Armen Chakmakjian

I couldn’t resist…here is what I’ve written of Book 2 so far…

In Literature, Science Fiction on July 8, 2009 at 2:17 am

I present the part of book 2 that I have written so far.  about 3000 words.   I have to get to 10000 words to put it up on Authonomy to start getting reviewed there.

Remember, book 1 is published on the Amazon Kindle and the Kindle for iPhone and available for purchase today..see the link over on the right…you can read more on my website…

Urtaru II: The Judge

A Science Fiction Novel

By Armen Chakmakjian

Prologue

Dearest Adam, Crown Prince, my only and very dear son,

You are named Adam Willem.  I’ve presented to you before that that all oldest sons in our family that bear the Urtaru surname are named Adam first, and then given the name of a central figure in the father’s life as their middle name.   Your grandfather was named Pascal Adam Scintilla and he was the second son.  This was the one deviation in a long line of eponymous descendants of the great Adam Urtaru.  Your grandfather was originally named Adam Scintilla and took on the moniker “Pascal” when the Escisian monks referred to him in that manner during his youth in exile on Barabrum.

He and your grandmother named me Adam Philip-Augustus, after Philip Augustus, Emperor, known as the Righteous.   Although I never met Philip, his historical presence was palpable in our royal daily family life.  My father, the Prince Consort, revered Philip like a father, a replacement for the father he lost on Naerius.

Philip was an amazing man, as you know from your studies of the history of that time.   His ability to plan, counter-plan, predict and react to uncertainty was singular in our history.   His abilities to read a man were incredible (so I am told).  Your grandfather attempted all his life to live up to the legacy that Philip left him.   Philip’s abilities were singular, however, and although your grandfather may have emulated him, it was an inexact copy.

That being said, the Prince Consort, was a notable man in his own right.  He was utterly fearless for his own safety, but simultaneously had a protective streak for all those around him.  He had a way of gaining people’s trust immediately upon their first meeting.  Of course this was not a universal ability to gain trust.  There were legendary people to whom your grandfather was anathema.   From your studies of the history of that time, those people could be allied with him as well as his enemies.  To these few but important people, Pascal, Lord Urtaru, was inscrutable – an enigma – whose easy ways with people and whose ability to gain the immediate trust were in themselves a threat.   Two people who were of this ilk were of course Edward the Usurper, as well as your Uncle Owen’s namesake, Lt. Owen Tagget, E.B.

Edward II, from the historical material that I have been able to gather (and from the little that your grandfather was willing to share with me), was a completely unstable person, much like his own father.  He could be brilliant at military tasks, a great person to have at your side during a fight, but completely out of his element in any responsibility that had to deal with the subtlety of human behavior.   As you may also have read, Edward and your grandmother, Veronica, Empress, were married, but the marriage was annulled by Veronica in the ancient rite (by suing her family).

One other person about whom I must tell you about.  I consider him the most important person in my life, beside my parents and your mother (and you and your siblings of course).  This was the gray monk, Captain Willem Proctor, E.B., who we honored by giving you his name as your middle name.  Just as your Uncle Owen was named after the other gray monk, Owen, who saved your grandfather’s life, you received this name.

Willem was the mentor of both your father and me, and knew our similarities, differences, abilities and limitations.   He was my confidant and my teacher.  That is not to take away from your grandfather, who was a great man in his own right.  However, your grandfather was a flawed man, in my judgement.

Of course, historians will opine on whether we are the men of destiny or not.  Nevertheless, your grandfather was bigger than life given his beginnings.  I’m writing these memories of him now as my end is approaching because I want to you understand a time that is quite different than the environment you were raised in and what you may become.

Adam, I have entrusted in you the secret of my demise.  I could not explain to anyone, not even your mother the true extent of my difficulties.  If anyone had known, it would have put the whole empire in peril.   As the great Dolist father wrote in his lament:

The wicked oppress me and surround me

They have now followed me to my doorstep

They have set their eyes low to hide their intent

As a hunter seeing his prey, they lie in wait

Looking for the moment of rest or weakness

And they will pounce on me and drag me from my home

As you know, son, if the Barsifi King Maarumorti had known my secret, he would have set upon us a great set of difficulties.  The Albion King, Henry, while joined with us in the great Dolist league, and not a perfidious ally, can be considered somewhat unreliable.  His mother was an iron-willed woman who the empire could do business with.  I always felt that, as opposed to the Barsifi King who was a hardened foe waiting for an opportunity to pounce, King Henry was an ally looking for other opportunities should things go badly.

This relationship with the Albion was the special work of your grandfather and did for a time bring much stability to areas where our common interest was palpable.  To some extent, the relationship thrived only because of the Prince Consort, and not because of the others involved ever articulated their particular interests.

