Before we get into the chapter itself I do want to express that this is still just the rough manuscript version. There’s still some editing and whatnot to be done here, but I’m pretty excited and decided to sort of jump the shark a bit by showing this. I hope everyone enjoys, and by all means leave a comment with your thoughts. Without further ado – Xenochrist, Chapter One “Paint My Spirit Gold”
Flashbacks of the evening raced through Kravac’s head as he relieved himself. He remembered a woman and how she danced in the middle of the living room with various people. A celebration, his memory was slowly coming to him. The unconscious bodies laid about his penthouse, snoring, and clinging to bottles. Stale pizza, sweat, and booze-filled Kravac’s nostrils as the thrills of last night came flooding to him. The image of the woman dancing flashed again in his mind. “Pen…” is all he could manage to utter. Some bottles rustled as one of the bodies began to rise, “Yes?” the shadowy figure let out in a raspy voice. “Yes, Kravac? Did you need me? the woman asked. “Last night is a bit of a blur, I must admit.” Kravac began nervously laughing. “Half lights, please.” he commanded the room.
The penthouse curtains opened and the soft lights began to glow. Kravac squinted trying to adjust his eyes when he noticed the woman standing up now. “It’s Saturday, October 13th. The time is a quarter past ten. Good morning sir.” the disembodied voice cheerfully said.
“Good morning, H. Could you prepare my agenda and send it to my room, and send something for this hangover will ya? Kravac ordered. A soft chime rang as the various machines began preparing a fruit and vitamin mix. Wasting no time Kravac began moving towards his bedroom. The woman began to speak up “Uh…well, I guess I’ll be seeing you at the office on Monday? I have a ton of work to do so I’m gonna head over there for a few hours if you don’t mind.”
Kravac stopped mid-step and spun around to face the woman, “Oh, yes that’s right. I’m sorry! I hope you enjoyed the party yeah?” “Absolutely! How could I not?” she said as her face become red, “It was incredible. Look, can I call you later?”, “Uh…well, yeah just speak to Pen at the office. She can arrange a time or something, ok? I gotta run though. Take care!” Kravac sounded unusual even to himself. “What the fuck happened?” he thought when he suddenly realized he had told Pen to speak to herself to set up a meeting time.
“Begin the agenda, please.” Kravac requested as he entered the bedroom. His deck flickered on and the whir of the fans began to fill his ears.
“Yes, good morning sir. As you know today is Saturday, October 13th, 2503 and may I say Happy Birthday, sir.”
“Thanks, Hauer. I’d rather not think about aging at this moment though.” Kravac replied laughingly. “Now, let’s see what’s going on, kay?”
“Yes, sir. Tonight you’re having dinner with Wixspin in Sector 7 at 20:15 regarding [REDACTED]; otherwise, your day is your own. May I suggest taking this supplement with the smoothie I’ve prepared and perhaps relaxing for a bit until your dinner?”
“That sounds like a plan, H. Send it to my door will ya?”
Kravac opened his door to a small robot waiting for him. The bot was maybe 1 ½ meters tall sporting a screen with a cartoon looking smile. Holding the drink and supplement it greeted Kravac with a cheerful purr. He took the items from the little bot and thanked it as it gleefully let out a chirp and went back to its waiting station in the kitchen. Kravac downed his supplement and began feeling slightly better, his headache was subsiding and the nausea was dissipating.
Suddenly his guests started to wake and gather their things thanking Kravac for the party.
“Hey, thanks, everyone. 27 has started right, so I appreciate y’all. Make sure you activate Auto before leaving, don’t need anyone crashing on the expressway!” Kravac exclaimed while holding the cold beverage on the back of his neck. He knew he sounded exhausted, and why shouldn’t he be he thought. The empty bottles of beer and various liquors peppered every surface available, empty and half-full pizza containers covered the kitchen to compliment the booze. He couldn’t help but to feel excited that everyone was leaving, he needed to relax and get ready for that night.
