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Story Game v2.0

31 Jul 2018 22:46 - 31 Jul 2018 23:05 #21834 by Valence
Replied by Valence on topic Story Game v2.0
Oh, my tired eyes. :sleepy:

I think this is the "muchest read" yet!
I wanted it to be short and anti-climactic but it's so very long and anti-climactic. :)
But that's me done! (Although there may be room for an epilogue, but I ain't doing that. *rubs eyes*)
So here goes... (and yes, it will be filled with embarrassing gaffes, continuity errors, shambolic repetitions and (dare I say it?) TYPOS!
But it'll have to stay that way.)

Let the obvious ending begin.....

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31 Jul 2018 22:50 #21835 by Valence
Replied by Valence on topic Story Game v2.0
The apes continued to howl at the glowing spiral with a communal aggression. The collective sounds seemed to come together in harmony and then fade back into raucous, primitive noise. The phasing of the sounds and their emergent beat pulsed like a single ululation, the noise of the group signalling more than what the individual calls could ever be.
One ape stood in front of the others, facing them down, as if conducting. As if leading. It raised a hand and brandished the fist as if wielding a power, a weapon, and then the creature collapsed into nothingness.
Watching wide-eyed from above, and more importantly, from a distance, Yana didn't know what she was seeing. She squinted to focus on the tribalistic display. No, the creature hadn't disappeared, she realised. It had transformed into a kind of cloud. And the cloud now moved across the ground, twisting its tendril form between the other apes. And some of those apes joined it. Melting too into a smoky haze which writhed like a kind of life she'd never seen before. More and more of the apes became transformed until all that was left was the cloud and its silent rippling. Then sharply, instantly, the apes were back, reformed, and so was the sound. Now the shouting was clearer, unified. The horde was one. And its leader was not now an ape. It was a floating sphere. Yana could only repeat her question but this time managed to finish it.
"What the hell is that?"
"That... is why we're going up." Corvan stood at her side looking down over the ridge. "They have many names, given to them by those who survive their encounters, though who knows what they call themselves. They are most commonly referred to as the Griede."
"The apes?"
"No, no, no." He was dismissive of her confusion if not her curiosity."The apes are- Well, were- native to this place. The sphere however... The Griede... They are a species that travel the stars to consume and use all life they encounter. They absorb it, remake it, and make it their own. Commanding it with a twisted evolving intelligence to turn it into its own propagating army. They devour life like... like..." he groped his memory for an ancient analogy from another world. "Like locusts consuming crops."
"So they are not of this planet?" Despite her own uncertainties and fears- about the place, the situation and, most of all, him- Yana still couldn't help wanting to know, to discover and to explore.
"No, they are not. But they have been here before. Uncountable years ago. They were defeated then..."
"And now?"
"Now they complicate things."
"Things?" she was persistent with her questions and for now Corvan had had enough. "How do you know so much about this place?"
"We go up!" That sounded like an order. His open hand gestured high towards the mountain's summit and the palm glowed inside. It WAS an order.

'They were defeated then,' he had said. But how? By whom? What else was going on here? Yana wanted to know more but she sensed how dangerous the man was. Answers came with risk. Knowledge came with a price. And she was worried how much it would cost her. Who would decide if it was worth it, in the end?

Corvan led the way and Yana followed. It seemed the best thing to do. She didn't know what he wanted from her nor what he would do if he didn't get it. Every option seemed dangerous to her. Everything was fearful. So she followed. It seemed the best thing to do ... for now.
Yana thought back to her time in the containment cell on the quarantine shuttle. The time she spent there was confusing, disorientating, but she remembered the questions, the conversations, and she would never forget Corvan's face-shifting horror! But she also remembered one moment before that. Elander had mentioned a planned military mission to the mountain. That meant that right now there were soldiers out here on the ground. She wasn't alone out here. She wasn't alone with this man. She just had to stay vigilant, observant. An opportunity would come. So she followed Corvan, she did as she was told and she waited for her chance.

