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Keep Evolving - Episode 1: Paradise Lot, #6

Keep Evolving - Episode 1: Paradise Lot, #6

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Keep Evolving - Episode 1: Paradise Lot, #6

120 pagine
1 ora
Aug 16, 2016


The gods are gone. All of them.

Since they left, mythical creatures of all shapes and sizes have been forced to Earth as refugees dependent on the goodwill of humans. Trouble is most humans don't have much goodwill ... 

Then there's Jean-Luc, a struggling hotelier who promised to help these wayward 'Others' live in this new GoneGod world. It's a promise that just might get him killed. In the past year alone, his hotel was blown up, his best friend - a drunk fallen angel - picked a fight with an Other hating gang and, oh yeah, the world almost ended (again). 

But things are finally starting to look-up for Jean-Luc. He’s dating Medusa, most Others respect him and his new hotel has just been booked for the biggest event of the century. Sadly his good fortune takes a turn for the worse when his guests accidentally set off the apocalypse. 

It seems that when the gods departed, they left behind their WMDs: Weapons of Mass Destruction—or rather, ATDs: Apocalypses of Total Destruction. 

Now Jean-Luc is forced to face-off against Ragnarok, Revelations and a creature he’s pretty sure is the Kraken. 

All in a day’s work in Paradise Lot. 

Aug 16, 2016

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Keep Evolving - Episode 1 - R.E. Vance




THINGS ARE WHAT THEY are, and Azzah does what she must to survive.

But surviving isn’t easy anymore. And living is even harder. Azzah must work for the humans—the AlwaysMortals—in order to do either. Sure, they provide her with food and shelter, doctors and something called a pension, but Azzah is no longer free to come and go as she pleases, roam all the worlds as she once did. Instead, she is chained by what the AlwaysMortals call a job.

Azzah’s job is helping the humans drill deep into the ocean floor for oil. Humans are more obsessed with the black muck than dwarves are with gems and jewels. They seem to always be fighting each other to get more. Well, what does Azzah care? She is well paid—or so she is told—and her job has benefits. Something the humans call dental. Azzah is not sure what dental is, but the gleam of satisfaction humans get in their eyes when they talk about it leads her to believe that dental is a thing of great value.

There she blows, cries out the AlwaysMortal known as George as she breaks the ocean’s surface. The humans nearby laugh at his joke. Even though George has explained it many times, Azzah does not know why the humans find this funny. The expression, George once told her, was used by humans who hunted whales. When they spotted a whale surfacing for air, a geyser of water blowing out of its spout, they would yell out, There she blows! What followed was a hunt in which these AlwaysMortals would spear the whale, forcing it to remain surfaced, and eventually kill it. How referencing the death of a whale is considered humor, Azzah does not know.

Because, George has explained, you’re not a whale.

No, she isn’t. She is a myarid. A sea-jinni. Of course, she would be honored to be a whale. Azzah has never met a whale she did not like. Amongst all of creation, whales are well known for their kindness and wisdom. And as for humor? It is well documented in all the once-upon-a-time heavens and hells that whales are amongst the funniest creatures in existence. Their knack for unusual observations told with perfect timing makes them wonderful entertainers. Not like these AlwaysMortals. Not like George.

Still, despite his insensitive joke, Azzah likes George. He speaks to her as an equal, unlike so many humans who treat her like a trained seal. One day Azzah will again explain to George why his joke is not funny, but not today. Today she is working.

Azzah doesn’t like working for humans, but what else can she do? Survival isn’t easy in this new GoneGod world. When Azzah was immortal, she spent her days doing as she pleased, swimming the vast oceans of both the mortal plane and her home world, the emerald cities of Qa, without hunger or fatigue, without fear of being hurt and without fear of death. But now ... now is different. Now she gets hungry. She gets tired. And when she is hurt—which has only happened once when she broke her arm while trying to fix one of the humans’ ridiculous underwater drills—she cannot pray to her gods to be healed instantaneously. Now, she needs a doctor. And as for death? Sadly, that is a very real threat these days.

