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Literature
The Vekaiyun - Chapter 3
As the months passed, the tasks were ramped up and more responsibility was required from the test subjects, but it was all more of the same: learning, studying, and training in Vekaiyu, then shipped off in missions where they were briefed with just enough information on the scope of the battlefield. And in between the fighting and the learning was travel. It was these moments which afforded the children the most freedom. It was here where the distractions were minimal, where they were confined in a steel tube as they flew to some nameless world with meaningless culture.
“Ikrisia.”
A quick shake of the head returned the ten year old’s mind to focus. Isano Leyuski was in the bunk across hers, and had uttered her name soft enough as to not disrupt the others but loud enough over the droning propellers. She peered through the cargo netting between the top and bottom bunks they used for climbing, but also for holding onto in case their plane faced turbulence or an attack f
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Literature
The Vekaiyun - Chapter 2
An endless splay of groves was characteristic of The Levinasi, a province where every square yard seemed to be occupied by a tree that had seen generations of vulpines come and go like the changing seasons, hiding endless secrets within their maze of vegetation and fauna. In times of old, the glades of trees and winding paths were a mystery to those who dared to venture within. Even now, as roads were built and settlements were established, it was considered wise to have a healthy respect for a realm where nature refused to relent to the plight of those who would proclaim themselves as masters of the dirt and purveyors of the land.
It was here in this southernmost province of the nation that the Vekaiyun government grew their test subjects. Here, they were required to master all things deemed worthy: fighting, survival, sciences, their biology and its advantages and shortcomings, and, above all else, the state they were destined to protect and serve. Growth was accelerated, and immatur
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Literature
The Vekaiyun - Chapter 1
“Fulfill your duty. You are Number Eight.”
A ten-year old vulpine female Vekaiyun soldier placed a hand hidden inside an armored, red-colored uniform to her left ear upon hearing the repeated command. Fulfill your duty was a simple command, but with it came the expectations of efficiency both in speed and in effort. She was all too familiar with the trappings of the old way of thought – the valor of war, the enjoyment of spoils, and even the celebratory pauses that were greased in inefficiency and oozed with immaturity. How ignorant. How disgusting. Peace was nothing more than a lull between conflicts, and there was always time and reason for conflict. Peace was a farce used to trick the naïve into a false sense of security, she learned.
“Hejul major Ikrisia Levinile of the 79th Vekaiyun Infantry Division affirming clear transmission of command,” the young vulpine noted. She had been trained to set a razor-sharp focus on the objectives at hand,
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Hello all. The Listonian's out! We're goin' live!

You can smell the plastic on the cover! Actually, not really. But it has glossy justice!

You may purchase the book at amazon:

Or Barnes & Noble:

There are also other stores picking it up soon. The Listonian follows a peculiar fellow who has a series of unfortunate events occur in his life, and from those hardships he gleans a passion that speaks to others. Yet what is passion without action? And just how much action is required to move the seemingly impossible?

'Ey, it's a map!

After storyweaving with a group of people I hold dear, they challenged me to write a novel. I... had tried in high school, but that didn't quite work out. Nevertheless, after many different edits and passing it along to several different people, I submitted it to publishers. Some didn't read it. Some were nice enough to say they rejected it. Others still liked it. Of the ones who liked it, two wanted me to make significant changes or offered to buy the story from me outright. I didn't want to do that. Finally, there were those who wanted it without really messing with it. I did some research and made a decision. Editing took a while, revisions took even longer, and page design, well, it didn't take that long, but it was passed around a few times.

It was a fun book to write, and I hope you enjoy reading it at least a little bit, should you buy it, of course. But I am still rather happy about this first book reaching a finale.

My very good and way more talented friend :iconkitfox-crimson: drew up the cover. You can view it here:

Cheers!
As the months passed, the tasks were ramped up and more responsibility was required from the test subjects, but it was all more of the same: learning, studying, and training in Vekaiyu, then shipped off in missions where they were briefed with just enough information on the scope of the battlefield. And in between the fighting and the learning was travel. It was these moments which afforded the children the most freedom. It was here where the distractions were minimal, where they were confined in a steel tube as they flew to some nameless world with meaningless culture.

“Ikrisia.”

A quick shake of the head returned the ten year old’s mind to focus. Isano Leyuski was in the bunk across hers, and had uttered her name soft enough as to not disrupt the others but loud enough over the droning propellers. She peered through the cargo netting between the top and bottom bunks they used for climbing, but also for holding onto in case their plane faced turbulence or an attack from below. Through the bramble of army duck she maintained focus.

“Present,” she replied.

“Do you… and don’t tell anyone about this, but do you ever wonder if we’ll ever live up to our purpose?”

Ikrisia darted her eyes in a vain attempt to gather a quick answer. “We?”

“Yes. Us. You seem to be the most focused out of all of us. Focused and cognizant of our objectives. I feel like you and I can trust each other on a different level, because they fixed you, and they’ve yet to fix anyone else.”

Fixed? Ikrisia’s gaze turned to an impassive stare. “You suggest an alliance?”

He nodded. “With your atypical tactics and my superior fighting, we could become a very powerful combination, one where those above us will take notice.”

“We are to leave the others behind?”

“Negative. Just… perhaps increase our odds, if you will. Our odds of success. It all depends on what Kivio Venavle is looking for, but I feel a combination of our methods would work the best. Do you follow?” He waited for the other child to nod. “Good. It… would be better to go through this with a friend.”

Friend? Wasn’t that a word they shouldn’t be using? Since when did friendship come into play? And what did it mean to be a friend? Not that the word was foreign to her, but in a world of objectives and tasks, of fighting and killing, friend just seemed… out of place, like wearing a fashion dress instead of the combat suit she currently wore. It felt inefficient, and she knew what path that led to.

“We are friends, right?”

She searched her mind. “I… I do not know.”

Isano smiled, but it was one of those trademark smiles he bared where he seemed to look older – a wily grin, comforting to the point where it was almost mesmerizing. “Friends help one another, even if… even if the objective should pause in order to help them out. They talk to pass the time, support one another, and co-contribute. So, knowing that, would you say we are friends? Do you think we could support one another?”

Support? How? Like in battle? No, it seemed to be more than that. “What is there to discuss?”

He scoffed. “Anything. Everything, really. About our classes, or our training. Talk about our day and how things are going… like something that you like or don’t like, and then I add to that and we use our similar or different opinions to understand something that’s meaningful. You know. Friendship. You were so good at that once, maybe too good, but now, well, I just hope that however they fixed you was right and complete.”

Ikrisia tried to analyze the expressions on his face to determine whether or not it was something related to the mission or something else entirely. After blinking a few times, she realized this wasn’t about the mission. It was about something that was rather taboo: self. Like how she thought, what she was thinking, her likes and dislikes. But she didn’t have any opinions – such things were inefficient. She only wanted to maintain focus on the fast-approaching battle. “I, well, I suppose I could try, provided it does not detract from our objectives.”

