The Paradox War trilogy has taken me a long time to write (and like most authors I’m still not completely happy with the final outcome).
This is the story of how it came to be:
I’ve always been fascinated by UFOs, as I discussed in this post “Why UFOs?“.
The UFO/Weather Balloon I saw that day lead me to research the fields of UFOs, Fortean Phenomena, Psychology and Physics, and gave me a deeper appreciation for the Science Fiction that my Dad and I watched on TV and read together.
As if that wasn’t enough during my time at University studying Physics I had a profound Shamanic Crisis, as I discussed in this post, which was mixed up with a roleplaying game I was writing at the time into a very strange story indeed.
Which is all well and good, but that did leave me with some deleted scenes and dead-end chapters, which I thought I might add to this page… These extracts are unattributed and largely unedited, they were lifted from the First-draft and so may have a oodle of differences to the finished product.
The Mindscape ripples, showing the younger Garner sat at a desk. The surface shimmering with reports, videos, engram transfers.
The two observers slide closer, Marcus reads some of the memories over the shoulder of Garner’s memory self.
“The bizarre nature of the Chronoclysms did not produce data that lent itself to statistical analysis. I tried a radically different approach, a scientifically proven magic ritual for summoning inspiration,” Garner exposes, as Marcus watches the memory.
Sat at the desk Garner sighs, rubbing at his eyes and pinching the bridge of his nose and then hiding his mouth, as the sigh becomes a long drawn-out, and almost cat-like yawn.
He begins reading again, his elbow drifting up onto the desk so that his hand can support his head. It is not long before his eyes begin to close.
The Minscape changes, the sharp background of the laboratory blurs and smears, losing definition, the engrams and images leaping up from the desk to twist and swirl in space.
An egg-shaped craft glides in on a pillar of flame. A police cruiser arrives in a cloud of desert dust. The cop watches two Eusaiveans making repairs, before they spot him, clamber aboard again, and lift off roaring away leaving scorched desert bushes.
A woman steps out of her backdoor, sweeping a torch beam across her backyard. The beam twinkles through the slanted rain, lighting the dense forest beyond the yard, she moves the beam towards the shed, and the chicken coup. The birds are silent, but something glimmers back reflectively, two red flashes in the darkness of the pen. She reaches into the screen door and pulls free a shotgun. Raising it to her shoulder, flashlight gripped to the stock. She sidles towards the coup, the door is open, chicken feathers still drift on the air, but the birds are silent. The circle of light describes a scene of utter destruction, feathers and corpses mix upon the floor, but not one drop of blood mars any surface.
There’s a clatter from the back of the cage, the shotgun is up pointed at it immediately . The light reveals the back of the coup is torn open, the metal sliced as though by bolt cutters.
Carefully she picks her way back, stepping lightly over the carnage. The shotgun barrel and light tremble as she approaches the break, and pushes it aside. By the fence her torchlight finds a crouched form, clutching a prized hen to its face.
Slit-irised eyes flash red in the beam of light, she freezes paralysed by fear as the thing’s Tongue slides back within the sheath, the sharp barbed proboscis returning blood soaked behind sharp teeth. The light seems to hold it still for a moment both creatures regard each other in apprehension. The human female and the spike backed and impossibly furred and scaled beast.
Then the spell is broken, the beast hisses, drawing itself up and back. The spikes or perhaps quills along it’s back shake and add to the hiss, shimmering with oil slick colours in the rain and light. There is a bang, a flash and retort, as the shotgun seems to fire itself. Both beings are startled by the noise and the woman is knocked back a step by the explosive force. The chicken-slayer is hit by the shot, but the balls of lead seem to bounce off, or pass through without leaving either an entry or exit wound, unharmed the beast draws itself back and down before launching itself in a leaping take-off that sends it flying from the light to be lost in the darkness of the forest.
“You know when you glower like that, you look kind of cute, I don’t mean not boy band cute but baby cute,” I stop for a moment then add, “who’s a grumpy lickle paranoid Eusaivean then?”
His train of thought is derailed, careening through a fence and probably crashing through some nearby gardens. I can almost hear the destruction of his mental lawn furniture.
“Me?” He thinks, leaking it out in his confusion. There goes a Gnome and a water feature.
“What I really don’t get is why you bother bringing them on board? You could broadcast the Femite Architecture over the whole planet from one ship and then tweak history from there. You‘d have all the data you required.”
The train comes to a rest spilling steam and hissing.
“We tried that, didn’t hold.” Magnim answers entering the room, he looks at the fuming mess of the ships Srinoxi and dismisses him with a wave. Folva leaves without a word or backward glance. The commander watches him leave then turns to look at me. “I do hope you haven’t permanently injured him, that could adversely affect our performance reviews. How far did he get?”
“Apart from a death threat he didn’t really impart any information.”
“Really? I will have to review the logs, ship freeze the logs and copy, better be safe than sorry.”
“Acceptance, executive over-ride noted.”
He turns his attention back to me, smiling and perching on the edge of a bed.
“What am I going to do with you? I can’t just keep shooting you every time you speak,” he sighs the gun appearing in his hand molecule by molecule as he speaks. I watch it forming from ambient particles in the air, some harvested from the Encounter suit. He twitches the muzzle of the barrel towards me as he adds, “can I?”
“I shouldn’t think so, I don’t think I’ll be any use unconscious if you can’t upload me.”
I watch the gun dissolve away into the atmosphere and into his hands as he makes his decision.
“No, I guess I can’t. Let’s see if you can be at all useful. We’re going to the Pub.”
It’s my turn for confusion.
“Ship, everyone, we’re going to the pub. Proceed with the mission diversion whilst we conduct the main insertion. Ship, what the devil is the time?”
“Acceptance. Devil clocks charged. Ship landed. Countdowns synchronized.”
My Femites suddenly start doing a forty minute count down, accurate to the millisecond.
Magnim tugs me toward the door with a thread of gravity. He leads me down the ramp into a pub carpark. Everything seems strangely still and silent, until the ship lifts off with a pulsing buzz and flashes of light. As we walk around the front of the building, I catch sight of a car apparently parked with its lights on in the middle of the road and a driver sat in it. The commander walks in through the door of the pub, underneath the “Green Man” sign. I heave the door a little open and stop it, slip inside and push it closed again. Magnim is making his way through the table and people, heading in a straight line for a man in the corner, who has raised his glass toward him. I pick my way more carefully through the room. Getting close enough to overhear the meeting, and read the agent’s data label.
“Magnim me ol’ mucker. How’s the alien business?”
“Fine Thomas, how’s the human business.”
“Not what it once was I can tell you. Who’s the new girl?” He motions me over.
“Hi, my name’s Desi, Thomas.” Thomas Sutton, local agent.
“No?” I say, but Magnim makes eye contact and nods.
“Operations expert? No, wait Srinoxi?”
“That’s classified as well Thomas. Look have you got it?” Magnim asks leaning close in.
“You didn’t give me a lot of time for this one,” he moans and then winks at me and taps a finger at his temple, “s’all in here. Take it.” They drop into a shared memory experience leaving me to look around the pub at the frozen drinkers. Cigarette smoke curls in the air disturbed here and there by my passage into tight vortexes. I really have to practice that de-solidification thing. I give it a go on the table, but only succeed in catapulting a beer mat toward the next table. I pluck it from the air and try to slap it back on the table. I end up getting it caught halfway down my fingers as they desolidify into the table, and I snap my hand back. The beer mat is sent flying once again, with finger holes in.
“If you’re quite finished,” The commander is looking at me, “we have thirty minutes to get this guy,” he taps his head.
I stand to follow him, realize I have forgotten to say good-bye to Thomas and turn to see him already frozen back in place, sat with his hand on his glass.
I turn back to follow the commander who is already half-way to the window, which he walks out through. I follow, realizing at the last second that there is something wrong with my reflection, distorted in the old glass, the distortion is not of my own face but a Eusaivean one.
I stumble out into the car park, my feet stumbling through the brickwork. I stagger to the nearest car, in the plain glass I see my own face reflected, but in the polished metal the illusion breaks down, the Femite made image pixelates. I turn that off at once. The Femites interface protests that Norridi’s authorization code is required. I bypass it, telling my Femites to turn that off, and they do.
As the commander is walking down the street toward the village, I stop and feel my face. The thin lips, hollow cheeks, pointed chin, nostrils but no nose, and the huge eyes. My reflections stare back at me with liquid blue-black almonds for eyes.
“Yes, you’re one of us now, come on!” the commander calls back over his shoulder.
I stumble away slightly, my legs reacting to his command before the rest of my mind has past judgement. Then it does…
“Hell no I won’t, not until you explain something, anything, everything to me,”
“Come on,” he orders turning to face me directly, “we’re on a limited temporal extension here.”
I stand very still, glowering in defiance, not just of his order, but at him, his people, his Machine-god and authority in general.
“Talk and walk?” he tries.
And there I am nodding and stepping across the road, walking in speeding traffic, that just seems to be stood still. I’m across the road before I have even realized that I hadn’t consciously agreed to anything before my body reacted. Time to try that trick back. It’s going to have to be in Eusaivean to work on him, that’s the trick, I’m sure.
I play back some memories of the commands I have been given and responded to, listening to them without the translation software and with.
“Su ipio mino lool sta,” I say, fingers crossed.
“Talk? About what?” Commander Bulit’s eyelids snap closed over the black elongated eyes. He shakes his head, and smile lines appear about his lidded almonds as they snap back open, “oh very well done. You really are one of us now, you know.”
He suddenly barks a laugh, an almost insane noise to be coming from those alien features, grunting and primordial.
“We are all wearing Encounter suits, a completely sealed and safe environment created by our Femites around our bodies. They all look like Eusaivean faces. It helps, take this mission; You and I are about to go and perform what you might call an abduction. Although that, like a lot about us is, almost entirely, a misnomer.”
“We’re going to perform an abduction?”
“I just told you, not really.”
“Okay, wait erm… what?”
“Actually who is better.”
“What? Oh! Who?”
“Ah, there you have it, Desi. One Major Malcolm Anderson, nice chap you’ll probably like him. Five foot eleven, dark hair, grey eyes, nice baritone melodic voice, career Air force, and potential saviour of mankind. This way.” He ducks down a side alley between two buildings. I realize we are walking through the middle of a village. We are in fact headed for what looks like a village hall in full Christmas party mode.
“What is this social event?” Madog asks.
“Christmas party of some sort,” I answer automatically.
“Ah, I understand. Try not to touch anyone,” Madog says as he walks off through the crowd.
“Yeah, right…” I try to pick my way around people, not quite trusting myself to walk through people the same way. The door is blocked by a couple under the mistletoe. Even if time was running normally they still wouldn’t get out of my way. I shrug myself through the wooden exterior of the hall, stepping through a trestle table of food that has been left against the inside wall, piled high with the traditional Christmas party foods. I negotiate my component molecules past the sausage rolls, cocktail sausages, egg and cress triangular cut sandwiches and out into the hall proper. It is heaving, the air heavy with scents of smoke, both cigarette and wood from the huge fireplace, spirit alcohol, mulled wine, beer, cheap perfume, expensive perfumes, aftershaves, hair spray and sweat. I turn and grab some food from the table, wolfing down some sausages and turning my attention to a cheese selection, before I think about the encounter suit. Seems I needn’t have bothered, the suit allows the food in fine, just like the air I’m breathing, it brings it into my time as soon as I touch it. I sweep up a few cubes of interesting looking pale white cheese that have been slain and displayed in the traditional manner of wooden stake through the heart adorned with a second cube of pineapple. Hunger saited I look about for the Commander. I find him staring back at me from over a piano, gesturing madly for me to join him.
“We have not got all night,” he beams to me, “here’s our target.”
The man playing the piano is frozen in a ridiculous pose like someone just slipped a piano into a zombie movie. The crowd about have been frozen in mid-dance, skirts and jackets flaring out from their bodies in silent and motionless exuberance. All about the piano the air is haunted by a powerful jangling major chord.
“This is him,” the commander says pointing at the man at the piano.
“So how do we do this?” I ask.
Madog reaches a hand up and places a finger against Malcolm Anderson’s head. He closes his eyes for a moment. My Femites detect some Leptonic activity, and then tell me that Femite upgrades are underway. I gaze about the room, looking at the frozen crowd, bored by it all. The upgrade is complete and Madog pulls Malcolm out into Never-Time.
“What the…?” Anderson drawls. He panics slightly as he realizes he can’t move his hands, his body paralysed apart from his eyes, which dart about.
“Be at ease Malcolm Anderson, you are not going to be harmed. This is not happening now, but will instead reveal itself as an event with these additional memories, when it is convenient to happen. ”
As he talks Madog throws out some images of a saucer hovering over Malcolm as he is sat in a car, a tour of the ship, a medical examination, several long conversations, nuclear mushroom clouds, a devastated Earth, and then being returned to the car.
“There will be no witnesses and you will be driving late at night somewhere. Whilst it happens you will pull over the car and turn off the engine. Do you understand?”
“Desi, we’re done here.” he turns away from the Major and begins to stride off through the crowd again. I hurry to follow.
“What was the point of that? Is he going to be an agent? Is he a sleeper now?”
“Ah, well, in actual fact no, he’s just a messenger.” Madog pauses outside the wall to answer me, before striding off toward the village green.
“Yes, he’s what we call an ancestor, his Femites and the data they carry will be carried forward in his blood line. A long time in the future we pick up that data and integrate it into our Femite technology, so we are building on our own technology.”
