Friday, November 5, 2010

When the Wolves Come - Chapter 1 - The Jenlai War

I've been working on this story for a while now. When NaNoWriMo kicked off this month, I decided to take a leap of faith and go for it. Below is the first chapter of my novel. Of course, this is a first draft, so please excuse any glaring mistakes. I would really appreciate any all comments, I'm in desperate need of encouragement. Writing 50K words in a month is no small task and any bit of enthusiasm for this story will go a long way in keeping me motivated to finish.



Chapter 1


Saturday, 15 October 2038
Sol System
Earth, USA, Dallas, Texas

Light crept through the shades of the window like a knife into the dark, restful room where Clark teetered on the edge of morning consciousness. He cherished the moment between sleep and waking, although he could rarely recall enjoying it. The scratchy wool blanket most people despised was twisted around him, he must have tossed and turned a lot last night. He was sprawled out on his stomach with his cheek on the mattress, he had long ago become accustomed to sleeping without a pillow.

He willed himself out of bed, there was a lot that needed to be done today. He sat, rubbing the sleep from his eyes and reached for the glass of water on his night stand. The phone rang when his hand was near and he knocked over the glass, spilling the contents on the phone. The ringing ceased.

"Damn." he expressed aloud as he fumbled with cleaning up the mess. "I suppose it will have to wait."

He got up and walked to the bathroom, feeling the ache of middle age muscles and bones. He was 45 this year and he felt it a little more than he'd like, but tended not to dwell on it, there wasn't much he could do to stop it. He kept in shape as best he could, going to the gym three days a week no matter how much he hated it.

He bathed and completed his morning ritual, as he did every day. Clark was a man of habit. He found comfort in meticulous detail but not to a tedious degree. He knew the importance of stepping outside the norm and allowing for mistakes from time to time. As for mistakes, he became aware of how much of a pain it would be to get that phone replaced. He would just have to make due until Monday when he could turn it in for repair at the plant.

Then a bold, forceful KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK came from his front door.

"I guess it couldn't wait." he told his reflection in the mirror.

He opened the front door to his apartment and found two men in bland suits waiting in the hall.

"Mr. Clark E. Henderson?" The taller one asked.

"Yeah, that's me."

"I'm Special Agent Billings, this is Special Agent Vasquez." he said as he showed a federal ID.

"You have been ordered to report to the capital immediately. We are here to escort you."

"Well... how long will we be visiting?"

"I'm not sure Mr. Henderson, pack a light bag though, we need to be on our way soon." said Agent Billings.

"I suppose I don't have a choice in the matter, do I?" asked Clark.

"No sir, you don't."

After packing his bag and locking up his small apartment , the two special agents led Clark down to their vehicle parked in front of his building. The October air in Dallas was cold and frigid, with a biting wind. He pulled up his collar around his neck and tried his best to hide from the wind. The leaves had already fallen and the sky was grey, even this early in the morning.

The three men sat in the car and waited a moment for the cab to heat up. Clark clapped his hands together and rubbed them vigorously trying to regain feeling in his fingers.

"So what's this all about guys?" asked Clark.

Agent Vasquez turned and said "all we know is that we're supposed to escort you, one way or another, to the capital."

"One way or another? That's comforting."

They began the four hour journey south toward San Antonio, Texas, the new US Capital. Clark would never get used to that. He sometimes remembered the sweet smell and the vivid color of the cherry blossoms of Washington D.C. in the springtime. He had been a young man then.

In June 25th, 2029, there was a terrible disaster over the Celtic Sea which set a terrible chain of events in motion. The reports said an asteroid exploded in mid air just off the coast of Northern France. The initial blast annihilated The British Isles, France, and most of Spain out right. The following Tsunami finished what the blast could not, all along the northern coasts of Europe. Lethal Tsunami's hit the North American Atlantic Coast as well. New York, Boston, D.C. and the others were flooded before they could evacuate the cities. Millions of people died within a matter of days.

Lilly, his wife and mother of their son Gray, had been on business in Baltimore when the Tsunami's hit. That was just over nine years ago, but he still felt a sinking feeling in his chest at the thought of it. She was a bright shining light in his world.