For her, the GrandExodus happened while she was already on Earth, roaming the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean on one of her frequent trips. It started with the voice of Hermes, the messenger of her god, in her head. Thank you for believing in us, he said, but it is not enough. We’re leaving. Good luck. At first she didn’t know what to think. Rarely did the gods speak directly to myarids, and in her thousands of years, Poseidon—the myarids’ god—had only spoken to her twice. Once was when they were at war with the ifrit. The second time was when he opened the waterways between this world and Irem Emad.

After Hermes delivered his message, she could no longer feel her home.

It was the mortals’ season of autumn, which meant her sisters would have been attending the Celestial Solace. She only needed to think of them and be connected instantly. She tried to summon a portal, open up the pathway back to Qa, but it was simply not there. Fine, she thought. If I cannot go to them, then I shall summon them to me. But as soon as she began to manipulate the currents she needed for her summoning spell, she felt a deep sensation of decay. She was aging. That much was sure. And as if by instinct born not at the beginning of life but at that very moment, she knew that every second she spent on magic was a minute less of her life.

She knew this as she knew she now needed food to eat, water to drink and air to breathe.

Azzah was dying. Not immediately, but slowly, from a terrible disease called aging. And the use of magic hastened that process until one day she would use all the time she had and be no more. Azzah wasn’t afraid to die, but she was no fool, either. She would save her time and use it only when absolutely necessary.

Scared to use magic and even more scared of no longer being connected, Azzah emerged from the depths and saw the destruction that the gods’ departure had created. It would not be long until she learned what everyone else knew. The gods had left, closing all the heavens and hells when they did, and with that closing they had given their once loyal servants a choice: Stay and perish, or go to the only plane of existence left. Earth.

And what of her family? She learned from the kelpies that they had not left. They were myarids, and they had done what any member of her tribe would do—they had stayed behind to fight for their home. Brandishing weapons of war—tridents, nets, spears and harpoons—they’d fought the enclosing darkness. But how does one fight the dying of the light and expect to survive? It is like trying to tame a tornado with a paper fan.

Azzah, who was never given the choice of whether to stay and die, or run and survive, now lives on the mortal plane. Every day spent is one day closer to the end. Death by time. She would rather have died fighting an impossible battle than live like this.

Azzah hands the foreman her sensor, and he plugs it into something called a laptop. Readings pop up on the screen. Strong currents down there? he asks.

Nothing I cannot handle, Azzah says.

I suppose not, you being a mermaid and all, he says with a wink.

I’m not a mermaid, I’m a—

Myarid. I know, I know. Sheesh, Azzah, lighten up. I was just joking, George says as he continues to evaluate the readings. Again, she doesn’t get the joke. A part of her understands why the AlwaysMortals think of her as a mermaid. Both myarids and mermaids have dorsal lower bodies and humanoid upper bodies. But unlike a mermaid, Azzah can spend her entire life underwater, never needing a breath of air. Of course, she can also spend her entire life above water as well. She would like to see a mermaid do that. Mermaids are slow and weak, choosing to run from a great white shark rather than fight. Great whites swim from her—she doubts there is a creature beneath the ocean’s surface as strong as herself.

Except, that is, another myarid—not that there are many of them left.

Azzah shakes her head—to think a myarid is the same as a mermaid is to think a lion is the same as a kitten. 

Ahhh, Azzah, George says in a distracted voice, looking at the sky above her. Could you submerge a bit? You’re ... you’re . . . too high.

Azzah looks over to see several of the male variety staring at her. None of them make eye contact, all of them gazing below. She looks down and sees that while distracted in thought, she had pushed herself up, her torso now above water, her wet breasts glistening in the late-afternoon sun. That is another thing she will never understand—humans and their love of breasts.

Several of the men groan as she lowers her body so only her head is above water. 

Thanks, George says with a kind smile. He returns to the readings. His brow furrows and concern creeps onto his face. Hey, what’s this? he asks, tilting the screen so Azzah can see it. Amongst the blips and beeps, curved lines and numbers, there is an anomaly. One of the drill lines is under immense pressure, but unlike the typical problems of strong currents or large creatures bumping against it, the sensors indicate that the drill is being pulled

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