I’d like to recount the period from when I was about 10 years old when I joined my father on one of his missions…

Chapter 1

“Fight me Adam! Do not let up!  You must build up your strength! I will teach you later how to goad a warrior into the attack but you must first understand how they fight!” Pascal was yelling over the din in the training room.  Soldiers of all ages were training to fight hand to hand combat with swords and other simple weapons.

Adam Philip-Augustus Urtaru, Prince of Raslavon, heir to the throne was 10 years old.   He was a very smart child, appearing to be a miniature version of Pascal, Prince Consort.    The main physical distinction were the eyes.  Whereas Pascal’s eyes were hazel-gray, Apa’s (the familiar name, short for Adam Philip-Augustus) were hazel – almost green.  The physical appearance aside, temperamentally they were quite different.  Whereas Pascal was a jokester, playing with people’s words, Apa would respond plainly and earnestly to any conversation.

“Again, I can parry your every blow, don’t worry about it now.  When you are older I will worry when we do this.  Now you must fight!”

Adam swung his short sword with every ounce of his energy, he was trying to beat his father.  Off to the side, his 9 year old brother Owen watched intently.

“Apa, hit him hard.”

Adam stopped. “Can you do better?”

Owen got up.  Pascal smiled.  Owen was always ready for a test of strength, even in his diminutive stature.  Owen sized up Pascal who was at least a foot taller than him.

“I can try anyway!” and suddenly took a stroke at his father.  Pascal easily parried the blow but noted Owen’s strength. Built to fight.  Amazing.

Adam was now the age that Pascal had lost his own father.  Something clicked in Pascal on the date of his son’s 10th birthday.  Always reminiscing and brooding over his mother, he rarely thought about his father, except when told to explain his lineage.   Now his father’s memory loomed large in his passing thoughts. What would my father think?  What would my father do in this situation?

Much of this was lost on Adam, even though he was his father’s most ardent observer.   Pascal also ruminated over his son’s observant behavior because he did not remember watching his own father with such deep interest.   His father was an episodic figure in his life, almost like a book. With a book, you might read a bit, then put it down and take on other activities.  Pascal likened Adam’s reaction to him as a judge in a court rather than the reader of a book.

Owen thrust at this father again hard.  “Good move, Owen, but protect…always protect.”

“Baba you are playing with me.” Owen was getting frustrated and swinging his sword even harder.

“One day it will not be play, and you will have to hurt someone.”

“You are not getting any farther than I was.” Adam said triumphantly to taunt Owen.

“Well maybe you can lend a hand then?”

At that invitation, Adam jumped up and joined the fight against his father.  Pascal deftly parried blows from both of his children.  “Fight hard, both of you.  There will come a day where you will not be allowed to hold back!”

A crowd of training soldiers started to gather around watching the Prince Consort and the heirs fighting away.  Cheers went up at each blow the children struck that was parried.

Suddenly a blow from Owen came a bit too close to Pascal and his instinct took over.  Tangling Owen’s sword for a moment, Pascal kicked Apa aside and heaved Owen back.  Owen landed on his back and the shock gave way to crying.   Pascal was breathing heavily as the fight gave way to shock.  “Owen are you alright?”

A couple of soldiers went up to him and looked him over.

Adam looked at him from his seated position on the ground.  He had that judgmental stare on his face.  Pascal looked back at him and sighed.

“Baba, you shouldn’t have done that.”

Pascal walked over to Owen.  He checked him over and saw that he was more shocked than hurt.  “You’ll be fine.  You can’t cry your way out of a fight.”

“That’s not the point, Baba,” Adam said sternly from across the room.

“You will both need to learn.  Better now while you are safe.  Anyway, that is enough for today.”

Pascal, having been raised by the Escisian monks, did not really understand the role of a father in a pre-teenager’s education.  What he relied on was his experiences with Willem and the Escisians at the orphanage.  As this was his only frame of reference and knowing all the valuable skills that he was taught by the priest-warriors, he made a petition to the Escisian order’s central authority to have Willem assigned to the court of Empress Veronica as a teacher for the young Princes of the Empire.

The reply he received was curious:

The Escisian order is honored that the Royal family has chosen to employ one of our brothers in the education of the Princes.   It is unfortunate at this time that Captain Proctor is not available for this opportunity.   We will be sending someone in his place who is as qualified.

Pascal was taken aback by this. How do you turn down the Royal House?  Why not Willem? Pascal went to Veronica with this news.

“I can’t believe it.  They know that Willem was my tutor and is who I think is the best man for the job.  Why would they send someone else?” Pascal wondered out loud to her.

Veronica as always had feel for these situations.  “It is quite possible that Willem is busy with some other monkish duty.”