The planet had begun to cool so quickly, the polar ice caps expanded farther than anyone anticipated. Weather patterns were disrupted, thousands of tons of grain and crop were lost. Entire ecosystems were thrown out of balance. Receding sea levels left coastal fishing areas unusable. Glacial flooding in the summer time increased and people were driven from their homes, many began to starve and freeze. Canada, Finland, Norway, Sweden, and the other northern most countries fled south by hundreds of thousands. They were met by angry, hungry people who could barely feed themselves. The world descended into chaos very rapidly. Border wars for sustainable land and dwindling natural resources erupted in Europe, Asia, Africa, and regrettably, North America.

The United States, forced with relocating millions of American and Canadian people further and further south as the ice crept in, pleaded with Mexico. Initially the government of Mexico refused to harbor US refuges but President McGuire's patience wore thin quickly. US troops stormed the border and squashed the Mexican resistance. It was more or less a soft invasion, that ultimately resulted in a cease fire days after US forces crossed the border. Thankfully, rational voices descended and a new Government was formed. The thirty one Mexican states were absorbed into the remaining fifteen American states along with Puerto Rico, Haiti, Cuba, Jamaica, Guatemala and the others all the way to Panama. The new United States of America needed land, and it needed it bad. The bread basket of the Midwest was now under a kilometer of ice.

Things weren't so pleasant on the other side of the Atlantic. Shortly after the cold started to set in, civil unrest in Russia led to a coup by the Soviet Party and the Restored Soviet Republic of Asia, like the US, moved south. The Russian’s didn’t play so nice with their neighbors though. The Russian blitz was ruthless and effective, they moved through the Mediterranean region and into North Africa. A good bit of resistance was met in the middle east from Iran, Afghanistan and Turkey, but all were eventually silenced by the promise of food and work. The RSRA quickly emerged as a powerhouse in this new world.

Now that the world was finding it’s balance again, things were already starting to go back to the old ways. The US and the RSRA were engaged, ironically, in another cold war and everyone feared the worst. Hot spot territories in Africa and South America were under dispute as each of the two super powers reached for resources.

Clark was an engineer for a major US defense contractor, as head of of several big programs. He suspected, this mandatory visit to the capital had something to do with the rough relations with Russia. Maybe, there was a real shooting war beginning to kick off, or already under way. The government had been a little more tight lipped this past decade. No one much cared, there were bigger things to worry about, like feeding your family.

When they finally arrived in San Antonio, the two agents dropped Clark off at the security check point outside the DOD headquarters. He was issued a visitors badge and told to report directly to the C wing, room 214. There were other professionals and military officers in the complex, busy, walking hurriedly carrying folders and stacks of paper, talking on their phones.

When he finally made it through the maze of corridors and halls to room 214, he was surprised to find a guard detail of four soldiers at the door and quite a few civilians awaiting entry. As he walked to the back of the line he noticed Stan Williams was here as well. The short round man was another program engineer at Clark’s company and had worked with him on more than a few projects over the years. He and Clark both worked at the CommStar plant in Dallas. He was older than Clark, well into his fifties but the two had become good friends over time.

“Hey Stan, they drag you out of bed this morning too?” Clark asked.

Stan looked up from his notepad, pushed his glasses up and and laughed.

“Damn, if it isn’t Clark Henderson? Man, I have no idea what’s going on.” he said while shaking hands then continued, “I get a call this morning, and they tell me I’m coming to San Antonio. Twenty minutes later, there’s two goons at my door and a black car in my driveway.”

Stan stepped out of line and walked to the back with Clark.

“Yeah, that’s pretty much what happened to me as well. Listen, do you have any idea what this is about? I mean, there are a lot of people here.”

“I tell ya, I have no idea Clark. This has got to have something to do with the Russians though.” he said as he brushed his greying beard.

The room was just on the verge of cavernous and had a small stage up front with a blue curtain and the seal of the President on it. There were rows of men in suits from all of the alphabet agencies, military officers, civilians, and even a few Senators. A steady stream of people continued to fill the room as Clark and Stan found a seat.

“You know, this is really starting to look odd. I don’t think I’ve seen this much brass and gold cuff links in one place. We’ve definitely gotten ourselves into something big.” Stan said.

As soon as the room settled down, a man in a dark grey suit with a red tie walked out to the podium on stage. The room quieted down, anxious to learn why they were all summoned on a Saturday evening.

“Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished visitors, thank you for cooperating on such short notice. This briefing is classified Top Secret. In a moment, you will all be addressed by the President. Please refrain from asking questions until after the brief.”

President Guillermo walked out to the stage. He was an average size man in his fifties with short dark hair. The Presidency, especially these days, tended to wear a man down. He had only been in office a short while, but it’s effects were starting to show. Lack of sleep was evident and he worked his jaw while setting his papers on the podium.

“Good afternoon. In this room are our nation’s best and brightest, our military leaders, and their civilian government counterparts. Each of you is here for a reason. Today, I guarantee, you will not forget.” he said as he made eye contact around the room.

“Let’s begin with a little bit of information regarding the event that’s thrown our world out of balance. You all know that nine years ago, an explosion occurred off the coast off the European coast. What you don’t know...” he paused, gravely. “is that that this event was not caused by an asteroid exploding in the atmosphere.”

The room erupted in voices. Heads turned and men shifted in their seats.

“Please, please hold your questions until the end.” The President was obviously stressed.

“The initial reports were unclear, reliable information was scarce and the asteroid theory was the best fit scenario for what had happened. As time progressed, evidence from NASA, military sources, and the NSF showed some peculiar anomalies. Eventually it became clear that what had actually happened was alarming, to say the least.”

He removed his glasses and set them on the table. He looked across the room carefully, pursed his lips and sighed. He looked down at the podium in thought. The room was dead quiet.

“What I’m about to tell you is not going to be easy to digest.”

He grasped the podium and put his weight on it.

“All of our data pointed to one conclusion. What happened in the North Atlantic that day was an intentional use of a weapon we’ve never seen before and this weapon was not of terrestrial origin.”

The silence of the room was unexpected. Everyone was in disbelief. President Guillermo was right, no one in the room would forget this day.

He then turned and pointed to a large screen to his left. An image displaying a moving model of the solar system above appeared on the screen.

“Deep space military radar briefly picked up a fast moving object near Jupiter around 2200 hundred hours on the 23rd of June. The object was estimated to be about the size of a school bus, and it’s trajectory was unclear.”

The screen showed a graphical representation of an object depicted as a red triangle entering the solar system above the planetary plane and rounding Jupiter. The object continued further inward before stopping and blinking.

“The object was independently confirmed by NASA early in the morning on the 24th and was last detected nearing the asteroid belt. Our scientists later combined the data from the two reports and determined that the object could only have have had such a trajectory if under powered flight.”

The screen switched to another animation of the blast above the ocean.

“It was also later found that trace elements expected to be found in an asteroid were not present in the air or on the ground near the blast. What was found, however, was an ongoing process of rapid consumption of CO2 in the atmosphere as well as significant output of exotic radiation in the area. We’re not positive how, but this process was obviously a direct cause of the current ice age. It also became clear through our investigation that not only was carbon dioxide decreasing rapidly, causing the cooling, but oxygen was being released in mass quantities as part of the reaction. The oxygen levels of the Earth have risen from the nominal 21% to about 24% which about at the limit for long term human exposure.”

“Now, in the months after the event, when the pieces of this puzzle began to come together, my predecessor and his staff felt the need to keep it under wraps to prevent the public from getting completely out of control. I think I would have made the same decision, the times were hard enough. The decision to withhold this information was ultimately determined by one key factor though. When considering the possible motives for such an attack upon the Earth, only one logical assumption stood out; The purpose this weapon was to terraform, or rather anti-terraform the Earth to make it more suitable to an alien biology, which implies we will likely meet the makers of this weapon soon. I’m sure you can all imagine this isn’t likely to be a peaceful meeting.”

Voices raised again, someone from the back of the room shouted “How can you be so certain of this!”

“People! Please, there’s still a lot we have to cover. I know this is hard to digest, but you have to understand that you were brought here to help! I need you all to focus and listen, we’re going to be counting on you and I need you all to have a clear picture and understand, to the fullest degree, what we are dealing with.” the President pounded his fist on the podium. He paused before continuing.

“Yesterday, early in the morning, I received a phone call from... someone. Yesterday, Earth made it’s first contact with an extraterrestrial intelligence.” he waited for the room to quiet. “I was contacted by a woman named Corlaine who claimed to be from another world and of a species called the Aeren. She said she had important information for us on what lay ahead. Now, I know what you’re thinking and I was thinking it too until she appeared there in the room, right before my eyes! I know it’s hard to believe, and I knew most of you would doubt me until you saw the same thing. So I’ve asked her to be here today, to talk to you about what is happening.”

