BOOK DETAILS

The Sigian Bracelet

The Sigian Bracelet

by George Tome

ASIN: B077S4PQMC

Publisher Padme Publishing House

Published in Science Fiction & Fantasy/Fantasy, Literature & Fiction/Contemporary, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Literature & Fiction

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Book Description

F R E E

How would it be to live in a world without nights? The story starts in Antyra, an alien star system locked inside a weird space distortion which deprived the Antyrans of any chance to reach behind it, whatever that “behind” meant. The discovery of the remnants of a small spaceship, buried over a thousand years before in a ravine on one of the recently colonized Antyran planets would bring answers to many troubling questions, questions that the Antyrans didn’t even dare to ask.

Sample Chapter

CHAPTER 1.

Colenam, or Cole, as friends used to call him, was the “jure”[1] of Sigarion, a small rural town raised close to the oceanfront. In a normal city, the jure held an important public position. Except that on the planet Antyra II there were no normal cities, and especially not Sigarion.

With nothing better to occupy his mind, Cole stepped outside his dome and started to gaze mindlessly at the evening sky when a loose feeling of guilt pinched him by the tail. This time he wasn’t bothered that Antyra’s star was about to set over another day strewn with delays, the workers—brought to level the nearby hill—again falling behind schedule. It didn’t bother him at all because their supervisor promised to keep them working for a few more hours to make up for the lost time. In the light of the night. His guilt was to feel happy—happy for the first time in his life—that Antyra’s planetary system[2] was locked inside a fiery firewall, the belly of the eternal god Beramis. His light was now helping the workers to keep up with the excavation.

And who wouldn’t feel ashamed? The firewall was a weird space distortion that engulfed Antyra’s stellar system, depriving the Antyrans of any chance to reach behind it, whatever that “behind” meant. Not even the best-fireproofed probes could cross it, for they always exited on the same side: the inside. And if the probes couldn’t pass, unfortunately, the same happened with the photons coming from the star—they got stuck in the frontier and spread all over the sky in a mighty firewall, hotter and hotter with every passing year, dooming them all to a slow, painful death by overcooking.

But the end of the world wouldn’t happen for about six thousand years, while Cole needed to finish the expansion of his dome now. The firewall was serving him well: due to an unhealthy dose of naïvety, he was fooled by the workers’ wild promises and—predictably—ran out of time. His smallest daughter was about to hatch five eggs, an extraordinary number for those days and certainly unheard of in their small community. The little ones would need darker nests in the first months of life because their eyes could get damaged from too much light. That came from the old times, when the Antyrans crammed into ice cities dug inside glaciers, as it was written in the Book of Creation Inrumiral.

With understandable reluctance, Cole was about to stop the excavation to invite the workers to the generous dinner cooked by his female when a loud scream erupted in his backyard. Afraid that a serious accident might have happened, he ran there, followed by the others.

“What is it this time?” the overseer shouted peevishly over Cole’s shoulder.

The worker had lost his breath and barely managed to return a terrified gaze, too frightened to mutter anything. As he looked at the hill in front of the magneto-bulldozer track launcher, the problem became obvious to Cole, too: several bones of a skeleton were hanging out of the earth; the yellow remains, weathered by the long time they had stayed buried, protruded from a sandy ravine. They showed signs of exposure to extremely high temperatures. The sand had a greenish-black, glassy consistency in a compact layer below the skeleton and in some places above it, too. Amazingly, the bones survived the fiery furnace, hot enough to melt silica.

Everyone was now speechless. Something seemed very wrong with the bones—they didn’t have the right size for an Antyran. No! Cole quelled his thoughts—he couldn’t afford to make assumptions about what he was seeing. He stepped forward, and the workers moved out of his way. He slowly bent close to the littered remains, and he began to remove the sand with hesitant moves from the left side of the excavation, where the skull ought to be.

“Sh-should we call the security?” babbled one of the workers. “Maybe it’s not a good thing to touch them, if there’s a murd—” But he couldn’t finish his sentence because the skull came out… and it wasn’t Antyran.

Cole shook his head in disbelief, seeing how his darkest forebodings had become reality. The three recessive gills behind his hearing lobe became purple, but he couldn’t stop his hands from digging. He kept going and going with jerky movements, aware that he was about to touch a god!

Soon, the workers recovered enough from shock to run away, screaming in terror.

The Antyrans were rather thin and agile creatures. Their slightly elongated heads were endowed with a pair of large, black, playful eyes and elastic nostrils that allowed them to sink nimbly under water. They had a prominent crest made of short, thick, skinny spikes, which they loved to paint or tattoo in fanciful ways, according to the day’s fashion. Another common practice in the Antyran female seduction kit was to scent each spine with a different fragrance, to impress the males with their aromary talents.

Both the males and the females had slim waists, large shoulders, and a pair of long, stout arms. The typical right shoulder of the males was a bit larger than the left one, a reminder of the times when their ancestors had fought for domination (of course, this theory was never accepted by Zhan’s temples). They were also endowed with a robust tail. In order to prevent traffic disruptions and avoid slapping the nearby pedestrians with its wobbles (a very rude and, indeed, sexually charged gesture), they invented a sticky pocket on the back of their tunics, in which the tail could hang. The stickiness not only helped them fix the thing in place but also let them scratch its tip—which often itched in the most annoying way, always in a bad place and at the wrong time.

