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Excerpt for Theta Arcornia: Empress by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

Theta Arcornia: Empress

Brendan G. Bohannon

Smashwords Edition

Copyright 2018 Brendan G. Bohannon


*****


Theta Arcornia: Empress

Copyright (C) 2018 by Brendan G. Bohannon



Smashwords License Statement
This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each reader. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to Smashwords.com and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.


This book is a work of fiction and any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or places, events or locales is purely coincidental. The characters are productions of the author’s imagination and used fictitiously.


*****




Chapter 1, Prelude


Amanda was 19 and living an apartment in the city of Port Ariane. In many ways she took after her mother, Amelia.


Port Ariane is located on the southeast of the continent they live on, near the old border between Arcornia and Povoskia. It was formerly part of Arcornia but after it fell during the war, the whole area came under the control of Povoskia.


Much of the eastern side of the continent is Povoskia, which is also the capital nation of the Federation. Previously, Arcornia was at the south of the continent, sharing its borders with both Povoskia to the northeast and Poivrecornia to the northwest. To the north of Arcornia, there is a border between Povoskia and Poivrecornia, and following the war most of the Arcornian territory fell over to Poivrecornia, which controls much of the continental interior and is thus the geographically largest of the nations.


Also to the Northeast of Arcornia and within Povoskian territory is Niberaux Lake, over which Niberaux would appear frequently, and for a longer period of about one week once per year. However, for unknown reasons Niberaux had ceased its normal reappearance roughly 30 years earlier, with pictures and murals made by those living in the area as the sole evidence for what was once a common occurrence.


There is also the nation of Seltara which is located on the western side of the continent, nearly the opposite to Federation capital of Povoskia.


There are several other smaller nations on the northern side of the continent, in addition to a number of island nations. Their world has one major continent simply known as the Mainland, with other landmasses being mostly a number of scattered islands.


The larger of these islands is Anglas, located to the southwest of the mainland, and is roughly 700 miles across. The geographic location of the temple on Anglas is directly on the opposite side of the planet from Niberaux Lake, and Anglas is notable for its wide and varied collection of ruins and ancient machinery. Much technological development had been fueled by the work of archaeologists attempting to understand these structures and machines, but ultimately their purpose remains mysterious.


Placed around the world in a pattern of gigantic hexagons is a number of smaller islands, each with their own temples and ruins, though typically far less extensive than those on Anglas. These islands are typically around 50 to 100 miles across, each roughly circular with a temple at their geographic center. These temples are typically small stepped pyramids with a Huge Jewel located in the top chamber. While the Jewel in Anglas weighs an estimated 30 tons, the jewels in each of the smaller temples are only 8 tons. Despite their large size and weight, the jewels seem to levitate within the structure and emit a near constant glow. There is also an energy field near the jewels which is problematic for those who go near them. One has to be very careful about not bringing metal objects into the main room of the temple or the object might get caught up and flung around the room before typically ending up embedded into one of the walls.


Meanwhile, Back in Port Ariane, Amanda had a thing for a guy named Marcus despite her mother Amelia advising her against chasing after him, though for seemingly mysterious reasons Amelia never cared to explain in much detail. Amanda knew she would run into Marcus again, though it was unclear where her path would lead from there.


Marcus was around the same age as she was, and like Amanda he was living in Port Ariane. He had friend named Guy who was several years younger.


Amanda would go around and casually "bump into" Marcus and Guy as they went along doing their thing in the town. They were going around as usual, generally avoiding paying much attention to her.


One day while walking along the street, just a ways up the street from the cafe and the clothing shops, she encountered a small green jewel lying on the ground. She had seen jewels like these before, usually in the possession of Amelia, who had large numbers of these placed end-to-ends into notches and held between strips of foam, but she didn't really know what they were used for. She picked it up, and could sense it had power. It was a little stronger than many of the others she had seen. She tried to use the power of the jewel to see if it could say anything to her about her future, but instead of seeing the future she saw glimpses of the past. Doing this also released a pulse of energy.


This flash got the attention of a nearby Arthian named Danielle, who could also sense the energy released from the jewel. Danielle had been in town on shopping trip with her mom, Vanille, and was about six years younger than Amanda. Danielle was a bit large for her age, seemingly already the size of an Arthian adult, but Amanda didn't seem to take much notice.


Amanda then closed her hand around the jewel, and it sparkled and disappeared. Danielle looked intently, surprised at the disappearing jewel. "Where did it go?", "Would you like to know?" Amanda then demonstrated another of her abilities by holding out her hand, and with a swirling of sparkles summoned a large war hammer. Danielle was amazed at this display.


Amanda said, "I got this war hammer from my mom. It was an item passed down in the family." Danielle, "Is it heavy? It looks heavy." Amanda, "Not really." She sets it down on the ground, and as soon as she lets go, the concrete under the war hammer cracks. Danielle tries to pick it up, but is unable to move it. Amanda reaches back down and picks it up, and says, "It is a bit large though, so I store it in my own special place." The war hammer then sparkles and disappears. Danielle, "Where does it go?", "It is not somewhere easily explained.” Amanda reaches out and touches Danielle on the shoulder, and after a flash Danielle sees a place. It is a dark sea of swirling fluid. After a moment, Danielle can see into the space, seeing the war hammer along with a lot of other objects floating around. Things slowly change around as the space continues to swirl and deform. Danielle can almost see hints of people and places in the fluid, but as she reaches for them they warp and disappear. The fluid within the space seems to be flowing into and through a jewel. As she touches it, it flows onto her arm and then into and through her. She feels 'different', and starts to realize she can't breathe. After a moment she begins to panic, and tries to run away from the flowing fluid. There is then another flash she finds herself up in the air, above Amanda. Amanda is looking up at her with a surprised expression. Rather than falling to the ground, Danielle finds that she is gliding. After a short while, she makes her way back to the ground. She asks Amanda, "What was that?!", "It was just a little glimpse. But when I tried to bring you back, suddenly you were up in the air."


Danielle was still a bit confused, and neither of them knew how she was now able to glide. Danielle didn't complain too much though about her newfound ability.


After a while, Vanille came up to retrieve Danielle. Vanille was Arthian yet much larger than a normal Arthian, nearly the size of a full grown human. After some funny looks from Amanda, a normal looking Arthian only about half her size, Vanille feels slightly self-conscious about her size. She admits to Amanda that some of her ancestry had included humans. Amanda has some reservations about the idea of such relationships between humans and Arthians. Vanille, as if sensing Amanda's thoughts, explains, "Humans and Arthians aren't much different. We live similar lives, and are biologically compatible. Is it really so strange?"


Vanille then says to Amanda, "Also, say hi to Amelia for me. I haven't seen her in years.", "You know my mom?", "Yeah, we were friends going back a long time. Though, I haven't seen much of her in recent years."


Later on, Amanda and Danielle meet up with Marcus and Guy, with Marcus being aloof as normal. Guy and Danielle then go off and mostly start talking among themselves, as they already knew each other. Danielle starts showing Guy her newfound ability to jump up in the air and glide to the ground. This prompted a surprised look from Vanille, who lacked any such gliding ability, and abilities like this tend to run in families.


Danielle ends up often visiting Amanda, and Amanda quietly teaches her how to hold her own in a fight, which she keeps quiet from both Marcus and Vanille, Amanda realizing that Vanille doesn't much approve of the thought of her daughter being involved in armed combat. Vanille has enough of a hard time as it is with her daughter so often hanging out with Guy who is roughly four years older than Danielle. Both Amanda and Danielle find that they have something in common in that in some ways they need to keep up a facade. Despite appearances, Danielle isn't as meek as she looks, and Amanda isn't quite so innocent.


Despite Vanille's long history with The Movement, she never mentioned this to Danielle. She felt she wanted her daughter to be free of the sort of life she and those around her have had to live with. She wanted Danielle to be able to live the peaceful life of a normal citizen. Vanille tried to keep up the image that she was an otherwise normal and peaceful citizen, rather than her secret life as a spy and as a recruiter.



Chapter 2, Amanda's Encounters with Julian


Amanda and Danielle were walking back to Amanda's apartment together one day after going out shopping. On the way, they encounter a robot that had seemingly been waiting for them. The robot asks Amanda to follow him as she has been summoned for an official meeting. She isn't really interested and refuses to cooperate with the robot.


The robot responds by grabbing Amanda firmly and flies off carrying her along with him. As Amanda is being carried off by the robot she sees Marcus on the ground looking up at her. Marcus is stunned as he watches her being carried away but in not knowing what he could possibly do about it he does nothing. Amanda also notices Danielle running up to him to describe what had just happened.


All too soon the robot lands on a large airship. Amanda is compelled by the robot to enter the ship and is then forced into a cell by the robot. Amanda is angry about being kidnapped by the robot and is more than a little put off by the dreary appearance of the cell she finds herself locked up in. On top of everything else she has thoughts about food. She was just out shopping and had been looking forward to having a friendly dinner with Danielle who was then going to try to invite over Guy, and by extension, Marcus.


