Prometheus' First Steps, page 1
"Prometheus' First Steps"
A short story set in "the Prometheus Cycle" Universe
By Silas A. DeBoer
PROMETHEUS' FIRST STEPS Copyright © 2014 by Silas A. DeBoer.
All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations em- bodied in critical articles or reviews.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, organiza- tions, places, events and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
For information contact; prometheuscycle.blogspot.com
Book and Cover design by Silas A. DeBoer
First Edition: July 2014
A Note from the Author
This short story is one of several that precedes the novel "The Prometheus Cycle, Volume I " giving readers a chance to learn the back stories of side characters and to build awareness of this finished novel. As such, these short stories are free, and I hope you build enough of an emotional connection to the characters and the world to buy the novel itself. This particular story explains how Ovidius and Aurelius join forces, both significant secondary actors in the novel. This story tells some of the background information alluded in the novel about the shadowy organization that invents The Prometheus Cycle and starts Aurelius and Ovidius in a life long mission. The novel reveals who really heads the organization, as it bears directly upon the origins of two of the main characters.
There are three sea shanty songs in this story that are based on historical songs from Earth, Dead Horse, We'll Roll the Old Chariot, and Haul Away Joe. Many versions can be found online on Youtube, but if you want to hear the actual songs I listened to while writing, I suggest the Rambling Sailors for Dead Horse, David Coffin for Chariot, and Mark Anthony Thompson for Haul Away.
The World is not Earth, and while it is geographically different the peoples are culturally familiar (the why of which is revealed in the novel), but readers of this story should know that this tale takes place in the Shining South, where the Empire has a colonial relationship with some of the natives. The Empire makes extensive use of Catiin slave labor, Wolfiin (or Dogmen, Dog Soldiers, etc.) as infantry, and the Church of Elene seems to have as many Orders as the military has legions. The three races (Man, Wolfiin, and Catiin) were said to be created by Elene when She spoke the World into existence, but older tales passed down from the Heathen tribes paint a very different, and darker picture. "Prometheus' First Steps" is meant to intrigue readers and ties seamlessly with the novel. Look for Aurelius and Ovidius in the forthcoming novel "The Prometheus Cycle: The Sword, the Star, and the Mirror."
You can learn more about this novel and supporting short stories at prometheuscycle.blogspot.com
"...Shall in these confines with a monarch's voice
Cry 'Havoc,' and let slip the dogs of war;
That this foul deed shall smell above the earth
With carrion men, groaning for burial."
-Marc Antony in Act III Scene I, in Julius Caesar, William Shakespeare
Ovidius strained to hear while slowly sniffing the humid jungle night air. The mist crept over everything; rocks, tree trunks and Dog Soldiers. He held up a leather gauntleted fist to warn the others to stay hidden. Creeping forward, cautiously listening for sounds beyond the ever-present nocturnal symphony of the wild lands of The Shining South, Ovidius stalked his prey. The boulder was out of place in the soggy morass; gray and black with jagged edges barely covered by a thin layer of lichen. This was one of the mountain's children, flung by the hand of a god to rest a league from the caldera's summit. The rapid regeneration of the jungle hid the lava flows, but boulders like the one Ovidius climbed were strewn across the landscape.
The twin moons were hidden behind cloud cover, but still Ovidius peered down, squinting his eyes through the darkness trying to discern the shapes below. To the right was a dilapidated hut, and to the left was a broken handcart. Across the central fire pit lay the ruins of three other huts built of the native hard-grass, but burned to the stilt foundation long ago. The camp looked empty, but these Catiin pirates proved canny criminals, adept at stalking and hiding as well as any trained Dog Soldier.
The instant Ovidius' eyes caught movement, he rolled to the side as a flint tipped arrow shattered upon the boulder. He landed on all fours, crouching low as a small barrage of projectiles pelted his position. The damn Cats are in the trees. The lanky Scout grunted as a piece of rock bounced off his leather helm. He listened, decided that his foes numbered only a pawful and backed up for more cover. The jungle was still, but he could hear them now, beyond the ruined campsite descending from the trees, questioning among themselves. They spoke a dialect unknown to the Dog Soldier. Ovidius glanced back up the hill, but the rest of the pack stayed put. Ovidius was on point after all. This was his plan from the beginning.
The lanky Dog Soldier grasped a fist sized rock from the base of the boulder, hefted it to the left and after it crashed with a crack, ran for all he was worth uphill for thirty or forty spans before taking cover behind a thick arboreal giant that any ship's captain would envy for a mainmast. Ovidius listened as the Catiin pirates advanced, scouring the boulder where he had last taken refuge. He could hear them down there, crouching in a group, only because they had ceased any attempt at subtlety. You all think me alone.
"Come-out, Dogmeen." The accent was Southern, definitely not first generation Catiin. "We want to play weeth you." Some pirates spoke a dozen languages, relying on taunts and intimidation rather than real violence. Most families paid the ransom for hostages, but the cost of doing business with pirates had grown too costly the last decade.
Ovidius almost missed it, the slight swish of a tail thirty five paces to the side. Oh, you want to flank me do you? Ovidius grasped his own hatchet and poniard, tertiary melee weapons for a Scout. The lanky Dog Soldier switched his grip on the long dagger, hefted it once to be sure of the weight, then whipped around quick as lightning from the tree, throwing the dagger hilt first at the bright luminous eyes of the Catiin pirate.
"Yeow!" The raider dropped its bow and pitched forward to its knees, holding furred fingers to a broken nose.
Ovidius rushed through the jungle undergrowth at the flanker, leaping through the air as the bowman tried to draw. The lanky Dog Soldier's hatchet swung backwards, driving the breath from the Catiin pirate's diaphragm. Ovidius pivoted and spun his momentum into a grapple from behind, pulling the pirate's furred arm into a lock with the hatchet's edge now a hair from its throat.
The other two pirates took a few steps forward, cutlasses in paw, only to freeze when Sirius and Paolo emerged like shadows from the brush, fern leaves and vines adorning their leather Scout armor, equipped with the Scout's primary weapons of longspear and target shield.
"Ready to surrender your arms to the Legion's justice?" Paolo inquired.
The two remaining pirates dropped their rusted swords and held up their furred paws in surrender.
"Good job Scout, with the right bait, fishing is easy." Sirius laughed at his own joke.
The Catiin pirates glared in frustration.
Ovidius nodded, bending down to retrieve his poniard and hoisting up the injured Catiin. The Dog Soldiers bound the prisoners' paws behind their backs with waxed twine designed to cut into flesh with enough struggling. The Catiin's finger-claws were likewise useless against the bindings lashed above the elbow.
In the early morning hours, the Imperial Legionaires marched their prisoners