"Don't even think about trying to escape."
"You read minds as well?"
"No, my dear." Corvan laughed at her pathetic attempt at a taunt. Still, it was brave of her to do so, even if it was plainly an effort to mask her fear, perhaps to mask it from herself. Corvan knew all about masks. "I merely read faces. And yours betrays you far too easily. So don't think about escape. It will not turn out well in this place."
"Did Professor Relin try to escape?"
Corvan now just smiled at her, studying that face of hers. Its youthfulness, its naivety. But the change of subject was clever from her. To start off with a petty remark and then twist his own words in this way, and to what end. To probe him for information? To make him feel guilt? Maybe just to distract. Either way it was a commendable strategy. Clever. Sharp. He realised it would be unwise to underestimate this one. He also realised that his continuing smile would probably appear awkward after this long silence. Social expressions seemed to have a time limit for humans during their interactions. Perhaps it now looked like a leer or a grimace. Or something from his MindShroud. He playfully reconstructed Relin's face for her and declared in the old fool's voice, "The Professor tried a lot of things in his life." He thought she might have been impressed or intimidated by that performance but instead she cowered back away from him as if scared or disgusted. Or... something. He sighed and brought back his own visage. Trying to predict and second-guess the reactions of these people was such a challenge.
"Where is he?" she asked. "The REAL professor."
"Relin is gone. Long gone."
"He's dead, isn't he? You killed him?"
Corvan turned and walked on. The silent admission demanded that she follow. Or else....
"But why? Why?" She shouted after him. "Professor Relin was a great man."
He spun back and shouted just as loud as her. "If the REAL Relin was here he would have shut this thing down immediately. Him and that old Hays woman. At the first sign of anything interesting, your 'Great Man' would have sent you all back home with your tails between your legs. Deep down you already know that. You said as much yourself when you came looking for me during that first meeting on the Omicron." Yana had forgotten about that. It seemed so long ago now. She was so excited to finally meet the Professor, to discuss his ideas and explain her own. But that wasn't really him. And the memory now felt cheap and fraudulent. Corvan continued at her, "Relin was stubborn. Intransigent. Forever stuck with his old insular beliefs and terrified of whatever new discoveries would bring. He wasn't a great man, he was a small man. A little man with little ideas. He was more afraid in life than he was in death. That's why he had to go."
"Y-You...." Struck by the force of his words Yana stumbled over her own, "You wanted this expedition to go ahead?"
Corvan didn't answer.
Corvan didn't answer.
"What... Who..."
"Enough!" He grabbed her shoulder and yanked her along after him. Only letting go when she kept up with his stride. In silence.

And in silence they continued until Corvan became impatient with her. "Quickly, girl!"
They'd been ascending the winding trail for about 40 minutes now and Yana had started to drop behind a few strides.
She bent over, hands on knees, and panted some weary breaths. She was only feigning tiredness though. In reality she was taking the opportunity to scan her surroundings, using the higher vantage points to look for some kind of help. Maybe even Sergeant Holst. He would surely be part of that recon mission.
"Quickly!" Corvan insisted. "We have to move. I doubt the gateway will keep the Griede distracted for long. And whatever you think of me, you certainly wouldn't want them to catch up with you."
"Maybe..." still panting for effect. "Maybe I'll take my chances." Yana looked up at him and saw that his raised hand was glowing.
"QUICKLY!" he demanded.
She obliged and continued to fake being out of breath. "Always the trick with the hand! What... What ARE you? Are you from here? This planet?"
Corvan made a noise. A kind of 'hmmf.' Amused but disdainful.
"Not much of an answer," she challenged him.
"Out of all possible answers, THAT'S the one you ask for?"
Yes, it's a good distraction, she thought, then out loud said, "Humour me."
"No, I'm not from here. I'm human. Just like you."
Yana was taken aback by this and unlike her 'exhaustion' she wasn't faking it.
"Well," Corvan looked down at his palm and quelled the glow before admitting, "Maybe not EXACTLY like you." He smiled at her and for the first time she thought that his expression was genuine.
She tried to form a question. How? What? Why? But only managed to stutter the words in her confusion.
"I was one of the first generation of space travellers, just when humans began reaching out to other star systems," he boasted.
"You must be..." Yana was surprised and tried to calculate in her mind, "...old?"
"Perhaps. By your standards."
"So you were an-"
"No," he answered before she asked it. "No, not an explorer like you. Well, not officially, not at first. I worked the industrial routes. Shipping freight on a solo transport between the first colonies. Then, on one of the cargo runs, I... saw something. Experienced something. It was some kind of craft- alien, VERY alien, way beyond anything we could do at the time- It pulled me into its slipstream and dragged me along leaving me stranded lightyears beyond human reach and communication. And so I was left alone, stuck in a part of the galaxy no human had ever seen. I had to make my own efforts to survive. It was tough at first but eventually I found my way around new star systems where life and civilisation was thriving. Out there I saw things that man would never imagine, alien cultures, worlds beyond belief. I was a human living and interacting with the aliens long before any official announcements of first contact."
"But if you're human, then how do you..." Yana made a gesture to her face and then indicated to his palm.
"You don't spend lifetimes across the galaxy without learning, without discovering. You acquire new skills, experience new cultures and ideas, learn of hidden wisdom and history, you see advanced technology, life-extending medicines, things that the ignorant would call magic. The Charm," he flashed the orb in his palm, "is an implant from a race called the Denzai. Two decades I spent there with many an acquaintance, sharing adventures that would make your mind reel and your heart race. The MindShroud is a technique from the Elder Monks of Bæine, a psychic gift for the work I did at the High Monastaries. You see, young girl, travel changes a person, literally so, it challenges you and makes you more than you once were. That's why Professor Relin was wrong. And that is why he had to die." A faded expression passed over his face, his own face. "And yet, after all your travels, when you ARE forced to return, it is you who now feels like the alien." Corvan sighed. "So long have I spent away from humans that it's hard to know how to behave around them now. With their pettiness, their arrogance, their naivety, their lack of vision. They know so little of the universe and their place in it."
Yana looked into the man's face and felt a sadness for him. But maybe that was the point. She suddenly felt like she was being manipulated. "A good story. From a man who lies and kills and disguises himself as the victim. Am I expected to believe it?"
"We all have our own disguises." Corvan became Professor Relin for a moment, perhaps to provoke her, then back as himself again he said, "It's many years since I was foolish enough to expect anything from humans. Believe what you want, girl. But you will do as I say." He flared the threat of his palm.
"And what is it that you say?"
"I SAY we continue on. Move! We've wasted far too much time here. The Griede will be closing on us."
She realised he was right, they had wasted time talking. It had distracted him, as she wished, it was the key to her escape, but it could also endanger them both if the distraction held them back. She should try again, but this time she would talk while they climbed. Whatever she did or didn't believe about him, she certainly didn't like this idea of the Griede.
"So where exactly are you taking me?"
"Onwards." He gestured ahead where the trail continued to ascend around and behind the mountain like the advancing thread of a screw. "It's mostly a smooth incline until the final push which will be a short vertical climb."
"To what exactly?"
"Always the questions!" He was beginning to tire of her.
"I thought that's what travel is for. To challenge, to question, to discover."
Corvan bristled at his own words being thrown back at him again. The girl was too clever for her own good. "Very well. As long as you keep walking this time." And she did, so he indulged her. "You remember our first meeting?"
Yana recalled being in the containment cell, seeing Corvan's face for the first time, watching it appear from the melting mask of his disguise. She recalled her confusion, her disgust, her fear. And then she realised he didn't mean that. He meant that meeting on the ship. He meant her first meeting with Professor Relin when she was so eager to talk about his books and ideas and to impress him with her own opinions. That girl now seemed like a child to her.
"You seemed ever so interested in my view about Kantika Moon."
"Relin's views. Not yours." She hated his presumptions about the man he pretended to be. "And everyone knows that his first contact protocols stemmed from that incident."
"Yes, but few people seem interested in what actually happened at Kantika and, in your case, the people involved."
Yana didn't know how to respond to this so she kept quiet as Corvan pressed on, striding with purpose up the winding incline.
"Keep up, girl. Keep up!" He called back referring either to her pace or her questions. "The Kantika ruin was not a Temple, or a Graveyard or any kind of sentimental Monument. Humans are so quick to reach for the sentimental!" He made a noise of disgust. "The Kantika structure was a downed, broken craft that still carried some of the ancient travellers of the Sh'vain."
"The Sh'vain?"
"Yes. One of the oldest and most powerful races in the galaxy. Ethereal and beautiful, they have a transcendent existence that far eclipses the mere thing humans call life. For centuries the Sh'vain have mourned the absence of the Missing and have awaited their return. Yet the humans trampling on Kantika Moon were predictably ignorant, their clumsiness set off a chain reaction in the craft's core destroying the dormant vessel and forcing the Lost Sh'vain to make a choice."
"Which was?"
"They joined with the human crew. They joined with your father."
"What!?" Yana felt like she had been punched.
"Your father. Renek Cardo. He was a member of the crew that discovered Kantika Moon. Just before the craft imploded the Sh'vain joined with all the human crew."
After the initial shock of the reveleation Yana hardened herself against the emotions.
"I never knew my father," she said coldly. "I don't think he wanted me. He left long ago just after I was born. He may as well be dead for all I know."
"Oh, he is dead," Corvan announced cheerfully. Given her initial reaction he expected her to be pleased by this but instead she seem to sadden and withdraw inside herself. Was that a sob? A tear? Humans! It was probably that sentimentality again. He would never really understand it. But he couldn't leave her here snivelling, he had to do something. He tried to assuage her. "I'm certain he did want you. I'm sure he ... loved you." Is that what a human would say? Corvan kept going. "He wouldn't have known what had happened to him. After Kantika, and all the hearings, the inquiries and the subsequent sanctions, he gave up his explorations for a more grounded existence. He had a family. A home. A life. He had you. But then when the probes discovered the gateway on Dernaq-3, he knew he had to leave. The Sh'vain inside knew. And he even tried to take you with him. He called you his little explorer and wanted you to be just like him. That's how much he loved you."
Yana sniffed. "My father? My father was Renek Cardo." She just wanted to say his name. As if saying it would bring them closer and in a way it did. She felt a calmness now. As if she had passed through a barrier that had restricted her life, a boundary that she never knew was there. "You mentioned a gateway before? At the base of the mountain."
"This IS the gateway that connects to Dernaq-3. And to many other worlds too."
"But what is Dernaq-3?"
"Sadly not enough people know of that. It was classified as a result of Professor Relin's protocols. Renek and the other crew stole the explorer ship and tried to get to the gateway but the authorities tracked them and, fearful of any encounters with an advanced race, they shot the ship down. Your father died at Dernaq-3. And so did the Sh'vain. The Lost perished weakening the Unity of those that remain. And yet there was a belief that one still exists to restore the Unity. That's why I am here. I had thought that I would find one survivor to bring through the gateway. But I was wrong. The last Sh'vain is not through the gateway. It is not on Dernaq-3. It is in you, Yana."
"You are not only your father's child, you are a child of the Sh'vain too. Do you not feel it? I knew it was true when I heard what happened in the caves with the paintings. You DO feel it. The yearning you have for exploration, the eagerness to experience new worlds... It is not just you. It is also the presence inside you. It is the lost Sh'vain yearning to go..."
"Home." Yana finished the sentence.
"Home." Corvan confirmed. "This IS one of their original worlds, worlds that they develop and watch over. But now the Griede will try to consume it again. Before, in ages past, the Griede were defeated but now the Sh'vain are weakened. They await the return of the Lost. And it must be taken from you!"
"Taken from me?" Yana didn't like the sound of that. "But what if I don't want that? What if I.."
"What YOU want? Inside you there is a legacy that is not your own. A legacy of a thousand years and more. You think the universe cares about what you want? You think I care? I was given the task to bring back the Lost, and make no mistake, I WILL do that."
"But what will happen to me?"
Corvan didn't answer. Didn't have an answer. He just grabbed her shoulder and pulled her along like a misbehaving child.
"But what will happen to ME?"
"Humans!" Corvan rolled his eyes and looked to the skies in frustration and despair. "Typical humans. So obsessed with your own small lives. Do you have no thought or contemplation of something bigger than yourself? Something greater? Do you have any understanding of the concept of sacrifice? DO YOU?!" Momentarily consumed by his exasperation Corvan let go of her and turned away, cursing his burdens in life.
And in that moment, Yana saw her chance, her opportunity, and perhaps her saviour. To her right, the edge of the ascending trail dropped off abruptly, down to a shallow rocky slope, and there in the distance, at the far end of the slope, she saw one of the soldiers scouting the area. This was it. She looked at Corvan, his back turned, bemoaning his so-called humanity and, qaway from the withering glare of his eyes, Yana ran. And didn't look back.
She leapt off the right edge of the raised trail and only then realised how big the drop was. Too big really but she had no choice. As she hit the firm, rocky slope she rolled to cushion the landing. Her ankle twisted causing a sharp agony to spike up through her leg but it made no difference to her. Adrenaline cascaded through her, taking the pain with it. Nothing would stop her getting away. She vaulted back up and continued on, pumping the arms, lifting her knees, pounding the ground with each stride.
"Hey!" She called out to the scouting soldier. "Help!" She tried to wave but that only slowed her down. "Hey!" She was still too far away to be heard. If only he'd turn round. She had to get to him before he went out of sight. "OVER HERE!"
Finally he turned round and saw her. Yana grinned and ran faster. She recognised him. It was that guy who flirted with her at the cave. It was Halvett!
"Help me," she called to him. "There's a guy back there. He kidnapped me." She was closer now. She didn't have to shout so loud. "The man. He was pretending to be Relin. There is no Relin." Now she had reached him, she took a breath and told him again. "There is no Professor Relin!"
But Halvett didn't reply. He just opened his mouth and made the noise he made when he died.
Yana backed off, startled by the terrible sound.
"Get away from him." She heard. She looked back to see Corvan frantically approaching, his palm aflame with the light from the inner orb. "It's not who you think it is." Ironic for him to say that, him of all people. But Halvett screamed again. The exact same sound. Yana moved away further. What was going on?
Corvan reached her, pulling her back and away. "Go now. I'll deal with this. Go. And climb." And then he flung himself towards the soldier striking him hard with his bright hand. The impact made a deep plunging noise and Halvett was sent sprawling back to the ground. The soldier sat upright looking confused at his new position as if his senses couldn't fully comprehend what was happening. He made the horrible death-sound once more and then dissolved.
Yana looked on in her own bewildered terror as the cloud of shimmering shrapnel that was once Halvett now swirled towards Corvan. And Corvan did not resist. He turned to face Yana as the cloud engulfed his feet.
"Go!" He told her as the cloud began to rise and turn the colour of blood. "Climb! It's the only way." The whirlwind began to tear his body apart. But he did not scream or cry. As the deadly dust fully consumed him, the last thing Yana saw of Corvan was his face. His own face. It spoke to her and said...
"Tell them who you are."
And Corvan was gone into the maelstrom.
Yana ran away, back to the ascending trail. She ran with tears in her eyes. Tears for the screeching soldier. And to her surprise, tears for Corvan, the man she had feared and then hated, resented then understood. The man who had just saved her in sacrifice. She ran on and climbed, just as he asked her to.

