Welcome to the second part of The Evolutionary Void reread! This week we’ll be continuing with events in the Commonwealth, while also visiting Querencia in Inigo’s 16th Dream to see just what Edeard has been up to since the last time we saw him.
Araminta awakes in the hotel in Miledeep Water after a long and much-needed sleep, orders some items via the interface in her room, and takes a nice, hot bath. With the orders arriving afterwards, she quickly consumes the food before attending to her injuries, and then promptly falls straight back to sleep! After this she heads out into the town to see what it has to offer – in short, nothing much – though the gaiafield emissions from a local bar gives her information on what has happened with Justine, and that she is heading to Makkathran. She also realises that next to no time has passed since she left Viotia via the Silfen Paths despite spending at least a couple of days wandering along them.
What had happened, or rather where and when she’d been along the Silfen paths, was of no consequence. She knew then that the Silfen wouldn’t let her use their paths and worlds as a refuge. It was instinctive knowledge, coming right from the heart of the Silfen Motherholme.
Araminta contacts the Skylord again, thanking it for guiding Justine to the Void, though conversation quickly ends up going in circles, and she soon disconnects from the telepathic link. She then decides to watch more of Inigo’s dreams to see just what all the fuss is about…
Oscar and the team are now visiting Mr Bovey, though Oscar has some reservations about the loyalty of the Knight’s Guardians after the appearance of the Cat. Tomansio is quick to reassure him;
“We all understand her flaws, but we don’t forgive her. We were born out of her determination, but now we have grown far beyond her.”
When they talk to Mr Bovey he is clearly not happy, and not willing to reveal much to them, though after some prying they find out that he hasn’t seen her for days, and that she didn’t tell him what she had become. Oscar reassures him that she is doing this to keep him safe and out of trouble, not that he is particularly happy about that. But the team know he’s telling them the truth. However, news comes in that Living Dream have found Araminta, and that she’s on Chobamba, a planet that is 600 light years away. This confuses them as an ultradrive could just make that trip in the 16 hours she’s been gone, though the news doesn’t stop there. Living Dream are isolating the confluence nests on the planet in order to track her down further – not good news. Oscar contacts Paula to fill her in on the news, and they both think that a faction must be helping her with the use of an ultradrive ship. Paula tells Oscar that ANA is putting the Accelerator faction on trial as they were behind the Ocisen Empire invasion fleet. The group then head back to their starship…
Valean meets up with Marius to give him a message: you fucked up. As such Marius has been downgraded and is sent on a new assignment – to follow The Delivery Man and find out what he is up to. Marius is not happy at all about this to say the least! And with that off he goes.
Back in the Orchard Palace Ethan is enjoying his meal while the ANA ship is in orbit collecting the debris from its destroyed foe. Phelim calls him with the news that they have found Araminta on Chobamba, and that it definitely is an accurate reading. He also tells Ethan that she is doing a run through of Inigo’s dreams, absorbing them at quite a rate. They also assume that a faction has helped her, though are confused as to why she is accessing the dreams rather than keeping off the grid. However, getting her or not isn’t a question – they must go after her. After finishing the call with Phelim, Valean appears in the room, much to his surprise. She tells him that she has replaced Marius, and that she has arrived to deal with the ship in orbit, and to do so she’ll need access to one of Ellezilin’s wormhole generators.
Digby is methodically collecting the debris from Chatfield’s ship when a wormhole appears and starts sucking the debris into it, then switching location to get more of the debris. He tries to access the generator net, but is effectively locked out. He then makes for the physical location of the generators in his ship and calls ANA to let it know of the situation, and for ANA to get in touch with Ethan to stop what is happening, not that he holds out any hope. He ends up firing on the complex, overloading its forcefields, and destroying the generator. But as he does so a starship accelerates and fires upon him, fleeing into hyperspace as soon as it can – with Digby following. He calls Paula to tell her, and that it’s his judgement call to leave Ellezelin and pursue, to which she says she’s probably do the same. The connection is cut with Digby promising to let Paula know when it reaches its destination. He follows, and sees that it’s likely to be heading towards Oaktier…
The judicial conclave begins in ANA, with every downloaded member present in a rather large spherical arena, in order to deal with the Accelerator faction. Ilanthe is their representative present to face the charges.
“We are called here to review the activities of the Accelerator Faction,” ANA:Governance continued. “The charge against them is one of high treason.”
Ilanthe tells them that the restrictions on advancement are unacceptable to those ready now and it shouldn’t be left to the majority to decide when the time is right. She transfers her consciousness to the inversion core which then breaks its bonds with ANA, becoming fully independent. ANA suspends the Accelerator faction and all its members, holding them in stasis. But this doesn’t affect Ilanthe and the inversion core despite ANA’s attempts to shut it down.