Isano smiled. “That’s great. That’s all I wanted to hear, really. I guess I don’t understand how these things work, but we can try together, right?”

“Affirmative.”

He scoffed once more, closing his eyes as his head hit the pillow. “So these suits, right? Green ones this time. Must be going to some forested place. And not very comfortable to sleep in.”

“But they are optimally-designed so that we only need to put our helmets on to be ready for battle.”

“Yeah, but they’re… uncomfortable.”

Ikrisia bit her lip, not entirely sure how to respond.

“You’re allowed to say they’re uncomfortable.”

She nodded. “They are uncomfortable. But necessary and functional.”

Isano laughed. “Functional, sure. Let me ask you this, you think you can fight without that suit? Like really fight?”

“It would entirely depend on the situation and the environment.”

“Ah, yes, that’s correct.”

The baritone hum of the airplane engines filled the room once more, separating the space between their awkward conversation. While it seemed to be over, Ikrisia just couldn’t let it end on that note. “But… I suppose if the environment was optimal, and it allowed one to move freely without fears of chemical agents that could arrest cellular respiration… I believe I could. But it would be inefficient.”

“Efficiency aside, though.”

She tried to make her pillow more comfortable. “I… don’t know how to measure that.”

“It’s as the one scientist said, faith. Faith helps, right? Provided its faith focused on the state, that is.”

Ikrisia turned her head to face forward to the bunk on top of her. “I suppose so. And trust in one’s abilities can help.”

“And with that trust comes faith, right? It is good we have a powerful state to guide us.”

As far as she was concerned, concepts such as faith were still abstract and meaningless. “I suppose one could arrive at that conclusion, given the evidence they are provided.”

“Heh. I see. Well, goodnight, Ikrisia.”

“Affirmative… likewise.”

The ride continued well into the night as the plane faced minimal resistance and only a few bouts of turbulence. But it wasn’t an easy ride. The aircraft was drafty, cramped, and uncomfortable. The vinyl mattresses did little to offer support, but it didn’t really matter. It was good enough to sleep in.

A sudden jolt wakened the test subjects, who did not feel impelled to complain, nor did they succumb to lethargy as they sprung quickly from their beds. They spurred to action, grabbing their weapons and quickly putting on their helmets, going over any final checks and helping anyone who had a piece out of place or did not hold their weapon properly.

The cargo door at the back of the plane groaned as heavy metal and hydraulics revealed the new world. Bright light peered through the opening doors, dousing the confines in intense sunlight. Hot, steamy air began to waft into the steel confines of the fuselage. Once the door had finished its ominous symphony, the children, led by Isano, filed out of the plane in an orderly fashion. Here they would be separated and directed to a crew that would take orders from someone half their age to direct them, instruct them, order them, and overall entrust their lives to these prodigies with mysterious hidden faces.

Ikrisia met with a communications officer as they traipsed through a jungle of large fauna with no less than one thousand shades of green and tall trees with spindly trunks that seemed to stretch hundreds of feet in the air. Gunfire and explosions crackled in the far distance as the two approached an encampment.

Ikrisia stood to attention. “Hejul major Ik-”

“You do not need to address me, girl – I know what your group does and know your number. At ease. We do not have time to divulge in formalities.”

Although it was somewhat tough to see as the lenses to her mask struggled to adjust to the sweltering temperatures and high humidity, she could tell the commander was a middle-aged vulpine gentlemen, a man who was only just recently experiencing his colors fade into the twilight of old age. He was brawny for a vulpine – especially for a vulpine – and he had black hair parted down the center, which contrasted with his dull, rusty red fur. There weren’t many who could measure up to his appearance, which was topped off with a drab uniform that had not a thread out of place. She could tell he was a sipavu commodore – one of the elites who led an entire infantry division.

“I am sipavu commodore Vanse Lebivistre, and I place a selection of my men and women under your authority as we shift this war with Yulturia. Note that I am not doing this per an order; rather, I have read briefings and reports on your group and I want to see this first-hand, so I am placing you and your kin in a minor role. Serve me well, and I will submit a glowing report. Falter, and I can assure that my words will haunt you for quite some time.” A smile cracked his expressive face. “Your command will secure villages along the northern road. I advise you not to use that road because guerrilla fighting has been unwavering. Secure the town approximately two miles north of here. Once that objective is realized, await further instruction. Do this and you will have earned my trust.”

“Understood, sipavu commodore Lebivistre. I will fulfill my duty.”

A dense jungle offered protection from the battle at hand, but it was difficult to discern which foe posed the greatest threat - the opposition or the intense heat. Indeed, large fluctuations in temperature were a hazard to a vulpine as they lacked the biological makeup to adjust. Being encased in a suit that wasn’t particularly designed with comfort in mind made it all the more difficult. If she stopped moving, she swore she could feel herself bake inside this plastic oven. The humidity was taxing on her breathing filters, and she quickly found it became more of a chore just to suck in air. But, Ikrisia made the best of it, and would never dream of failure. She wiped the condensation from her lenses and continued trekking deeper into the fray, relying on sight and sound instead of attempting to comb the fauna for opposition. It was slow but necessary, as these fighters, these human fighters who smartly wore uniforms befitting to their environment, were well-trained and well-hidden.

“Where the hell are they firing from?”

“Don’t know, just shoot something!”

Ikrisia held up a hand. “Silence. Follow my lead.”

The child soldier was quick to use her trained eyes and a mode in her mask to point hidden encampments out. Rather than simply follow alongside the road or choose another well-outlined path, she opted to encircle, swooping round the path littered with unseen bullets pinging and twanging ubiquitously. Either one could have easily penetrated her armor.

She unpinned a grenade, then, after waiting a short while and quickly calculating for wind resistance, lobbed it in the air, the bomb exploding almost as soon as it struck the ground in an area with a dozen or so men that would have pinned her troop down. Utilizing the confusion, she quickly set to work on the other movements, gunning down three other soldiers and one animal. After silently waving her crew forward through the crossfire, she strafed a few runners as their foreign commands were cut short, and headed up the predetermined path, slowly closing the pocket as the morning dragged on. They continued to remove spotty resistance as their group worked to form a pincer with others from Project Uveshk approaching near the road.

When her command eventually reached the town, a heated battle had already begun, but her work, atypical as it may be, was supportive and necessary. That, and she only lost five soldiers to boot.

“Did you get lost on the way?” Ivalsa ribbed as Ikrisia’s unit arrived at a nameless town. At least it was somewhat strategic – it was on the main road, and before too long roadways would be ever important if it finally decided to rain or if they needed to move artillery forward.

“Ruby unit,” Ikrisia ordered through her communicator after assessing the battlefield, “assume Sentruft Position A in the southwestern quadrant!” The maneuver, while not typical, was designed to seek locations unoccupied by other groups and establish a firm encampment, a sort of sweeping maneuver used mainly to wipe out counterattacks as other units drove forward in a sawtooth-like fashion. She crept behind a smoldering building and moved in slowly, keeping her group near as she watched the soft ground rise with each misfire from the opposition. Though the perilous road offered a peppering of gunfire, she used the projectiles to triangulate the positions of enemy fighters and neutralize the threats.