Remembering why Wixspin needed a face-to-face conversation, Kravac was dreading the dinner. He knew Volz was getting in too deep, and after these past few months, something needed to happen with her. An intervention or something else entirely, they both knew she needed help. Pushing those thoughts to the side, his mind flashed back to Pen and the party, and with that Kravac slumped back on to the couch and drifted to back to sleep.
The room was empty and dark, and Kravac was standing in the middle of it. He walked over to the open windows, he didn’t recognize anything here. There was no city and no sprawl as he tried to look into the nothingness. Lightning flickered in the void illuminating absolutely nothing; it was as if the darkness absorbed the light when suddenly a large cylindrical shape illuminated in the distance just as the void melted around him and suddenly he was standing in front of the large silo.
“You do not understand how to paint your spirit gold.” a voice rang out from behind. Kravac spun around to see a woman floating in place. “This is no fiction; we’ve arrived at the end. All the worlds, the Deep, and the Dark have fallen.”
Kravac stared at this apparition in confusion, “What in the actual fuck are you talking about? Where is here? Where’d the city go? Where’s the fuckin’ sprawl?!” he began shouting.
“Kravac, this is THE End. This is where you must go. Remember this always. The end of all ends. The place beyond reason. The conflagration of life. You must be here. They are waiting.”
Kravac suddenly leaped up from the couch clenching his chest. Sweat was pouring down his forehead as he tried catching his breath. “What the fuck was all that?” he thought, “I think it’s time for calibration.” he said aloud as he lightly smacked the back of his head. The dream was the least of his worries as the computer chimed in, “Good evening, sir. It is currently 18:03, and if you’ll remember you must be at your dinner appointment with Wixspin by 20:15. I’ve prepared a suit appropriate for the restaurant and have taken the liberty of preparing a pocket square, watch, shoes, and cuffs to compliment your attire. Would you like me to start your shower, sir?”
“Shit. Yes please, Hauer. I’m sure your selections are fine. Set the water to 35 degrees, ok?” mumbled Kravac.
“I’ll get right on that, sir. Enter when you’re ready.”
Kravac let out a deep sigh as he wiped the drool from his mouth, struggling to get himself out of the couch. His legs felt like rubber while walking to the bathroom, the steam from the hot water spilling out of the shower. He felt relaxed already; his beard had dried food and alcohol in it so he was ready to feel clean after the night he just had. “What the hell was that dream?” he kept thinking as he showered.
The hot water felt like small needles piercing into the grime of a hard night of substances. It seemed like years since Kravac had enjoyed a shower this much, but all the same, he needed to rush. “Hey, H? Have the clothes laid out for me, please. And get the Lykan ready will ya?”
“Sir, the recommended route I’m plotting has the least amount of traffic. May I suggest Auto for this trip? I can avoid any unnecessary checkpoints along the way.”
“Look, Hauer, what’s the point of owning the damn thing if I don’t get to drive it myself? How ‘bout I Link, ok? You can give visuals along the way. It’s a win-win yeah?”
“As you wish, sir. The Lykan will be ready for you in Dock 2.”
Nearly ready Kravac inspected the cufflinks laid out for him. “Hmph. You cheeky bastard, H.” he chuckled to himself. The blue diamond cuffs, a gift each given to Kravac, Wixspin, and Volz for their hard work in establishing ProgKVW as the top programming firm in the sprawl. He couldn’t help smiling as he thought back to the night Reygard Julius Svetlo VII himself had presented the gifts, thanking them with a handshake. Kravac’s disdain for Svetlo-Zeme was no secret to anyone on the net; his many audio snippets and interviews over the years have been highly publicized regarding his thoughts on the company. A de facto government with its military never sat well with him, and now that they essentially have their own department in the EUN it seemed futile continuing his rants against them.
Kravac pushed these thoughts to the side as he finished grooming his beard and straightening his suit out.
“Fuck it, let’s get this over with.” he thought to himself as he moved towards his front door.
The Lykan sat at Dock 2 just as Hauer said, its sharp exterior made it impossible to not notice. The low hum of the motor began as Kravac walked closer. The driver’s door opened up and he could hear Hauer, “Ready for Link when you are, sir.” the AI said through the car’s speakers. He never really cared for linking to his cars, Kravac felt slightly queasy whenever he did it and was not looking forward to it now.
As he pulled the cable from behind his right ear the AI began starting the various systems, “Initiate Link, H. Send all relevant data through, but don’t get too flashy here. I’m trying to drive, not play Space Invaders.”
The dash popped up in his eyes, Hauer was transmitting the route to him. Kravac began rubbing his eyes trying to adjust to the sudden invasion in his sights all the while he kept thinking about how annoying this was.
“Kay, H. Let’s hit it.” Kravac shifted in to first, the pale headlights suddenly turned on as he quickly zoomed out of the garage. “Sir, the recommended speed is 15kph through the garage!” Hauer frantically was advising Kravac as he sped through at 65kph.
“H, I swear I gotta add F-U-N to your programming.”
“I apologize, sir, but fun sometimes doesn’t equal safe which, as you know, is in my programming and you cannot switch that off.”
“Well if you’re gonna be in here just be my GPS, otherwise I think the new oven could use an AI.” Kravac quipped back.
The Lykan shot out of the garage exposing the landscape ahead, Sector 5 of Hoshiko. The multicolored neons lit up the towering buildings and crowds below on this clear-skied night as the vehicle tore through the expressway. Weaving in and out of traffic Kravac couldn’t help but notice how beautiful the skyline was tonight; he’d seen it many times over the years, but tonight seemed especially pretty. It calmed him to see the flashing lights of the eateries below, the people scurrying from place to place, the vast windows covering the skyscrapers and mega-towers blending into the sky. Halfway up the towers, Kravac could just make out the hover-adverts floating around the sector displaying some new eye cream, weight loss supplements, vacations on Tau Ceti F and so on. It was peaceful. It was home.
Kravac pulled up to the restaurant in Sector 7, “Millennium” lit across the entrance. “You would pick this place, Wix.” Kravac mused to himself as he disconnected his Link, “Alright, Hauer, play nice with the valet.”
Fixing his suit as he walked into the restaurant Kravac could see the displeased look on Wixspin’s face. Kravac had always been envious of Wixspin’s height, being roughly 30cm shorter than Wixspin it was usually a point of contention for him. Wixspin’s wavy light-brown hair perfectly styled matched his personality; straight-to-the-point attitude yet clever, Wixspin was never one to flash wealth or importance, his looks usually won over anyone he was speaking to.
Kravac approached their table fixing his cuffs, “What? You look like you need a nap, dude.”
“You literally will never change, will you?” Wixspin said with a hint of annoyance coming from his voice, “I specifically said 20:15, right? Because I’m fairly certain you said, and I quote, ‘Oh for sure, my duderino.’ So I’m not really sure why you’re late…as usual.”
“I’d say you shoulda just said 20:30 or 45 but then I’d just be here by 21:00!” Kravac laughingly blurted out.
“Regardless, you’re here, you’re late, and we need to order because I’m hungry. So if you will…” Wixspin said now motioning to the chair adjacent to his.
“Nice cuffs by the way, either you’re finally learning to dress yourself, or Hauer pieced it all together for you.”
“I mean, you wouldn’t be wrong with the last one there.” Kravac quipped back, “But I’m not here to talk about some shitty gift we got, am I? You didn’t drag me across two sectors just to admire literally the same thing you got.”
“Agreed. Where’s Volz?”
“Well, I’m assuming you didn’t invite her.” responded Kravac.
“Jesus, Krav. No. where is Volz? She’s been MIA all goddamn week, and then this morning I find out she’s been transferring giant sums of creds to various banks across the EUN, and not just planetside either.” You could hear the shakiness in Wixspin’s voice.
“And? Look, we’ve all sent some stuff that could look fishy, but it was always our cash, not company related.”
“Have you seen her? She looked like a goddamn zombie a few weeks ago. I know she’s had her problems in the past, but this is bad. I just know it, Krav. We’ve got to do something here; do you agree to that much?”
The words kept ringing in Kravac’s ears, “…we’ve got to do something…” he kept thinking to himself. He knew that “…but how do you approach one of the best minds alive that you suspect them of being a junkie…again”, he thought aloud.
“Krav,” began Wixspin, “we’ve known her a long time now. She’s been so important to this company, to the world even! Look, how do you feel about the three of us meeting at the tower on Monday? It’ll be a safe environment for her, no pressure at all, and we can just let it all out: We’re concerned.”
“You’re right, ok? I’m on board. I’ll send an email tonight and see what’s good. I mean, regardless we’ll see her at the office later on, right?” Kravac said in agreement.
The night went on as the two men enjoyed the evening drinking vintage liquors neither of them could pronounce, the lights in the restaurant now dimly lit reflecting the mood with soft jazz from the early 2000s filling the room.
“Kay, Wix. I’m headed out, yeah? I’ll shoot that text over on my way home and we’ll go from there.”
“Alright, man. Thanks for meeting up despite being late. Catch ya’ Monday!” an intoxicated Wixspin replied.
The Lykan purred as it pulled up to the entrance, “You didn’t ‘Ferris Bueller’ the car did ya’?” Kravac jokingly asked the valet. “Sir?” she replied, confused from the reference. Kravac now laughing loudly “Oof. It’s alright. Have a good one!” Kravac said as he tapped his cred chip on hers. “Sir,” chimed Hauer “I hope there are no objections, but I’ll be driving us home tonight. Please sit back and enjoy yourself. Any particular genre of music or perhaps the news?”
“Play some Casket Robbery and crank that shit!” Kravac commanded the AI, and with that came heavy guttural screams blaring through the speakers set to down-tuned guitars, blistering blast beats from the drums, and a wall of sound resonating throughout the car. “LET’S FUCKIN’ GO, H!” Kravac shouted, and so the night went on.
“Get your Rad pills ready, folks, we’re looking at high levels of rain throughout the Sectors. If you forgot your dose be sure to head to your nearest Daikoku for the recommended dose; only $20 creds through the weekend while supplies last. That’s Daikoku, serving the greater Hoshiko sprawl and former Japan since 1964! Now back to Biggs for Sector News.”
“Volume 10, please.” Kravac said, slurring his words. “Ok, so…what am I gonna say?”
“Sir, if I may?” the eager AI chimed, “If you’re attempting to reach Ms. Shimmel regarding your recent appointment with Mr. Atlicke might I suggest sounding informal and relaxed? If you attempt to demand from her she may feel threatened.”
“True. Can you get something together that’ll sound like me? Show me before sending though; I don’t need some garbled shit being sent.”
The AI went silent for a moment as it processed the request. Suddenly on the windshield display, the message came up, “Sup, V! So hey, we got a meeting coming up Monday at 10. We’re gonna need you to talk smart to these chumps, sound good?”
“That…actually looks great, go ahead and send it H.” and with that a soft chime came through the speakers acknowledging the request. “Alright, sir. It’s been sent to Ms. Shimmel. Shall I inform you once she’s read it?” “Please and thank you. You’re the best.” and with that Kravac slumped in his seat staring out into the night.
So there we have it! That’s chapter one of Xenochrist in it’s rough manuscript form. I hope y’all enjoy reading it as much as I have writing it! I’m 22 chapters in, so I’m not too sure I’ll be releasing more before the book officially releases it, but I hope this helps give you SOME idea of what I’m aiming for. This is a planned 100,000 worded novel, and I cannot wait to give you all Xenochrist in the coming months. Again, thank you so much for reading.