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Hiere was a dry planet, more dust than dirt. The wind was sharp, and the star strong. It's people had lived there for several hundred years, mining relite, scratching out a calm, moderately wealthy existence, when the ship came.

It was a Moloch class battleship, larger than the sky, with steel burnt black and it fell from space in an instant. At first it looked like a meteor shower - somewhat rare in older star systems, like Hiere's, so the local children all ran out of their houses to the best lookout spots and their parents chased them, shouting about their dinner. One hundred thousand streaks of light streamed across the sky. Those were the people, falling out of the ship in their spacesuits, burning up in the atmosphere. Then larger things began to fall, dropping down down down, a whole load of cargo, tumbling out of the hold. The children began to shout. Things began to make it closer before they burnt to ashes, more dust for the planet.

And then, something huge. The ship itself, nosediving for an ill-fated landing. The children began to run. Their parents, too, the same parents who had stopped to stare along with their offspring at the earlier shooting stars. The gun turrets on the ship were firebrand red, highlighted by flame, the neoglass of the bridge a brilliant orange-white, the air around sharp with the scent of ozone.

The ship landed with a monstrous crash of thunder and the rumble of distant plasma cannons, and blew back the dust around for half a league. The people stayed inside that night.

By morning, it was gone.
------------------------------------------------------CHAPTER ONE------------------------------------------------------

Harry was out on the hunt. There were demons out towards the older relite mines, or so Grandpa said. Some day, a long time ago, when even he was a boy, they came from the stars and then crawled into the mines, nowhere to be seen. Things of fire. Ma said it was just a couple bits of space trash falling into the atmosphere, and scoffed at Grandpa, who laughed at her scowl. Harry liked to think she just said that because she was scared of the demons.

Things of fire were exciting. Harry liked fire. So he was hunting for Grandpa’s demons. It must have been an odd sight, or at least not a common one; a boy whistling along on a dusty road, investigating closely several rocks with his magnifying glass, looking ready to march for war; augmens flashing with all the latest military style statboxes(sneakily payed for with his mother’s CIVID number), pointed stick in hand(of his own make), and backpack heavy with rations(sandwiches and two packs of kuriol juice). Harry thought, perhaps, that maybe the baby demons could have hidden in the cracks of the rocks. One had to start small, after all, so he was going to try his hand at some of the smaller ones. He hadn’t found any yet. Perhaps his magnifying glass was defective, Harry thought.

Behind him, the village was starting to look smaller and smaller, almost like a collection of anthills or fallen trees or something else low lying and close to the ground. Then an ant jumped out from the anthills and started running towards him. Dangit.

“Harry! Wait for me!” came the cry.

It was Lucy, who never stopped bothering him. She lived next door, and his dad worked with hers in the mines; every couple of weeks they’d be over for dinner and he’d be forced to entertain her. He always tried to tell Ma that it wouldn’t work; she liked to play with spaceships and scheme her empires, while he just wanted to be a planetary and live the dirty life of the ground soldier. They didn’t like the same games, or rather, they did, but she always ended up controlling him as a high ranking naval officer, which Harry didn’t like. Even if he’d insisted on being the planetary, lowest of the low.

More importantly, she was a girl! She was sure to ruin his fun by telling Ma if she knew he was hunting demons, Harry knew that. It was time for action. It was time for his instincts to save him!

Harry began running.

“Harry! Don’t run, I can already see you! If you don’t wait I’ll tell Aunt Mary!” she screamed. Her voice was high pitched and held a certain note of confidence in her threat. Harry almost wanted to keep running, to spite her. He didn’t.

Harry slowed, and sat back down on a rock with lots of cracks. Maybe she’d go away if he ignored her. Carefully, he plucked his magnifying glass out of his pocket and brought it close to one of the bigger lines in the rock. His iris whirred and he could see the military statboxes begin to analyse the chemical contents of the rock, checking to tell him whether he could make emergency explosives or grow crops for a long term base or a whole host of other soldiery things.

Siderite, traces of limonite, chamosite; just another bit of ironstone, sedimentary stuff streaked with oxides. Boring. No demons either, it looked like, until Harry caught a glimpse of iridescence in the smallest crack. His iris whirred.

Hydrated silica. He would have just assumed it to be quartz (the military statbox told him that the most common form of silica was quartz) were it not for the glint of colour deep inside, a fire simmering inside the stone. It was a black opal. He reached around to get his small pick out from its spot hung on his backpack, and his hand suddenly felt a mass of soft, squishy face and wispy blonde hair.

“Harry! Look where you put your hands!” said Lucy. She had been crouched behind him, looking at the same crack he had. Now she was standing up, brushing off her face and fixing her hair.There was that look in her eye again. She was going to steal his opal.

“Go away, Lucy, I was here first.” said Harry. “It’s mine.”

She looked down at him and grinned like she’d won. She hadn’t won yet, thought Harry. He still had the pick, and she couldn’t get at the opal without it. If she went back to the village for her own, he’d have the opal out and squirreled away before she could come back. She hadn’t won yet.

“Fine, but you have to share it with me. Or I’ll tell Aunt Mary.”

She’d won. Dangit, thought Harry. It was better to compromise and be able to go hunting for demons(and opals) again tomorrow than to keep whole ownership of this one.

Harry didn’t talk to her while he worked away at the rock. He was sulking. She was just grinning, with that insufferable grin.

Slowly though, the rock came away, and then all at once it fell off as if it had just been an eggshell.

It wasn’t just an opal. It was an opal set into a pendant, silver chained and gleaming with platinum, with elegant golden filigree all along the edge. On the back, scratched in the plating, were two engraved letters. E.C. Below the letters, a small circle inscribed with whorls and whirls of intertwining lines.

Lucy gasped as she saw it, and Harry turned it around in his fingers, bemoaning the earlier agreement. If he’d known it was more than an opal, and something more interesting, he’d never have given in.
Lucy’s grandma was nodding off on the verandah when they trudged up, backlit by the sunset shining pink through Hiere’s ever present dust clouds. Her thin hair seemed like a halo, the white coloured into life by the faint carmine of the light. Lucy trudged past her with no regard, but Harry quite liked the cookies Lucy’s grandma made, so he tried his best to tiptoe and not wake her. Every now and then the boards squeaked, but it wasn’t really an issue – Lucy’s grandma always pretended to be asleep even when she woke up. They slipped around the door, or rather, Harry did; Lucy flung it open and walked straight inside without closing it. Her father nodded to them, and they passed cy quickly, only offering a brief ‘hello’.

Harry could feel the stone heavy in his front pocket, and it was cool with chill. He followed Lucy upstairs to her room and they sat in front of one another.

“Take it out.” said Lucy. She was evidently as excited as he was.

Harry slipped a hand into his pocket and drew the opal out, pulling the long chain up and up until the fiery stone lifted itself out. It dangled there for a few moments, and they both sat mesmerised by the glimmers of colour.

“What does E.C mean, Lucy?” said Harry, passing it to her. He thought perhaps they might be the calling sign of a demon or perhaps a secret code for soldiers of some new Faction out there, hiding in the shadows and running Hiere behind the scenes.

“They’re the initials of a girl, I’d imagine.” said Lucy. That was far too mundane an answer, thought Harry.

“A girl? Why a girl?” Lucy crossed her arms, and rolled her eyes in exasperation.

“Have you ever seen a boy wear a pendant, idiot?” she said. Harry flushed a deep red and grabbed it back.

“That’s not what I meant!” he said. “Don’t you think it could be something cooler? Why would there be an entire pendant stuck in a rock? It must have been put there on purpose.”

Lucy shrugged, and brushed the rest of the dirt out of the carvings, then hung the pendant around her neck, She stood and held the door for Harry. They could hear his Ma talking to her father downstairs. It would be dinnertime soon, she had probably come to fetch him.

“Go on.” she said.

“When do I get the pendant back?” he asked, frowning.

Lucy smirked a little and had that look again. Like she’d won.

“Have you ever seen a boy wear a pendant?”
------------------------------------------------------CHAPTER TWO------------------------------------------------------
The next day, Harry was getting ready for school when his Grandpa beckoned him with a finger. He was standing just outside the door frame which led into the kitchen, all crooked smiles and wrinkles and skin worn down by the years of dust.

“Over here, Harry, quickly now.” he said. “Can’t let your Ma see this little gem.”

Harry scooted over after a couple of looks around to check for his mother. She was watching the news on her augmens – her eyes seemed focussed enough on the translucent screen to risk it. Grandpa pulled a short, fat, rectangle of cardboard and plastic binding out from his pocket, and handed it to Harry. It was heavier than he expected- it certainly had a certain heft to it, but it still fit snug into his backpack.

“It’s a book. Open it later, when your Ma isn't around. She’d have a fit if she knew what that little thing could teach you.” whispered Grandpa.

Harry thought that pretty much anything would make Ma have a fit, but that didn't stop the little worm of curiosity growing in his head. That was the thing with curiosity. If one doesn't treat the problem, the mind starts making things up, fantastical things, all kinds of amazing possibilities, until the real thing seems a little underwhelming.

Like that pendant. Harry wanted to get a little deeper into that mystery and maybe look in the filigree for secret bits of paper or hidden messages, but Lucy had taken it and kept it last night. So for the entirety of yesterday’s remainder he had been dreaming up things it might be. The entrusted gift of some old explorer’s beau, maybe, or a gemstone lost by a corporation princess three years ago, or perhaps the last remaining wealth of some pirate whose X on the spot had long since faded away.

He liked that last theory. Pirates were exciting stuff. Fun stuff.