Hawa stood within in a spatter of blood. The red mass extended from her feet like a dreadful flower.
She crouched down and dipped her palm into the wet, clotting stain. She licked at that hand with a fervour, a hunger, leaving lurid streaks smeared across her face. Once her need was sated she noticed something on the ground, a small chunk of remains. She picked up the red lump and sniffed it. It wasn't meat. Nor bone. She licked it and saw the bloody colour come cleanly off. Again she lapped at it, slurping off the slick coating until she saw what was beneath. It was a purple orb.

Yana hung on to the cliff edge, digging in her fingertips as much as the surface would allow. The final climb was almost complete but it was hard and nothing is ever harder than at the end. Her arms burned with the effort. This wasn't what she'd signed up for, wasn't what she'd dreamed of all her life. It was all a mistake. All the choices and feelings and thoughts from all of her life narrowed to this single point with only two outcomes. Pull yourself up. Or not. It was too hard. And it probably wasn't worth it.
She heard a noise and it wasn't one of her own. It wasn't her grunts of effort, it wasn't the panting of tired breath and it wasn't the pulsing beat of her heart, but they were all there too. This noise, the one she heard above all else, was the howling of the apes. She knew the sound better than she wanted. She looked down the vertiginous drop and saw them at the base of the cliff. She remembered the scream of Halvett. She remembered the sight of Corvan. If she didn't do this no-one would be around to remember her. Come on. Pull.
The effort came with a yell of her own. First it was physical, then it was instinctive and finally a shriek of celebration, of success. She clambered over the ledge and stood tall, finally appreciating the height she'd attained.
She found herself on a plateau, which served as the foundation of a vast obelisk that made up the mountain's summit. Angular and geometric, it extended narrowly upwards to the sharp point. In its front side was a dark opening, framed by an ornate structure. The surface looked ancient and yet its style appeared futuristic beyond her imagination. It was like a paradox of time surrounding a single moment of experience. And the mystery pulled her in.

