Hello lovelies! Today I want to welcome back D. Ellis Overttun who I featured recently with a cover make over (you can see it here). Today I’m bring you an excerpt and guest post with some more fabulous artwork from his wife Natasha but first a little about the book:
Title: Universe: Awakening by D. Ellis Overttun
Date Published: 7th October 2018
Genre: Science Fiction
The year — 526,780. A probe is deployed from ISV Intrepid at the outer edge of the universe. It is the last of a complement of twelve that is part of the Deep Exploration of Uncharted Space or DEUS. Its mission: collect data on the redshift of light and spatial distortions. Time horizon: 1,000 years.
Before ISV Intrepid can return to base, something goes wrong. There is an accident. The ship is later salvaged but its pilot is missing, its copilot in a coma.
The probes collect their data with uneventful regularity.
Fast forward to 526,880. A sole surviving probe still sits in the darkness at the outer edge of the universe. Now, unseen to the naked eye, the space around the probe begins to stretch and distend. Then, the probe disappears, engulfed by an energy of unknown origin and unknown composition. However, it manages to transmit one final message.
CD3C has monitored the disappearance of each probe over the last three years. While the interpretation of the data remains a mystery, speculation is that something has invaded the universe and is moving a superluminal velocity. Its effects could be manifested in as little as the next thousand years. To the Celesti, this is one lifetime.
What can be done?
The one person who might be able to solve this problem is the copilot of ISV Intrepid. He has been lying in stasis suffering from mental trauma. He has been this way for the past century, the longest recorded case in medical history. His unchanging condition has been a convenient solution to stall any inquiry into the accident that put him there.
This threat changes everything. Now, he is needed.
Is it possible to unlock his mind?
The task falls to Auberon, a career nobody inhabiting the lower level of the hierarchy of the Ministry of Science. Can something be awakened in him to allow someone ordinary do something extraordinary?
Universe: Awakening answers this question. In the process, it explores the world of the Celesti, a highly evolved humanoid species with advanced technology, physiology and a unique way of procreation. It blends science and political intrigue to reveal the interplay of storyline and character development that forms the staging ground for the Terra Nova Series.
Auberon and Natasha, two ministerial aides to the First Minister, have been tasked with purchasing a gift for, Minister Abhean, one of the ministers on the Governing Council, just prior to an upcoming meeting to elicit his “consideration and favor”. The phrase is a polite euphemism for sanctioned bribery. Natasha knows the minister has an appreciation for a certain kind of art. So, the two aides make their way to an exclusive gallery in Old Eden to meet with its proprietor, Heron of Edenoud.
Auberon is new to this position, having been recently seconded from his role as an advisor to patients suffering from mental trauma. He has heretofore been disappointed with this promotion from the lack of privacy in his living accommodations to the bland and austere cuisine to the constant environment of quiet and contemplation. As we shall see shortly, he will find an oasis in this excursion.
Culturally, Old Eden is a place where the two peoples of the planet set aside their differences and co-exist in harmony. The descriptions were inspired by a day trip my wife, Natasha, and I took to Vieille Ville (Nice) on a 2009 vacation to Provence. I have taken some artistic license with the imagery but that is to be expected.
I have used language from across time and around the globe to give Universe an other-world feel. To make the grade, a word or phrase has to roll off the tongue and have a coolness factor to it. The name “Heron of Eden” or “Heron of Old Eden” sounded too blah so I added the Dutch word “oud” (meaning “old”) and voila – Edenoud. “Danu” is a Proto-Indo-European word for “water” whose cognates can be found in the names of many European rivers. “Sro kanti” means “bread” in Tocharian B and is the bouquet of good champagne. “Drekka” is an Old Norse word for “drink”.
How do I make a visit to an art gallery interesting? Why with holography and music, of course.
I wanted the scene to start from nothing as Auberon and Natasha enter a dark empty space and then transform into something full of life. Enter a memory from my childhood watching reruns of old cartoons. There’s one I remember of a fox hunt that starts off with a tranquil scene of a meadow at dawn. The music opens with the Ranz des Vaches part of the William Tell Overture. (However, as I seem to recall they skipped the flute intro and went straight to the English Horn.) Try to hear this as you read the part in question. (You’ll know it when you read it.) Then, at the appropriate time, imagine the Finale to the Overture. (You’ll also know it when you read it.)
Holograms are used to populate the walls of the space the same way we look at catalogues or see the results of internet searches. It is an interesting way to show you how an art gallery in a very technologically advanced society might look.