“Ikrisia, nice of you to drop in!” Visela greeted as she seemed to make her way toward her. Isano was near as well. Far too inefficient, but perhaps the fighting merited such. She watched as her own kin began to work their way around an alleyway. Ikrisia remained near the main roads to provide momentary cover fire, but her task remained the same: work with the group to secure the town.

Only a half-hour of fighting was required to meet that objective. Nothing too troubling in this area, it seemed. Still, as the fighting calmed and strategic positioning was employed in the event of a counter-attack, a child searching for safety caught the attraction of Ikrisia. Though she tried to ignore the inefficient distraction, she had to admit, it could’ve been an obstacle if fighting broke out. She beckoned to the small human near her, studying the braids in hair of ebony and eyes of blue.

“Come here,” she commanded. “I will ensure your safety. You must leave the premises.” The more she spoke, the more the human child reeled. Perhaps they didn’t speak the same language, so she gently waved with an armored hand. Still no positive response. Perhaps she should simply pick her up and move her into a building. Maybe she should act menacing so she would run away. This was becoming futile, and as such, more attention could be concentrated elsewhere. After scanning the area for any pockets of resistance before advancing, her attention was swayed by Ehjy and the commotion near him. He had succumbed to boredom and began shooting civilians. Only an inefficient soldier would waste his ammunition on unarmed men, women, and children. She shrugged it off turned her head, but something caused her to take a second look. The more she thought about it, the more she couldn’t shake a weird feeling deep within her mind. There was something... different. It was more than inefficient. It was... wrong? But how could it be wrong? It was meaningless to simply remove unarmed individuals - a waste of time. But there was something about the act that was off-putting, something she realized the more she stared. Something about their agonized human faces. The screams. The pleas. The older humans displaying unrestrained… emotion toward the deaths of the youth before they too met their end. Ikrisia shook her head again and turned as the reluctant child was hit by a spray of bullets from her lab mate. Blood sprayed from the open wounds in her chest as she was practically sawed in half from the line of fire, sewn together only by her pink-colored overalls. Gone in an instant. But this didn’t feel like a death of soldier in her command. This felt different, very different.

The test subject put a hand to her head. Before she was immersed in combat, but now her mind was completely off the battlefield. What was happening? Why was she so shaken by something so meaningless? The way in which they fell. The way in which they moved toward the dead, instead of away. Didn’t they realize they were dead? What good was it to… grieve? To cry? Cry as they were killed? What did this mean? Emotions were inefficient… right? Or was this something else entirely?

She put an arm out, but didn’t know what to say.

“Ikrisia! You are acting very inefficient!” Isano exclaimed.

Did he notice? Did he feel it too? No, he only glanced back at Ehjy and didn’t offer any sort of reprimand. Muffled explosions from the distance picked up intensity.

“Ikrisia! Do you have an equipment malfunction?”

“No... no! I do not. Negative. Negative.” Her head hurt for some reason. Emotions were to be avoided at all costs – she should stop right now. But how could Ehjy kill a child she just spoke to? What did he ever do to her? What did anyone ever do to her?

“Resume your objective – we must advance!”

She nodded slowly, shaking her head and looking back at Ehjy as he also seemed to switch positions, the collection of dead citizens still strewn across the perilous street. Some appeared to still be moving. Maybe if she consoled them, somehow, it would make this odd feeling go away. Console? What did it mean to console? Stop being inefficient!

“Ikrisia!”

A high-pitched noise emanated from her auditory receptors. “Affirmative!” she responded after readying her weapon. The sound was growing louder and more uncomfortable. It even seemed to drown out the words of others. Maybe her equipment was malfunctioning after all. Perhaps emotions were simply malfunctions?

A quick glance above revealed the source: an errant shell sailing almost directly to where she stood. Others had already run for cover, but she could only manage to run backwards quickly, holding her arms out to shield any blast. When the shell exploded, the crash sent her flying across the landscape as her body tumbled on the ground. She landed in a hollowed-out alcove, twisted and strewn about like a rag doll.

Her eye windows were damaged. Her suit was damaged. When she tried to stand back up, she realized she couldn’t use her hands for leverage. Looking to her left and right revealed her arms had been practically severed almost up to the elbows. Gone. Completely gone.

She looked at her torn-off arms as supersoldiers came to her aid under cover fire. Her head turned frantically as they entered her vision, partially obstructed by her damaged mask. She was without hands. She was invalid, and she knew the fate that awaited her. As panic set in, waves of pain suddenly crashed against her small frame. Her back arched and she rocked slightly, but she couldn’t scream. She would never scream.

Ehjy squatted next to her and deactivated her voice communicator. “There.”

“Uh-oh, Ikrisia’s invalid.” Ivalsa shook her head. “Should we leave her here or block her filter off to give her a quick death? Maybe we could just shoot her?”

“We need to throw her out now!” Ehjy argued. “If we leave her, she’ll be taken and used for the technology and we’ll all get in trouble.” He paused to think. “I’ll place a grenade under her muzzle. I did this to Lis. You remember Lis Vivestra? He fought it, but in the end he put the state ahead of himself.”

“No.”

They turned to Isano as Ikrisia struggled to remain compliant. He held up a bloodied arm, his green armor now coated in crimson. “Her fate shall be the same as mine.”

“Isano!”

“She’s invalid! She must be disposed!”

Ivalsa looked down as Ikrisia writhed in pain. “Just let me snap her neck, okay?”

“No!” He looked at the group of three before him. A quick move by Isano turned off his communicator so that he was certain he was only speaking to the immediate group. “This is what they want us to do. Don’t you see? We cannot afford to lose any more of us! The more we lose, the more we reduce our chances. If we leave her here, one day, it will be you. Or you. Or myself. We will order her return to base camp. I... will continue to fight upon my return.”

He gripped the broken body of Ikrisia and began pulling her from the battlefield. A small pause allowed him to heave her over his shoulder - no easy feat for a vulpine to carry one of their own. The soldier headed south and raced down the now-cleared road to safer ground, minding the cargo he was toting as it groaned and agonized.

“Do not feel invalid,” he reassured. “You will be mended. Have… faith. Faith in the state. I will see to it that you are fixed again.”


The Vekaiyun - Chapter 3
Previous Chapter

Oh goodness, whatever could this Ikrisia specimen be doing now? Surely she is following all the whims and wills of the state at-large! Or is she invalid even before beginning on her journey? Time will tell, but I likely will end my preview here, though I am considering extending it a few more chapters. Although a lot has occurred in the first three chapters, I can't help but to question just what the meaning of a soul is - is it innate, or is it earned? And just who is this robot girl anyway? And is free will problematic, or is it beneficial regardless of the various controls placed by the presiding powers that be? I guess we'll need to read on, especially if the perceived outcomes differ than my own predictions!

This is chapter three in a book that's been accepted already to a publisher. My goal is to show the first five chapters, but perhaps this'll be it!
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An endless splay of groves was characteristic of The Levinasi, a province where every square yard seemed to be occupied by a tree that had seen generations of vulpines come and go like the changing seasons, hiding endless secrets within their maze of vegetation and fauna. In times of old, the glades of trees and winding paths were a mystery to those who dared to venture within. Even now, as roads were built and settlements were established, it was considered wise to have a healthy respect for a realm where nature refused to relent to the plight of those who would proclaim themselves as masters of the dirt and purveyors of the land.

It was here in this southernmost province of the nation that the Vekaiyun government grew their test subjects. Here, they were required to master all things deemed worthy: fighting, survival, sciences, their biology and its advantages and shortcomings, and, above all else, the state they were destined to protect and serve. Growth was accelerated, and immaturity was not tolerated. Despite this, their best was simply never enough.

Each day, the scientists carried out the directives administered by the ultimate authority in Vekaiyu. To the scientists, these children were their greatest dissertation worthy of the highest of accolades. But no one outside of the command structure of Venavle and the higher echelons of government knew of this project in totality. This project, hidden under reels of red tape, was never meant for prying eyes, even to those who knew the children by name in the military.

Like any “peacetime” day, the test subjects sat in one of several classrooms available to them, wearing tunics that stretched almost to the knee in black or gray, basic shorts, and waterproof slippers. Their “home outfits,” as they were called, afforded little creativity and was merely seen as functional, nothing more. No one child had a specific outfit – they were roughly the same size, save for height. But their shoes were their exclusive property, the one thing they were allowed to own.

“It can be argued that without St. Aiya, there would be no Vekaiyu,” a younger, lab coat-clad female vulpine adult named Riyna Ilykasteri, proclaimed. Her dominion was a basic predictability course utilizing mathematical modeling to better predict chance, risk, and outcome. The bespectacled woman set to work on the dry erase board to build her case with each stroke of the marker like a preacher working from the pulpit. “Ika Strovinari’s research indicated this as such. So when we take the integral of our new equation based on these set parameters, we can quantify the area under the curve for our model – you all recall your lessons in calculus, yes – and this sharp decline that we see here is indicative of significant risk if we adjust the amount of defiance – the second modifying variable here. Lowering the defiance reduces the chances of success significantly. Yet St. Aiya bucked the trend. Dangerous, but justified in this case.”

She then turned to the class. “So, let’s explore this concept. Let’s apply other models we know to better understand this individual, their choices – right or wrong, and why said choices would not work in our world where a perfected state retains control of the land.”

An equation was soon written over the various curves confined like prisoners against the bars of Cartesian coordinates, the curves enslaved to the whims of the independent variable in order to produce a magnificent yet predictable output. “Her passion can easily be defined in a manner such as this, based on theory, of course.”

“What exactly did she do, though?” Visela asked.

Riyna stopped writing. It was unusual for a project member to speak abruptly to authority, but not forbidden. “Excuse me, Number Three?” She didn’t know their names – they were all just numbers to the scientists.

Visela cleared her throat and repeated. “What exactly did she do?”

Riyna gingerly set her dry erase marker down in the accompanying slot. “You truly don’t know?” Visela braced for an immediate, physical correction, but Riyna was new and therefore a bit unpredictable. The scientist instead brought a hand to her muzzle. “St. Aiya is the Patron Saint of Vekaiyu and the mortal founder of Vayan Catholicism. She brought this religion to the vulpine race despite pressure from rulers from Nugala, modern-day Asmonia, which was the state that occupied vulpine lands at the time. When her and her followers began to minister with success to her people, their numbers ballooned. Did you know any of this?” The scientist paused when Number Three shook her head. “She reportedly had a vision which instructed her to minister to the king of Nugala. Despite the urgings of her followers, she traveled and evangelized throughout her journey until she reached the Nugalan capital and attempted to convince the king of her message. She was imprisoned and murdered for her efforts. Her doctrine, it seemed, was too controversial and threatened his rule over vulpine subjects. Yet some argue it was her death that catalyzed the struggle of a people fighting for independence, a process that would take nearly two hundred more years to complete.”

“Permission to ask a question, please?” another child, Rakya Aylestrovessi, begged. She was always kind of quiet from what Ikrisia could remember.

“This is open forum, Number Four,” she replied. “Ask away.”

“Why would she do something suicidal?”

“Suicidal?”

“She should’ve known the king wouldn’t put up with what she had to say, right? They ruled us after all.”

“Ah, I see what you’re asking. And the answer to that question is layered. We can measure outcomes, measure chance and risk and overturn countless stones to study every predictable scenario, but we can’t ascertain why one does something. We can postulate effects, but we can’t measure qualities which do not fit our models, because they don’t always adhere to probability. Faith is one of these qualities.”

“And faith is…”

“Really, now? Okay, faith is entrusting someone or something to the eventual outcome. It’s a belief, but it seems to be deeper than that, and can lead to something more dangerous, which I will explain later. It can be argued that St. Aiya knew her fate, though she likely believed her death would not be in vain. But with faith comes belief, and belief typically spurs action. It does not always follow predictive means.”

“Oh, so faith clouds judgment!” Ivalsa exclaimed.

“No, no. It’s more than that. Don’t you understand?” She paused to try and paint an analogy and amend a sour note in her sonata. “You all would follow the Vekaiyun Ideal, correct? No matter what, right? Therefore, you would follow it even if it didn’t make any sense whatsoever, yes?”

“What sort of a question is that?” Ivalsa asked. “We aren’t invalid.”

“But then one could say you would have faith in the Vekaiyun Ideal, understand?”

“We don’t have anything in the Vekaiyun Ideal,” Ehjy muttered. “It’s everything. We follow it because it’s the Vekaiyun Ideal.”

Isano raised his hand. “Wait, but then faith would be easy to predict. If it guides someone, then they’ll obviously choose whatever they think is guiding them.”

“Great observation, Number Six!” Riyna exclaimed. “But therein lies the problem! When someone is guided by faith, yes, they’ll have a higher propensity to follow the doctrines and dogma of whatever they claim to follow, but there are three qualities that we’re missing. And they are huge. Misinterpretation, rebellion, and misappropriation of faith to perception. Those three qualities make faith a very difficult thing to map. We can apply this to certain beliefs, but it depends on the individual. Perhaps their faith is unwavering. Perhaps it is not. Perhaps it’s perverse. Perhaps it’s sound but weak. You follow?”

“Faith is bad?” Visela asked.

“It depends. For instance, all of you may have little differences here and there when it comes to following the Vekaiyun Ideal. These differences can correlate into different choices each one of you would make. In short, your faith in the ideal is where your trusts lie and how they dictate action, which may differ.”

“Then we must all ensure we have the exact same faith!” Ehjy demanded.

She smiled. “There’s another problem. See, faith outside of the state can make a particular group of people difficult to control, difficult to administer and prescribe dominion over if they do not fully entrust themselves to the state. But faith can also inspire hope, choices, beliefs, and overall make actions difficult to predict. That is why the state should have dominion in all things – it is safer that way.”

“Everyone is predictable,” Ikrisia muttered.

Riyna rolled her eyes. “Alright, then.” She grabbed her glasses from her own face, then slammed them to the floor, taking the heel of her shoe to finish the job and crush the spectacles into thousands of glistening pieces against the linoleum floor. “Everyone? What if I had a sudden inspiration and realized I didn’t need to see, that I could be healed by such a faith?”

“Then you would have a mental illness,” Ikrisia retorted.

“Oh? And does that perception lessen my apparent danger? The Nugalan King thought St. Aiya was dangerous, and she believed in an Unseen Hand, the Almighty. Perhaps to him, believing in something unseen rather than tangible pagan gods was perceived as a mental illness, and yet St. Aiya wrestled control of a nation from the hands of the vulpine people. She became dangerous, through its unifying message”

“Can we harness this power of faith to get others to do dumb things?” Ivalsa questioned.

Riyna gripped the bridge of her muzzle as she sighed. “No… it’s not quite that easy. Valid faith needs to be placed in something safe and important. Today it is the state, the Vekaiyun Ideal, and Kivio Venavle. I have built a case around St. Aiya. Her faith was determined to be good long ago. But times have changed, and for good reason. We don’t need a St. Aiya anymore – the St. Aiyas of the world are dangerous and unpredictable to the state, and would therefore clash with what is true and right.”

“Oh!” Ivalsa exclaimed. “So correct faith is fighting for and trusting the state?”

Isano continued on her thought. “We can have different faith… and different ways of showcasing said faith, but as long as we are focused and properly aligned with the state, the differences don’t matter, because if our faith is correct, we will serve the state to the best of our abilities?”

“Exactly,” the scientist assured. “But faith is still dangerous due to interpretation. That is the most important point I wished to make. Were my actions predictable? Did they… deviate from the equations provided? Now you see how faith can burst through the predictive norms, right? Now you see where faith becomes difficult to control? And is there danger in that loss of control? Absolutely!” She watched as the class nodded in agreement. “Belief. The last major variable to conquer. But through the state, its power can be harnessed and utilized!”



* * * * *



“Yes, dictator Venavle,” the senior scientist of Project Uveshk replied. He was as enigmatic as the deep forested vales of the Levinasi, and was known only by “Tomasu” to the children and other members of the team. A quiet man, his reclusiveness sentenced him to a lifetime of loneliness: no children, no wife, no real friends, just a man and his endless reams of data as numerous as the whitened fur on his body. “The children are doing quite well and are progressing quicker than expected. Many have begun to show leadership qualities on the battlefield. They are already learning at an advanced level. We are staying true to the course and will be ready to reveal their progress to you shortly.”

There was a long pause on the other end of the phone. These were always tense moments, as the mercurial leader was known to change opinions quickly. “You know, Tomasu, there is no one in this world who could measure up to my expectations and even dream of having a child with me. It is a privilege reserved for no one. I look forward to seeing the children you are growing for me.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Does that make sense, Tomasu? My reign will one day be over. But one of them may take my place. Their complete and undying submission to me will ensure that my legacy is endless. Then we’ll just repeat the process for the next generation.”

“Naturally, sir.” His perverted take on the whole project was off-putting, but who was he to question desire?

“Good. I want them strong… but not too strong. I want them to be groomed as stand-ins should something happen to me. Do you see where this is going?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Some will respond well, some won’t. The rest of the bunch, who cares. Let them rot on the battlefield or undergo further experimentation in any way you deem fit. My immortal legacy, Tomasu, will be one of progress and triumph. We will ascend toward a society where all is known, nothing is hidden, and everyone is entirely, piously devoted to the state. The bourgeois and pointless musings of the self will be traded in for efficiency and progress. There can be no other substitutions.”

“Of course, sir.”

“No more slip-ups, Tomasu. You have an important job, and there are very few people in this world that I trust to do it. I expect to see these children in one year. From there, I will select the ones I deem worthy. The others are just pointless wastes of time and space. There will be consequences for their lack of maturity and measure.”

“Indeed, sir.”

“I have tempered immense patience in this process, and I’m afraid it is beginning to wane. But I take great pleasure in removing those who must be removed for the betterment of this world.”

Tomaso bit his lip, knowing just how cruel the dictator could be behind the scenes. If he required all dismissed scientists to be killed rather than released back to the public, there was no telling what he could do to those whom he felt he truly owned. “Yes, sir.”

“See to it that you prepare them. Not one year – six months from now I want to view the fruits of my labor. Should I miss out on this… expect you and your project to reach an abrupt and spectacular end.”
The Vekaiyun - Chapter 2

I've decided to put up another chapter, just to kind of get the sense of how the book begins. The lives of these odd children are starting to come into greater focus!
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“Fulfill your duty. You are Number Eight.”

A ten-year old vulpine female Vekaiyun soldier placed a hand hidden inside an armored, red-colored uniform to her left ear upon hearing the repeated command. Fulfill your duty was a simple command, but with it came the expectations of efficiency both in speed and in effort. She was all too familiar with the trappings of the old way of thought – the valor of war, the enjoyment of spoils, and even the celebratory pauses that were greased in inefficiency and oozed with immaturity. How ignorant. How disgusting. Peace was nothing more than a lull between conflicts, and there was always time and reason for conflict. Peace was a farce used to trick the naïve into a false sense of security, she learned.

“Hejul major Ikrisia Levinile of the 79th Vekaiyun Infantry Division affirming clear transmission of command,” the young vulpine noted. She had been trained to set a razor-sharp focus on the objectives at hand, and such training gave her suppositions of purpose and importance. There was use in war, and she was useful in those endeavors.

Only a slight pause was allowed as she gazed out at the barren wastelands in front of her. And it was indeed a wasteland – once-revered buildings dressed in ornate stonework stood more like reduced spires of rubble in the dusty air thick with projectiles of bullets, shells, and bombs. These useless structures sighed and bowed to the harrowing shrieks from the sky and the clouds and craters they made in their wake, one day, perhaps, reclaimed by the ubiquitous sand. Tracks from tanks still fresh in the arid dirt tattooed the ground, with rumbles in the distance indicating their trekking was far from over. Dead bodies in various states of decay and mangled agony wore two sets of uniforms from two different species. They dotted the terrain, peeking from the rubble and sandy soil, their hands riddled with fissures of blood and soaked sand.

“Next objective is realized. Anticipate Sector Thirteen to be secured within the next three-point-five hours. We will embark to Sector Fourteen where we will rendezvous with the front lines.”

The soldier deliberately moved down toward a heap of rubble and sand in order to reach a defensive wall. Though she certainly seemed poised and immersed in a mélange of methods, versed in all the tools for success and virtues of efficiency, it was tough for anyone to truly understand just what she was. While she was indeed young, and she was fighting for the Vekaiyun armed forces, little else could be distinguished. A composite facade constructed of red plastic reinforced with steel backing hid her vulpine face. The face plate included housings for her large, triangular ears, which were used to immediately receive reports and directives from subordinates to superiors – both which were numerous. The functional mask included receptors in the eyepieces to spot movement and microphones to maintain communication. Included in the setup was a pair of environmental filters used to remove any nuclear, biological, or chemical substances, allowing a constant flow of clean air to afford maximum health. A short supply of compressed air was available in a canister should she need it. This of course meant that her uniform was airtight. Her body was encased in a special combat suit used to take full advantage of her dexterous vulpine body, fully trained and absolutely ready to engage in any task the battlefield presented. No tail was present - it was removed when she was young in order to prevent it from being a nuisance or a weakness on the battlefield. Only a collection of synthetic hairs on the crown of her head proffered some kind of identity, but apart from the defining feature and the insignia on the upper right of her breastplate, it did little to ensure that inside this robotic shell was a child bred by the state, loyal to the nation of Vekaiyu, tasked with annihilation of the enemy and constant dominion over her uniformed men and women.

“Hejul major Levinile!” an adult vulpine soldier greeted from below. He wore the typical Vekaiyun infantry uniform for a desert setting - a careful selection of shades of brown on his stiff shirt and pants, brown boots, and a helmet with extended points to house his triangular ears. It was the choice uniform when chemical attacks were not imminent. “Emerald group is advancing past-” the communication was cut short, as was his life, as his body burst apart and spattered the uniform of his mortal superior in a different shade of red when she was mid-approach to the man.

“Mind the landmines,” she commanded with monotone disquiet, unaffected by the organic chunks scattered about. It was inefficient to focus on the dead.

Ikrisia Levinile the hejul major picked up speed toward a denser collection of buildings – her new post – as groups of men and women shuffled their positions in strategic locations scattered about the battlefield, attempting to follow orders from someone roughly half their age. She demanded air as her filters worked to remove the dust. “Ruby group! Engage with the contingency set up in locale 4b!”

“Affirmative, major!” a voice called back over the radio.

Fighting in the region had ground to a standstill, but the inclusion of Levinile’s group coupled with her atypical yet risky tactics allowed for some breakthroughs, and the battle lines between Vekaiyu and Hethrostria shifted in favor of the vulpine nation. It was difficult to share the success, however, as she was not the only child supersoldier in command of a division.

“Negative, negative!” Ehjy Nimous, another supersoldier roughly the same age as Ikrisia volleyed back. “I have operatives there! This move will decrease the efficiency of my flank by at least fifty percent!”

Ikrisia paused to let a shell finish its deadly note. “It is prudent to follow the prescribed battle plans, or note any alterations as the attack progresses!” Satisfied with scoping the battlefield, she removed her rifle toted on her back, advanced from the outskirts of buildings, and entered deeper into what remained of the shell of a city. She was perhaps moving a bit too fast, but to her, the ultimate objective was to secure the area quickly. Anything else was needless or ancillary.

After reviewing her objectives with high command in stoic yet direct discourse, her next task was to secure an important bridgehead and meet up with Ehjy and another supersoldier, Isano Leyuski. Isano was the clear frontrunner of those in Project Uveshk, the covert program where all young supersoldiers came from. Though they all held the same rankings, it was obvious the military and the scientists favored Isano over all others. Ikrisia didn’t mind this. If he was better suited for the role, then for the greater good of the nation it should be awarded to him over her or all others. Any sort of enmity or jealousy was both unwarranted and inefficient.

Movement spotted across an alleyway resulted in several accurate shots from her well-maintained rifle, cared for as if it were a favorite toy. She was careful not to use ammunition on civilians, as it was simply inefficient to waste effort on non-threats, and inefficiency was to be eschewed at all costs, because inefficiency meant invalidity, and invalidity meant dishonor to the state, which justifiably resulted in the removal from duty and termination of life. Therefore, Ikrisia plastered herself close to the wall of sandy stucco with brick exposed underneath and was careful to keep watch of the falling shells as they pounded the landscape into submission one blast at a time.

When she peered down the main avenue of the town, she spotted the bridgehead – still intact, and, although threatened, stable enough for passage. “Continue to move east!” She repeated the command again in order to make certain her issues were clear.

A nearby shell tore through a brittle building, exploding on impact as stonework rained down below. Luckily her suit prevented discomfort from the high-pitched squeal and the resulting ear-splitting explosion from ringing in her head. “Onyx and Malachite groups, begin saturation bombing when in range! Ruby group, continue with securing Rublakrost Street – the main avenue of five lanes! If this passage is not secure by 2100 hours our chance of success reduces by roughly thirty-five percent! We must hold the choke point prior to securing the bridge!”

“Major Levinile!”

She looked over at another soldier of her command and acknowledged him with a nod. Fortunately, he didn’t explode after speaking to her.

He paused to reel from a nearby explosion. “Several other hejul majors approach from the east!”

A quick turn of her head revealed Ehjy, Isano, and another major, Ivalsa Kinusehy juxtaposed together and exposing differences in height. Horribly inefficient. They would be wise to spread their forces out to better sweep the perimeter.

“Ikrisia!” Isano Leyuski called out over the radio. “We are beginning our advance toward the enemy spearhead! By including you into our task force, we increase our chance of success by twenty-five percent!”

“I concur!” Of course, there were multiple ways to solve the problem at hand. After dodging enemy gunfire and picking off confirmed targets while avoiding newly-formed potholes, Ikrisia joined the group, which had taken up a “wagon wheel” formation, a tactic whereby each soldier put their backs to one another in a circle.

“Advance to locale 7d!” Leyuski demanded.

“How is your squad doing, Ikrisia?” Ivalsa asked. She was the shortest of the bunch, yet looked nearly identical to her female comrade, save for the choice of hair atop the helmet.

“Her tactics resulted in the destruction of at least one of her task forces,” Ehjy complained. “I heard it over the radio. I take a more responsible approach. It is more Vekaiyun to play under such rules. Azsur Venavle would be proud of my actions today! The kral commodore duty is mine!”

“The Vekaiyun dictator only cares about completing the objective!” Isano reminded as they continued moving northward, nonchalantly eliminating any resistance as they created a path of death in their wake. “And that position is already filled back in Vekaiyu. You realize your duties. Ikrisia realizes her duties. It is important that all our tactics are varied! Otherwise we’re clones and nothing more!”

“I’m more than a clone!” Ehjy growled.

“Aww, does someone miss the friendly confines of their test tube?” Ivalsa giggled.

“I do not! We all came from test tubes!”

“So? Yours was probably big and inefficient! Invalid! Invalid!”

“I am not invalid!”

“Isano!” Ikrisia interrupted. “When shall we break formation?”

“There goes Ikrisia again,” Ehjy snickered, “kivia beep-boop robot with no personality.”

Another shell exploded several bodies away, rocking the confines of the skeletal city as bloated torsos bequeathed bits of matter and a smattering of blood against the drab facades of buildings lining the vital street. “The bridgehead is to the west!” Isano commanded. “Break formation! Secure the choke point and hold it until infantry catches up!”

Of course, Ikrisia had ordered that command minutes ago. But was it too inefficient to include them in the mix? Maybe she underestimated its difficulty. The four dispersed as Ikrisia searched the premises with eyes carefully contained within windows partially obstructed by dried blood. She eventually chose an exposed outcropping, taking the most perilous position as it exposed her to potential enemy gunfire. But, that was the point as far as she was concerned, as this allowed for maximum coverage for those around her, and therefore her purpose was fulfilled. She glanced back and observed where each of her kin was positioned. Ehjy was closest to her, while Ivalsa seemed to be near the center of the street behind some debris. Isano, on the other hand, moved forward to advance and meet the enemy head-on.

Ikrisia’s communication suddenly crackled. “Onyx and Malachite groups in position, major Levinile! Awaiting orders!”

Great – her aggressive tactics were beginning to pay off. “Commence saturation bombing on sectors 9c, 9d, and 9e to neutralize advancing forces beyond the choke point!” Minutes after the order was placed, shells moving on their territory were soon outnumbered by white lines streaking across the sky as heavy artillery from Ikrisia’s command finally made it to position. The maddening missiles and their otherworldly, ominous overtones pelted positions northward, bombarding stationed opposition directly to the north. Large clouds of black and gray followed fireball explosions appearing just beyond the desolate choke point and the ever-important bridgehead.

“Good thinking, Ikrisia,” Isano exclaimed. “Your aggressive tactics have increased our chances of success by thirty-five percent, at least by my estimation. Everyone up to this point has contributed greatly to this advancement. We work best when we work together.”

Ikrisia turned to Leyuski to respond with a simple nod. It was always a weird feeling to be praised – was she supposed to respond positively to it, or ignore it and refuse the distraction? A simple acknowledgement was enough, she figured.

Shadows stretched across the scorched pavement and broken scenery as twilight set in. The group continued to press on, securing for a moment an important bridgehead and enough territory beyond it to keep it safely in the hands of Vekaiyun engineers that scrambled to analyze it for structural instabilities. Soon after the sun descended to the horizon, the big guns stopped, followed by the strafing crossfire, then the soft thuds in the distance. Nightfall. And with nightfall came a chance to regroup and recharge, so long as the opposition was doing the same.

An encampment was set up in the shielding confines of some kind of shelled-out community center. At least it seemed to be a community center based on the rooms it once had and the recreational equipment scattered about. No real time for games, though. Now that wartime frolicking was finished for the day, the supersoldiers could spend precious time for themselves, concentrating on the day’s battle, devising new tactics or, of course, working on their studies. They were not just supersoldiers, after all. If they were to become leaders in a state long-ruled by Azsur Venavle, then the children would need intelligence along with poise and integrity. Only then would they be able to preserve his vision and his message.

But that would all come in time, of course.

“Ugh! Why do these suits need to be so heavy?” Ivalsa complained as she sat down on a tattered leather chair. She huffed a sigh and shook her head. Then, with her small fingers, she unfastened the helmet from her head with two latches located near the bottom. A hissing noise accompanied the motion, as the positive-pressure essential for protection against airborne agents seeped from the open crack.

“They’re only heavy because you’re inefficient!” Ehjy exclaimed. His voice was different, perhaps sounding a bit younger without his helmet on. Still, the equipment matched his face, which was youthful and colored with red, orange, and white undertones, showing off the dominant color of vulpines so common in Vekaiyu. “But yeah… they’re kind of heavy, I guess.”

Ivalsa slowly pulled the back piece from the helmet out, careful not to catch her long, dark gray hair on the brace. Instead of carefully placing her headpiece gently on the ground, she casually discarded it and let it tumble onto the broken tiled floor beneath her without much thought. “Ew, it smells in here.” She began to train her long hair against the rubberized figures jagged by the plate armor. The short one focused forward with warm purple-colored eyes that truly had not seen the hell of battle. Or, perhaps she had, but didn’t quite know what to make of it.

Ikrisia, on the other hand, was careful to rest her equipment properly in a boring, almost mechanical fashion. Once the faceplate was removed, a head of short, thick black hair hung to about the neckline in an almost bob, showcasing a face of gray and white fur with eyes of crystal-blue water. Her face was without emotion and without scars; she too could not claim the label of a veteran. Number Eight appeared to be, like the others, a common Vekaiyun child, not old enough to be called a teen, but certainly not a little kid.

The clear leader of the group, Isano Leyuski, sat near the center of the group. His helmet was already off, and the red marks where the faceplate pinched had already faded into his fur of red and white. It was his smile that set him apart from the rest. It was a rare type of smile, one that could be seen from far away, an expressive grin that was comforting like a well-maintained rifle or cover-fire during an advancement. Something both essential and comforting was contained in his grin, but despite its characteristic beam, it didn’t really display emotion, like it was meant for those around him and not himself.

“Finally!” Visela, another group member on task with the four exclaimed. She, unlike the others, was mostly brown in fur but had black hair to break any sort of camouflage. “Time to work on some homework. What did anyone get for the third question on the calculus assignment?”

“It’s un-Vekaiyun to ask for homework answers!” Ivalsa said with a smirk. She looked through her hair which partially obstructed her gaze. “Right?”

“It’s even more un-Vekaiyun to be a slow reader.” Ehjy added as he elbowed Ikrisia, causing her to slip her own elbow as she slowly read a chemistry book.

“I am reading about step-growth polymerization,” she replied. “There are many figures.”

“Figures? Oh, pictures! Just your type of book!”

“Why do you need to pick on everyone, Ehjy?” Visela fumed.  “Can’t you leave people alone for a change?”

“Enough,” Isano Leyuski exclaimed, silencing those around him decisively. “We’re not going to sink to the level of petty bickering.” Isano always had a way of dealing with that sort of stuff. “We’re more than that. We’re the future of Vekaiyu, and the future of the world. We mustn’t lose focus, because the future needs us.”

Ikrisia offered just the slightest hint of a smile. “The Vekaiyun Ideal would serve this world well.”

“Yeah it would,” Ivalsa added after dropping her initial reprieve. “If only more could learn the ways of our forefathers.”

“Forefathers nothing,” Isano corrected. “They’re pawns in our perfect resolve, and worked with an incomplete vision of the Vekaiyun Ideal.”

“But what is the Vekaiyun Ideal?” Visela asked. She tried to get cozy in a dusty foldout chair as the other child supersoldiers began setting up rations and supplements in between homework. “I hear it all the time like it’s some kind of thing we should always follow, but each time we’re corrected we find out what’s wrong and we never hear what it is. Like peeling an onion to find its core. I’m tired of peeling – I just want to know what we’re supposed to be fighting for!”

“Pfft,” Ehjy dismissed. “That’s because you’re slow and inefficient. All we need to do is find out what Azsur Venavle would do, like Isano says. If he does it, that’s the right. If he doesn’t, then it’s not. It’s a cinch!”

