Welcome back to The Temporal Void reread, part the third! This week we’ll be reading Chapter Three, Justine, and Inigo’s Tenth Dream. Once again we’ve got a fair amount to cover, but at least we’ll be at the halfway point be the end of the Tenth Dream!
We join Aaron after his incident with Inigo, stuck in a howling blizzard on Hanko.
He was very very angry.
Oscar is in Colwyn City in the aftermath of Justine’s dash to the Void, and the Welcome team’s raid on the apartments. People are not happy, and the atmosphere reflects that. Oscar and the team discuss how the Second Dreamer could have gotten away before the team’s arrival, and mystified at the situation. They’re still looking into Araminta’s background, and discover that she had purchased a ticket off world through her cousin, Cressida, they decide to keep an eye on her too. It’s through these discussions that the truth comes to light, with Oscar saying:
“I spent decades living a lie, hiding my actual self from everyone I knew and loved and worked with. It's actually a lot easier than you'd think. So I guess it takes one to know one.”
And with this that they start to make their plans, and get moving.
Araminta, meanwhile, is still holed up in her apartment drinking tea and eating biscuits. Rock and roll! She exits the apartment building, sneaking around the back and out through an alley to escape the Ellezelin forces…
Aaron has more memories coming to the surface amidst the whiteout he’s struggling through. He decides that, with no other options, he will head back the way they came:
Simply lying down and waiting for the end wasn't him. Whoever me is.
Troblum and the Mellanie’s Redemption drops out of hyperspace above Orakum, and then enters the atmosphere in full stealth mode, proceeding to the one place he hopes he can find someone he can trusts. However, when arriving at Oscar’s house he’s greeted by his life partners who inform him of recent events and Oscar’s disappearance after a meeting with Paula Myo. He leaves the planet for a point of empty space where he can build and fit the ultradrive to his ship.
Paula returns to Earth to check up on the Cat in her suspension case, and checks if anyone else has visited, to no avail. Despite this she tells ANA Governance that she still isn’t entirely happy about the situation. They discuss what should be done, but also discuss Troblum and his knowledge of the dark Fortress at the Dyson Alpha barrier. ANA checks records and finds that someone matching his description served a six-month tour of duty there as part of the Navy’s science teams. They decide that she will visit the captain of the ship during that mission to see if he can shed any light on the situation.
After leaving Earth Kazimir contacts her to inform her of the developments on Hanko, specifically that a hawking m-sink was used on the planet. The Lindau, a Navy ship, is now in orbit monitoring the situation, and while it hasn’t detected any ultradrive ships, it has picked up a bionomic distress beacon – either from Inigo or Aaron. She warns ANA to alert them of the danger Aaron could be, and then makes her way back through the wormhole network to the Alexis Denken.
Araminta makes her way to Tandra’s house, a fellow waitress at Nik’s. Along with her husband and children, Tandra welcomes her in and offers her the couch to sleep on while she needs it, but she tells them it will only be for the night. And they all make her feel so welcome and at home:
This house, Tandra, the twins: It felt like an oasis of decency amid the madness raging outside. After the last two days, she badly needed to remind herself what normal was. Then I might be able to work out how to get back there myself.
We join Kazimir in Pentagon II on the High Angel as he convenes the ExoProtectorate Council. After some brief enquiries to Gore about Justine they get down to business and link to the Yenisey, a Navy ship that has been closing in on the Ocisen fleet. They can’t detect anything other than Ocisen ships so prepare to knock them out of hyperspace to deliver the warning:
They are to turn around or every ship will be disabled.
After knocking the lead ship into real space they start to deliver their warning, but don’t even complete the small broadcast before a smooth spherical ship, force fields impenetrable, appears out of nowhere. It destroys the Yenisey. Ilanthe jumps on this development to request the deterrent fleet be sent to intercept the Ocisens and their unknown allies. Kazimir, however, disagrees due to the distance the Ocisens still need to cover. He instead dispatches four Capitol Class warships to intercept, while the rest of the Council votes that, should this be unsuccessful, the deterrent fleet is to be sent.
After the meeting Gore and Kazimir meet alone, with Gore questioning whether the deterrent fleet, something never seen, is actually real. Kazimir reveals:
“It is real, Grandfather. And if the Ocisen allies prove stronger than our Capital class, I will personally lead it into battle against the Empire's fleet.”
They then discuss what to do about Justine, to which Gore tells him they wait until she contacts them.
Aaron was making good time. He'd already retraced the entire route back to the Olhava camp. Now it was just a simple jog across nine hundred kilometers of a dead planet's broken, frozen radioactive ground and he'd be back at Jajaani.
