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Guide to the Fallen

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Chuk

Chuk

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Hey folks, thanks for stopping by!
This is a story I've been writing off and on (more off than on) for about a year now, originally posted in the Stellar Dawn forums. However, as it hasn't gotten a post since November, I figured I'd post it here and see if I could get at least a couple readers. Despite being on the SD forums, it's not really sci-fi, and so I figure it should fit in here well enough.
That said, this comes miles behind Echoes of the Gods when I look at priority, which means adds here will be very few and far between; it's something I work on when I need to take a step back from EotG to get fresh perspective. It also won't be nearly as polished as that story. Nevertheless, I hope you enjoy it. :)

14-Jul-2011 02:05:19 - Last edited on 14-Jul-2011 04:39:53 by Chuk

Chuk

Chuk

Posts: 14,169Opal Posts by user Forum Profile RuneMetrics Profile
== - == - == Introduction == - == - ==
Anubis to the Egyptians and Charon to the Greeks; angels to the Christians and valkyries to the Norse. All are psychopomps and for a time, the Grim Reaper covered for them all. Throughout history, they guided the dead to their chosen realms. Then, it seemed they disappeared. In the First Modern Era, while space travel stayed near to Earth and only a chosen few made the journeys, religion vanished and humanity dismissed psychopomps as nothing beyond primitive myth.
Mankind, we who had dwelled so long on Earth, no longer needed guides to find residence in the afterlife; for so long had we made that trek that the route was ingrained upon our minds. The paths around the horrors and traps that would have us spend eternity locked between the worlds of the dead and of the living were as instinct in our subconscious mind, and it stayed with our souls as we departed this world.
Then, hundreds of years ago, mankind truly discovered space travel.
Once more the fallen need a guide, for the vastness of space is still unexplored. The paths between worlds are not yet known, and so we must humble ourselves and call upon the psychopomp that has guided humanity throughout history; yes, he his but one eternal being, everlasting and called by many names by many people, but he has always been there. And now he returns, forgiving the pride of humanity who had believed they would never need him again. Aurgur we call him, now, or Death Light; indeed, that is his job, lighting the paths of the dead.

14-Jul-2011 02:05:33 - Last edited on 14-Jul-2011 04:41:57 by Chuk

Chuk

Chuk

Posts: 14,169Opal Posts by user Forum Profile RuneMetrics Profile
== - == - == Prologue == - == - ==
Endless night, dotted here and there with glimmering stars. Two or three golden nebulae drifted innocently. One patch of sky grew dark as a ship passed over, blotting out the light.
'And this is why I joined the Outer Navy,' Ensign Admeri Tryst thought to himself, staring out from the bridge of the cruiser Guidance. After another moment's reverie, he turned back to his sensors. He gasped. Two dozen flashing red dots had appeared on the screen, and more appeared each instant.
"Captain! An enemy fleet just dropped from--"
That was the extent of the Guidance's warning. The night erupted with the flashes of enemy lasers, and before the ship could raise its shields, a blast ruptured the viewport. The glass exploded and the ensign heard a few seconds of rushing air before he was sucked, along with the rest of the crew, into the vacuum and his body disintegrated with the depressurization.

14-Jul-2011 02:05:35 - Last edited on 14-Jul-2011 04:43:24 by Chuk

Chuk

Chuk

Posts: 14,169Opal Posts by user Forum Profile RuneMetrics Profile
== - == - == Chapter One == - == - ==
- == - == - == Afterworld == - == - == -
Admeri Tryst woke to a new kind of existence. Somehow, he remembered death; though it had been nearly instantaneous, it had also been painful beyond words. The closest way to imagine it, he thought, was as if he had been stabbed by thousands of fiery knives, electrocuted and crushed all at once, and that still failed to capture the true agony. Funny the detached way he thought about it now. But one thing bugged him: that he was thinking about it at all indicated this death had never happened. One didn't think once one was dead, unless one believed in the Afterlife. But the people who believed in that crap were crazy, so he had to believe he had just had a very, very real dream.
That meant he was still alive, which left him wondering where he was. Black speckled with twinkling points of light, it was like nowhere he had ever experienced, except space, but then he had worn an envirosuit to keep him alive. Now he just wore the most basic of Navy uniforms. Definitely not in space, then.
Almost as soon as he'd convinced himself he wasn't in space, Admeri began having second thoughts. When he tried to move, he just sort of floated, slowly spinning and drifting through... something. His only orientation was that down was where his feet happened to be floating at that point in time, and so it was constantly changing.

