So! It’s been two months and change since I released A Division of Souls, and it’s been quite an interesting road so far. The movement of ADoS has been fascinating. I’ll be adjusting the price again pretty soon, and looking for more avenues in which to advertise or share it. We shall see. On the plus side, my decision to make it available at NoiseTrade Books has come up trumps! It’s leveled off a bit, but I’m still getting maybe one or two downloads daily. Go me!
Meanwhile, I’m about a third of the way through this final edit and it’s taking a little bit longer than expected, but I’m getting there. Most of the fixes have been in deleting a lot of extraneous words and revising a few others. No major issues…yet! (knock wood) I’m still aiming for early 2016 for the release of this one. I shall of course keep you all updated!
So! In the meantime, I’ve decided to let you take a peek at the first chapter of The Persistence of Memories while you wait, hiding just below the jump. It takes place just a few days after the finale of ADoS. I hope you like it!
And again…thank you all for checking out the book. Y’all are still awesome! [And a special shout-out to those from my hometown who may have seen my pasty face in the local paper a few days ago. Hi there to you too! And thanks for the well-wishes!]
The Persistence of Memories
A Novel of the Mendaihu Universe
Denysia – The One of All Sacred
Denni Johnson held herself close as she gazed down at the impossible serenity and beauty of the Earth’s surface. She truly felt at peace in this otherwhere. This was her solitude, her lumisha dea, where no one could find ever find her, not unless she let them in. No Mendaihu, no Shenaihu. No Meraladhza or Gharné knew where she was. Tigua Space Station lurked some thousand kilometers away to her right, but she was off their boards, not quite in Earth reality but not quite in Lightspace either. It was her one hiding spot in this universe.
If she chose to, she could focus on the one spot on this planet she’d known all her life, Bridgetown Province, and listen to the souls calling out. If she willed it, she could listen to them beckoning her, waiting for a word or action from the One of All Sacred. Or she could close everyone out completely and try and remember how it was before. Back when she was just Dennise Jeannette Johnson, age fifteen, an honors student at Ormand Park Senior Basic. But that was the past now, just memories, and she understood that all too well. She could still be that young girl, going to school and hanging with her close friends, but that innocence was gone.
She was the One of All Sacred, the benevolent deity sent to protect each and every living thing on that planet below.
Or rather, she embodied the spirit of the One of All Sacred. Did that mean she was the One now, or was she just a physical vessel for that divine soul? Both, she decided, just to be contrary. She wasn’t about to relinquish her individuality just because she was a revered and long awaited deity of the human and Trisandi races.
This, of course, meant every sentient human being down there on that damn planet, Meraladhza and Gharné alike. Nearly three centuries ago, the Meraladians contacted Earth to bring them up to date on the happenings within the universe, followed by their arrival almost a century later. What they neglected to inform humans right off was that this wasn’t First Contact at all, but a reunion of sorts. They were in fact our spiritual and physical ancestors, having come here so many millennia in the past it was lost to our own history.
Everything would have been fine if it had stopped there.
Five days ago, she’d been awakened as the One of All Sacred. It was something she hadn’t expected, didn’t want, and wished had never happened. Her life had changed drastically in those days that followed: she and her sister Caren had inherited the strength and powers of the Mendaihu from their deceased parents. They’d survived attacks from the Shenaihu. They had averted a disaster by calming the spirit-laden Rain of Light that hung over the Sprawl.
And in the process, she’d nearly gotten killed, both in body and spirit. That was why she was up here, putting distance between herself and the man that had made the attempt on her life. His name was Dahné Natianos Lehanna, and he had stopped the Cleansing ritual dead in its tracks by simply commanding the Shenaihu spirits that had not yet become cho-nyhndah to return to the Rain of Light.
For all Denni knew, Natianos could have easily killed all those spirits, hers included. But Denni had been connected to them, every single one involved in the ritual, and had saved them by bringing them temporarily into this Lightspace, then dropping them safely back to Earth reality. She hadn’t bothered to ask how she’d come up with that idea at the last possible second, other than that it felt like the instinct of the One of All Sacred. It had saved lives and souls, and that was enough for her.