However, this obviously wasn't going to happen if she is randomly locked up in a jail cell for some unknown reason by an annoyingly persistent robot that won’t take no for an answer.


The cell is a dimly lit cage with steel bars. Outside the cell Amanda notices some other cells; she also notices some random pieces of disassembled machinery strewn about. Evidently part of the area she can see is also being used for performing maintenance. Amanda tries to grab the bars to break out of the cell, but as soon as she touches them she feels the strength drain from her arms and finds she is unable to bend them.


As she falls back on the floor, she notices that her hands are covered in salt. She tries to pull out her war hammer but finds that she is unable to do so. As she tries harder, the salt on her hands begins to crackle and pop.


Julian goes to her cell, and says to her "Sorry about all this. There was a mix up and you ended up down here by mistake. These robots aren't very smart sometimes." She responds, "Why have you brought me here, I had things I was going to be doing about now."


He responds, "Well, as you know, your mother was an important figure in The Movement. We have recently been in contact with her, and she recommended you for what we had in mind. Why not come with me, and we can talk about it."


Julian figures Amanda probably hasn't eaten anything for a while, and so offers her some food and drink before describing what he had in mind.


The food surprisingly is all pretty fancy, so Amanda eats a lot of the offered delicacies and drinks a lot of wine. Julian all the while tries to portray his projects and activities in a positive light while not so subtly implying Marcus as someone who doesn't really know how to have a good time.


Julian is a few years older than Amanda and Marcus, but has inherited a robotics empire and is now the de-facto ruler of The Movement after Marie's passing. He is also served by Chad, as an old family friend and adviser. Chad was the logical leader, but declined a leadership role due his advancing age and instead focused on teaching Julian in the ways of leadership and military strategy.


What Julian fails to mention, however, is that him abducting her wasn't the mistake, but rather that the robot was rather ungraceful about it and took her to the prisoner holding cell; rather than being more charming and carrying her up much more elegantly to a fancy room where he would have made a more dignified entrance, followed by him giving her a tour of his airship.


Part of what he was saying to her was a fabrication though, in that there wasn't actually a mission for her, and while he had been talking to Amelia, and while they had been talking about Amanda, the conversations were generally more of a personal nature.


It started sometime earlier, where Amelia had basically been playing matchmaker, and pitched the idea of setting Amanda up with Julian to both Julian and Ivan. Ivan felt unsure about the idea, but Julian was more optimistic, as he already had some feelings for Amanda even if he hadn't really acted on them. Amelia gave suggestions about how he could set some things up aboard his airship, some of which seemed a little strange and oddly specific to Julian.


What Julian didn't realize though, was that he was already giving Amanda a lot more attention than she was used to. Marcus always blew her off and hardly ever paid much attention to her, and she was getting a bit overwhelmed with all the attention she was getting from Julian. This was in turn working in combination with her starting to get a little wasted from all the wine she was drinking.


She really didn't care as much about all this stuff one way or another, about missions or projects or the false eloquence he was trying to pull off. For her, her interactions with The Movement was just another part of the world she grew up in, much the same as keeping some of her other activities hidden from the Federation authorities.


For her, things were a little simpler, and she had her feelings towards Julian swayed by the large petting zoo he had aboard the ship. The petting zoo was actually an animal holding pen, but it had a few cosmetic changes in preparation for Amanda's visit. He had brought in some other types of animals besides the cows and pigs which he would normally transport, put up some faux wooden structures and fences for a more farm like aesthetic, meanwhile covering the steel floor in a layer of dirt and hay in order to add yet another farm-like ambiance to the overall aesthetic.


In the layout of this area, Amelia had gotten specific that there should be an extra thick pile of hay near the door where they would leave the petting zoo. Julian didn't see the point, as it didn't seem to help much with the overall ambiance but he did so anyways even if he didn't pile on quite as much hay as Amelia had suggested.


While they were there Amanda petted some goats and gave them food pellets and with their tails wagging in excitement more pellets fell out the other end. There was this amazing property with goats in that as much food goes in one end a roughly equivalent amount of pellets comes out the other.


Nearing the end of the tour, having her limits about reached, Amanda suddenly decides to pounce on top of Julian and starts making out with him. He didn't exactly fight back, as he hasn't really had a whole lot of luck with the ladies, and this whole thing was kind of a new experience for him as well. They then fall down together on top of the pile of hay, and with a bit of a thud, Julian has the realization that having a little more hay right there could have been useful right then.


