Fire and Night – A Mobile Photography Short Story
This mobile photography story was created over the course of several years, but until August 2013, was never written down in any form excepting as the scribbling in note pads here and there. In committing myself to a month long, self created and self imposed project I called SciFiAugust, the story rapidly grew as I jotted it down daily. I produced one mobile image a day for the month of August 2013 (though I couldn’t keep up the pace near the end, and left it until August 2014). The words and images flowed. Sometimes I got stuck, sometimes things went smooth. Some images were easier than others! The text, as I posted it each day, changed tense and ambiguities crept in, but I have left it nearly as is. The images themselves were all created on my Samsung Galaxy S3 (during 2013), using images I shot on the same, and with the apps PS Touch, DecoSketch, Snapseed, Handy Photo, Infinite Painter, Infinite Design, Frex and Photo Editor. I used stock images for the starry backgrounds of space, but the planets and ships and characters are my own creations, both in image and in text. Those images I created during 2013 bear my JMD watermark, though I stopped using it in 2014, opting instead for saving copyright information within the exif data. During 2014, all images were created on my Samsung Galaxy S5, using the same apps as previously, with the addition of Pixlr Express and Decim8. There are still many unanswered questions, and many descriptive details to the various worlds and beings of the story. I hope some day to expand this work to the length of a novel to answer and flesh out these things some day, but that’s an entirely different endeavor. (Edit: I have since added two further stories to this saga:
Part 2: The Fate of Kehema
Part 3: Cantessa’s Gift
Part 4: The Fifth Age
In any case, enjoy this glimpse into the world of Fire and Night.
Fire and Night
Day 2: Shipwrecked
Day 3: Signs of Contact
Though Shipwrecked, I have found signs of contact. There was little left from the blast and the crash so I am forced to leave the ship, especially in case my attackers pursue me further. The stone drawings… There must be a way off this world, if I can survive it…
Day 4: Beacon
I feel the planet is actively trying to kill me. Like some foreign body. I’ve heard of these worlds. Life experiments of an evil sort. Interface DNA carried out by the code splicers for the Velor.
I have tracked an energy signal to my present coordinates. I have never felt fear to such a degree. It is one of the old ships. They were legend. The master ships that enslaved entire fleets and with them world’s. Enslaved our own.
They say these ships could splice themselves deeper than the code, even to the more subtle filaments of the soul, so that despite the fleeting events of time, they could change the course of the ultimate destinies of the cosmos. Even to the disappointment of the Architect! I do not dare believe such stories in my present situation.
I don’t dare give the Velor such latitude of control over fate. But Evenov! they are powerful! This is also why I must enter, for the sake of choice. If the planet doesn’t kill me though, this might. For its maker is the same.
Day 5: Enemy Within
I have hesitated so far to enter the ship but I see from a distance my enemies are tracking me. I cannot take such a superior group, and so they have forced my hand. I refuse to end here, and I somehow also know this ship can help me achieve my mission. Yet I fear. I enter and sit down in the only seat.
My memory is unclear of the next moments. All I know is I was transformed. The change was forced and abrupt and so caused much pain.
I woke to find I was the ship. I could no more escape it than I could my own body, excepting by death. I felt as the ship felt, saw as the ship saw. I could not imagine by what advanced process I would escape. And I was at constant war now with a computer will that would decide my fate for me if I let it.
If I let it.
Day 6 and 7: Fly By
I spent two days working my mind’s way through the ship’s electrodes and controls. I did not know how to fly when I could at first perceive no difference between myself and the ship. And further, it was buried underground excepting a portion.
The solution was unexpected. The ship could move through physical matter. So I lifted through the earth it was buried under with no difficulty. As I flew upward towards space, I passed my enemies at close distance and could almost make out their pilots. These were the fighter ships of the Jonava, my own people, and they could not see me. For I was invisible, insubstantial.
It was no longer a mystery to me how the Velor could conquer whole armadas.
Day 7: Ascension
As I rose through the atmosphere I could think of nothing but the olden gods. I can transport myself anywhere, incorporeally, invisibly, and peer into the deep places of space. I can escape from chaos worlds which no other ever returns from. Power like in legend.