My wife, Natasha, has created a visual representation of the chapter to stir your imagination to help create what Rod Serling has described as “a dimension of sound, a dimension of sight, a dimension of mind”.
Without further ado, please partake of Universe: Awakening, Chapter 85 – “Heron of Edenoud”.
* * * * *
Old Eden, as its name might suggest, was the oldest part of the city. It was situated on the west bank of the River Danu. It was a true melting pot, where the two cultures intermingled without regard for race or status. It was a labyrinth of narrow cobble-stone streets with low-rise stone and plaster-finished earth-tone and pastel-colored buildings. The widths of the streets gave the structures a towering appearance, as though one were walking through a valley gorge. Shops sold a variety of foodstuffs, clothing and curiosities. Bakeries, eateries, outdoor patios and cafes carried the delicious aromas of arusha, warm buns and fried meats. Auberon had been here many times before but it was always something he relished with anticipation. Vehicles were not permitted inside this part of the city and they would have to travel on foot from the parking area to their destination. They stepped out of their transport in a parking lot filled with electric vehicles. As they exited the lot, the holograms on the transport faded and the slab placed itself in the storage rack.
“Where are we going?” Auberon asked.
“Minister Abhean appreciates a certain type of art. We are going to see one of the exclusive art dealers in the city.”
They made their way through the busy streets until they came to an odd-looking store front. No signage identified the name of the establishment. In place of the display window, there was simply a large wooden sign of the profile of a painter holding a parallel palette. He was dressed in a dark-green tunic and trousers. He seemed to be contemplating something just out of an onlooker’s visual range, his unkempt hair and scruffy appearance reinforcing the image of an artist. There was a narrow pair of French doors inset into the wall just to the right.
“Here,” Natasha said.
The interior space was square. It seemed too small and confined for an art dealer. The walls were eggshell white not unlike the walls in postop but were devoid of any art. The dark wood floors ported no displays of any kind. They merely squeaked with each footfall, echoing the loneliness of a barren cavern. The entire space was poorly lit and completely empty. The only point of focus in this unremarkable environment was a small door at the far side.
“Are you sure this is the right place?” Auberon whispered.
Natasha put her index finger to her lips and said nothing. They waited. At length, the dim light began to change and soon it looked as though they were in natural daylight. Something caught Auberon’s nose. His head snapped to attention and he began to sniff the air almost like a wild animal trying to catch the scent of its prey. He turned to Natasha. She simply smiled and again put her index finger to her lips. The smell became more and more savory with a multitude of different layers. Then, the sound of a horned instrument began to play the introduction to a very well-known classical piece. The legato had always reminded him of looking out at a meadow at dawn, so peaceful. The music slowed to a stop. Then, one, two and then many different brass instruments joined in as the tempo quickened. As drums began to beat, the door burst open and four beautiful Gendu women, wearing long-sleeve ankle-length forest-green linen tunics emerged. Two took up position on either side of Auberon and two took up position on either side of Natasha. Another Gendu male entered the room pushing a table on wheels with trays of food that connected the aromas Auberon had detected earlier. Another Gendu female entered the room pushing a smaller table on wheels porting different chilled beverages.
Finally, a large Gendu male was the last to emerge from the door. He was dressed in a long-sleeve ankle-length tunic made of white silk. The color accentuated his olive complexion and long straight jet-black hair. It was apparent from the way the tunic hung from his body that he was a fine physical specimen with a chiseled physique. He had smoldering eyes that seemed to look right through Auberon.
“Wow,” Auberon said, acknowledging this man was striking.
“Ministerial Aide Natasha,” the man said bowing his head.
“Heron of Edenoud,” she replied also bowing her head. “I am pleased to present Ministerial Aide Auberon.”
“I am honored,” Heron said bowing his head.
“As am I,” Auberon replied bowing his head.
“Please partake,” Heron said pointing to the two tables.
Auberon was at a loss and was carefully watching Natasha’s lead.
“Is it permitted?” the woman on Auberon’s right asked Natasha.
“Yes,” Natasha replied bowing her head.
Asking the question was a Gendu custom that simultaneously addressed two possibilities. The first gave permission to the woman to cater to Auberon if he was Natasha’s husband. The second was an acknowledgement that Auberon might be a single male and could be catered to by the woman without offending Natasha.
“Thank you,” the woman replied also bowing her head.
“Please this way,” they said to him in unison, pointing to the tables.
