(Editor’s Note: Welcome to Short Story Sunday! This week we’re be featuring the first chapter from a new science fiction novel by Michael Gilmour titled ‘Battleframe.’ Make sure to return next week for Episode 2! )
Episode 1 – Prelude
With a surge of mental energy, Wisdom energized the form of an elderly English gentleman. Gold rimmed round spectacles and a greying goatee adorned his face. A matching soft cap complimented a brown tweed jacket and pants that were reminiscent of mid twentieth century Earth, a planet that was light years away from where he now stood. For some reason he had grown quite accustomed to this shape and drew a sense of comfort from resting his hand lightly on the carved wooden walking cane at his side.
Wisdom looked around the dark alleyway created by the surrounding, soaring skyscrapers. Abandoned old wooden pallets, cardboard boxes and several small clear plastic containers littered the area, the refuse of a burgeoning civilization. High above, he could make out a small patch of blue sky, where every now and then a flitter-car would scoot into view and just as quickly vanish from sight.
Chuckling to himself as if to a jest only he could hear, Wisdom walked to the end of the alley and stepped out into a huge open square at the heart of a bustling city. He loved this place and remembered when the builders had laid the first blue paving tile that seemed to mirror the cloudless sky above. The area was so large that even with the number of workers employed it had taken them years to complete the task. Skyscrapers, of a similar size to the ones that had created the alleyway from which he had just stepped, fenced the square in on all sides. Everything was on a vast scale in the capital.
Wisdom let his gaze wander across the paving to the eight large water fountains positioned equidistant from each other along the circumference of a giant circle. Each fountain represented one of Kaladon’s eight continents with a single larger fountain in the middle symbolizing unity. The sound of the spraying water provided a soft undercurrent of tranquility as it gently echoed off the surrounding buildings.
Kaladon IV was the fourth planet out from a binary star system and teemed with over twelve billion inhabitants. It was also the birthplace of the fledgling Concord of planets.
Across from Wisdom, a teacher led a procession of primary school children towards one of the fountains. A little further away was a group of families with the adults enjoying each other’s company while their children ran around like satellites orbiting a planet. Despite being in the center of a city of forty million people, it was beautiful and peaceful.
As Wisdom wrested his hands lightly on his cane, he stopped for a minute to enjoy the warmth of the distant twin suns on his face. As he gazed upwards, the sunlight highlighted his unusually bright blue eyes. His entire ancient race had similar colored eyes and his seemed to sparkle with eagerness behind his spectacles. It had been quite some time since the three of them had met in this fashion and only now because the plan was nearing a critical juncture.
The people going about their business subconsciously made way for Wisdom as he strolled across the blue stone pavers towards the bench directly opposite. There was a calmness and surety about him as he settled on the seat between a young man and a middle-aged woman.
The young man looked like a university student from the college on the far side of the square. His ruffled unkempt hair mirrored his rumpled pants and t-shirt that was emblazoned with the university’s motto of, “Think, Plan, Act.” A smudge deposited from his last meal, disrupted the final word. To their loss, many had made the mistake of judging him by his disheveled appearance. In one hand, he held a reading tablet as he digested the latest scientific news from the inhabitants of this world.
In sharp contrast to the young man, the woman was stunning and would be a head turner at any party. Long blond hair cascaded down her back while her white blouse revealed just a little of what was discretely hidden underneath. Her fingers thrummed rhythmically on the outside of a black violin case that rested on her equally black neatly pressed slacks. On the ground beside her was a dark leather briefcase with a folded silver music stand sticking out the end.
Unnecessarily clearing his throat Wisdom asked, “So Intellect, what do you think of Kaladon?”
The young man looked up from his tablet, paused to refocus his bright blue eyes and to ponder the question for a moment. “I’ve been scanning the latest scientific research papers and it appears that all is in order. No one has detected our influence over the last several thousand years.”
Wisdom smiled and turned towards Intellect beside him. “I didn’t ask for the results of the plan. I asked what you thought of this world and its people.”
Wisdom raised his eyebrows to encourage his colleague to continue. Intellect sighed and reluctantly put his reading tablet down. “The humans here have passed through so many obstacles: war, famine, environmental problems and economic disparity to name but a few. With a little help from us they’ve now started colonizing the star systems in this sector.”
Wisdom nodded. “And you Creativity?”
Creativity shifted on the bench so that she could get a better view of her two strange companions. Each of them indulged in energizing a form they felt the most comfortable but she always wondered why Intellect liked to wear unclean garments. Her intensely blue eyes sparkled in remembrance as she replied in a voice that was like a perfectly tuned instrument. “I played with the Kaladon orchestra and Balnarth’s music brought me close to tears. The highs and the lows pulled at my heart. The way he managed to bring the audience with him on the journey was close to remarkable. The arts, education and health are everything that we could have dreamed.”
Wisdom again sighed deeply, “That is good. Although young, the Concord of planets is even now beginning to glimpse the dangers that await in the galaxy.”
Creativity lovingly opened her violin case and smiled as she again remembered her last performance. Concern entered her voice as she said, “Wisdom, at your request I have ensured that the discovery of nano-technology has taken place. That will surely help them.”
“Yes, it will help immeasurably but there will still be much suffering,” Wisdom replied.
Intellect picked up his reading tablet and then paused in deep thought. As if reaching a conclusion he looked across at his two colleagues and said, “For all their technological advances they need the others. It’s only the genes combined with the technology that will give this galaxy a chance.”
Removing his hat to reveal thin grey hair Wisdom mopped his brow with a handkerchief that he’d pulled from his inside jacket pocket. “The meeting will happen soon but not here. It won’t be long before the Concord and the people of Earth will come face to face.”
“And what of Kaladon IV?” Intellect asked.
Wisdom shook his head from side to side as if struggling with what he was about to say. “We can do nothing for them without disrupting both streams. For the sake of their development, the Concord and the people of Earth must not know of our influence yet. They will become psychologically dependent upon us and that will mean the end.”
Creativity looked across at the families admiring the fountains dotted around square. The sounds of children screaming in delight as water suddenly sprayed from the sides of a pyramidal shaped sculpture cut across the general hubbub – “So this will all be gone?”
Wisdom perched his hat back on his head and replied in a somber voice, “Yes.”
Blue eyes turned to look into blue and a tear trickled down Creativity’s milk white cheek, “Isn’t there anything that we can do?”
The concern of eons suddenly etched across Wisdom’s face, “No, they are doomed.”
About the Author:
Since his early childhood Michael Gilmour embraced the excitement and infinite possibilities of science fiction. ‘Battleframe’ is his debut novel in ‘The Mindwars’ and is the culmination of a lifetime of adventures. He resides in Melbourne, Australia with his wife and three children.
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