Lucy was not fun. The entire day at school, she was looking down her nose at him. Harry could see the pendant’s chain hung around her neck, though it disappeared into her uniform before the gemstone. At least she wasn't showing off it to the world; Harry didn't know if he could handle having his gemstone paraded around without even being able to have a look at it himself. Every now and then she’d look at him with a smirk that just reeked of arrogance. The other boys picked up on it and started teasing him about her. It was something of an ongoing joke that his unfortunate (and involuntary) situation had landed him with a ‘girlfriend’. You and I both know that the taunts of children are among the cruelest, so they will not be repeated here. In short, Harry was not feeling all that inclined to speak with her. Then, to top it all off with a cherry on top, the teacher had caught him fiddling with one of the military training sims he’d just installed, and he had spent all of lunchtime sitting at his desk.

By the time school was out, he was thoroughly sick of other people in general. When Harry was annoyed, he liked to get out and away, out of town just far enough to be in sight but not far enough to get lost in the dust storms. Usually, he’d just set out in any old direction – it didn't make much difference, since it was all the same in pretty much every direction. Flat, windblown rock, with a well here and there, an abandoned mine to the right, to the left. Today though, Harry walked straight(or nearly straight – he may have stopped at a kuriola stand) home. The weight in his backpack was something curious. Ma would be home, but Harry had a plan.

When he got home, Harry immediately ran to his room, and dropped his backpack, then went to retrieve his spare pack of microbatteries. Harry had stashed the microbatteries in the dining room cabinet under the best china. He thought it quite cunning. Ma never touched the best china, and even when there were important guests, they never used the cups. They were for emergencies – when he was in the middle of playing a game on his augmens and Ma turned off the house’s powerlink for the night. Usually it wasn't a problem, because his augmens would be charged from spending the entire day in range of the school’s powerlink, but on some days he needed the extra juice if he was going to do anything power hungry.

Harry knew that any reading would have to be done at night, if he were to avoid Ma seeing it altogether, so he would need to use the flashlight box on his augmens, notoriously inefficient. Once he had tried using it while exploring an old relite mine, and the batteries had disappeared into nothing after half an hour, hardly long enough to get out of the place in time. Harry still shivered when he remembered traversing the last few metres in the dark, before the sunlight had started to filter through. Since then, he had bought a proper flashlight, but it had broken last year when he accidentally left it in the garage and Ma accidentally fired it turning on her bike's hoverthrusters.

In any case, Harry was prepared. At dinner, he could hardly eat for the excitement. Grandpa, sitting on the other side of the table and solemnly drinking his soup, snuck a couple of winks at him when Ma had her back turned. It made for a terrible build up of suspense. What could the book hold? Anything really, but Harry’s mind was swirling with the possibilities, one after another, until night came. One by one, all the lights turned off, in the kitchen, then the living room, then Grandpa’s bedroom and Ma’s, and his, then the faint glow of the powerlink just above the front door. With that, Harry pulled the book out of his bag, took his scissors from his pencil case, cut the plastic ribbons which held it’s packaging together, one by one, unfurled the cardboard, and turned on the flashlight.

COURIER ID: 198-734-283-237-650-123


RECEIVER: Dr. Robert Argyle, HRMS-aP-DLA, [Apartment 12, 5-9 Altechite Road, Parama] 2945

Dear Robert,
I’m sorry for the long silence recently. I know I’ve been a bit unfair to you about what’s going on at work but the boss doesn’t like me talking about it as it is. I know you have your limits too, but bear with it until this mission is over, and then I can see you again. I’m going to keep this short because I don’t have the cash to make this both a double length message and send by express. If things go well I might be able to stay where I am and talk to you too. I’m sure you can figure it out. Don’t tell anyone.

Last edited by InfelixTurnus on Fri Jul 04, 2014 1:50 am, edited 12 times in total.

Re: Planetary

You have peaked my interest :thumbup: . I now want more :twisted: .

Also I don't think you've been welcomed yet, so-

Welcome to the forums :wave: . Don't worry. Here the cake isn't a lie :D . Now if only we could find it :( .
Last edited by Idunno on Sat Jun 28, 2014 10:54 am, edited 1 time in total.
Image The results of logic, of natural progression? Boring! An expected result? Dull! An obvious next step? Pfui! Where is the fun in that? A dream may soothe, but our nightmares make us run!

Re: Planetary

Getting better and better :clap: .

That is a very interesting tech base. I know I'd pay good money for whatever augmentation that the kid was using :shh: .

If you read that last sentence in the voice of Bastion's narrator it was purely unintentional :shifty: .
Image The results of logic, of natural progression? Boring! An expected result? Dull! An obvious next step? Pfui! Where is the fun in that? A dream may soothe, but our nightmares make us run!

Re: Planetary

It's an Iris projector. The idea is that there's an artificial iris which creates a HUD a couple of centimetres in front of your face, and that HUD is basically a smartphone dash, except more futuristic and holographic looking. The reason that it doesn't just project straight into your eye is that societal rules expect normal people's augmens to be visible for the sake of manners. It's rude to be able to do something else without others being aware, so commercial iris augmens all project into the air so other people can see as well.

Harry isn't aware that his military style apps are actually just imitators, actual military augmens of course only project inwards and their display's can't be seen from the outside, and they wouldn't release their apps anyway. :]

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