Only 900 kilometers? I do that before breakfast. Lightweight. Anyway, as Aaron is running the Lindau appears having located him via his distress signal. They tell him that they’re taking precautions and will hold him in isolation until they can confirm his identity. Aaron, of course, has other plans…
Aaron brought every weapons insert he had to full power, adjusted his biononic energy currents for extreme combat, and walked up the ramp.
Justine is in the Void, her ship in one piece but with the hyperdrive inoperative. She asks what is wrong and gets a simple reply:
“Quantum state of this location does not correspond to external universe parameters.”
The smartcore can’t even locate the Void boundary, despite having just entered. In the middle of nowhere with no sign of planetary systems or a Skylord, she asks the smartcore to study the constellations in the hope of discovering her location relative to Querencia. After eating and sleeping, she discovers that the smartcore has no idea where she is, only that there is a star three light-years distant. With more systems glitching she decides to enter suspension while the ship travels to the nearest planet…
Inigo’s Tenth Dream
We join Edeard and Kristabel as they go to the Poilus Theatre to listen to Dybal perform his arsenal of popular songs. After a night of drink and dancing they make their way back to their homes, Edeard escorting Kristabel. Before departing, she tells Edeard she would like for them to spend a week together in her family’s beach lodge, though would go back to his place then if he preferred.
“No. The beach lodge sounds wonderful.”
They arrange to go the following Tuesday, leaving Edeard plenty to do to rearrange work in the meantime! He goes home, passing constables on the district entrances as he goes – turns out that the kidnapping turned opinion in their favour regarding the exclusion warrants – who’d have guessed?!
Edeard and Kristabel leave for the beach lodge on the Tuesday and it’s safe to say that, apart from learning some nifty new third hand techniques involving fire and lightning, there is really no need to go into any more detail of what they get up to! They do pass near the cove where Ivarl’s body turned up after the events of the Festival of Guidance, a little bit of information he ponders over. They do discuss travelling the seas and mapping the world, breaking through the reefs that have stopped many in the past. They also discuss why the Skylords no longer come to Querencia, the situation with the exclusion warrants and where it will lead, as well as many other things while spending the time alone. And the last night ends…
“I love you,” he said in wonder.
Kristabel gifts Edeard a Constable’s dress tunic, but of a fabric that makes it much more stylish than the one’s Edeard has seen before, ready for the graduation ceremony at Jeavon’s station. At the event following the ceremony many people split into political groups: those with Finitan, those against, and the undecided ones. Edeard points out:
“This division isn't good,” he said to Kristabel as the guests started to leave. “Makkathran needs to be united if we're to defeat the gangs.”
As they reunite with Julan and Finitan, Julan pauses as if expecting something from Edeard, something which he has no clue about, so they continue as if nothing is amiss. They discuss the situation in the city, banishment as an option, and the way that Owain will continue to stall progress. Finitan, however, has a plan:
“I am going to announce my candidature for Mayor,” Finitan said. “And banishing the gangs will be my campaign pledge to the people of Makkathran.”
As Edeard re-joins the squad they have one simple question for him: what did he and Julan say? Once again, Edeard has that feeling that he’s missing something. They fill Edeard in with what’s going on, and that a second son was found dead in the canals while he was away. The gangs are starting to get smart by becoming partners in the business, raising prices and making it clear what will happen if they don’t comply. They also tell him of the new owner of the House of Blue Petals: Buate, Ivarl’s half-brother. And that rumour has it that he has a partner: Ranalee.
The squad have been busy while Edeard was away and now have a lead on an attack that evening on the son of a merchant that refused their terms. As the gang surround Rapsail and attack him, Edeard and the squad turn up to arrest them and save Rapsail from a beating. However, the gang attacks the squad, not that it helps them. With them subdued, Edeard tells them to leave that city that night, warning them never to return. The squad take Rapsail home. Edeard, however, head to the House of Blue Petals.
Edeard enters a deserted House of Blue petals and makes his way to the room Ivarl used as his headquarters to be greeted by Buate. Edeard tells Buate of what Finitan’s campaign will be focused on – banishment – and that he will give him one chance to leave the city.
“Normally I'd just laugh at something so preposterous. But I can see you're actually being serious.”
Of course he is, and he makes this point to Buate as he leaves.
As Edeard awakes and leaves hi maisonette, he tells Macsen of his encounter with Buate. He meets with Rapsail and his father, Charyau, with Charyau coming away from the meeting converted to Edeard’s thinking and ready to set up Neph’s first merchants association. At the station Kanseen talks to Edeard, asking what went wrong. With Edeard still showing no signs of knowing what she’s talking about the penny drops with Kanseen and she realises that Edeard has no idea what the week he spent with Kristabel was about:
“Marriage! You nincompoop. Oh, Edeard.” Kanseen was mortified. She let go of him and crammed her hands against her forehead. “If your week worked out that way, you are supposed to ask her father for her hand in marriage the day you return. That's the custom. A week and the day.”