There was a coolness inside, a calmness of temperature and sensation. The darkness remained but her eyes adjusted with each tentative step. As her sight sharpened, the shapes and forms awakened around her, beginning as coloured blooms like afterimages behind closed eyes, evanescent, peripheral pulses breeding in the absence of stimuli, then solidifying into forms that led her ever inwards.
Yana followed until she reached the inner end. No more space was forthcoming.
She heard her breath and the echo of her breath. She was making the only sounds here.
"Hello?" Yana whispered. She didn't mean for it to be a whisper. She wanted it to be loud and confident. "Hello." The second time wasn't any better. She may as well have been that echo repeating back her fear and uncertainty.
"Hello!" She finally shouted, spreading her arms out wide. "I'm here!" She turned slowly around, searching for a response. "I came here. You led me and I came. What do you want from me?"
But there was nothing.
Yana slumped and sighed. Was this it? Was this what it was all for? Was this the end? She wondered what someone else would do. Elander. Stella. Professor Relin. Even Corvan. Anyone but herself. Everyone else seemed to have some kind of answers whereas she was just making it up. A fraud hoping not to be found out.
She looked back at the entrance behind her. The external light was harsh on her face. She raised a hand to shield her eyes, to focus through the bleeding saturated haze. Yana couldn't see anything there but she could hear those distant noises again. The apes were closing in once more and their rhythmic howls were being funneled in to her. Amplified.
So this was the end.

And then the light was gone. And the sound too.
Except for....
Yana heard a soft whoosh behind her. A cascading sussuration.
She waited. Afraid to look. Not afraid for her life. Or her death. Just... afraid. Uncertainty was a powerful thing. A dangerous thing. There was only one way to control it and that was to end it. Yana looked.
She saw a curtain of white energy before her, extending outward left and right and flowing upwards from the ground like an inverted waterfall. The glow from it seemed faint. Weak. As if she expected more from it even though she expected nothing. In the centre of the curtain was a darkness. An emptiness. It was shaped like a humanoid figure.
Yana couldn't help but move towards it, around it, inspecting it closer. And as she paced around it, the lamina of energy rotated too, as if it was linked to her viewpoint, a two-dimensional cross-section that spun to always face her but always centred around the three-dimensional shadow.
"What.. ...are you?" Yana's voice was trembling.
There was no respose.
She dared to move closer but there was no revelation to be found. She reached out to touch it... but there was just nothing there. It was like a statue of absence. "What are you?" Yana stepped back, hoping her repeated words would do what her senses could not. Understand. "Who are you?" she continued to question, knowing it would do nothing. "What do you want from me?"
She then remembered Corvan's last words. Tell them who you are.
"I'm Yana." The introduction felt silly and the ensuing silence only made it worse. "Yana," she said again. 'I've come here to..." To what?
"Yana!" she repeated her name.
Tell them who you are!
"My father... My father was..." She had never known his name before today but now she spoke it. "Renek Cardo!"
Nothing happened.
Tell them who you are!
"But I'm Yana! I don't know what else to say!"
She wished Corvan was here. Despite all that he had done she wished he was here.
Tell them who you are!
"I'm..." Yana thought of something. "I'm..." maybe that's what he meant.
"I'm... Yarenka."
The curtain of energy flared like a once dying fire consuming an inrush of oxygen. She felt the change. It took her other name and burned. And then she felt another change. Inside.
It was like pain but it was not pain.
It was a sensation for which no words had yet been used.
Yana saw with new light, expressing it from her eyes. She opened her mouth to say something but the sound was light. And all that she heard was the light. It streamed out of her like a dance. Whirling pearlescent traces, drawing curves like flourishing calligraphy. The shining script left her body and orbited inwards to the dark figure where the drawing light began to fill the absence. It felt as if everything was leaving her. She opened herself and relinquished all that was inside, all that she was, until there was nothing of her left.

A birth was happening. A life being made in a dark mould. The gleaming substance poured in from all sides. The shadow became light and the absence became presence. The curtain of energy parted, drawing away to the sides leaving only the new figure. The new life.
"I," it declared. "Am." It paused. "Yarenka." The face within the glare smiled. "And you are Yana."