Pascal was irritated.  Over the years, his resolute patience had shown signs of breaking down.   It usually came in situations that were personal affronts rather than imperial affronts.  He could handle a whole empire sticking its thumb in his eye, but if an individual did, he’d take them to task.  “I think I will press my case with them.  Adam’s training requires the best teacher and that is Willem, I will not abide with any substitute.”

Chapter 2

“Adam, I will be going to visit the Albion on their home planet Alba.  You will accompany me,” Pascal said while running his hand through Adam’s hair with fatherly pride.

Adam looked at him in his judgmental way.  “Baba, what will I do there while you speak to the adults?”

“You will sit at my side and learn.  You have stared at me for ten years, now we will use your powers of observation as your classroom.  This is how the business of the galaxy is done, and you as heir-apparent must understand these things.”

“Of course.”  Adam replied, smiling slightly.  “But can Owen come?  I think he’d could learn too.  I’ll need his advice when I am Emperor.”

Pascal tipped his head slightly to one side. Amazing child…far beyond his age in understanding.

“Owen cannot come.  He is too young and your mother would not allow more than one heir to the throne on a trip should something occur.  This is the dilemma of our position.”

Adam understood, but he didn’t like it.  Owen was his best friend and confidant.  He knew he’d be lonely with only his father.  Pascal was always busy talking and negotiating.  To say that Adam felt neglected was a bit strong.  He knew that his father could be distracted by completing tasks.

“When will we be leaving, Baba?”

“Our departure will be in 2 weeks.  The trip will take 3 months and during that time you will be in training.  We have arranged for an Escisian monk to be with us, and I’m hoping that I can convince the order to provide Willem, my mentor, whom I trust implicitly.  He will teach you how to fight, to communicate and to pray.”

“Baba, why praying?  I already have had my religious training and I serve as an acolyte now.”

“The three topics go together.  You have learned the religious without understanding your physical self.  Knowing your limits and how to communicate correctly within the bounds of religion can make you a powerful figure.  Your namesake Philip Augustus, the Righteous, understood this.”

“You are still trying to convince me, but you haven’t told me why.”

He’s so intelligent.  I forget that my ability to win people over stops with him. Pascal grinned a little bit to one side.  “OK my small tadavor, I will tell you why.  Because in life you will be presented with situations where the choice between good and evil is not so easy to discern.  You’ll have to make a choice between supporting someone who you feel is right but you will also have responsibility.  You’ll have to fight someone or something that in any other case you might support.  And you’ll have to explain yourself to the Empire, and when you have to articulate that choice, I hope that you prayed beforehand looking for guidance.  We go nowhere without God and his righteous messenger Dol, our sacrifice.”

Adam pondered this for a second staring through his father.  “Tell me about a situation where you had to make a choice like that, Baba.”

Pascal hesitated.  His choices were not always so difficult.  The child had once again tripped him up.  He himself had not had to make that choice.  The closest choice he made that approached this was choosing to join his Barabreen comrades drilling beneath the Darjiki in the Battle of Micah.  He could have stayed above ground and fought with the monks.  Truly there was little gained in the overall battle by his joining them, except as emotional support to them.

“I have yet to have to make choose between equally distasteful options where praying would have made sense.  I predict thought that you as Emperor will have to make a choice like that.”

A week before the trip would begin, an Escisian transport arrived in Micah.  Pascal went out to greet the visitor at the spaceport.  Pascal was hoping that the Escisians would have relented but the final word had come that another monk would be assigned for the trip.  This brother was a portly fellow with a broad smile and a wisp of hair on his head.  Pascal immediately recognized him from the battle of Micah, Bre’  Sebastien.  He came off the transport, kissed the ground, said a prayer, and got up and greeted Pascal with “Tuto De Dola Nika Cor ig Des Domo!”  the motto of the Escisian order, “With the sign of Dol, conquer hearts and see God”.

Pascal responded with Eo-bun, roughly “So be it”.

The jolly monk immediately got to business.  “Your highness, the Escisian order would like to inform you that although I have been given the privilege of accompanying you on your journey and performing some initial training of the heir-apparent, I will be replaced on your arrival on Alba.”

“Really! By whom?” Pascal responded with a stern look.

The jolliness suddenly left Sebastien.  “The Escisian order is happy to inform you that Captain Proctor will be meeting you on Alba.”

Pascal was a taken aback by this.  “Why have they relented?”

“I do not have an answer to that question directly from our superiors, however I do know that Captain Proctor was either on a mission or on a sabbatical, both of which are held in secrecy in our order.”

Pascal’s demeanor changed abruptly.  “Well then Bre’, let me take you to the palace and introduce you to the royal family.  The Empress is

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