, hello... Mr. Bug Guy. I'm pretty sure I'm human, so... yes?"

Whatever it was then began to laugh elatedly. Or, at least, I think it was laughing. "It should not be possible, and, yet, here you are! Come with me inside, we have much to talk about, you and I!"

"How do I know you aren't some sort of blood demon, bent on torturing me?"

"Why, that's nonsense. You, my good human, are the greatest scientific discovery of our generation!" It paused for a second. "Oh, right, you're probably quite confused by all this, and I believe some introductions are in order, for us both. My name is Ooeeaa, and I'm a male biologist of the planet Iaoue. My species is called the Iaoueai, and this is a research outpost, within our planet's northern forest continent. I would appreciate it if we could trade information inside the base."

That was a lot to take in. "So, I'm not dead, and I'm not mad, but I'm on an alien planet? And there's other intelligent life in the universe?" I sighed. What he was saying made more sense than anything else today. "Lead the way... Ooeeaa, was it? I'm certainly up for a mutually beneficial relationship at this point."

"Excellent! Please, follow me." He turned around and skittered inside, with me at his pointy heels. The inside of the building, at first glance, did look sort of like a laboratory. Circular tables were all over the place, some covered in odd glassware, others had indescribable machines of many sorts placed upon them. Larger contraptions were placed along the walls, and the entire room was a sterile white, far brighter than Ooeeaa's carapace. The only thing I recognized immediately was a bank of rectangular monitors, clearly showing live footage of the outside for observational purposes. The thing on the outside must be cameras.

Ooeeaa grabbed some sort of digital notepad and then began to ask questions. "So, who exactly are you? and how did you get to Iaoue?" He seemed excited beyond measure to speak with me.

"Well," I began. "I think it's a long story. I'm... Adrian Miller." And with that lone recollection, it all came back to me, and my headache began to wear off. I chuckled. "Where to begin, it's all so unbelievable. The jist is that I attempted to improve my homeworld, Earth, by uniting its people under a single leader: myself. And it worked for a time. I was using my knowledge and newfound supernatural powers to bring prosperity to everyone, but some people, shepherded by a man named Henry, who shared my face, expressed distaste in my methods, which removed many freedoms, and they managed to usurp my government and steal my source of power."

My eyes were starting to tear up. "I thought I was doing the right thing, preventing the atrocities that said freedom can bring. Like the ones I had experienced at the hands of my parents. But my logic was proven flawed. Knowing this, I had lost all purpose, and wanted death to come. So, I jumped into the ominous black vortex that had formed at the end of the battle, assuming it would kill me. Apparently, I was wrong, and I ended up on Iaoue instead."

"Clearly," I continued, "fate had brought me here for a reason. I resolve to stay alive so that I may find out what that reason is."

As I was recounting all this to Ooeeaa, he was vigorously writing down notes. Since I was done ranting for now, he paused and looked up at me. "That's quite a tale, and I'll want more details later, but before that, I want to make sure you're ok, for both our sakes. Sometimes I lose track of the simple things. Do you need food or medical care?"

"I'm thinking your medicine wouldn't work correctly, but now that you mention it, I am pretty hungry."

He clacked his pincers together, and began to wander off, then stopped. "Oh, right, I should probably determine what you eat first. You're carbon-based like myself, correct?"

"Yeah. Carbon and water, mostly."

"Ah, I have just the thing!" As he left to go bring me whatever food he had on hand, I began to look around for a chair, as I was tired, and no longer wanted to stand up. After a quick search, I realized that Iaoueai bodies don't really require chairs, and simply sat cross-legged on the shiny floor. Ooeeaa returned with some sort of water bottle, and a sack of small, colorless crystals. "I have no clue how your digestive system works, so I thought I'd play it safe and give you this. It's pure crystalline glucose. We use it as universal animal feed, because nearly every organism on this planet can digest it."

"Good enough, thanks," I replied. I took the bags, then grabbed an empty, dry container off one of the tables and began to alternate scooping the tasteless compound into my mouth and drinking the water. I was quite ravenous. He was taking more notes, jotting down the way I ate, probably.

When I was done eating, I realized something. "Wait a minute, how is it that we can communicate, anyway? You haven't even met a human before, right?"

More high-pitched laughter. "That, Adrian, is a very good question. I myself do not know the answer. It has been this way on our planet since the beginning, and no one knows why. All the animals here can understand the spoken language of every other. The only words that don't get translated are proper nouns and units of measurement, such as the time unit you just used."

"Interesting," I put my hand to my chin. "The implications of such a phenomenon are staggering."

"It is indeed. I'm actually a member of the largest religion on Iaoue, known as Uuaou, whose members value the pursuit of knowledge very highly. We seek the answer to your very question above all others. Of course, I'm still primarily a scientist."

I smiled. "Well, that certainly makes more sense than some of the belief systems on Earth. I'd sign myself up, but it's probably taboo for an alien to join."

"Yes, that would likely be the case." Ooeeaa clicked his mandibles. "By the way, would you be willing to participate in some biological tests? I'm getting anxious waiting."

I put aside information on the many accounts of probing that were reported in the past and agreed. "Eh, why not. It's for science. Besides, I'm curious as to how things work around here."

"Excellent. We begin tomorrow, as I have to prepare the equipment. In the meantime, feel free to rest over there." He pointed over to a door in the back, and gave me what looked something akin to a wave goodbye as he walked up a spiraling, textured ramp in the middle of the room. An Iaoueai version of a staircase to the top level, I realized.

I used my willpower to stop myself from tinkering with any of the machines, and made my way to the door. Either this one wasn't automatic, or they only respond to the natives, so I had to pry it open with my hands. Inside was a dark room, the floor covered with hundreds of those black, circular, leafy things from earlier. I flopped down onto them, suddenly exhausted, and learned that they were quite comfortable.

However, I couldn't sleep. I couldn't get my brain to shut up. Too much was going on. For one thing, I knew I had to keep living, as this was a unique opportunity. I was on an alien planet, rooming with a native biologist. I'd humor him enough, but I didn't want to be an oddity, a test subject for the rest of my life. If I was going to continue living, I had to do something productive, perhaps even act as some sort of emissary for human affairs.

But, eventually, the plans and simply stopped forming, and I fell into a deep sleep.

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Thu Oct 09, 2014 7:24 pm
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