“What is your purpose?” ANA asked.
“Total evolution,” Ilanthe replied. “I have never hidden that from you.”
“Your actions thus far have caused extreme danger, not just to the Commonwealth. I cannot let that pass with impunity.”
“I reject you and your authority,” Ilanthe replied.
With that the inversion core fully withdraws from ANA and emerges into space. ANA calls some Capitol-class warships in case there is a threat, and also contacts Kazimir to inform him of the situation.
“I will be there in another fifteen minutes.”
“That is gratifying. However, I do not believe even Ilanthe will attempt to destroy me. If she did, she would find it extremely difficult. There are some levels which I have never employed.”
As the inversion core accelerates away Kazimir arrives in system, and ANA tells him that they have no choice – he must nullify her and the object. However, when he reaches the sphere he is reluctant to use any weapons while still in the Sol system, though Ilanthe tells him that’s not what he should be worried about.
Look behind you. The oldest ploy in the book, but nearly always spoken from a position of superiority.
And then Earth’s defensive weapons are deployed in preparation, all focusing on the Swarm.
With the t-sphere employed to get Earth’s population to safety, Lizzie heads straight for the kids before her husband, The Delivery Man, calls her. But as they talk the connection drops out, with wormholes to the Commonwealth all collapsing.
Kazimir reaches one of the Swarm components, but is unable to scan its insides. He does, however, recognise what it signifies: Dark Fortress technology. As he studies it the Ship arrives to pick up the inversion core, but he knows he must stop the threat that the Swarm poses to Earth and unleashes his weapons against it, to no effect.
“The wormholes to the Big15 worlds are collapsing,” ANA reported. “Something is cutting them off.”
Kazimir’s energy signature struck an impermeable barrier that cut clean across spacetime and hyperspace. He couldn’t get through.
The Ship comes to a stop just outside the force-field that has now enveloped Sol system.
“No sign of it breaking through,” Neskia said. “I think we’re safe.”
“Very clever, that deterrence fleet,” Ilanthe said. “An interstitial energy signature that can extrude into spacetime. The ship wouldn’t have stood a chance in a straight firefight. ANA was more advanced than we’d realized.”
They then head for Ellezelin with Araminta’s capture in mind…
Inigo’s 16th Dream
Edeard and the militia forces are tracking down a bandit gang, though they have been having trouble during the last stand. Due to this Edeard has reset the Void to the night before the raid four times so far, and still there were surprises he hadn’t seen before. Once again he resets the Void, removing all the guns from the bandits.
It was politically important that the militias thought they alone had overcome the bandits; Edeard and Finitan wanted the rapid-fire guns to vanish into legend.
As Edeard gives them the go they effectively round up and defeat the bandits, with the Gilmorn surrounded within minutes. With the remaining bandits left with nowhere to go arguing breaks out, and the militia combine their shields and move in, ending it all within minutes. With victory had Larose and Edeard talk of the long campaign that has seen their efforts rewarded, with Larose saying of the terrible guns rumours had indicated, and none found.
“That’s good,” Edeard said, staring straight ahead. “Would you want a new weapon to exist? One powerful enough to kill entire platoons in less than a minute?”
“No. No, I don’t suppose I would.”
Edeard approaches the Gilmorn, who has been shackled and kept prisoner.
“Finitan’s pet,” the Gilmorn said contemptuously. “I might have guessed.”
“Sorry I missed our earlier appointment at the valley beyond Mount Alvice,” Edeard replied casually.
The Gilmorn gave him a startled glance.
After back-and-forth conversation things turn ugly, with the Gilmorn saying many things to him. Edeard admits to Larose that the Gilmorn has nothing for him, and that he simply wanted to know why he kept on fighting; because Edeard had taken everything else from him. Despite the Gilmorn thinking Edeard is there to kill him that is not the case – Edeard tells him that he will be taken far away by ship and left on an uninhabited island with seeds and tools for him to live away his life. But he does warn the Gilmorn: attempt to return to civilisation again and he will be put to death immediately. And the Gilmorn shouts and taunts him as he walks away…
Despite wanting to ride alone, Dinlay won’t let Edeard go off by himself and accompanies him to the ruins of Ashwell village. He now sees it after years of nature degrading it further, and realises how small the village was. And he sees all the remains of the villagers – no burial ever took place in the aftermath of the raid on his village. Memories come flooding back.
I can do it. I can go back to that moment. I can defeat the bandits that night. I can give them all a life again.
But he realises that he can’t do that, do everything from that point onward, again. He promises to himself that he won’t fail any of them, and he and Dinlay leave Ashwell behind and head home to Makkathran.
That’s the end of the second part of The Evolutionary Void reread, and there is more than enough ahead to look forward to! So, join me next time as we tackle Chapter Three.
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: