The Official Blog of Author Tristan Vick
EXOVERSE Prologue (Free)
Guess what? I've been working on a top secret project -- it's a SciFi Space Opera book.
The premise of my upcoming book Exoverse: Invasion of the Draugr is an alien parasite (the Draugr) lands on Earth in a fiery meteor shower. The parasites then begin taking humans as their hosts, in an Invasion of the Body Snatchers kind of way. Every attempt to rid the planet of the parasites fails. So in a desperate attempt to save Earth our heroes attempt to time-travel, go back in time -- to before the parasite invasion -- and prevent it from ever happening.
The catch, however, is they overshoot their time trajectory by not fully understanding wormhole travel and go back to the 60's, in time for Kennedy's Space Program. Meanwhile, the ship which fragments on its way through the wormhole sends several crew members to the 1947, where they crash land in Roswell New Mexico.
Then I follow both timelines until the 40s catches up to the 60s. At which point they realize some of the parasites have hitched a ride through space and time, and the invasion is beginning all over again, but this time in the past.
That's just the first part of the story.
At any rate, here's the prologue, hot off the presses, for you to read. Please, enjoy!
PROLOGUE to EXOVERSE: Invasion of the Draugr
SHIP'S PERSONAL LOG
Sixty years ago, the Draugr, a parasitic race of aliens crash-landed on earth in a fiery meteor shower.
At first the strange organic pods left in the wake of the stellar debris were collected and studied. Gathered up from the crash sites and taken to laboratories all across the world, it became abundantly clear that the brown, leathery cocoon-like brood pouches of the creatures, approximately 60 centimeters in length, pulsated with alien life. When news of the first hatchlings was reported entire societies rejoiced. Humanity had made first contact with an alien being from another world. It was all anyone within range of the Planetary Broadcast System talked or heard about for nearly a full month. It was the first solid proof that – in this vast expanse, in the farthest reaches of our galaxy – we were not alone. Looking back, however, I wish we were alone – because ever since the Draugr’s arrival, it’s been one long nightmare with no end in sight.
Breaking out from their brood pouches came dozens of hatchlings. At first they were as cute as a pill bug, and were roughly the size of a computer mouse. They had rigid, calcareous exoskeletons composed of overlapping segments which protected their bodies, and seven pairs of spiny maxilliped styled appendages like those of a beetle.
Eight weeks into observation, what the creatures fed one remained a mystery, although, for whatever reason, they continued to grow. Soon they became startling larger, and resembled most closely one of Earth’s largest isopods, a giant cousin of the woodlouse called a Bathynomus giganteus. Then the unexpected happened. The creatures, roughly the size of an American football, gradually began to disappear. Many thought they were perishing, slowly starving to death, and efforts were doubled to try and find them the proper nourishment. But the tiny brood’s numbers slowly dwindled away to practically nothing.
The strange thing about it though was that the bodies, the dead husks of the crustacean aliens, were nowhere to be found. Soon after paranoia began to spread, and people thought maybe a concerned animal rights group had stolen the alien crustaceans to try and safeguard them. As accusations were made and fingers were being pointed, the only thing that was certain was nobody had a clue as to the true cause the mysterious disappearance.
Due to growing concerns of losing the only alien life form we had ever encountered, the head of the International Scientific Administration, ISA, Mr. Edgar J. Carter, ensured that safety protocols were put in place to watch the remaining few surviving alien creatures and ensure their survival. They even froze two of them just for safe measure and sealed them away in a high security facility.
Like any other scandal, the media claimed negligence on the part of the scientific community and prompted ISA to launch an internal investigation into the matter. All while the alien conspiracy theorists had a field day with the whole thing. But no matter how much the talking heads complained or the public demanded answers, the only thing that was certain was nobody knew what was really going on. Not until it was already too late.
As it turned out, our new alien friends weren’t any ordinary creature, they were a very pernicious type of endoparasite. Entering into their host, the parasites would gradually override the human’s personality and replace it with the parasites. Due to a special chemical secretion which could be injected into the host through the creatures spiny claws, once attached to its host, the parasite was able to wipe the host animal’s short term memory. As such, no one was the wiser as to the level of the threat or the fact that Earth was slowly undergoing a real life Invasion of the Body Snatchers type scenario. It was only after drastic personality changes in co-workers and friends began to cause widespread panic and concern that the creatures began showing up on MRI’s and PET scans. By the time the ruse was up and the parasites, acting in coordination with one another, took their post-larval forms and revealed their true forms it was already too late for the infected.
Disfiguring their human hosts in unimaginable ways, the creature’s final stage caused their host bodies to transmogrify into humanoid decapods, crab-like creatures as detestable as they were hideous. What was once your brother, your sister, mother or father – it didn’t matter – whether loved ones or neighbors, the alien beings showed no preference and no mercy when it came to taking victims. Overnight, it seemed, people were turned into veritable walking corpses with split open rip cages, crustacean like scabbing where patches of calcareous shell began to grow, and perhaps the strangest thing of all is they grew extra limbs – crab-like, bony, and clawed.
The terrible alien louses nestled inside the chest cavity of their hosts, near to the heart which they wrapped tiny tendrils around and fused with, tapping into the central nervous system. Once bonded to the nervous system of their host, which also made it impossible to remove the parasites without destroying the host body, they imbued their host with extraordinary strength and could control their host’s mind and body as if it were a puppet on strings. We still don’t know if the person’s former personality survives and is subdued – pushed into the background – when the louse takes over the mind, or whether the person dies inside their own animated corpse which the louse then hijacks. Either way, I can’t imagine there being a worse fate than to be made a victim of the parasites.
It wasn’t long before the aliens were given the fitting nickname of Draugr, a term hailing form the ancient Norse legends of undead revenants. Like the draugr of Norse legend, these terrible new hybrid entities only seemed to have one agenda – kill all sentient life on Earth.
Whether a fluke of nature following out its primal instinct to fill the void of the universe by infecting entire planets and wiping out entire alien civilizations, or the perfect bio-weapon, decimating incalculable alien worlds, the Drauger were pure evil. What had started off for us as a celebration of life quickly turned into dreadful exasperation regarding the design of this cruel cosmic horror inflicted upon us.
In less than a decade since the skies rained fire, the alien infestation has already spread across the entire globe and had infected roughly 89% of human life on the planet. The inhabitants of earth have been made into the host slaves of the Draugr – forced to do the bidding of this extraterrestrial scourge.
As a response to the invasion the Earth Planetary Union, EPU, took swift action and issued a global pandemic emergency. With humanity desperate to stop the spread of the parasites, a secret mission to eradicate the Draugr once and for all was implemented. Leading the Resistance was a brilliant young scientist named Edgar J. Carter. Carter headed the largest top secret operation ever known to man, codenamed: SALVATION. Aided by the United Global Defense Force, Carter mounted a massive counter-attack against the alien scourge. Being the genius he was, Carter was even able to reverse engineer some of the alien’s DNA making a bio-organic armor that helped the UGDF take the fight to the parasites. But after a long struggle, the mission ended in failure. The Draugr turned out to be much more cunning than initially thought, and had inserted sleeper agents into the Resistance. Infesting the deepest levels of the Resistance, the Draugr lashed out and Carter was expunged and the UGDF was left crippled.
Upon Carter’s death, the Lazarus protocol was initiated.
In other words, the countdown till the end had begun. It was a finite matter of days, weeks, and months until the Draugr would subsume the entire human race. By Carter’s calculations that meant thirty-seven years. But even this estimate was optimistic as it didn’t account for more sleeper agents or more brood pouches, which there were. The reality of the situation was much grimmer and about a thousand times more dire than anyone could have ever imagined.
Pooling every last ounce of Earth’s remaining scientists and engineers, the Armistice was built. The Armistice is a special spacecraft designed for one task and one task only – prevent the Draugr infestation and save humanity. It is not only the experimental prototype, but it’s the only one ever made – a ship capable of interstellar travel at sub light speeds. It runs on a hybrid system of five main ion drives, twin nuclear thermal rocket engines, and a special Exotic Matter Driver, or EMD for short.
Once we reach our destination in the Centauri nebulae, the Armistice will deploy the hyper-rings and spool up the EMD. Once the EMD reaches it threshold, the ship will be able to generate a functioning closed timelike curve by initiating the Casmir effect to basically fold space between the rings we set up just beyond the moon’s orbit and the rings we will leave in Alpha Centauri. The goal here is to pass through folded space and time via a manmade wormhole and borough into the past whereby we will prevent the infestation from ever happening.
