Ganked from illian...
1. Go to page 77 (or 7) of your current ms.
2. Go to line 7
3. Copy down the next 7 lines – sentences or paragraphs – and post them as they’re written. (I'll be doing the "Seven Paragraphs" bit; I'm also starting at the paragraph FOLLOWING the one in which the seventh line was found, if that doesn't happen to be the beginning of a paragraph; this makes sure I only post full paragraphs and not pieces)
4. (I don't tag, but if you feel so inclined, post!)
As I have several things going, I will do something from all of them: Demons of the Past (both Revelation and Revolution, the first two volumes), Spheres of Influence (sequel to GCA), and Stuff of Legend (a superhero novel set in the near-future of Digital Knight)
On to the pieces!
That sounded ominous. I suppose my concern must have shown on my face. "No, no, Commander, not serious in that sense. Rather, I have to ask you to assist me in something which may be extremely dangerous, and which is and must remain utterly secret – even from your family and friends, even from your fellows in the Navy. And even if you refuse to cooperate – which is indeed your right and privilege, for I cannot in good conscience order anyone to do the job I am going to be asking you to do – you will be still utterly bound to secrecy."
I nodded after a moment. "Prime Monitor, I swore to serve the Empire as best I could for all my life. If you think that what you're going to ask of me is the best way I can serve the Empire, then I'll do it."
He gave a smile, but one that still seemed troubled. "I of course expected no less from a man with your record, Commander Varan. But I must warn you that it is possible that you will find some of the specific material unsettling and disturbing. I also want you to understand that you do not have to stay and hear me out. You have already given us considerable assistance simply by the data we have gathered in these tests. You may get up this minute and walk out the door, and you may continue your career undisturbed – a career which will undoubtedly be successful."
I thought it over. Warnings like this weren't to be taken lightly, and he was trying to make it as easy as possible on me. Shagrath was making sure that I knew that nothing was forcing me into whatever mission he had planned, and that there would be no consequences if I decided I wanted to just jump out and go back to my old job. And that in his view some part of the job he wanted me to do would not sit well with me, and would have to be kept secret even from Taelin and the Families, let alone my own family. But… "Sir, the questions I have are pretty simple: is the job you have in mind something that other people can do, and will I be serving the Empire better by doing it than by going back to my regular career?"
Shagrath nodded. "Reasonable questions, Commander. Can other people do this job? Perhaps. Almost certainly, given time and effort; few people are so unique that none can be found to take their place. However, I will be honest with you and say that at this time I know of no one else who would be anywhere near as appropriate a candidate as yourself, not in all the people we have surveyed – and that has been a considerable number, Commander.
"And, again in all honesty… no, I do not think you would serve the Empire as well as an ordinary Navy officer as you would by taking on this assignment. It is that important."
"A fair question," Hargan said. "Because that was only the beginning. Eventually, of course, after a long time, we recovered and – despite the teachings – began to rebuild. Cautiously, trying always to figure out a way to maintain that 'connection' between our work and our World, but still building up, re-learning the science and technology we had lost.
"And once more, as we began to reach out for the stars, we met others – humans, with their 'bright-steel ships and joyous courage', already reclaiming the Galaxy they had lost. The Federation of Melossa contacted us and invited us to join."
Melossa! I knew that name, but not from my own studies. That was one of the most ancient civilizations after Atlantaea, one that I knew because Taelin's sister Mishel had been involved in studying Melossan ruins. If Melossa had truly contacted Thovia after they were rebuilding, it pretty much clinched the identity of the first civilization they had met; it had to be Atlantaea itself.
Which made that recitation of Hargan's the first clear record from the days of Atlantaea which wasn't part of the Book of the Fall or one of its derivations or related writings.
"The debate was furious on Thovia, for the teachings of Daramanda were still strong; but at the same time, we wished – very much – to step farther out, to become part of the living Galaxy. And the exact interpretation of Daramanda's Creed was not agreed upon; there were at least two major … denominations, you might call them – similar to what I have heard of the difference between your Repentants and your Seekers."
I nodded my understanding, and looked up to see that we were now entering a very large cave. Echoes began to chase around us as we continued speaking, and lent an even more powerful effect to Hargan's next words.
"And then it happened again. Melossa, the powerful and proud, the united and strong, fragmented, almost without warning, world turning against world, fleet against fleet, as though they had all gone mad in the space of a few months or years."
Worse, though, was Maria-Susanna. I don't understand. Even with their explanations. She was … always so nice. She stood with us, fought with us, learned the ways of the enemy and found how we could turn their weapons against them… she was a friend, a warrior-brother. Or sister.
Wu glanced around. The strange control room was not very large; he sat next to Ariane, as was fitting for her bodyguard. Behind her was Simon Sandrisson. The wise one who found the way to go beyond the sky.
Ariane spoke, her voice strong and cheerful. "All crew verify readiness."
DuQuesne's familiar deep voice responded over the sound-thing they called an intercom. "Power, Maintenance and Controls, all secure. Ready when you are, Captain."
"Drive and System Oversight, all secure." Simon's dry, oddly-accented voice replied.
"Medical all ready,and as usual here's hoping I won't be needed."
There was a pause, then he remembered it was his turn. "Oh! Son Wu Kung, Security, ready," he said proudly. Saying 'security, all secure' would have sounded silly, I think.
And to his astonishment it was visible, now. He was still slender, a skinny kid barely out of high school… but there was muscle there, a hint of outdoors tan, and – just maybe – a wider view of the world.
Of course, that was probably partly due to seeing things through Legend's eyes, too.
If I'm being really honest with myself, though, right now I'm busy running away. Legend was useful for that, too. Traveller could go faster – maybe simply teleport anywhere she wanted – and he wasn't sure he'd want to try racing Superlative for money, either. But most people, including Fireflux, wouldn't have a chance of following him.
He began making his way back down the steep but climbable rock. His cell phone suddenly chimed.
That chime was for his regular cell. He listened for a moment, decided there were no telltale noises, and he had gotten Steel Sentinel and Cyberware to secure all the phones. "Hello?"
"Ben!" his father's cheerful tenor burst from the phone almost loud enough to hurt, as usual; Dad still wasn't used to cell phones and practically shouted into them. "How're you doing?"
"Um, okay, Dad. Nothing much different since yesterday."
And that's it, four pieces that may make little sense in context....