He then realises just how little he knows of Makkathran’s traditions, and, after farsighting Kristabel in tears at the Culverit mansion, just how much he could have screwed everything up. With Lorin waiting for him at the gate, all sealed up, he conceals himself and slips through the walls and then up to Kristabel’s chamber. He apologises and explains to her before asking her to marry him. But she won’t, not that she doesn’t want to, but because she went away with him knowing what she wanted, and he only realised a mere half hour before he goes to her. She wants to give him time, and he concedes.
Edeard meets Captain Larose who escorts him to see the Mayor, explain that there are lots of patrols leaving for the provinces these days, but he approves of what Edeard is doing in Makkathran. Owain sends the regiment on their way with good words before meeting with Edeard. Owain tells Edeard that he too supports banishment, but questions Edeard on what he thinks will happen once the gangs leave the city. They talk and Owain tells Edeard that they must deal with all the problems as one nation, not just the city first and worry about the rest later. It is his grand plan to bring the nation together to deal with all troubles as one, all contributing towards taxes to help them all.
Nanitte is waiting for Edeard when he goes home, telling him she needs to talk to him. She tells Edeard that Buate is going to buy guns, lots of them. In exchange for information she wants money so she can leave the city and set up on her own in the provinces. While Edeard agrees he tells her that it will take time, but time is one thing she doesn’t have. She tells him to ask Kristabel, which doesn’t make him happy, but he does so and gets the information from her.
The squad set up patrols on the night of the exchange and keep an eye on one of the tallest towers in Eyrie, the location where the exchange is meant to happen. As the exchange happens Edeard stops them at the bottom of the stairwell, taking the cases off them. But he isn’t in time and they start firing on the constables. He raises his shield to protect himself, and as he does so he hears a long talk voice telling the gang to get up to the top of the tower. Edeard follows Medath up:
“Oh, come on,” he yelled up at Medath. “There's nowhere to go.” But who told him to go up there? Could they really see through our concealment?
The squad round up the gang members below as Edeard continues to make his way to the top, sensing Medath’s mind above him. As Medath waits for Edeard at the top of the tower, Edeard gets that strange feeling again. He probes with his farsight to see the imprints of four more people on the platform, but all behind concealment. He conceals himself to get behind Medath and towards the others up there, but all suddenly goes wrong: he is fired upon. With his concealment dropped it is all he can do to protect himself from the bullets and the telekinetic blows, all of which push him to the edge of the platform.
“Can you fly, Waterwalker?”
And he falls.
He calls to the city asking if it can help, but it feels useless. And, knowing that he is plummeting to his death, he long-talks Kristabel and tells her he loves her. And he keeps on falling, waiting for death.
“How the Ladyfuck are you doing that?” Chae's dazed voice asked. Something slapped Edeard's ass. It was the ground.
The city had helped him, though he doesn’t know how. As they crowd around him Chae shoves Kanseen out of the way while jumping back himself, but it is too late. Medath hits the ground two feet from Edeard, but almost on top of Chae, kills him. Edeard sees Chae’s soul as it leaves his body, and calls to him, asking the others if they can see him. They think he’s going into shock, but then he gifts them his sight.
“I can feel it, Edeard,” Chae explained. He was looking up, searching the heavens. “So beautiful. They're calling to me. The nebulae are singing. Can you hear them?”
The Pythia arrives next to Edeard and, receiving Edeard’s sight, talks to Chae:
“May the Lady bring you safe to the Heart,” the Pythia said.
Edeard awakens two days later, with Kristabel at his side. She tells him that, once again, he’s the talk of Makkathran. He tells her that the city helped him that day, and that he will try to explain later. She tells him that his squad is anxiously waiting outside, causing plenty of trouble for the staff! And she tells him where the guns came from: the Weapons Guild. Owain is furious and investigating how the secret guns were taken out of storage. And then his friends come in, with Macsen getting the last word:
“Nanitte,” he whooped gleefully, finger jabbing at Edeard for emphasis. “I told you so!”
And here we are at the end of this part of the re-read, and what a way to leave it! Next time we’ll be looking at Chapter Four, and Inigo’s Eleventh Dream – possibly the longest chapter in the novel! See you then fellow readers.
THE ABYSS BEYOND DREAMS, the first book in a new Commonwealth series, published on 9th October 2014, and you can read an extract here
NIGHT WITHOUT STARS, the gripping sequel to THE ABYSS BEYOND DREAMS, will be published on 22nd September 2016.
Whilst you're waiting, check out the cover reveal post!
You can also catch up on the whole Void Trilogy Reread: