Tier Zero: Volume I of the Knolan Cycle

Thirty years ago, give or take, the Knolans made their first contact with Earth. It went completely unnoticed—which is perfectly normal for Knolan first contact with Seed Worlds. The Protocols, developed over thousands of our years are time-tested. But even the technologically and spiritually advanced Knolans can’t predict everything.

Like a Seed awakening two generations (at least) too early. Clearly there’s something different about Earth-humans and Lysia, one of the Seekers who had settled in for a much longer wait is going to have to sort it out. But neither she nor the Oracle or their home world is prepared for what she discovers. The Awakening of Marty Tellus sweeps him up in a maelstrom of events altering the courses of history for both Knola and Earth. Whether that’s a good thing or bad remains to be seen.

Tier Zero is the pilot volume in the Knolan Cycle, a chronicle of first contact between Knola and Earth. It is also a speculative tale of discovery, sensuality, spiritual awakening and philosophical paradox, all set against the backdrop of one insignificant galaxy in an endless and endlessly expanding Universe.

Chapter One-Attáru (The Awakening)

“Time is a useful convention for mortals. But it is neither linear or absolute.”

 (Varineya, First Oracle of Knola).

 

Chapter One—Attáru (Awakening)

 

     Gossamer thought tugged at Lysia’s consciousness—subtle, but insistent. Still half-asleep, she sifted the subvocals making their way to her, like a Chimryth of her native Voltan plain sifts the wind for prey. Attáru…an Awakening? Too soon. Still, there he was. And it was a he. Strange in itself.

     Lysia’s eyes snapped open, glittering in the moonlight streaming through the open curtains next to her bed. The structured discipline of a trained mind was absent, but there was no missing the nascent order, buried in the foreign abstractions. Her heartrate elevated at the tantalizing resonance of sensuality. She was listening to the first whispers of an awakened Knolarant on Kurrithaal.

    He was excited. Good, she thought. The newly Awakened on Seed Worlds have no frame of reference for Attáru. Yet this one betrayed no fear. She closed her eyes, breathing deep while she focused on the whisper of thought.

     An awakening in a single generation? Unheard of. Her heart rate was climbing, again, involuntarily. Control, Lysia admonished herself.

     She reached into the Paradox with her mind, following the male’s subvocals to their source. He was not close. She probed tentatively, then more aggressively when she was certain he did not sense her in his mind. Detaching her consciousness from her body, she let his thoughts draw her to him across the intervening torm. Miles, they called them here. Seed nearly always awaken first while physically in a deep sleep. She savored the irony as she looked down on the sleeping male.

     He was nude, mostly exposed in a tangle of sheets. He shifted, restless from the probing of her mind. Young and well formed, with a deep chest and well-defined arms. Sun-streaked shoulder length hair. Heavier than most Knolan men and though still lean and striated.

     Strong jaw line, prominent hawk nose, with a faint dusting of what the Kurrithaalii called freckles across his nose and high cheekbones. Was it sun exposure, or genetic bleed-through? Striking, Lysia thought, suppressing her first stirrings of need. Focus!

     While she explored his dwelling, she continued sifting his memories. Martin Tellus…Marty. Mother dead, father unknown. Raised by his grandparents, now deceased. A troubled past and an uncertain future. A common story. Seed rarely fit comfortably in their native society.

     Austere living quarters. Small, almost cramped. Written material in archaic, bound form—books—littered a low table in front of a worn, non-conforming seating surface. Couches, the indigenous called them. Tolerably clean. During her training, Lysia had heard stories of conditions from experienced Seekers that had made her cringe.

     A probe of his short-term memory revealed he was attending at an academy of higher learning. He had a philosophy seminar in two days. Perfect.

     She withdrew from his mind, returning to her home on this world, and slipped back into her body with a shudder of pleasure. She savored the lazy beat of her heart, the effortless whisper of her breath and the sensual caress of sheets against her nipples. She felt need welling up inside, again.

     Not now. She must report. She reached back into the Paradox with her mind, focusing on the image of the Restara, calling her name with her thoughts.

     The Restara’s thoughts whispered back almost immediately. “What is it, Lysia?” Your report is not due until the next passing. And why are you reporting directly?”

