The Chronicles of Sarco Book 1
By Joshua A. Johnston
INTRODUCTION—Edge Of Oblivion
A Forgotten Past. A Terminal Future.
Earth has emerged from a cataclysmic dark age with little knowledge of its past. Aided by the discovery of advanced alien technology, humanity ventures into the stars, joining other sentient races in a sprawling, prosperous interstellar Confederacy.
That peace is soon shattered. Without warning, the Confederacy comes under attack by an unstoppable alien force from the unknown regions. With hopes for civilization’s survival dwindling, Commander Jared Carter is sent to pursue an unlikely lead: a collection of ancient alien religious fragments which may—or may not—hold the key to their salvation …
EDGE OF OBLIVION — EXCERPT
An end, an end is come upon the four corners of the land.
Now is the end come upon thee,
And I will send mine anger upon thee,
And I will judge thee according to thy ways,
And will recompense upon thee all thine abominations.
And mine eye shall not spare thee, neither will I have pity,
But I will recompense thy ways upon thee,
And thine abominations shall be in the midst of thee . . .
An evil, an only evil, behold is come.
An end is come, the end is come: it watcheth for thee; behold it is come.
—Excerpt from a Human religious text, origin unknown
It came as an envoy to the Master’s will.
Across the Deep Reaches it came, bending to the will of the Master . . . and in turn bending all before it to that same will.
The Master declared that it was Malum, and thus it was so.
* * *
Malum’s knowledge was vast. It stored the knowledge of aeons across galaxies: lifetimes, empires, planets, the fabrics of civilization and technology, the knowledge of life and death. Yet it drew on it only insofar as it served the Master. When knowledge was needed, the barriers shifted to make the new relevance the only knowledge in Malum’s existence, the rest as lost as if it had never been known.
The invisible barriers of eternal information shifted, parting to focus in on the constellation of stars that now floated before it. In Malum’s memory words flared to life. Aecron. Ritican. Hazionite. Human. Exo. Confederacy.
Aecron. Homeworld designate Aeroel. Superior intelligence, fragile physiology. Arrogant, unskilled in diplomacy. First in Confederal region to develop interstellar fold technology, used it to observe and intermittently experiment on pre-spaceflight Human and Hazionite homeworlds. Policies changed after attack by extra-regional fleet designate Invaders of 1124. Invader origins not known to Aecrons, though known to Master. Invaders repelled, effected change in Aecron disposition; Aecrons cultivated alliances with other races reaching spacefaring status as defense against future attacks. Aecrons conform to will of Master, unaware.
Ritican. Homeworld designate Ritica. Durable physiology, high tolerance for temperature. Methane respiration. Intelligent, developed interstellar travel after Aecrons but independently of them. Sociology revolves around nonviolent coexistence unless attacked; retaliatory psychology, relentless, brutal. Exemplar” Corridor Wars; Ritican counterattack led to near-genocide of Hazionites. Current Hazionite and Ritican relationship nonviolent but complicated, potential for exploitation. Ritican militia most powerful military force in Confederacy.
Hazionite. Homeworld designate Hazion Prime. Matriarchal society. Olfactory senses allow for enhanced perception of emotion. Moderate intelligence, expansionistic disposition. Fold drive reverse-engineered from Aecron ship wreckage found on homeworld. Invasion of Ritican territory precipitated Corridor Wars; Ritican retaliation resulted in near-annihilation of Hazionites before Human intervention ended conflict. Treaty designate Titan Accords ended Corridor Wars, established Confederacy.
Human. Homeworld designate Earth. Moderate intelligence, skilled in diplomacy and politics. Little surviving recorded Human history prior to 1300 homeworld revolutions antecedent; cataclysm on ancient Earth led to loss of most knowledge through period designate Dark Ages. Cause of Earth cataclysm and loss of Human history unknown to Humans. Fold drive reverse-engineered from Aecron ship wreckage found on homeworld. Human diplomats intervened to end Corridor Wars, create Confederacy. Highly influential in Confederacy; Human language and measurements nor in Confederal commerce and trade.
Exo. Homeworld designate Exo Homeworld. Exo name given by Human diplomats. Exoskeletal physiology, extraordinary durability, capable of short periods of time in open space. Asexual, highly individualistic, oriented predominantly around task completion. Capacity for mechanical, engineering work without equal in Confederacy; intellectual processes are concrete, lacking in artistic or creative function. No formal governance, no family structure.
Confederacy. Capital designate Nevea, Human homeworld system, planet designate Titan. Facilitates interspecies commerce and trade, organizes Confederal Navy to protect sentient merchants from piracy. Maintains some contact with non-allied sentients designate Minor Races: pirate society Ussonian, reclusive Tullasph, multiple pre-spaceflight civilizations.
* * *
Malum absorbed the full knowledge of the Confederacy and its component societies, became as much the knowledge as it was itself. Malum organized the knowledge for the purpose that lay before it, for the knowledge itself was not an end, but a means to the will of the Master.
* * *
First came Gor-Exxus. A Ritican frontier listening post orbiting an aging white dwarf. Isolated, neglected even by pirates. Fifty Riticans present. Most received the assignment as punishment, viewed it with resentment. It was not a vigilant defense, although Malum knew it would not matter either way. This was not a matter of hubris, but fact.
Malum folded in on the listening post, drew near. It sensed the station probing, questioning. It felt the malaise become confusion, the confusion become worry. The station sent a message to other stations.
Malum unleashed its power. The worry turned into terror, then was silenced.
Malum departed, leaving nothing behind.
Joshua A Johnston was raised on science fiction television and film before being introduced, in his teenage years, to the wider universe of science fiction literature. In addition to his daily work teaching American history and American government, he is an occasional writer on a variety of topics, including video games and parenting. You can find him online at www.joshuaajohnston.com.
Edge Of Oblivion is Christian science fiction published by Enclave Publishing in April 2016. It’s available through Amazon and other fine book distribution centers.