Amanda continues to squirm and fondle him, wrapping her legs around him, undoing his pants and moving her panties aside, and, suddenly, he was inside her. He lies back as he is ridden by Amanda, and she feels too good for him to fight back now. She continued for a little longer as he found his release inside of her. She then began lying down on top of him and stroking her hands on his face before quickly falling asleep. As she passes out, she flops over onto the pile of hay. After a moment, Julian cleans himself up some and redoes their clothes. He then carries Amanda off to a proper bed, checking back on her a few times to make sure she was still doing OK.


The next day, Amanda wakes up, feeling a hangover from her night of drinking. She then feels herself and remembers what happened the night before, the memory of the night before seemingly pulling her fingers deeper inside and she can almost feel the residual stickiness as she imagines the rush of fluid within her abdomen. She then also has brief flashes of what the future could hold for them. She then feels a mild sense of shame, but at the same time, this experience wasn't all that bad for her. While Julian was nice, and in that moment she let her desires get the better of her, she still had her heart more set on Marcus.


Julian comes into the room feeling a little embarrassed about the night before and was sort of hoping she didn't remember what had happened. He offers her some coffee and breakfast, and to drop her off back at her apartment afterwards if she would like a ride home. She agrees.


Amanda adds some alcohol to her coffee to help with her hangover. Julian offers her some food, in the form of eggs and sausages. There are a few moments of awkward silence between them as they are faced with silently acknowledging that they both remember what happened. However, neither of them really wants to face the event by being the first to openly acknowledge it.


In an effort to avoid the uncomfortable topic neither of them really wants to confront. Over breakfast Amanda and Julian end up discussing many other things among them the things Julian had originally hoped to discuss with Amanda. Julian had a sort of script worked up in his mind where he would offer Amanda a role working with him in The Movement. Further he planned to mention that Amelia had initially recommended her for this role.


After breakfast Julian drops he off back at her apartment as they say “Goodbye” Julian and Amanda agree to keep in contact.


Amanda’s friends are happy to see she is back safely and she tells them some things about her experience although she fabricates some details and leaves out a few others of a more personal nature… She tells them that the robot had mistaken her identity for someone else and had taken her by mistake.



Chapter 3, Following Month’s


Amanda, unlike her mother, was unable to perceive or alter the flow of time. With the situation she unfortunately soon found herself in she felt that she had to act quickly.


Amanda persisted in trying to come on to Marcus, a little more overtly than before, but he continued rejecting her advances. Eventually, when it was reaching a point that it could no longer be kept hidden, she had to admit something to him: She was going to have a baby. His response to her was "So why are you chasing after me then, we both know it isn't mine."

Her feelings are hurt, and she doesn't want to admit to him who the real father is.


Lacking anyone else, she tries to pass the blame off on Guy. Marcus was like "Yeah, whatever." He didn't believe her on this, as he already knew that Guy and Danielle were secretly together, and that neither Amanda nor Guy were all that interested in each other. Amanda then tried coming on to Guy in the hope he would give her a tumble and she could claim the Cuckoo’s egg was his but Guy’s response to her acting like this towards him was along the lines of "I know you don't think too highly of me, and I am not that stupid." Amanda in desperation pleads, "But, can't you just pretend the baby is yours?" Guy responds, "No."


Guy didn't want to admit openly to her about what was going on between him and Danielle, but personally he would much rather choose Danielle over Amanda. Even if Guy were to go along with this, and even if it were all pretend, it would invariably come back to bite him in the butt later and this was definitely not something he wanted.


Guy mentioned their conversation to Marcus, Marcus responded "I thought as much, but this does leave the question of who it was. Let me know if you find out who’s responsible."


Lacking many other options, she eventually ended up admitting her situation to Julian. After her confession they end up meeting together fairly often and Julian is quite pleased with all the new found attention along with the thought of them creating a family together. Julian never admitted it openly, but this was exactly what he had been hoping for all along.


Guy in the meantime had been keeping a close watch on Amanda, keeping watch of where she went. Guy noticed that she was meeting very often with Julian. He noted their interactions, and their occasional public displays of affection, which over time began to be displayed ever more frequently.


Guy eventually goes back to Marcus, "Yeah, I figured it out she's been going at it with Julian.", "Seriously? Julian?!"