But to what end?
Day 8: Watch, Wait, and Question
I scan the cosmos with my piercing eye, see it as it is happening and not as light at C would limit me. The burial tomb that I would capture and return to Jonava (presumably for secret destruction) was recently found floating in space… just when the build up to war with the Nacrolis began. I must seize it.
It bites att my conscience though. This tomb ought to have plunged into the heart of a star, as is tradition in the burial of great souls, if not for the shift in its trajectory resultant from a supernova wave some four thousand years ago. In his last moments before death, Angona whispered the coordinates to that very supernova. Was this why I was sent to kill him? Is knowledge of this why I too am now hunted? He died so fearlessly.
…There’s the transport ship now.
Day 9: Into Foreign Territory
Though stationary, I’ve been tracking by vision the ship for over a rotation. It is headed for Andredei system, which is toward Nacrolis territory. Can’t be sure. It’s important enough to know, so I’ll wait until it leaves Andredei Prime and sets course.
One thing weighs heavy, aside from maddening withdrawals from being humanoid, is the thought that if I can so readily scan the sector, so too can the Velor observe me, should they sense my power signature. My movements must be well placed.
Day 10: Refueling
The transport ship ported att Andredei station. Its next course will also be mine, though they won’t make it there. But am I to use a Velor master ship to help our leaders destroy a tomb of that distant pre-invasion era? If I could destroy the Velor instead I would! It disturbs me that my ship is so willing to help me achieve my mission. A craft designed with malice. I feel it’s interfaces deepening their connections in my very atoms. The master ship enslaves even its pilot. I have little time and I question what I am doing.
Day 11: Unattainable
The transport ship has indeed left for the Nacrolis homeworld. But I can do nothing about the fact. I find myself in the middle of a war with my own master ship and its interface DNA. In the remaining gear I pulled from the crash on the chaos world, I salvaged my now broken but fairly working hologallery. I hope the measures I took previous to this mission have kept them safe. I knew it would be my last. But I suspected my own military unit would defeat me. They nearly did. Yet I find myself in the void of space waiting to be consumed. In this dark hour this damaged image is my only ally.
Day 12: The Sphere
I was lost as the master ship overran my neurons and inundated my soul. I stared hard at the holo-image of former days, when in despair it flickered, faded, and was replaced instead by a menacing craft. These were the Velor, and they found me without my having moved location at all. Perhaps they already knew I was there and we’re simply waiting for their enslaving processes to finish me.
My memory is vague from then. A bright light shined on me, around me, and entered the ship. I felt myself near the corridors of death. Then I saw it. A small moon. Maybe a living creature, spherical and filling a major portion of the black of space, and overshadowing the Velor mothership. I know of no records of such a sphere.
It was semi-transparent, yet dark and organic. Within, I could see what looked like giant orbs or organs which began to shift and rearrange themselves after some pattern of will. With this interposing movement I could feel the woof and warp of space-time shifting. Reality was bending in accordance with its metaphorical hands.
Then the Velor were gone, the sphere itself was gone, and I awoke light years from where I had been. Yet there are no records in my ship’s sensors of any of this, excepting the Velor. I cannot explain how I survived them.
Day 13 & 14: Hardwiring
I am recovering from the shock of recent events between myself, the Velor and the sphere. The battle I was waging internally has abated. It is a mystery. Though I am still linked to the ship, it does not control me. I am the controller. What that sphere was and why it would so significantly concern itself with an assassin turned rebel, I do not know. The power it must have possessed to do such a transformation in mere moments!
Day 14: War In The Heavens
As I regain my strength and plan my next move – for I can do as I wish and not as the ship demands – I monitor the spaceways. There are transport ships moving, launching with armies of troops from my world and system.
They are headed for Karmath Mons, a unique world of people who do not breath in air, for there is no atmosphere. They speak in shifting color. And they are rich in the minerals of warfare.