“But we don’t see him every day. How can we be sure?”

“This is the Vekaiyun Ideal,” Isano clarified. “We are to support the vulpine species and the Vekaiyun culture above all else, and strive to ensure the nation as a whole is represented over the individual. Apart we are small ants. Together, we become a unified force that will never buckle. Therefore, it is prudent that we all behave the same and work toward the same goal: Vekaiyun dominance in all things – land, people, culture, and, of course, the state. There are people who really do suffer, people who are in pain and struggling to survive. People by nature are greedy and only think of themselves, so it is up to the state to ensure they are taken care of. And the way Venavle has set things up, it is important that we adhere to his model, because in this way everyone becomes the same. And uniformity is good.”

“But we’re not the same,” Visela argued. “We’re supersoldiers grown from test tubes. We’re not even supposed to call ourselves kids. We’re not like the others.”

“Naturally,” Isano replied with a smile. “We’re going to be their protectors. Maybe not now, but in time. Later on, we’ll carry on the same goals as Venavle himself. That way a select few can have more, because they know how to help people more. With social and economic controls in place, we’ll be sure to eliminate things like poverty and privilege. They’ll just be artifacts of the past.”

“Economics and social controls?” Ivalsa asked. She picked up her fork and worked on finishing her bowl of kikale in – a medley noodle dish laden in spices (spicier the better as far as Ivalsa was concerned). “That’s boring stuff. Kind of like how fighting is boring after a while.”

“But it is our duty.”

Ivalsa turned to watch as Ikrisia examined a syringe, nonchalantly inspecting it before pointing it downward and pushing the needle to the soft skin of her neck after she peeled back her skintight uniform a tad. “Yep, not even a flinch. Ehjy or Ankya would scream like babies if they had to do that!”

“Would not! But… why do some of us take supplements anyway?”

Visela looked to Isano, waiting for him to speak. “Some of us require it, some don’t. It’s what the scientists say, and the scientists are always right. But it doesn’t matter where we started, all that matters is if we remain useful.” A smile like a rolling morning fog crept on his face. “They say impatience can stunt our growth. So it’s best not to dwell on that, I think.”

“May we one day become more useful to the Vekaiyun state,” Ikrisia yearned. “One day we will be better than what we are now.”

Ivalsa grinned. “But for now, let’s rest so we can shoot up more bad guys!”

“Indeed,” agreed Isano. “Finish studies, then prepare for rest. We will start fighting early tomorrow morning, as usual. Every dead soldier brings us closer to our ideal.”


The Vekaiyun - Chapter 1
<a wytiwyg="1" href="www.deviantart.com/toddmccloud…>Next Chapter

This is, barring future revisions, the first chapter for a second book in a series of what is likely to be five. This one, titled "The Vekaiyun", takes place about halfway into the first book and follows a different character. The first book, "The Listonian", is set to be published and ready to go some time in September, which is pretty neat! This second book is getting another quick look on my end before it's off to an editor. Good stuff!

Overall, this was a challenging story, but about 80% of the way in I realized it was really coming together. See, about 1/3 of the way in I realized some characters, especially the main, were going in different directions, and that where they were and their likely plans seemed to be contrary to what I felt would happen, and therefore things needed to change. So this story has been written, obliterated, added, moved around, and so on. It was initially supposed to be around 100k words, which is slightly longer than The Listonian, but there were ideas I wrote out that I really wanted to add in as I wrote and, after pinning some of them up, I realized it would be a funner read to add some of them in. Ultimately it ended up being a little longer, but that's all very well. This story needed to be longer.

I've been constructing an outline for the third book, one that will likely change as its written out. I won't give anything away, but based on how the second one ends, the third one should be really fun to write.

Some have been provided a copy of the second book prior to its send-off. They're awesome folks and by and large are better writers than myself - some by a longshot. If anyone is interested, I might share another chapter or so - another set of eyes doesn't hurt, after all! Or I might take it down. Heeeee.

I've had chapters spring to mind when I look at pictures or images. For those who may remember a parallel, this chapter was inspired by :iconkitfox-crimson:' s picture of a particular character in a kind of combat uniform. He's also painted the cover for the first book. You seriously gotta check this guy's stuff out - he's a rare talent!


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Greetings! It's been a rather long few months. I know my previous entry reported that "The Listonian" will be out 2nd quarter 2018, but due to printing issues (the maps are kind of intense to put on normal page stock, but they've seemingly solved that problem), anticipate this month. It's rather exciting, and I thank those who have followed this and provided their own flair and, in some cases, artwork. It's truly an inspiration, and I don't believe I would ever be able to express my true gratitude within the confines of a post box.

Dang that cover looks spiffy!

This first book's around 93K words and at current is around 284 pages. Not bad! Perhaps it's bit short, but it's better to have the story more succinct instead of adding a whole lot of unnecessary fluff, I guess. It's not been easy, though - editing takes quite a bit of time, and no matter how many times someone reads over a book there's bound to be some stuff that's missed. Editors can be a lil time-consuming. But that's okay, it's a fun hobby. As long as some people enjoy the read, that's enough for me.

But there's a second book on the horizon! Better believe it! This book is nearly through its seventh edit, and seems like it'll be around 140K words and about 415 pages. This one was a bit of a challenge as I added in some abstract concepts, concepts which required a lot more research and time to keep the progression organic and believable. I hope it comes across as such, but that remains to be seen. I expect this one to be out sometime late 2019, provided all systems continue to fire.

And there's a third book approaching in the distant horizon. Outline's still being worked on, but there are a few things I hope to accomplish with this one. Hopefully it's as fun to write as the first two!

At any rate, all the best, and thank you for spending some time to read through this quagmire of an update. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to return some videotapes [link]

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:iconstarwarsfannick:
starwarsfannick Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2017  Hobbyist Writer
Hello.
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:icontoddmccloud:
ToddMcCloud Featured By Owner Sep 20, 2017
Hi there.
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:iconstarwarsfannick:
starwarsfannick Featured By Owner Sep 20, 2017  Hobbyist Writer
The names nick.
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:icontoddmccloud:
ToddMcCloud Featured By Owner Sep 20, 2017
Sounds good
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(1 Reply)
:iconjonatan:
Jonatan Featured By Owner Sep 10, 2017  Hobbyist General Artist
You! I remember you! :meow:
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:icontoddmccloud:
ToddMcCloud Featured By Owner Sep 11, 2017
I remember you, too.
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:iconjonatan:
Jonatan Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2017  Hobbyist General Artist
How's stuff and such? I got discord now if you wanna chat and stuff.
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:icontoddmccloud:
ToddMcCloud Featured By Owner Sep 13, 2017
I can't complain, just very busy. Yourself?
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(1 Reply)
:iconmagenta-fantasies:
Magenta-Fantasies Featured By Owner Sep 10, 2017  Professional General Artist
It's rare I see someone who's been on DA longer than I have. High five! :highfive:
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