Author's Note: Writing has been a real challenge for me as of late. I know there are some things I really suck at, but I tried my hand at a novel earlier this month anyway. Fifteen days and 30,000 words later and I had reached a dead end. I think the story I was telling was a promising one, but I’m not capable of writing it at this moment in time.
Storytelling is a critical way in which I express myself. Ideas come to me rather freely, but most amount to nothing. One came to me the other day while returning from the supermarket. A way to memorialize a very important time in my life. I’m talking about the period towards the end of 2016 during which soO streamed daily. I met a lot of people and I look back fondly upon days spent in chat. The idea; reimagining those wonderful months as a fictional story of good versus evil and the hope carried by the oppressed. Unable to write it as a novel, I decided to produce this work, a synopsis of a novel never to be. Writing may be a challenge, but that only makes it more dear to me. I hope that comes through while you read this. I hope Shadows of yooS: A Synopsis will be something you can enjoy. I certainly enjoyed writing it. My long delayed blog post, Nayeon: Stolen by The Wind is coming soon. For those who enjoy this and my other works, I hope that you will read that as well.
The planet of Stahrcryst is a brutish place, long since stripped of its original geography or any hint of nature by humanity's advance. Metropolises, with skyscrapers a mile high span nearly inch of the planet. At their bases, in refuse filled alleys and slums choked of light by oppressive cloud cover, lives the majority of the planet's population. It is a realm of the damned, where criminals rule and violence is a way of life. Those who inhabits these depths are viewed as nothing more than fodder by the rulers of Stahrcryst, the Comworth. Once a year the Comworth's police, the Nods, descended into the depths, dragging every boy above the age of thirteen back to the towers with them. Torn from their families, these children are sent to the Factories. Lost within fields of rusted smokestacks that belch ash and smog into the sky, cloaked in perpetual night, the Factories are lit by fiery forges, the lifeblood of Stahrcryst. Most of the boys die within a few weeks. Few survive the full thirty years until discharge. If they do, they emerge as nothing more than avatars of rage filled with primal urges, having lost all emotion beside resentment. They return to the slums intent on acting on their hate and murderous thoughts. But even senseless violence is not enough. There attentions focuses on one place. The arena. Where champions rise and those who fall die.
Once the Comworth only broadcasted three tournaments a year. By their order, images a hundred stories high would be projected onto the foundations of building. The poor would gather to watch, gamble and for one moment, forget about the Comworth's oppression through death. But, in this, the 2016th year of their reign, the Comworth feel their hold on Stahrcryst slipping. Unrest has never been higher among the populace which led the Comworth to seek an opiate with which to appease the masses. Gladiators are ordered to fight on a nightly basis, creating a fervor meant to numb the people to their dreadful conditions. Principle among these gladiators is yooS, a great warrior who has survived four campaigns by virtue of being the last to suffer defeat. Though he lived on, it is a distinction that carries with it great shame. The world's elite, safe in their opulent spires, mock him, but those in the darkness idolize him. He is a champion worthy of the downtrodden.
While the people cheer and applause the daily fights, there are those who are worried by the sudden development. The Coven of Liquid, adherents to the teachings of Tayej and the church of Most, send their representative, Mitzu to investigate. The Coven has operated in secret for decades, delicately manipulating history, that of both the wealthy and poor. Mitzu's mission was to infiltrate the Comworth, but his masters were quick to caution that he will be unable to do so alone. This war would require allies. With that in mind, he made him way to the slums in search of one who could unlock the gates to the Comworth’s Stahrcryst.
Mitzu first move was to camp out the public areas in which the fights are viewed. He remained at the edges of the crowd, watching them as much as the fight. Over time some faces begin to stand out. Names like Tome, Blugful, Absu, Jeye and more were commonly spoken, individuals of some influence, but not the ones he needed. The more he watched, the more he realized that they were unsuited for his mission. Emotion burned too strongly with them, he needed something above such petty thoughts. There was only one place left to look. Oil rained from the sky as Mitzu headed for the Factories.
He needed an Autom, one of the robots designed for work in the various manufacturums. Capable of advanced reasoning and comprehensively adept at every spoken language on Stahrcryst, it was the ally with whom he could solve the Comworth's mystery.