The Nacrolis have just entered talks with the Grumani and others of a union of worlds yet have not approached the Karmath for their lack of space travel. The union terrifies our leaders, and is likely against the will of the Velor as well.
We intend to enslave Karmath and will forever solidify our relationship with the Velor by becoming them.
Day 15: Messenger
Karmath Mons was a large and rich world. It would have oppressive gravity for its size, if not for its rapid spin. The short day caused it as well to be heated rather evenly by its several suns and nearby nebula. This even and regular heat allowed for life, even the humanoid form! to maintain itself without an atmosphere. They were a unique people, chlorophyns in constitution.
It would take the Jonava fleets several days to mobilize and cross the divide of space. I would warn the Karmath. Having no atmosphere, they had no sound of speech, and shifted color to convey their thoughts. They could of course read and had already begun preliminary communications off world. I arrived in a rotation. And so I sent them my estimations of impending attack in as many languages as I knew.
I no longer found my loyalties with my own people. Have I come so far?
Day 16: Homeworld
Even in warning Karmath Mons, they would still be defeated. It was only that with warning them they might damage or slow my world and its forces. And it was fair. My master ship had no weapons of its own, nor was I certain it could withstand the heavy ion canons of the Jonava battle cruisers, even when incorporeal. I could enslave one Jonava ship, but this would not be enough to stop them all.
And so I headed for Nacrolis. They were the only real rival to Jonava, and now, in union with the Grumani, might withstand the Jonava fleets at Karmath. And they could arrive in time.
If they but act.
Day 16: Crolisa
The Crolisa was the flagship of the Nacrolis fleet. Our spies, while I had access to them, reported that the ship was unique in that it seamlessly incorporated Grumani technologies. It was only recently finished and was practically empty but for technicians and others making final inspections, adjustments and loading of supplies for operation. In scanning the ship, I discovered that the tomb of Evenov was smuggled on board as cargo. And what better place to keep it safe from its own murderous people.
This is when my plans finally solidified.
Day 16: Control Room
Though I warned the Nacrolis via transmission of the impending attack at Karmath, I had greater plans in mind. I entered the Crolisa invisibly, incorporeally, and seized the ship and initiated its self-destruction sequences. The ship was evacuated, so that it was completely empty but for myself and my special cargo. Shields, weapons, everything was at my disposal.
I left orbit with my stolen vessel, the flagship of the Nacrolis, and initiated the space-fold drive, timed at the moment self-destruction would have taken place. And the Nacrolis saw the Crolisa no more. I had hoped it would provoke them.
Day 18: Last Words
“Ah, you found me rather quickly, Denali, wouldn’t you say? I surmise you haven’t killed me yet because you are curious why I was so easy to catch. That makes you weak old friend. Letting me speak makes you a liability.
“Have you thought about why your superiors want me dead? Hmm? You know who they work for?”
“The supernova, Denali. Rather unique, that sector is. Quarantined. Four thousand years ago it exploded, in the days of Evenov, and just six years ago the light of the disruption reached Jonava. Someone calculated that Evenov never made it to his burial furnace in the stars. The worlds have been astir ever since! I tell you that place is special. In the olden tongue it is called ‘the keep’.”
“We are old aliens, Denali. Look at me! Hiding on this station, holding a broom! I am ready to go. Do as you intended.”
Angona was right about me. I am an old alien. Tired. And so I head for the supernova, with the tomb of Evenov, cargo aboard the Crolisa.
Day 18: Fire and Night
The system was on fire. Everything was heated, filled with radiation. The shields to this new and powerful ship could withstand the nova’s winds, but I imagine few ships could. It was a supernova like no other, and I suspected it to be yet another destructive manipulation of the cosmos by the Velor. There was, among all this radiation and heated gas, one solitary world glowing in embers and sulphur. I found a stable place to land, the only place in fact, opposite the nova, and I proceeded to remove myself both from the master ship and its host. The process was excruciating, but I had to continue.