Yana took a breath, realising that she had been holding it. Yana. She was still here. Alive. Existing. She felt different but not too different. She still recognised herself.
Yarenka moved towards her and reached out. Her palm touched Yana's cheek, holding her face. She leaned into it. It felt electric, sparkling.
"Thank you," Yarenka spoke again, a voice rich with history and meaning. "You carried me far and our journey was long and challenging. But finally the Sh'vain are again one and are once more strong. You brought us home."
Yana felt overwhelmed by the experience. To be here, so close, to not only an alien race, but an advanced and ancient species, to be here touching and communicating with beings of such wisdom and history and power. The things they could teach us! So many thoughts, so many questions, her mind was overloaded with possibilities. She opened her mouth to speak but Yaranka put a finger to her lips to maintain her silence. The action seemed abrupt and urgent. The shining being looked left and right as if sensing something afar before finally looking again at Yana.
"The Griede!" Yarenka said with a stirring potency. "We must end this once and for all." She waved her hand and the extenal light again bloomed inwards through the opening behind. "Will you help us?"
"Of course." Yana agreed instinctively. How could she ever refuse such power, such will.
The being that was once part of her now gestured for her to lead the way and Yana obligingly stepped out into the daylight. Seeing the vista of both landscape and cloud extending below the mountain was awe-inspiring in its utter grandeur and the viewpoint she now possessed made her realise that the plateau she stood upon was like an altar to the power of the planet itself, a monument from which to behold the work of nature in all its alien forms.

Yana heard the apes. They were climbing and she did not have to wait long to see one vault over the edge of the plateau. And then another. Soon Yana was surrounded by the small dark creatures, the specular gleams of sunlight catching every crease of their leathery skin. They made a border, a barrier, around the perimiter of the plateau. Directly in front of her, they momentarily parted to allow one more ape to hop up over the edge. It approached her but Yana was not yet afraid.
The ape stood taller than the others, not in size, but in posture, in prominence. It opened its mouth and screamed. Yana was not yet afraid.
The other apes screamed along but were quickly silenced by the leader's gesture. And again it opened its mouth. It tried to speak. It said, "Hal... Vett." Again. "Hal... Vett." Yana remembered Havett's face. She remembered looking up at it outside the cave when he finally took off his mask. And then she remembered the dissolving Halvett-thing. The horror of its screaming face as it turned to dust.
Yana noticed that the leading ape held something in its hand. It was a purple orb. The ape tried to speak. It said, "Cor... Van." Yana remembered Relin's face blending away into its hidden identity and Corvan's face came clearly to her mind, the image of him calmly speaking his last words as his body shredded. The ape before her held the orb aloft and then threw it down where it shattered at Yana's feet. The surrounding apes screamed, almost like laughter, and were then silenced again by their leader. Yana was not yet afraid.
The ape tried to speak once more. It said, "Ya... Na." Again. "Ya... Na."
The horde now joined in.
Yana felt violated by the use of her name. She felt a revulsion towards the creatures and their behaviour.
The lead ape moved forward again, encroaching, challenging. It screamed, "Ya! Na!" And then transformed into a swirling wind that blew and twisted, coiling itself into a floating sphere that moved smoothly towards her at eye level with an unnatural and sinister serenity. She watched it all the way until it touched her forehead. Yana was not yet afraid.
She heard the horde.
She felt the syllables against her like pressure. Impacts for her to take.
She felt the ice cold burn of the sphere on her forehead.
Yet she felt unafraid.
Tell them who you are, Corvan once said.
"Yarenka," she replied. And at yhe invitation the shining being of light stepped out of the obelisk's entrance to stride across the plateau. She walked right through the body of Yana and took the sphere away with her. She placed both hands on the sleek ball and, with all the power of the Sh'vain Unity, Yarenka crushed it until it imploded with a rippling darkness, shadowed shockwaves folded inside themselves, cracking its existence through abstract inner dimensions until it reached the singularity of its own percieved death and then repelled outwards in a ghostly blast that obliterated the surrounding creatures without remain. Yarenka and the Sh'vain Unity destroyed the Griede. All Griede. Everywhere throughout all of recorded time.