Mitzu met with one of the Coven’s contacts, a man named Eon, who took him to the armory. It was a massive hall filled with thousands of depowered, out of commission Automs. Eon guided him through the maze of muted robots, which hung from the ceiling hundreds of feet above by braided cords attached to their backs. Eon silently came to a stop. He crouched, his fingers dancing over a console imbedded in the floor. Mitzu jumped as the robot before him twitched. It's eyes took on an amber glow as it was lowered to the floor. Taller than him, with a slight frame made from oxidized metal, a skull-like death mask for a head and spindly fingers which trailed filaments, the Autom announced itself as Version 491, assigned name Vio.
Leaving Eon behind, Mitzu and Vio returned to the undercity. The Coven have informed Mitzu that with the next tournament only days away, the Comworth are moving to the site of the event, the space insulation, Freep, an idyllic paradise designed in imitation of the flourishing kingdoms of ancient Stahrcryst. In order to stow away on one of the ships traveling from the port of Ttik, Mitzu and Vio are told to find the Joseyn, the descendants of the great Stahrcryst warriors who became the first gladiators.
Upon arrival, they discovered that the city of Ttik to be like all areas favored by the Comsworth elite. It was like a veil had been pulled over the desolation that was Stahrcryst. The depravity and desperation was there if one sought it out, though. Peep shows and other carnal displays were just around the corner. But here, in vaulted halls attended by servants and monitored by police, there was nothing but civility. Gilded silverware, crystal chandeliers and burnished wooden furniture. Unwanted platters of food prepared for guests of the nightly parties thrown in anticipation of the coming tournament would have fed an entire undercity family for a week, but they were tossed out and left to rot without a thought. Mitzu kept to himself at these events, disguised as a guest, other times an employee, querying the staff that would talk to him, but most importantly keeping his nose to the ground. It was the night before the Comsworth were set to depart for the tournament that he got his first break. “Meet at The Chat in three hours”, the man told him. And ask for Lei'Cham. She'd be reading if there was anything decent to be found. Checking his watch, Mitzu hurried back to the Vio. Together they headed to the edge of the Ttik.
The Chat was a seedy looking bar. With boarded up windows it seemed more at home in the undercity than in shimmering Ttik. Mitzu did not knock on the door, if one could call the propped slab hanging on a rusted hinge, a door. He simply pushed it aside and entered. The Chat was as small as it looked from the outside and deathly quiet. The only light came from a sputtering lamp hanging from a frayed wire on the other side of the room, beneath it a totally empty bookshelf. Exchanging looks, Mitzu and Vio headed its way. Mitzu stared for a moment before setting his feet and placing his shoulder against its flank. He shoved it aside, the grating squeal reverberating through his frame. He backed off, breathing heavy, his eyes on the stairwell he had revealed. Vio led the way, the bulb attached to her shoulder carving a path through the inky blackness. The stairs curled deeper and deeper for what seemed like ages, but eventually they leveled at a cramped hallway. At the far end was a hatch that looked straight out of the bowels of some archaic ship. Beside it stood a man clad in black. He grinned at them as they approached and opened the door, revealing a great hall.
Banks of fluorescent lights glared down on a frenzy of activity. Sweat beaded on every bit of exposed skin as men and women alike scurried this way and that. They were carrying various pieces of machinery, placing them in neat stacks at the loading docks nearly half a mile away. Mitzu stared in fascination as he and Vio were led down a rickety metal staircase. They reached another hatch and were ushered inside. It was totally dark save for a narrow spotlight. All that could be seen was a pair of hand, steepled together, the index fingers rhythmically separating and rejoining. Mitzu and Vio had met Lei'cham.
Lei’cham filled them in in no uncertain terms. There was far more at play than gladiators like yooS. The undercity was writhing, unwilling to suffer as it had for hundreds of years. It was about to erupt, everyone knew this, but the threat was like a phantom, immaterial and therefore not real. Unknown to most people, things had long been in motion and yooS would be at the center of it all. His following was building and the disenfranchised were given strength by the man who kept coming back from the brink, rising to the cusp greatness once more. Knowing this the Comsworth had determined that this tournament would be the one in which yooS was permanently defeated. Lei’cham’s people, the Joseyn, would be more than the mild mannered servants the Comsworth expected them to be. After months of careful planning with the revolutionary groups in the undercity, all the pieces were finally in place. It was their responsibility to light the flames so that those below could spring the trap. Lei’cham told Mitzu and Vio to stay the night and so they did. Tomorrow they would stow away along with the machinery. Their destination: Freep.
The instillation of Freep was situated on the other side of the planet. Cut off from the world, with only the Coven to communicate with, Mitzu and Vio were hurried off the ship after it landed The competition was only a day away and the city was buzzing. Rumors swirled that the daily fights were coming to an end. It seemed Lei’cham’s words were coming true. Could there really be a secret force driving the burgeoning rebellions? Having touched base with the Coven, who provided detailed diagrams of the tournament headquarters and updated Mitzu on their constant efforts to spread propaganda, Mitzu and Vio headed to the event’s first day disguised at menial workers. With the games in full swing and every eye in Stahrcryst glued to the savagery, Mitzu and Vio infiltrated the vaults, a building of seemingly infinite blackness where generators hummed and walls vibrated with power. The servers stored within were the repository for all Comworth records. There was one in particular they were looking for.
As Vio’s filaments played over the computer, taking root in the ports and delving into the secrets within, it became clear that yooS’ struggles had stoked the fires of rebellion, but they had far more significance than that. yooS was part of a millennia old prophecy carried by the seers of Rade, whose ancestor’s victory on a forgotten battlefield had set things into motion year. They foretold that yooS who would fall six times only to emerge triumphant in his final battle. His victory would finally unite the fractured crime ridden populace of the undercity. Bringing the collective strength of billions to bear, they would overthrow the Comworth’s superior military and arms with brute force. The Comworth would be ripped from their towers, dashed against the depths they had long deprived of Stahrcryst’s dwindling resources. The Comworth had started the daily battles in hopes yooS would meet his end prior to the tournament's final stage, thereby ensuring he would not survive. It needed to look believable, for the dreams of those in the undercity needed to be crushed completely. Even the slightest whiff of tampering could ignite the very fires they were trying to squelch.
But Mitzu and Vio’s meddling was not unseen by the Comsworth. The leaders of the Comsworth, the an elite council of twelve known as the Trulls, masterminds behind the schemes to kill yooS turned to their most elite warriors, the followers of yuNb, the phans. Legends told that yuNb had once led a revolution against the ruling class in the early days of the Comsworth. He had stood for defiance. For liberty. But the Comsworth he preached against realized he could only be brought to heel through the illusion of compromise. Through kindness he became one of them and over time his teaching were warped. Armed with equal parts blind obedience and advanced weaponry, the cabal of yuNb stood for intolerance and tyranny; the Trull’s last safeguard against the common man.
Mitzu and Vio returned to Lei’cham, reporting to the Joseyn and the Coven what they learned in the vaults. They were startled to hear that yooS nearly fell to a warrior named Tie and that he had disappeared since then. Fearing sabotage, it is decided that there is no time to waste. The people of the undercity need to be made aware of the Comsworth’s schemes. Doing so could do more than save yooS. It could catalyze the long prophesied rebellion despite the Trull’s efforts.
Suddenly the doors to the Joseyn’s hideout burst open. Gunshots shattered the silence as yunB’s devotees mowed down the unarmed and unprepared Joseyn. Mitzu and Vio rose to fight, but Lei’Cham told them all will be lost if they sacrifice themselves. A tunnel appeared in the wall behind them as she entered a command into a handheld device. With screams and the sounds of bucking guns filling the air, As the door shut behind them, Lei’Cham grabbed a weapon to face those slaughtering her people. Distraught and out of allies in Freep, Mitzu and Vio emerged beneath a starry sky. Temporarily unable to contact the Coven due to solar flares, Mitzu realized there was only one thing to be done. He and Vio would have to highjack the tournament broadcast and rally the undercity to their cause.
Mitzu and Bio enter hiding. They sneak out just long enough to discover that yooS defeated OsOo, a worthy challenger and fierce champion who once led warbands against rival forces from all over Stahrcryst. But all his fame and fortune were not enough and yooS dispatched him with ease. Pitted against Tistic, someone who had been steadily gaining support over the years, yooS was one battle away from his ultimate victory. With the day of the final having dawned, Mitzu and Vio armed themselves, creeped through the sewers and infiltrated the tournament headquarters.
But the Trulls were waiting for them. The moment Mitzu and Vio emerged into the basement of the arena, they were ambushed by the warrior priests of yuNb. Mitzu and Vio flee, bullets whizzing by. They had to reach the communication offices on the third floor, but reaching the elevator was not possible. They ran and ran, but they had nowhere to go. All the while the roar of the crowd built, until the entire arena shook. The final battle was starting and their message was yet to be delivered. Mitzu and VIo exchange looks of horror as they ground to a stop. The hallway had come to an end. With the followers of yuNb behind them, they readied themselves for death. Their mission had failed. yooS would die and with it the prophecy and the hopes of the people of Stahrcryst.
Suddenly there was a hiss. With a sharp pop a thick curtain of smoke filled the corridor. Mitzu fell to his knees, his eyes eyes tearing. Mitzu flinched as he felt a hand on his shoulder. He relaxed as there was a whisper in his ear, “Hurry. Come with me” He could barely make out the creak of a door opening over the frenzied shouting of yuNb’s devotees trying to locate him and Vio in the haze, but he ran as fast he could towards the sound, his eyes shut, body low. The smoke suddenly dissipated as the door slammed shut behind him. A smile spread across his face as his vision cleared and he realized who stood before him. Dressed in a simple worker's uniform was Lei’Cham. She explained that Lei’Cham was an alias meant to keep her identity a secret. Her real name was Retoossa and her father was one of the Trull. Without pause, she led them towards the third floor. After disarming the guards, she tells Mitzu that she will make the broadcast to the people of the undercity in order to rally them to yooS’ cause. Mitzu and Vio are to escape on the stolen space speeder Bas, the fastest ship on Stahrcryst and pass word along to the Coven in order to coordinate the efforts of the revolutionaries in the undercity. Shaking hands, Mitzu and VIo part ways with Retoossa. They were escorted to the spaceport of Yuxroy where they finally established communications with Mitzu’s superiors. Retoossa’s mission had been a success and siege on the capital was only hours away.
As word of the attack reaches the Trull, they desperately play their final card. Tistic reached into his boot and grabbed a poisoned dagger. With it he scored a shallow nick on yooS’s right hand. yooS fought valiantly, but his strength was fading. He refused to give in, but in his weakened state he was no match for Tistic. Struck down by a grievous wound, he collapsed to the rocky ground, for the first time completely lifeless in defeat. The crowd in the arena, Stahrcryst’s elite, ignorant to what is brewing on planet below, roared in approval. On the surface of Stahrcryst, the people screamed even louder with outrage. Despite their entrenched position and every perceivable advantage, the Comsworth’s army was unable match the fury of the long oppressed people. Fires lit the sky as the capital was reduced to rubble, as the people of the undercity took control of the seat of power of Stahrcryst for the first time in centuries. Mitzu and Vio reconvene with the leaders of the Coven, GalacticGyre, Karp and Lord IO. Together they joined with the leaders of the revolution, boarding the military barges to Freep to reclaim yooS’ body and deal the final blow to the Comsworth, unseating them once and for all. When the ships landed the denizens of the undercity, now the proud citizens of a new Stahrcryst, march on the arena where the Trull are holed up, defended by followers of yunB. Armed with the zealous might of their corrupted teaching, they still stood no chance before the combined might of the Joseyn, Coven and revolutionaries. With their way cleared, Mitzu, Vio and the leaders of the rebellion confronted the cornered and cowered members of the Trull. They surrendered and with them fell the old guard.
Under the order of Lord IO, the Trull led them to the mortuary where the body of yooS had been stored following his death. But when they arrived, they discovered his corpse was gone. The Trull’s shock and horror was a clear sign that they played no part in yooS’ disappearance. They were devoured by fear for despite their machinations, the ancient predictions had come to pass. Their empire had crumbled all around them. yooS’ martyrdom, the result of their fear had sealed their fate. Transmitting back to Stahrcryst, those on the planet learn of yooS’ fate. But their mourning did not lead them to despair. It is through yooS that they had finally come to know freedom. As a new dawn rose on Stahrcryst, GalacticGyre smiled. The Trull thought they had been preventing the prophecy from being realized, but they were unwittingly playing a part in a plan far greater than them. For there was a part of prophecy they were totally unaware of. The tournaments would continue, but the next one would be a celebration of freedom, not murder. And with it, the one thought gone forever would arise once more. For the seventh battle was the one in which he would finally stand triumphant, his name chanted on the lips of every citizen of Stahrcryst.