What disturbed her most was that she understood his actions, even before she’d performed the Cleansing. She had started an Awakening of unknown bounds. She had started a chain reaction of Awakenings now taking place all over Earth. If she wanted to, she could watch the Light show from up here…billions of sentient beings, human and otherwise, suddenly becoming aware of themselves and their place within the universe, becoming aware of the powers they had within them to change it if they so desired. Each spirit now glowing with the Light and Love of the One of All Sacred. All this, despite Natianos’ interruption. She’d actually used his actions to her advantage; as he had stopped the Rain from bonding with the newly awakened, she had given the Rain a choice: as with the awakened, it was now the choice of the spirits. If they wished to bond, they were free to do so. And Natianos had understood this from the start.
The mere thought of this new reality scared her…she could not face that responsibility just yet. Right now, what she needed was Peace.
Denni curled herself into a fetal position and closed her eyes. Here, above the land, she could be truly alone with her thoughts. No spirits approached her — none recognized her, for all she knew — and none threatened her. She could still connect with anyone, or everyone, if she wished. If she wanted, she could just as easily reverse all Nehalé Usarai had done, in just one breath. Of course she knew the futility of such a move, and its consequences. In her last five days of solitude she’d been tempted to do just that, but each time she reminded herself just why she’d awakened so many people in the first place. There were many and varied reasons, yet the one that stood out most, she found the hardest to admit to herself.
She had awakened them in a purely selfless gift of Love. She had done so as a way to show them the Truth, that all were luminous beings in the eyes of the One of All Sacred. She wanted to give them that knowledge. The human race on Earth — the Gharné — had earned that right. This Love transcended all boundaries, including the rift between the Mendaihu and the Shenaihu. As the One of All Sacred, she loved all without question.
Trisanda wished upon its living beings the power of not only obtaining knowledge but understanding and retaining it. From Trisanda came the two spirits, the symbiotic spirits, the Mendaihu and the Shenaihu. Denni knew both well, as did Caren. They, along with plenty others in Bridgetown, had been Awakened into both realities, as cho-nyhndah. It was now up to them to awaken themselves.
Denni shuddered and opened her eyes. She had turned in her place and was now facing the black expanse of the universe, and with a yelp she twisted herself back around. Who had just called her?
“Ampryss,” she muttered. One other person had found her, amidst all this chaos. One of the people she’d been hoping to avoid! The Watcher of Worlds, emha-sehndayen-ne Eprysia Kaalen — known to many as Ampryss — had been her spiritual guide the last few days, once she had realized her role as the One of All Sacred. Denni had been avoiding her more than anyone else. Ampryss had first called out to her mere minutes after she had saved those people and disappeared from the warehouse. She had called again a few hours later, frantic in her search. Denni had conceded then, briefly telling her where she was and that she wished to remain alone and anonymous for the time being, at least to let all her actions sink in. Ampryss had granted her that wish, temporarily.
Denysia, the woman called from within. Dearest One…please answer me!
Denni groaned in frustration. Certainly she couldn’t give her a few more hours, a few more days to rest and get her bearings? Yet she could not dismiss Ampryss easily…she had watched over her when Caren could not. She had taught her so much more than anyone else in the world could have, and in so little time. And she had shown her this hiding place…
Ampryss, she called out from within. I am here.
Denni immediately sensed a wave of relief emanating from Ampryss, though she lived light years away…her spirit knew no distances. Dearest One, thank you for answering, she gushed. I confess I’ve been worried.
Worried? Denni hid her amusement. To cause one of the strongest reality seers in the universe to worry was no mean feat! I’m well, if that’s what you mean. I’ve been resting and contemplating, mostly.
Noting an extended silence after that, Denni assumed Ampryss hadn’t found her respite such a good idea. Perhaps she thought Denni was hiding from her fears? What kind of deity would she have been then? No, Ampryss’ annoyance came from somewhere else; perhaps it wasn’t even directed at her. She had been disconnected from the world over the past few days, so she wasn’t entirely sure what was going on down there right now.
You must come to Trisanda when you can, Ampryss said. There is much you need to know before you face the Dahné again.
The request was unexpected. Was there more she needed to learn as the One? Could Natianos inflict more pain than he had two days ago?
That may be, she answered. Dahné Natianos Lehanna is stronger than we expect. There is nuhm’ndah within him, but I fear there is more to it. There was more power in his actions that day than was possible.