Yarenka faced her one-time host. "Brave Yana, your world is safe."
"But..." Yana corrected the alien's mistake, "it's your world. You mean 'your' world is safe."
'No, we must leave soon. Our time now in this place comes to an end, as all things must. This world is now yours. Share it with the life already here, study it, explore it. Live it. We have watched over this world for time beyond calculation. It is time to move on now. Thanks to you we are whole again and the Sh'vain Unity have many new things to experience. No-one ever stops learning. The universe is so grand, so strange, so... interesting. To stay in one place so familiar seems wrong."
"I understand." Yana knew it. And felt it. As she had all her life.
"I know you do. The gateway will remain for you and your kind.
And brave Yana... use it wisely. Grieve for your father. Find your past as you have found yourself. Then your future will find you."
"But where will you go?"
"Beyond. Places not yet for you. You have your own journey. At your own pace. What we have in common is the destination. All life points the way."
Yana felt conflicted. The experience she had was life changing and to have it end like this, so soon, seemed deflating to her. She wanted to learn more about Yarenka and the Sh'vain. "Will I see you again?"
"You will see me always. We are defined as much by absence as by presence. Negative space, Yana."
Yana suddenly felt it like an epiphany. The missing answers that made her who she was. She met the absence inside her, the loss. Yarenka. And other losses. Corvan. Halvett. And deeper still, she met the absence of her father. Negative space.
"You should make your way back down now," Yarenka told her, "Or I could take you more quickly."
Yana wanted to experience it one last time. "Could you take me slowly?"
The Sh'vain joined with her once more in light.

And slowly it was. By some measure of time. But Yana's last journey down could not be measured in such naive terms. At the base of the peak she watch Yarenka flow back to her domain above the clouds. Lowering her gaze, she looked upon the large spiral set into the rock. The gateway she had heard so much about. Use it wisely, she was told, and as if it was listening, the spiral arms reached out, opening the portal. Yana saw two figures emerge from the blurring depths. They were soldiers and they were aiming their weapons.
"It's OK!" She tried to calm them and recognised Sergeant Holst. "It's OK, Sergeant. It's just me. Yana."
The younger soldier was still wary, but Holst lowered his weapon and relaxed his stance.
"What's happening here?" he asked. "The apes. They were pursuing. Where are they? What's going on?"
"It's fine," she told them. "You're safe now. Come. Come and watch." She pointed upwards.
They both stood with her and watched in baffled amazement as the mountain above began to radiate like a lighthouse. A fountain of vibrant spectra erupted outwards across the sky, interlacing into kaleidoscopic complexities before redshifting away into a distance unknown.
"What was that?" exclaimed Holst.
Yana looked up at the great peak that now ended abruptly at the plateau. The summit had gone elsewhere. And yet the sharp form of the remaining mountain seemed to imply what was no longer there at the top. The missing apex still completed the mountain shape in her mind.
"What the Hell was that? repeated the soldier with more emphasis. And Yana answered.
"Negative space."

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01 Aug 2018 11:39 #21838 by Charlotte
Replied by Charlotte on topic Story Game v2.0
I like it, I don't think it needs an epilogue. Not anyone I can think of yet, anyhow. And I like that negative space thing, it seems appropriate for artsy nerds like us :D

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01 Aug 2018 21:58 #21839 by Valence
Replied by Valence on topic Story Game v2.0

Charlotte wrote: And I like that negative space thing...

It's rare that I like my own ideas but I was quite pleased with that too. It'd make a great theme for a whole story. Unfortunately I only had the idea after I'd finished so I had to rewrite all those chunks to shoe-horn it in. :)
If I was a real writer (or even a fake one) I would now go back to the beginning and do a second draft, introducing the theme earlier. But I think I want to do that as much as you want to write an epilogue. :lol:

No, it's done!
We now just have to sit back and wait for the literary agent to call us.

*for ever*

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02 Aug 2018 06:27 #21841 by Charlotte
Replied by Charlotte on topic Story Game v2.0
I'll settle for waiting for someone else to finish reading and realise it's done :P

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02 Aug 2018 10:51 #21845 by Banj
Replied by Banj on topic Story Game v2.0
The ending is a bit negative. :dumb:

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02 Aug 2018 11:06 #21847 by Charlotte
Replied by Charlotte on topic Story Game v2.0

Any an all misspellings are henceforth blamed on the cat.

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02 Aug 2018 21:04 #21855 by Valence
Replied by Valence on topic Story Game v2.0

Banj wrote: The ending is a bit negative. :dumb:


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03 Aug 2018 06:04 #21860 by Charlotte
Replied by Charlotte on topic Story Game v2.0
Ba dom sigh

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