“Isn’t that a paradox?” I ask as I catch up with him in the middle of the green. He looks around him and leans conspiratorially toward me and winks.
“It would be if it weren’t for one factor,” he looks up at the sky, a dark shape drifts into view, blotting the stars behind. And he is snapped away by a brilliant cone of light.
I’m left for a moment stood on the green, aware suddenly of the inner countdown still rolling in my Femites. The Devil clock countdown as they called it, only a few seconds left, and I can see the field collapsing about me, lights in the distance are already beginning to move again as the light snaps on once again from the ship.
Never-Time has ended and I am back in the ship, accelerating away, along the time line.
and here he realizes something is wrong. The guide is breaking off from the path up a left turn, headed for a new location. Leucoi can feel that the field is down to the right, but it has been drilled into him to never lose the guide, if they were to get lost this deep in the Ley who knows on what world they would emerge. He turns left, heading up to break out onto rolling plains, and a storm lashed sky.
Close. They have arrived on the bluff that overlooks the campsite proper. A flash of lightning lights the tents below that stretch, as far as the eye can see, ablaze. Umma is beside him, silently she sinks down, onto her knees, drawing Leucoi down also. He realizes that they would be silhouetted against the sky otherwise, and the movement and sounds that float up to the bluff announce that the field is not on fire because of lightning. Most of the Herd are gone already, chased off through the lea, swirls of debris here and there mark the gates they have used. Also scattered amongst the camps there are large standing stones, that were not there before they had left.
“The stone walking paths were used to try and create deep gates, look there Leucoi” Umma points with her flail at a small group dressed in armour and leathers that appeared to be spit roasting something.
“What is that Umma, what are they cooking?”
“Don’t look Leucoi, I’ve just realized what it is, don’t look.” the sense of panic in her voice washes over Leucoi as dread, he tries to look away, tries not to think about it, he can’t stop.
“Scardda…” he murmurs, “they’re going to eat Scardda,”
There are a few whoops and yelps that drift up on the wind, a few screams as well, but it looks like most of the Herd have managed to escape.
“Mother protect us all, The Follower’s of Herne.”
Still unable to tear his eyes from the bonfire, the spit and the flayed flesh searing in the heat, Leucoi turns his head slightly, “Followers? But mum and dad were there, the Followers… The wild hunt Umma.”
“I’m sure they got away, they weren’t old or sick, the Followers only take what they need.”
“That’s not what I’ve heard the elders say, I’ve heard they like the killing, it’s a calling to them, just like we,” he motions toward the basket of grain, then his gaze falls back on the camp below. He sees a female figure struggling, being held by three of the smaller, rangier Followers. Her horns turning this way and that to try and gore one of them but their wolf like forms cling to her, dragging her forward towards the largest of their number dressed in chain mail and brown leather.
“Durrah!” Leucoi is not sure if he is the one calling out or if it’s Umma beside him, but they are both already heading down the hill. The tallest Follower turns, his antlers showing twelve points as he does so, but from this distance Leucoi cannot tell if that’s a headdress or trail sign. Either way the figure is gesturing up toward the two of them as they run downhill. The three holding Durrah, break away from her to come running up the slope toward the Haythas. Durrah, takes advantage and steps into the Ley, the ropes, smoke and rags nearby twisting into the hole she briefly leaves behind. Leucoi and Umma do like wise, each dropping instinctively into the migratory path that the herd follows, that is after all where the others will have gone. Their form changes little as the herd path is a bipedal form, large and muscular, with in adults large graceful horns, their equipment remains carried, and knowing the Followers will be hot in pursuit Leucoi begins to slip his scythe free of his shoulders, and around so that the handles are in his hands, he glances at Umma and sees her flail is already swinging, her face focused on the path ahead.
Leucoi realizes that for the first time in his life he is close enough to the front of the herd to see the guide on one of these paths Durrah is ahead of him, she seems injured but is running nursing the arm that looks broken, he is a little shocked to see that the guide she is following looks almost nothing like the form that they are travelling in. Umma breaks away from him to the right, as a howl fills the path behind them, she turns to stand her ground.
“Tell Mum I love her, but I have to muddy the trail some how, and I’m not sure…”
Leucoi nods and risks a brief hug of his sister, and then he is gone. The howls fall behind, as she rips herself from the herd path off onto one of the local green paths, it will definitely slow some of them down. Leucoi has drawn level with Durrah, she looks over at him, smiling weakly, her right hoof stumbles slightly against a tuft of grass and she staggers forward a few steps. Leucoi throws his scythe aside and sweeps her up in his arms, shocked at the weight of her.