Cole stopped digging to take a look at the skeleton, which no doubt had a greater stature than the Antyrans. He saw a strange metallic object on its right forearm, a massive, goldlike bracelet with a black symbol painted on it—sort of a star with three curved rays.

There was a big patch of vitrified sand above the skeleton. Weary that it might collapse over the bones, Cole pulled out a few green pieces of glass. Another surprise came out of the sand: something was shining in the night light! It wasn’t another bracelet, as he first thought, but a compact wall of golden metal.

“The fire chariot!” Feeling his strength melting away like a piece of ice in a hot oven, he walked, shaking, to the blade of the nearest magnetic bulldozer, to hold on it.

Cole’s problem was that Antyra II was colonized only recently. The world didn’t have ancient cities, ruins, artifacts, or anything even remotely like that. And judging by the looks, the bones had spent quite a few centuries embedded in the sand. How could anything that old be buried there if the Antyrans had discovered cosmic flight only some 150 years ago?

Even though Cole didn’t have the slightest idea how one of the gods should look—since all the stories described them as ethereal creatures bathed in a blinding light—the only logical explanation accepted by his kyi was that the skeleton in front of him was one of them, one of Zhan’s sons… the very gods who, on a beautiful summer morning, some 1,250 years before, had arrived on their home planet. It wasn’t actually a pleasant encounter. At least not for the Antyrans, if only because the gods burned their cities to the ground (starting with Raman’s[3]capital), forbade Colhan’s ancient religion, and locked the whole star system inside the womb of Beramis—the distortion that held them captive ever since, hiding the stars. After such an awesome display of destruction, they went back to where they came, but not before investing an Antyran—called Baila I—as their first prophet.

As soon as he managed to regain his balance, Cole jumped to his dome to call the authorities. He knew that speed was everything: if Zhan’s temples found out about this before Antyra’s Shindam,[4] they’d grab the artifacts and erase any trace—including him and his large family.

***

The archivists had to dig in a hurry. A pack of armored chameleon trucks belonging to the Shindam’s security had already sealed off the area, blocked the nearby traffic, and chased away the crowds attracted by the wild rumors, which spread like wildfire. This time, however, the reality had a good chance of beating their craziest guesses, since no one really suspected what had happened in Cole’s backyard. The bulldozer workers were locked inside Cole’s dome, and the jure and his family had disappeared—presumably moved from the planet for their own safety.

As the bone fragments and the bits of a spaceship were unearthed, the archivists hurriedly packed them in crates and stored them in their nearby vehicles. Due to the haste, the usual care in handling such fragile artifacts was all but forgotten. The soldiers brought huge spotlights to enhance the night light and help the scholars work without breaks. In less than four days, the whole area was sieved. Cole’s dome was demolished to check the ground below it, and anything of interest was stored in chameleons. The trucks then drove to the nearest spaceport and loaded their precious cargo on an interplanetary spaceship belonging to the security forces.

As soon as the spaceship took off to Antyra I, the archivists began to rummage through the boxes. They had four complete skeletons and fragments from at least ten other individuals, together with six goldlike bracelets and a bunch of garment patches (most likely spacesuits) made from an unknown fabric. They also found remnants of a golden ship shattered into small pieces by a terrible impact, with only a few fragments surviving unmelted and embedded in the glassy sand. Yet the reason for the crash wasn’t a mystery, being obvious at the very first glance: one of the damaged fragments had a hole right in the middle, its edges torn inside, the layers of composite materials melted and fused together. Obviously, such damage couldn’t have happened from the impact. Something nasty had hit the ship before it came down: either a powerful laser lens or a different energetic weapon, unlike anything Antyrans had in the past and probably still didn’t have now.

As the findings were sorted and cataloged, Tadeoibiisi’s archivists became silent and worried. They instinctively felt that everything was about to change. What they held in their hands was the beginning of the madness, and they were its messengers. A madness that everyone wanted forgotten, buried for eternity in the obscure foldings of their history—in the same way that the gods’ bones stood buried in Cole’s backyard for so many peaceful centuries.

Unfortunately, they didn’t have much hope of hiding the secret from the temples. No one succeeded—at least not with a secret of such magnitude. Their lives were in great danger, but it hardly mattered. For the gods had returned. Dead or alive, it was of no importance. The gods were here, in their hands, and certainly brought answers to many troubling questions, questions that the Antyrans didn’t even dare to ask.

[1] The city’s strategist, a position granted for life by Antyra’s Council.

[2] The star system had three inhabited worlds, of which Antyra I was the cradle of Antyran civilization, and the other two were recent colonies.

[3] Raman was the last baitar of the ancient world—and undoubtedly the mightiest ruler in history; he had managed to crush all the opposition and unify Antyra under his iron fist. As a baitar, he was the harbinger of the Ussybayales Mysteries, the head of Antyra’s old religion. The baitar title was inherited by the first newborn, forced by tradition to adopt a male sex.

[4] The council that had ruled Antyra ever since defeating the temples in the “Kids’ War,” some 652 years earlier.

Continues...

Excerpted from "The Sigian Bracelet" by George Tome. Copyright © 2017 by George Tome. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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Author Profile

George Tome

George Tome

Ever since graduating the university, I dreamed of becoming a writer. I started writing a sci-fi novel some twenty-five years ago, but being a perfectionist, I had no intention of publishing it before it became really interesting. I started from scratch again and again, until ten years ago when I embarked on the fifth (and last) iteration. A new world was born, and this is "The Sigian Bracelet" - my debut novel.

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