Denni shivered, thinking back to that moment when she’d almost lost control of the Cleansing ritual. Natianos’ power had indeed been much stronger than she’d expected. It felt as though he’d pushed harder on purpose. Or had added someone else’s strength to his own. You’re expecting this to escalate further, aren’t you? Denni asked. It has been a quarter century since the last Embodiment…and the fact that I started an Awakening of global proportions won’t hide the fact that the nuhm’ndah still want to destroy everything we’ve created.
Yes, Ampryss answered. I am expecting it…but I’m expecting a spiritual revolution that goes far beyond global, Denysia. I’m sensing this goes far past Gharra. This could conceivably include all the other Crimson-Null planets as well. Even Trisanda.
“Not what I wanted to hear,” Denni whispered to herself.
How do I prevent this, she asked, when I didn’t see any of this coming? I’ve been running on instinct ever since we talked up on the Crest, Ampryss! Don’t get me wrong, I do trust it — how could I question the instinct of eight other Embodiments? I’m learning from their actions and their mistakes. Yet… She faltered, searching for the right words to say. How could she accurately describe the confusion she felt right now?
What is it, Dearest One?
Ampryss, she snapped a little too hastily. I’m sorry…but please, let me speak.
Nyhnd’aladh, Ampryss answered. I am yours.
Denni exhaled. Thank you. The answer I beg of you is minor. I speak of what I see before me. I am in solitude, here in this otherwhere…yet I feel troubled. What I see before me on this Earth is the Light of Spirits.
That is normal, Ampryss said. Is there something regarding this Light that troubles you?
Denni closed her eyes to the world again. Spiritually she still felt them, the cho-nyhndah, the Mendaihu, the Shenaihu…all of them. She could mute the sensations, but she could not turn it off. The lives of these Spirits hang in the balance, she said finally. She pursed her lips and opened her eyes again. She was speaking as the One of All Sacred now, not as the desperately confused teenager she really was. I am afraid of their future. I am to protect them all, though I am unsure of how to go about it — or even if I’m qualified!
Faith, Ampryss said.
I know that, Denni retorted. But it’s not me I’m worried about. It’s the Shenaihu nuhm’ndah. They have surfaced, but they are not acting. They are just…waiting. I’m not sure if they’re merely waiting for me or Nehalé or some other fool to act foolishly, or if they wish balance just like the Mendaihu kiralla do…I just don’t know, Ampryss. I can’t see. I’m not a reality seer like you are.
You will know, Ampryss said. You cannot rely solely on spiritsensing to protect Gharra, my dear child.
Well that makes a lot of sense, she huffed.
Close your eyes, Ampryss said.
They already are, she said. I don’t see—
Cold. Deathly cold. Cold enough to kill.
Denni gasped. Goddess! What the—
Keep them closed, dear.
Denni wrapped her arms around herself in an effort not to go into sudden shock, as a magnificent chill and a fearful absence of Light overtook her. After days of feeling nearly every living spirit on Earth, she now felt nothing but a dark, unending vacuum…a complete desolation. Fearfully she took a breath, the empty solitude of space suddenly feeling all too real.
That is the sensing of the nuhm’ndah, Ampryss said, her voice distant and sad. Their lack of Light is what you must search for, Denysia.
She tried to acclimate herself to this new sensation, and it came painfully slow. As terrifying as it felt, she refused to recoil from it. She would embrace this too, this lack of Light. Why are they here?
Ampryss took her time answering. They are here in this reality as balance. The Shenaihu nuhm’ndah and the Mendaihu kiralla are spiritual opposites. Both are here, because they both must maintain this balance by whatever means possible. The Shenaihu are creativity and they are entropy; the Mendaihu are knowledge and emotion. Both must see their destiny through.
A second question died on her lips, having figured out the answer already. She opened her eyes again, and looked down over the lands and the oceans of the planet she knew. It was a backwater planet that didn’t get much attention from the Crimson-Null Foundation…yet Meraladians considered it to be their New World. Why did they care about it so damned much?
Here I am, Denni thought aloud. Dennise Johnson, age fifteen. Floating x-number of miles out in space. Contemplating my role as the most powerful and holy being of the Meraladian and human races. Despite her sadness, she smiled at the incredulity of that thought. Ampryss, am I to just sit and wait for the nuhm’ndah to attack us, or am I to make the first move?
It is up to you, Ampryss said, noncommittal.
