Fiction writing has become an important task as we develop the backstory for the game and we are compiling a set of works that are a mix of stories by experienced players and published authors. One of the professionals that have contributed to Takamo Universe lore is Laurence O’Bryan, a published mystery writer whose works include a trilogy of mystery novels The Istanbul Puzzle, The Jerusalem Puzzle and The Manhattan Puzzle. Check out his website at www.lpobryan.com.
The following story (in two parts) is an example of the kind of stories and information you will find as you research ancient archives and data cores in Takamo Universe.
By Laurence O’Bryan
You have two choices: Death by bloodletting or death by fire.
The instructions were clear.
But was there any hope? Was he missing something?
A hum filled the air around him, as the anti-grav plate he’d ridden into the cave powered up and flew away towards the door high up in the wall behind him.
It slid closed and he felt heat on his cheeks, pressing at his skin, as if it were alive. His personal protection aura was struggling with the conditions inside the cave. He tensed.
I’m about to become a puddle or a pile of ash. Great choice.
This was the moment he’d waited for since the two moons had risen side by side, yellow and red, the colors of his cadet brigade. A trickle of sweat raced down his cheek. He swallowed. His mouth was dry.
This has come way too quickly.
A crackle reverberated in his ear. The implant was most likely being affected by the heat. A voice whispered, “Climb. Have faith.”
He looked up to where the looming wall in front of him met the roof of the cave far away. There was a crack up there. Steam billowed from it. The thick green liquid that covered the wall he had decided to climb was oozing from the crack, like a Denic coffee pot boiling over.
I should burn? I sure hope the Mutos Rhat who sold me this ear implant keeps his promise.
“Seek the skulls of previous cadets embedded in the wall,” whispered the voice in his ear.
He swallowed again, straightened his back. He knew not to reveal his feelings, no matter what fears tugged at him. To do so would dishonor everything his Naplian cadet brigade stood for. He opened his eyes wide, blinked as his vision shivered from the heat in the cave.
He took a step forward.
Yes, that looked like a single eye socket half way up the wall. Below them he could see others, too. They were no more than inch-deep hollows in the wall, with hot green liquid flowing over them, but they were there. He went closer to the wall, until the heat from the oil felt like waves of pressure against his protective aura. It was an honor to be chosen from the cadets of the Naplian Guard to face the annual cave challenge, but as no cadet had ever returned from it, he knew the honor was one that few aspired to.
Why he had volunteered for it, even he didn’t know.
One more stupid mistake. This one is going to be your last.
A cadet had told him that losing his family in a Briddarri raid was a stupid reason to face the cave. He’d responded by punching the fool and breaking his nose. For that he’d forfeited his two days of freedom at the pleasure complex on Vagan, where the night ladies came in pairs and the drinks made you think that time had stopped, until you woke up with your whole body shaking as if you’d caught an Audrian Culla fever, and the medics were coming to dispose of your body before you infected your whole building.
Instead of that, he’d waited at the cadet training unit, listening to the old-timer’s stories of the sergeant who’d beaten him to a pulp the first day he’d entered the service.
He’d known about the cave challenge since that first term, how each year a male cadet was summoned to the cave, and if he survived he could drink Blue with the Emperor’s daughter in her private chambers, who, rumor had it, had been waiting for years for a young man who was able to pass the test.
Is she as beautiful as they whisper?
Perhaps that had been the reason he’d volunteered. Stories of Naplian princesses had filled his childhood with wonder and a longing, as if every cell in his body was aching for a cure for its existence.
Another vibration passed through his climate control aura.
He touched his wrist band controller. The controller, and the anti-electro-magnetic aura it created, was capable of dealing with temperatures that would ignite rock, but not for sustained periods. A sickening feeling pulsed through him. The wrist band was hot. It should have been cold.
It’s time to move or to melt. Move or melt.
He looked over his shoulder. Every Naplian cadet knew that his instincts were his best friend. They were right. On the other side of the cave a hole had opened. Out of it red liquid was pouring, fast.
It looked like blood.
He looked up. The wall above was pulsating with heat waves. His wrist band vibrated against his skin, angrily. His time was running out.
Climb, idiot. Climb fast.
He reached for the wall. His fingers slipped over it. The hot green oil washed over his metallic gloves. He could feel the flow of it.
Come on, climb.
His legs trembled less as he went up, reaching with each hand as high as he could, finding hand-holds in the eye sockets of the skulls that had been embedded in the wall. He looked down only once. The sight was not reassuring. The cave floor he’d stood on a few minutes before was a shifting skin of bubbling red.
The sergeant had been right.
Blood was a beautiful way to go.
What does this mean for Takamo Universe players?
Running an empire in Takamo Universe requires knowledge of the past as well as a firm grasp on the events and politics of the present. Stories, histories and quests are woven into the fabric of the galaxy.