For many other people, Marcus might not have cared all that much about it either way especially considering the fact that he tended to see Amanda's advances as more of an annoyance than anything else. Nevertheless the idea that she was going at it with Julian was to his way of thinking going a bit too far.


Marcus was neither supportive of The Movement, nor of Julian. Julian, as their acting leader, was an enemy of the Federation. Although Marcus and Amanda knew each other, Amanda had never openly mentioned her involvement with The Movement, as this was something of an underground secret even among Arthians despite much of the Arthian population in Port Ariane being associated with them. Likewise, Marcus neglected to mention that he worked as an informant for the Federation authorities, and if he were to follow their rules he would be expected to turn her in.


However, if he were to report her she would very likely be at least arrested and imprisoned if not executed.


He wasn't personally interested in Amanda sexually partly because he knew even if Amanda didn’t that she was his half sister, but as such, he also didn't want to see her needlessly subjected to a life in prison or dead. He also didn't want to turn her in as he didn't want to have the guilt of turning in his own sister on his hands.


At this point, they for the most part refused to meet with or talk to her. If they continued to socialize with her, and if she was caught or it came up that they knew about her ties with The Movement, they would be equally guilty in the eyes of the Federation for failing to report her seditious associations.


Amanda didn't stay around for very long in Port Ariane after this, and she soon ended up permanently moving in with Julian aboard his airship. The next months were happy for them as they planned their future together.


As for Julian, since his first encounters with Amanda, he had started rethinking some things and had been moving away from using animal based cores for his robots. Julian then modified and concealed some of his older records which had shown that he had been using the older methods of incorporating animal-based wetware into his robots as originally developed by Ivan and Marie, and started trying to act like he had been using artificial cores all along.


The new cores would copy some of the essential elements from the animal based cores, but would be otherwise purely artificial. The cores were made essentially using multiple processor dies in each module, with each die implementing a number of processor cores with embedded neural-net units and locally embedded blobs of memory.


The processor cores implemented an instruction set with a 32-bit address space and a 32 bit native word size, but otherwise consisted of fixed-width 16 bit instruction words and 16 registers. It basically worked, but as a consequence, loading larger constants typically required a chain of instructions, loading the constant 8 bits at a time. The main alternative was to load constants from memory, but this was undesirable as a memory load typically took several clock cycles longer than using a load-shift instruction sequence to load the constant.


Near branches would have an 8 bit displacement, allowing for a branch displacement range of around 128 instruction words. In order to branch to a longer distance, it was necessary to load the displacement into a register and perform a register-relative branch.


While not perfect, this was a compromise to allow cheaper processor cores compared with the variable width instruction set used by the Federation. This other more common processor type had used instructions which were either 16 or 32 bits, and came in variants with both a 32 and 64 bit native address and word sizes, and had allowed the use of 32-registers.


Various languages existed to abstract over the specific instruction sets, but most people there had been using a language which resembles an older variant of C. The basic syntax for the language had been discovered within the numerous ruins of the lost civilization, in markings on ancient machinery and in the archaic tomes found within. These had inspired most other languages now in use. Many of these ancient tomes had contained user manuals or technical documentation written in the ancient language, and in developing their own technology, many of these ancient tomes were followed almost religiously.


Few people there, unlike our world, seriously considered trying to go the direction of just piling endless new features onto the language, as this results in languages that are very difficult to write compilers for, and which would take a long time to compile. While they couldn't implement everything in the tomes, they could implement enough to make their machinery work, able to find the main important aspects.


As such, much their computer technology might be almost recognizable, complete with an 8 bit byte, the same basic ASCII characters, and what would be recognizable as a RISC style instruction set.


Likewise, they had magnetic disk media and CRT displays. However, their removable disk media was different in that it consisted of a 7 inch aluminum disk within a solid 8 inch cartridge with a capacity of around 1GB. When inserted, a metal slide would reveal a narrow slot allowing access to the disk surface. The magnetic heads would then ride in this slot only a short distance from the surface.


Similar technology was used for their internal hard drives, which typically had between 8 platters each roughly 7 inches across, with a total capacity of around 200 GB.


Their displays looked similar to the CRT displays formerly used in our world, but had a functional difference in that they only used a single electron gun and did not use a shadow mask. They would instead achieve color by alternating the colors along each scan line. As a result, the vertical color resolution and color phase of the monitor was often a specific property of the display and had to be kept calibrated appropriately for color images to be displayed. The basic pattern consisted of having alternating pairs of main primaries, with a small amount of the other primary spaced between the scan lines.


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