In a futuristic society, the ruler of the world of Praximos is won through a competition every ten years between two political parties. This “Cycle” pairs initiates against the guards of the ruler, with the champion reigning as Guardian of the world until the next challenge.
When the secret is revealed that the new champion has been genetically altered, the tables turn. Guard Lenno must take the Guardian’s sister who is an initiate-in-training, also altered, into hiding.
With lives in the balance, can Lenno use the one loophole of The Cycle Ceremony to seal his fate and change the future of the world?
“Get your stuff together,” Yarvish commanded as Lenno opened his cell door. His stomach flipped as he realized they were shipping out early. He grabbed his bag, attached his swords to it, and hoisted it up on his shoulders. Yarvish led him out of the cell. Lenno looked around and the hall was quiet. Where was everyone? he wondered. “Keep your trap shut too.”
When they reached the end of the hall, Yarvish let him out of the barracks and through the gate to the initiate campus where the shuttle for them had been cleared for moving to the guard campus. Yarvish continued to direct Lenno around a series of buildings and down into the ground. Lenno knew that underground bunkers were for the trainers. He wasn’t sure why he was there.
When Yarvish opened the door at the bottom and pushed Lenno through, he could immediately make out the contents of the dimly-lit room. There was a desk, some cabinets, a solitary hanging light, and two women, one being the trainer. Lenno’s heart stopped as he saw Shayron. Her eyes were wet and she looked packed up as well.
“I don’t understand…,” Lenno started. He was confused by the situation, and completely uncertain of what was happening.
“Shayron isn’t safe,” Ivina said.
“Isn’t this one of the safest places in Praximos?” Lenno wondered.
“Not from the mercs,” Shayron said, her voice wavering. The robomercs were half-human, half-machine hybrids. The core of these beings were human, however they have been infused with mechanical parts and using electrical-response therapy, had been adapted to the new technology joined to their bodies. The robomercs had a sub-routine which overrode their human capacity for thought. Few robomercs ever had the ability to gain control over the sub-routine and for those who did, they didn’t last long. The body was set to self-destruct over time in the event of programming failure.
“Why would they be here?” Lenno asked. The robomercs were typically subservient to the Guardian. They were the real defense for him on travels. Because they had no human feelings they were the most loyal and trusted.
“Rogan has sent them to kill Shayron. Because he has seen your abilities, Lenno, and that you’ve worked with Shayron, he considers her a threat,” Ivina said frankly.
“That goes against the entire system!” Lenno shouted.
“We know,” Yarvish said coolly. He crossed his chest with his arms. “We need you to protect her and make sure she’s safe. The Cycle Ceremony can’t be undermined like this. Thousands of eras would have been a waste if the power of the Guardian can do this.”
“If you live long enough to see the next cycle,” Ivina started, looking directly at Lenno, “make sure you become the next Guardian.”
“I’m not an initiate,” he said to the trainer. “How can I be a Guardian without being an initiate first?”
“We know the rules…all of the rules. There are some that are only revealed to a guard when they have retired.” Yarvish said. He went to Ivina’s cabinet and pulled out an E.D. and turned it on. He flicked his fingers until he found what he was looking for -– the rules of engagement. “Read this.”
Lenno took the device and stated from the document, “If any man or woman so chooses to become an initiate even without training, his or her first guard kill in the Cycle Ceremony will make them thus.”
“In essence what this is saying, is that if you want to try to become a Guardian, you must be a second-attempt initiate, and even one without training,” Ivina explained.
“This is why you don’t tell the guards,” Lenno said, looking at the two trainers. “If they knew, they might try and kill each other.”
“Exactly,” Yarvish stated. “It’s a dangerous loophole…”
“But, a loophole we need at this present time,” Ivina said.
“You will take Ivina’s private vessel and leave here. Do not tell us where you are going. That is the easiest way to ensure your safety. We may die, but if we do, it’s for the safety of Praximos,” Yarvish said, urging the two teens another door in the bunker. “This way leads to her landing pad.”
“But we don’t know how to fly,” Lenno said, looking at Shayron. All they knew was the craft of the arm blades, not flying a hovercraft.
“You learn fast. You know the geography of Praximos and where you are now,” Yarvish said. “Good luck.”
“Thank you,” Shayron said earnestly. Lenno and her both went through the door and ran through. They glanced at each other briefly. This was not a time to talk about their feelings. This was life or death. Robomercs were fast. They ate and slept little and Gammadin was not far away.
They left the bunker and ran up to the hovercraft. Lenno helped Shayron inside. There was really only a cockpit with a passenger seat but there was a surprisingly large area for storage behind that. Lenno looked at the displays which were all new to him. He tried to figure out the different applications of each before starting the engine. He felt energy drain from himself as he powered it up.
“It is too powerful to just use your electrical field,” Shayron explained from behind him. “Be careful you don’t fly too long. This craft isn’t designed for it.”
Lenno worked the gauges and discovered the hover one. He could adjust how far he hovered off of the ground. He realized that the more people on a vessel, the higher up they could hover. They could also fly faster.
“Where are you going to take us?” Shayron asked Lenno curiously.
“No populated area is safe. Everyone has seen you on the E.D. during the Cycle Ceremony. If they put out a watch on the news for you, you’re going to be hunted by more than just the robomercs,” Lenno told her.
“The only place that isn’t populated is –” Shayron started as Lenno finished her sentence.
From the Author
I wrote this after having an incredibly vivid dream that ran like a movie. I was watching everything unfold and it was so amazing that when I woke up I had to immediately write it down in its entirety. The dream had a beginning and end. This novel was created in 2010 for NaNo. I completed the novel five days early. The total word count is approximately 52,000 words.
I am actively seeking representation for this and all other novels. I will not self-publish unless I exhaust all options.
This is protected by US Copyright (2010).