As soon as the last word left his mouth, he stepped from the podium. There beside him, something strange happened. As if stepping from a shadow, from behind some unseen corner, a woman appeared. There was an audible gasp from the room as she walked to the front of the stage. Her hair was long, brown, and glistened perfectly even in the flat LED light of the room. She had high cheek bones and slightly slanted eyes. Clark and the others in the room were surprised at how human she looked. It was clear, although unspoken, as if just felt, that she wasn’t human though. Her slender form was wrapped in long flowing silk-like materials.

From where he was sitting, Clark couldn’t quite see all of her face in detail, but he knew she was the epitome of radiant beauty. There was a glow about her that existed somewhere between feeling and seeing that somehow called to him.

He leaned over and whispered to Stan, “Are you seeing what I’m seeing?”

Stan was speechless. He sat there with his mouth gaping in astonishment. He looked through the side of his eyes at Clark and raised his eyebrows.

Then Corlaine approached the podium, moving with casual grace. She nodded to the the President and his nearby staff before addressing the room.

“Hello, my name is Corlaine. I am an associate member of the Aeren Council, the governing body of my people.” There was no doubt now, by anyone in the room, that she was not of this world. Her voice sounded like a mixed harmony of separate voices all in perfect synchronization varying only slightly in pitch. The complex vocal mechanisms of Aeren were one of the few recognizable differences between her species and that of Man.

“Those that sent the weapon that has caused so much harm to your world, are called the Jenlai.” she said as she placed a small circular device on the podium, pressed a button and stepped aside. A holographic image of a large creature appeared in front of the podium. The beast must have been at least 12 feet tall and was covered in white hair. It had two legs with large clawed feet and two arms with large hands with four digits. Atop the gargantuan body was a head that looked very similar to that of a wolf. An elongated snout and mouth with vicious teeth crept from under big black eyes flanked by to large pointed ears. The monstrosity was not that dissimilar from what a real life werewolf might look like.

“The Jenlai are a very dangerous race; responsible for consuming a number of civilizations in their lust for resources and territory. Your world is next.” she said while indicating to an interstellar map that was now being displayed by the holographic device.

“The Jenlai attack will consist of two parts. The first will come in the form of an initial invasion fleet which will offload ground combat units and equipment directly to the surface. The aim of this force is to establish what you would call a ‘beachhead’, if I am using the term correctly. The Jenlai will then erect one or more hyper-gates, large structures that activate an inter-dimensional tunnel from one of their worlds directly to yours. Through these gates, hundreds of thousands of Jenlai will come, along with their superior weapons of war. Your chances of survival will decline exponentially if these hyper-gates are activated. It is estimated that the invasion fleet will arrive in Earth orbit in approximately two Earth years.”

Amid the mumbling of the crowd, Corlaine returned to the podium and deactivated the holographic device, stowing it in her robe. She looked around the room briefly before continuing.

“It has been decided by my people that you should be given assistance in confronting this threat. I am here to provide that assistance. I will impart the knowledge and information required to mount a defense. The Aeren people are prepared to offer limited supplies and resources only, we can not become directly involved in this conflict.”

With that she stepped back from the podium and the President thanked her briefly before readdressing the room himself. As he stood before the assembly, he loosened his necktie slightly. His face was drawn in a somber expression of frustration and sadness.

“I have already spoken with the Premier of the RSRA. I know relations between our two nations have been rocky recently, but after our Aeren ambassador explained all of this to him, in person, he and I both agree that it’s in our best interest to work together. We’ll be working with them extensively. Now, as to why you are here. As Ms. Corlaine mentioned, we only have two years to prepare for this threat. We are going to need our best and brightest working all angles if we are going to be successful. You will all have a very important role to play. Tonight, the Premier and I will be making a joint statement, live on the network. Our governments agree that this will soon get to the point where we can no longer keep it secret. We are going to address the public and inform them of the dangers that lay ahead, and what we need to do to win this fight. Regardless, I expect everyone here to maintain operational security, we have no idea what kind of intelligence capability our enemy possesses.”

He lifted his chin, took in a deep breath and said “alright, I’ll answer your questions now.” and the room erupted.

Clark leaned over and spoke loudly to Stan to compensate for all of the shouting. “Well, I guess you won’t be retiring this year.”

“No, I guess not. Damn!”

1 comment:

  1. WoW! Excellent story and plot. Good time line. So many avenues to take at this point. Love it.