14-Jul-2011 02:05:50 - Last edited on 14-Jul-2011 04:45:03 by Chuk

Chuk

Chuk

Posts: 14,169Opal Posts by user Forum Profile RuneMetrics Profile
Dreaming, he decided with the last of his rational thought. He must still be dreaming. Maybe he'd had a dream inside a dream, and that was why he was so disoriented. All he had to do was wake up. It shouldn't be that hard. Once one realized he was dreaming, he woke up, right? Right?
Nothing changed. Admeri just drifted a little more. And he began to cry.
"Welcome to the Afterworld, Ensign Tryst. It's going to take you a few minutes to overcome the shock of your arrival; it was quite a rough one, as such things go."
Admeri's head whipped around, not towards the voice since it seemed to come from everywhere, but searching for it nonetheless. Still all he saw was the blackness.
"Calm down," the voice spoke again. "You're not going to figure anything out all riled up like that, and trust me, you've got a lot you need to figure out."
This time, Admeri responded. "Where are you? Who - What are you?" he demanded.
"You should be able to figure that out, Ensign. Just take a moment to think about it. I've told you where you are, after all. Your lack of belief doesn't make this nonexistent. But to start with, you're going to have to come to terms with the fact that you're dead, Admeri."
"Dead?"
"Yes, very dead. I'm sorry to say you decompressed in the vacuum of space. That's really one of the worst ways to make the transition to the Afterworld. Very disorienting. However, as much as I pity you, there's only so much I can say and do. I am, after all, only a guide. Not your Guardian Angel."
Admeri buried his face in his hands. "Dead?" he muttered again. This time, the voice didn't respond, but even through his confusion and terror, Admeri sensed that it, whatever it was, seemed to be growing exasperated with his incomprehension. The lack of obvious empathy finally pulled him back to rational thought, anger overcoming the fear and loss.

14-Jul-2011 02:05:51 - Last edited on 14-Jul-2011 04:45:48 by Chuk

Chuk

Chuk

Posts: 14,169Opal Posts by user Forum Profile RuneMetrics Profile
"So the Afterworld," Admeri said. "That doesn't tell me who you are. I dunno what all's associated with this Afterlife. Up until a few seconds ago, I didn't believe in it, remember?"
"That was quick. Most people sit in denial for a couple days. Pretty sad, really. But now you've accepted that simple fact we can move on. Does the name Aurgur ring a bell, perhaps?"
"No."
"No?"
"No."
"No no? Does that mean yes?"
"No! It means it does not ring a bell!"
"Oh, alright. Fine then. No need to get so peeved. This is a boring job, y'know."
"What's a boring job?"
"Being Aurgur, the guide to the Afterworld for all you mortals. I do the same thing day after day, month after month, year after year, age after age. All people wanna do is reach the Afterworld. No detours, no sightseeing. Nothing at all to make it interesting."
"Yeah, well you've been doing it for eternity, haven't you? Get used to it."
"Ah, there we have it. An absolutely stunning display of sympathy. I should just leave you floating here for a few millennia, see if that makes you more agreeable. You all are an angry lot, you know."
"Well I'm sorry, but I don't think you've really got a lot to complain about. At least you're still alive."
"Ah, right. Because after a hundred thousand years, I just can't wait to keep on living. But you're sorta right; complaining to you won't do me any good. I should probably go talk to my boss, maybe ask for a raise."
"You get paid?"
"Well no, not in the literal sense. But maybe he'd at least give me some vacation. It really wouldn't hurt to leave a few thousand humans floating in the between for just a couple weeks, and it'd do me so much good. You got vacation time, right?"
"Yeah, a couple weeks every year."
"See, that's outrageous! I've been working for millennium after millennium and not a single day off. Does that seem right to you?"

14-Jul-2011 02:05:53 - Last edited on 14-Jul-2011 09:43:45 by Chuk

Chuk

Chuk

Posts: 14,169Opal Posts by user Forum Profile RuneMetrics Profile
"No, I suppose it doesn't, but look, until you've talked to your boss, can you still do your job? I'm getting tired of floating here; it's making me sick. Let's see this Afterworld everyone claims is so damned nice."
"Ahh, I'm afraid it's not quite that simple. Nowhere close, really. In fact, getting there will probably prove harder than anything you ever did while you were alive."
"You're encouraging. That sounds worse than being left here to drift for eternity."
"Worse? Hardly. It's harder, certainly, but not as maddening. You'll go crazy floating there, and it won't take much time at all. There's no one to talk to; you can't move; you've already started feeling nauseous, and that only gets worse; you'll get incredibly hungry and thirsty, even though you don't need sustenance. Look, I suppose you can try it, but it's really very unpleasant."
"Yeah, I figured there was a catch. But you also touched on one of my worst problems. How'm I supposed to get from here to wherever it is you're talking about if I can't move?"
Admeri tried paddling and kicking again to illustrate his point.
"For a guide, you're not very useful," he added a few seconds later.
"I'd watch your mouth, Ensign. You are, after all, a mere mortal. Push too many buttons, and I will leave you here, whether that's in my job description or not."
"Alright, alright, Great Aurgur, I humbly apologize and beg your forgiveness. I'm just a little stressed, y'know, being told I'm dead and all."
"Your sarcasm is noted and unappreciated. But I'll take it for now. At least you seem to want to do the right thing. Brace yourself. This'll be a tad disorienting."
"Wha-"

14-Jul-2011 02:06:35 - Last edited on 14-Jul-2011 10:08:17 by Chuk

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