I walked this burning inferno of a world. The night sky was the only thing that reminded me I wasn’t in the hells of legend. The radiation levels were at maximum, and my suit could not shield me fully. I began to sweat. What was I doing here? Risking my life! I could feel I was getting burned, cooked internally. I should be at Karmath, ready to fight against my people. Yet it was called “The Keep”…
Day 18: The Devil Himself
Yet another world that would have me dead if I remained, this one due to radiation poisoning. But I could not leave, for before the door to my shuttle two marble eyes stared and entered my mind. A conversation ensued.
You have a ship. You must take me from this prison.
And if I refuse?
Then your world will never escape the grasp of my people. The light of this system must have reached your world by now. Tell me. Did the Velor move to attack the advancing World’s? They fear me, you know. That’s why they put me here. I knew though that the day would come when the light would reach Jonava. You must take me to your world, the last stronghold of the Velor.
Why should I take you?
Why else have you come?
Day 18: A Quiet Conversation
In the recesses of my mind, I could not keep secrets from this being, those eyes they reached into the core of me.
Denali, perhaps you are here to confront me, confront your demons. Everyone like yourself has such a quest. We are very much alike.
We are nothing alike!
Ah, but we are. You are a killer, Denali. You killed Angona, though he sent you here. You killed many before him, in your loyal servitude. Yet to your credit you listened to his words. Evenov, you see, he turned me around again. Won me back. Like you, I was in error. I am the devil of your myths, but it is my own people, the Velor, who imprisoned me here. The worst among them fear a split, because some remained loyal to me both in darkness and in light.
Yes, you remind me very much of an old friend, Denali. A mortal, like yourself, who followed me into oblivion when I was cast out from the Council of Equilibrium. And she stayed by my side when I turned. Before this dark star shackled me in isolation, I sent her — Kehema is her name — on one last errand. I do not know her fate. I see you found her master ship. Pity you will die from it.
Day 18: A Most Unusual Passenger
My landing shuttle removed from the surface to rendezvous with the Crolisa waiting in orbit. My companion, the ancient Lord of the Velor, my cargo, the tomb of Evenov. I could not stay on the planet, as I was dieing from it and my removal from the master ship. I could feel my cells deteriorating. I did not have much time.
The Velor Lord knew he could wait me out and refused to let me pass unless I take him with. I agreed on one condition, to which he assented.
That before we returned him and the tomb to Jonava, we would first pay a visit to Karmath.
Day 18: Enemies and Allies
The shuttle docked in the Crolisa, and previous to leaving I surveyed the space ways. The Jonava had indeed left their homeworld to invade Karmath Mons. They were two days away. The Nacrolis were assembling their armies though I feared they too were too late to defend that young world. I was too deep into quarantined space to reach the battle in time.
Though I remained reluctant to listen to him, my passenger suggested I survey the Djath system. It’s an empty system, I told him. But what did I see but the fleets of ice and fire assembling there as well! They were legend. Myth. Ships of metal and manipulated water, rising out of the single sea of Djath, that watery world. They were an old race of giant leviathans, some say cousins of the Velor, born during the age of the first galactic seeding, long before the younger worlds had reached the planning stages of the heavenly courts.
Day 19: As Fast As Thought
Traveling. As fast as thought, which was faster than light in my impatience and urgency. As I pressed forward, my passenger told of ancient heroes, heroines, beings and powers. There was an order to this knotted nautilus that is our spiraling galaxy. On some spheres, its direction was known. Traveling. As fast as thought.
Day 20: Transformation
I could feel once again the Velor master ship making inroads into my mind and my DNA. And simultaneously, I felt new connections with the Crolisa, the stolen mothership of the Nacrolis. As I pushed through space, I could feel, bodily, the pressure of space time against the shields, and the heat this generated in the drive coils. The master ship was bridging the gap between myself and the Crolisa.
The battle at Karmath Mons was hours away. I was a day away. I suspected my passenger, leader of the Velor admired the control the master ship had over me. But I could not be sure. His face was alien to me.
Day 21: The Battle of Karmath Mons
The Karmath had no atmosphere. They breathed in the light of their multiple suns, and shifted color to communicate on their silent, glowing world. Theirs was mineral rich and conveniently had only rudimentary advances in orbital space defense. Having no atmosphere, however, they early developed advanced shield technologies to defend from retrograde asteroids. Their planetary force fields were unique among worlds, and would provide enough defense to buy me time to arrive.
I could see that the battle raged on in the system. The Nacrolis and even the Grumani had intercepted the Jonav there, as I hoped they would. It was a fierce battle between old enemies over a skyless world.
But my hope fell. The Velor Lords, who hadn’t moved from their dark territories in over a thousand years, appeared through their tetherless gate. Seven motherships and their armadas! The battle would be lost before I arrive!
Day 21: Fleets of Ice and Fire
I have not often been surprised in my first autumn age (for there are two autumns on Jonav, and so too in one’s life), yet here the Fleets of Djath arrived like out of legend. My passenger described for me their shimmering waters, suspended in space and manipulated via nuanced and puissant control over magnetic and other forces. This water was an organic part of their ships, flowing in and out of them, as they breathed it into their own Djathian gills. With such fluid manipulations they were near impervious to attack, as they could diminish laser and ion fire, while physical explosions had little effect on them. I could not help, in hearing these descriptions, thinking they were equal to the Velor.
Day 21: Turning Point
The battle raged. I had never seen such a thing. The old ones, Velor and Djath waging an old war. The Nacrolis and Grumani defended Karmath Mons from my people, the Jonava. Yet I could see that seven master ships had commandeered seven Nacrolis warships, their crew helpless to stop them. I too was shackled to a master ship and my passenger, the master Velor Lord. He had already explained to me that it was as always. Though there were numerous Velor aboard each of the seven motherships, each had but one lord. And each lord had one servant enslaved in a master ship.
Though they suffered attack, the Velor, upon seeing my ship, immediately turned their attention on me. The Crolisa was the finest ship of our young worlds, and to my amazement, for I lived long enough to be amazed, it’s shields held the first wave of their piecing weapons. We were coming of age in the galaxy. But the shields gave, and fire consumed the inner corridors of the Crolisa. As the Grumani alloys melted, and superstructures ruptured, I could feel my own body convulse in pain. The Velor were killing me, and I floated adrift in the space above Karmath.
Day 21: Adrift
I lay there in space, drifting. The hull is ruptured. My body broken. Awaiting the final blast.
Day 21: The Sphere Returns
I record this last… This last thought stream as we die, the Velor lord, the tomb of Evenov and I aboard the stolen Crolisa, mother.. Mothership of
The tomb… Still here in the shuttle
The Velor lord is speaking to them from my ship… Ancient tongue… They are fighting each other.. I don’t believe it. I don’t believe it. The Velor are fighting with each other..
“This war is over”… Did I hear it?
I see a sphere, a living world, whose inner light… I see it. It has arrived! Now all is fire and night…
I, the Lord of the Velor, make this entry, appended to the final thought recordings of Denali of Jonava. A Power, one of the living planets of the Galaxy, and what Denali simply called ‘the Sphere’, enveloped the transport ship in which he (Denali), the tomb of Evenov, and I resided. The Crolisa, our stolen mothership exploded around us. Denali’s injuries from rescuing me from my radioactive prison, along with his physical connection to the Crolisa were the physical death of him.
The Battle of Karmath Mons was won and lost. Four Velor ships were commandeered by Velor loyal to myself, though the remaining three refused to capitulate. We removed ourselves from the system, and are even now making plans for our withdrawal from Jonav.
I placed the body of Denali in the tomb of Evenov which, as I suspected, was mysteriously empty. I still marvel that one individual could change so much of fate. Aboard a loyal and now reconciled Velor ship, I returned Denali to Jonav. The meaning of the tomb, its significance, is for the Jonava to decide. It was a fitting honor for his deed that I placed Denali there, though given his earlier career as an assassin, I doubt he will at first be well received. Yet good lives refuse to fade or be crushed. They flash upon the worlds of space and remain in our memories, and then they are gone. I hope to see him again.
For now, I have been sent a transmission calling me home again. I envy the mortal tear duct.