You’re a big help, Denni said with a wry smile. She looked again down at the surface of the earth, and saw the glittering spirits dotting the landscape, even out into the oceans. Their Light pulsed evenly and softly, almost in time with her own beating heart. They responded to her very being. They felt her as she felt them. And yet…if she were to listen to those spirits, all of them at the same time, it would not affect her mentally in the least. She had already tested that theory two days ago, when she had talked to approximately five thousand people at the same time. Her consciousness had split itself into separate yet linked shards of intelligence, each able to connect with a spirit and lead it to safety.
Strangely, and for the first time since coming up here, she felt a profound loneliness. She was completely alone, watching over this vast planet that meant so much to everyone on it, yet so little to the rest of the universe.
I feel almost guilty for wanting to make the first move, she said. It’s as if I know I’m going to cause something worse down the road. It’s as if I’m a victim of my own fate.
She felt Ampryss’ wave of compassion wash over her. We are all connected to our own fates, Denysia, she said. The only victims are those who let fate take control of their freewill. You find a concrete goal. You make an intelligent, logical choice, and you move with it, fully aware of the consequences.
But I don’t know the consequences, she cried. Don’t you understand? I could be the one launching another war!
Ampryss took a slow, measured breath. If it comes to that, Dearest One.
Denni shivered. Then I have no choice.
You always have a choice, Ampryss countered. Just keep in mind…you do not always have to move forward.
Denni frowned. What is that supposed to mean?
Time, she said. You have all of time to fall back on. You do not always need to stay here, in the Now, processing everything as it comes to you. Remember your anchor, your sister Karinna. You were able to tether yourself to the here and now by remembering what it was to be with her in the past. Memories, Dearest One. Memories of the past are what will bring you forward again.
For a brief moment, Denni understood. The sehna lumia records…the spiritual library of a soul’s memories. She could open them up to the world below, the memories of countless spirits over millions of years, coming back, no longer locked away in a library few could access. As the One of All Sacred, she could do this — she had to do this! The Gharné and the Meraladhza…they deserved to know.
One of her predecessors had used the sehna lumia records for the same reason, decades ago. She wondered, now that she knew she had access to the intelligence of the previous Ones, if she had their memories as well. While it could benefit her by knowing those memories…but no, there were too many unknown factors. In accessing their memories, using them, manipulating them until they were her own…would she lose hers in the process? Would she forget to the point that she was Denni and the One of All Sacred?
She shivered, pushing that line of thought away.
She had awakened everyone on Earth. The Gharné, the Meraladhza, the Mannaki, and all other sentient races inhabiting it…they had all gained spiritual consciousness through her actions. Most had accepted their Shenaihu or Mendaihu souls, with a select few awakening as the twin-spirited cho-nyhndah. And all were waiting to take the next step.
Yes, perhaps memories were the key after all.
I have awakened them, she said to Ampryss. I have given their spirits sentience. Now I must give them memories for which they shall base their own lives on.
That is your will, Ampryss said. Go forth.
Thank you, Ampryss, she called out. She felt the Watcher’s presence slowly fade into the periphery of her mind, glad that she had chosen to talk with her after all.
She’d come up here for a respite from the unbearable stress that bore on her as the newly awakened One of All Sacred, but as time went on, she couldn’t help feel she’d been hiding from responsibility. Perhaps she had.
Caren and Anando had found her that first night, after the Ascension had failed. Her will was incredibly strong; she was not about to lose her younger sister under any circumstances. Once she had found her, she had remained in the background, understanding the solitude Denni had needed. She had visited her nearly every day since, talking to her, treating her as the sister she was and not the deity she had become. And for that she was eternally grateful; it reminded her that despite her responsibilities as the One, she was also a scared, confused teenager.
Denni pulled out of the fetal position she’d been in and stretched her muscles, feeling the aches and pains of zero gravity. It had been too long, and everyone had been more patient than she’d expected.
I am coming home, Karinna, she said within. I am returning.
She felt a burst of love in response, rising high through the clouds, through the vacuum of space, hitting her squarely in the heart. She laughed at its arrow precision and its fiery warmth and basked in it. She pinpointed its source and sent her own response back, lowering her body into a dive.
Safe journey, she heard. I can’t wait to see you, Den.
She smiled and continued her descent.
Peace, Love and Light to you, my eichi, she answered. And thank you.
The Persistence of Memories is (c) 2015-2016 Jon Chaisson.