The details of how the Armistice will do this are a bit technical, but in simplest terms it will use a special Zero-Point Negative Energy Drive, or simply Exotic Matter Driver as we prefer to call it, to produce a Casmir effect between the rings, thus folding space together enough for the ship to squeeze through what amounts to a pinpoint at the cosmic scale. Utilizing the gravity of Alpha Centauri to slingshot the Armistice through the gateway, the time dilation created by the EMD while inside the wormhole will, in theory, effectively allow us to travel into the past. The Armistice and her crew will emerge back in our home solar system approximately sixty years prior to the invasion – just in time to prevent the Draugr from taking over the planet.
The only catch is, it can only work in one direction. In order to make a safe arrival, we have to lay down hyper-rings. Massive EMD equipped rings which the ship will pass through, like an exit gate. Without these rings in place to generate the necessary negative energy phase transition, we could not pass through the wormhole safely.
I know what you’re thinking. Anyone who understands Einstein’s theory of special relativity is probably wondering how this doesn’t defy the laws of physics. If we are traveling into the past, then how will the rings be there? Don’t worry about that. All we need is the negative energy boost the rings provide which allow us to fold space time in on itself. Whether or not we physically pass through them does not matter. Just know that once we exit the gateway we will emerge sixty years into our immediate past.
Of course, if you hadn’t guessed it by now, all our work is all still ahead of us. First, we must traverse 4.7 light years to Alpha Centauri, the closest star system to Earth. Even then, traveling the expanse at 5% the speed of light, the top speed of the Armistice’s ion and nuclear propulsion engines, it will take us roughly 85 years to get there. After our arrival it will take another three months to lay the track, if you will, and deploy the hyper-ring gateway. Once set up, we will use gravitational assist while spooling up the EMD drive then rocket through the gateway. By our clocks, the return trip should only take us a few days.
Regrettably, the one caveat of this mission, of course, is that we have no choice but to leave Earth’s remaining survivors behind. If it were up to me, I would have brought you all along for the ride. Hell, maybe we could have even found a suitable planet somewhere in the Centauri system and settled down. But given our time constraints, such a mission simply wasn’t feasible. For that, I am truly sorry.
By the time we reach Alpha Centauri, humanity will be long extinct. All but for us. Everything is riding on us. If we fail, the Draugr win and humanity will be lost, erased from the annals of history forever.
The good news is, if all goes according to plan, none of you will remember any of this. History will have effectively been rewritten. Only the passengers of the Armistice will have any surviving knowledge or recollection of the Draugr and the threat they pose. It will be up to us to convince the world leaders of our recent past to spend trillions of dollars preparing for an invasion they know nothing about. Which is why I’m writing this final log entry before the long sleep. I want you all to understand the details of the plan so that you can take solace in the fact that there are people watching out for you. And if I had but one thing to say to you all, it’s that I love you.
And trust me when I say, we will not fail you. We cannot fail. It’s simply not an option.
This is First Lieutenant Rhianna Baum, signing off.
Standing on the observation deck of the Armistice, Rhianna Baum looked out her viewport and watched the majestic rings of Saturn pass by. It was breathtaking. She’d never seen anything like it in her entire life. The Armistice was embarking upon her 85 year mission, just as soon as it made its final slingshot maneuver around Saturn to get herself up to speed. Then it was nothing but deep space and a long cryosleep for the crew.
“Caretaker,” Rhianna said aloud, even though she was the only one in the room.
“Yes, Ma’am,” a computer voice chimed. The voice emanated from the ship intercom-system. The source of the voice would have gone completely undetected except for the glowing orange Armistice insignia pulsating on the obsidian like touch panel computer display which was built into the clinically white walls of the ship.
“Thanks,” Rhianna replied, bowing her head she closed her eyes and thought about the importance one last message of hope might have for those she and the rest of the crew of the Armistice had left behind back on Earth.
“Will there be anything else, Ma’am?”
“No. That’ll be all.”
Opening her eyes again, Rhianna turned and looked back out the window at the giant celestial body adorned with rings of ice and dust that sparkled in the light form the sun, glinting like the gems of a necklace, and took a deep breath. It was time for her to meet the others back in the cryonics lab, but she wanted to take one last glimpse of the beautiful rings of Saturn before the long sleep. It might be the last time she ever saw them.
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By day I am an educator and a cultural ambassador. By night I entertain notions of being a literary master. In reality I am just a family man and ordinary guy who works hard and loves writing just about as much as I love my family. Just about.