     In her excitement, Lysia had forgotten her next report was not due for almost a Knolan month and that she should report to the Hursan, first. Her Restara’s thoughts registered no displeasure—only surprise.

     “There has been an anomalous Awakening, Lady Kholatha. It seemed prudent to report immediately, should you wish to alert the Oracle. I will connect with Turnia, as well.”

     The Restara nudged Lysia from her mind, for private consideration. Comparing what she knew about Kurrithaal with this latest news. Lysia took no offense. Kholatha’s skepticism was understandable.

     Her thoughts reintegrated. “Are you certain of your findings? Kurrithaal was only seeded some thirty cycles ago and not extensively.”

     “I share your surprise, my Lady. Nevertheless, an Awakened Seed he is. His—”

     “His?” Kholatha interrupted. “The Awakened is male?”

     “Yes, my Lady. That is why I have deviated from the protocols. That and his strength which is…unusual. His thoughts aroused me from a sound sleep and he was not close.”

     “Yes?”

     “He is on the west coast of the continent they call North America, in the city they call Los Angeles. It is more than twenty-two hundred of our torm distant.”

     The Restara’s thoughts faded, briefly, before recoalescing. “Is he at risk?”

     “None I detected. With your concurrence, I will travel to his city embodied to further assess his situation.”

     “Good. Refresh my memory,” Kholatha said. “How many Kurrithaalii women were Seeded?”

     Lysia had anticipated this question. “Nine hundred and sixteen Seedings in all on three continents, of which North America was the most extensively Seeded.” Lysia replied. “The Archives list twenty-nine conceptions coming to full term on North America.”

     “Over how many cycles?” Kholatha asked. The Knolan year was called a cycle, just under seventy-two days longer than a Kurrithaalii year.

     “The first Seeding preceded the others by three cycles, less a passing. Subsequent Seedings were undertaken two cycles apart, thereafter. Four Seedings in all.”

     “Yes,” Kholatha mused. “I thought I remembered the Oracle suspending Seeding out of concern for the direction Kurrithaal seemed to be taking.” Her subvocals faded again, this time for so long Lysia wondered if the Restara had been distracted. Kholatha’s thoughts finally reintegrated. “Make direct contact, Lysia, as prescribed in the Protocols. Ascertain when and where he was conceived, and report your findings as soon as you have them.”

     “Yes, my Lady. But—?”

      Mild amusement leaked from Kholatha’s mind. “Where conceived and when.” she reiterated. “As soon as you know. And remember to report your findings to Turnia. May your Way be smooth.” Her thoughts faded, leaving Lysia in alone in the Paradox.

     “May your Way be smooth,” Lysia replied, out of habit. She let her body pull her back. Kholatha was right. She should have reported to Turnia, first. As the Hursan and an experienced Seeker, Turnia enjoyed the Oracle’s absolute trust.

     Lysia woke herself and stretched. She was surprised but pleased to be in action so soon. Her rigorous selection process, exhaustive training and genetic adaptation had all been for this purpose. Still, Seekers often wait many cycles for the first Attáru on a new Seed World. But if I am to follow the protocols, she reasoned, why not do a full assessment before reporting?

     Was it his early Awakening? Lysia stretched again, savoring the dance of muscles beneath her skin and the excitement of immediate purpose. She would know soon enough.

     Slipping from beneath the sheets, she stood to inspect herself in the mirror. It had taken a long time to recognize herself after the recoding.

     The geneticists in the Tower had done their work well. They had been unable to lighten her skin much, so they had given her a multi-racial look of impenetrable heritage…what people here in the islands called happa-haole.

     She missed the rausting across her cheekbones, nose and down her neck, shoulders and spine. They had been prominent, and in common with most Knolan women, became even more pronounced when sexually aroused. Now they were gone, and the change was permanent.

     But her selection to the Order was a great honor. And at least they had not altered her eye color. Her bright amber irises drew second looks everywhere she went. Asian and Polynesian women were considered lovely by many on Kurrithaal, the geneticists had assured her.

     Lysia opened the bi-fold door to her closet and pulled out a suitcase. She would pack before she showered and arrange her flight afterward.

Tier Zero, Volume I of the Knolan Cycle is scheduled to be released in 2019. The series chronicles first contact between the Knolan Alliance and Earth.