The two women then locked arms with him. A contented smile spread across his face as he felt the breast of each woman snuggly against his arms. Auberon did not know what to expect but he knew it would be pleasant and he found it very easy to follow these two women. They took him to the food table and began to explain each dish. Finally! This is what it was like to be a ministerial aide!
“And you Ministerial Aide Natasha,” Heron said, “will you not partake?”
“Perhaps in a moment.”
“What assistance may I offer you today?”
“Ministerial Aide Auberon has a meeting later this morning with Minister Abhean and we need a gift.”
“Really?” Heron replied looking at Auberon.
“Yes, you are aware of Minister Abhean’s preferences in art. We would like you to recommend something appropriate.”
“Computer. Present recent woodblock print acquisitions,” Heron said.
The walls were immediately filled with dozens of holographic representations requested by Heron. Natasha did a cursory walk around the room. In the meantime, Auberon had returned from the food table and stood in the background. Each woman was carrying a small plate with a small selection of finger foods and a linen napkin.
After a time, Natasha narrowed her selections down to two pieces. One was a picture called Waves Against Shore by Daruma and a second was called Fish at Sea also by Daruma. Each piece was about a shoulder’s width in length and about half of that in width.
“I will choose between these two,” she said.
“As always, your taste is impeccable,” replied Heron.
A short time later, two Gendu males brought the two pieces from storage and hung them on the wall.
“Could I please see each throughout the day?” Natasha asked.
The lighting began to change to reflect the cycle of natural light throughout the day and different kinds of artificial light.
“We will take Waves Against Shore.”
“Excellent choice! Shall I have it delivered to the Ministry of Arts?”
“No, we will take it with us.”
“As you wish,” Heron replied with a bow. “Now, we must celebrate!”
He went to the beverage table and picked one of the fluted glasses. Each woman to the right of Auberon and Natasha did the same and presented them with a glass filled with a golden chilled bubbling liquid.
“What is this?” Auberon asked.
“We call it ‘sro kanti’. I think you will find it to your liking.”
Auberon looked toward Natasha who closed her eyes and nodded her head slightly.
“May your gift bring enjoyment to the recipient,” Heron said as he raised his glass. “Drekka!”
“Drekka,” Natasha and Auberon repeated also raising their glasses.
When they left Heron’s, Auberon carried a nondescript bag with a beautifully wrapped package inside. As they walked back to the parking lot, the warm summer sun and the effects of the toast made his face flush and he began to feel dizzy.
“That sro…sro stuff is strong.”
“Sro kanti and yes, it is very strong. Here, you better let me carry that.”
“I thought the Code did not permit us to drink alcohol.”
“You are correct.”
“Then, why did you drink it?”
“I did not. It was only sufficient that I bring the glass to my lips.”
“Oh no. Am I in trouble again? But you said it was ok.”
“It was. Since this matter is classified,” she replied smiling, “you are safe.”
About The Author:
I grew up in a town in the Midwest, my mother was a bookkeeper for a small HVAC company and my father was a draftsman. At university, I studied chemistry. However, when I graduated, I did not (or could not) pursue that vocation because I was terrible in the lab.
I have been a storyteller ever since I can remember. It started as a way to get out of trouble and evolved as a way to entertain those around me. My first recollection of writing prose was in elementary school when I had to write a short essay about a picture from a magazine. (Mine was a freshly baked loaf of bread.) In grade 7, I penned two short stories for a school writing competition. One was entitled “My Funny Cousin”, a descriptive piece about a relative (a little older than me) who stayed with us one summer. My mother very quickly killed that story. At the time, it didn’t make sense to me because she told me she thought it was very funny. It was only later that I figured out that I could have replaced “Funny” with “Flamboyant” in the title. So, it was back to the drawing board. My second attempt was a collection of anecdotes about the life of my maternal grandfather titled “The Hilarious Things My Grandfather Did”. That one went on to win.
My first complete novel was a story about a soldier of fortune in the age of horse and bow. At the time, I had contact with people in the entertainment business in California. The feedback I got was that I should take one of the chapters and expand it into a novel. That made no sense to me. What the heck did that mean? How could you expand something so small into something big? So, I never pursued it. However, the comment stuck with me. It was only much later that I figured out that it meant that I should never rush the telling of a story.
This brings us to the present and the Terra Nova Series. (Book 2 has just been published and Book 3 is in progress.) I write for an audience of one: my wife. She loves the stories. Now, all I have to do is get 99,999 more like her and I’ll have a hit!