Can Evolved State: Dichotomy Capture Your Imagination?

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In summary, two individuals, Ragarn and Trystan, are in a great hall discussing their plan to liberate their city and establish a new kingdom. Ragarn, who has adopted a golden spider as his sigil, sees this as an opportunity to show the world that casters are not vermin, but rather evolved beings. He is joined by ASOS, who encourages him to take action and lead his people to a brighter future. Ragarn receives updates from Major Fullor and Magister Branvond on the progress of their mission, and while Fullor is loyal and content, Branvond is seeking a greater challenge. Ragarn remains confident in their abilities and sees potential in both of them.
  • #1
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Evolved State: Dichotomy


“Jayms,” said ASOS in his helmet a few feet away, “we need to continue on. Your city is waiting for you to liberate it.”
He knelt beside the body of the fallen prince. Trystan lay mangled on the stone floor of the great hall, tattered purple silk robes singed and smoking. Ragarn cupped his broken nose, grateful that he was unable to smell burnt hair through the haze of his own coppery blood. He wiped his hand on the front of his steel armor, smearing red over the mouth of the golden spider which he had adopted as his sigil: a new symbol, a new family, a new kingdom—and he spearheaded it all. Casters would no longer be viewed as vermin, little more than servants to cruel masters whose very bigotry blinded their vision to the truth. But Ragarn was here to show the world that a new era had arrived, one that would last for millennia; for after all, casters were advanced. They were the evolved.
“I wish it didn’t have to end this way,” Ragarn told Trystan. Bullets reported in the city like thunder. “You were never my enemy, despite what you may think.” It helped to speak out loud, as if this somehow justified his actions.
“Trystan knew the consequences of standing against you,” said ASOS in her pleasant voice, the one he had come to rely on more than his own thoughts. “But now is not the time to reflect; action is needed to right these wrongs.”
“Yes, you’re correct.”
“Your people need you to be strong and lead them.”
“Direct them to a new destiny, greater than any the world has ever known.”
“You must take command.”
“I must,” said Ragarn, climbing to his feet, “do what is necessary.”
He slipped on his helmet and surveyed the throne room, switching the goggles to infrared. Blues and violets swam from the marble pillars crumbled to dust strewn over the floor. Trystan still glowed with a faint yellow hue at his feet; a dozen Chaos Guards littered the floor, cold as the tile they lay on. Ragarn crunched over broken glass as he went to an open window. Early November air blustered into the castle, chilling the sweat and blood trickling down his face. Dawn splashed blood over the clouds pregnant with snow, and frost covered the grass of the inner garden like a thousand tiny glasses of wine waiting to toast him.
“Major Fullor requests an audience,” said ASOS.
“Put him through,” said Ragarn.
The goggles changed from infrared to the face of a young man. Bullets howled in the distance and the screen shook as buildings crumbled. Chaos Guards in suits like black and gold skeletons rushed down the street, rifles at the ready.
“General, the northern aristocratic sector has been subdued, as per your orders,” reported Major Fullor. Black sideburns framed a sharp face pale as the dead bodies burning behind him. Thick eyebrows clawed over dark eyes glittering with battle lust, and a cruel smile pulled back thin lips from large teeth.
“And the western end?” said Ragarn, but he already knew the answer. He just wanted to see how his second in command would respond.
Fullor gnashed his teeth.
“Magisters Branvond and Brynja have quelled resistance,” said Fullor through clenched teeth. Was this jealousy that Ragarn was more interested in another part of the city not under Fullor’s control; or dismay that an alpha was being upstaged by betas? “But might I remind you that the western end was already largely loyal to you over the last few years while we all knew the north posed the biggest problem; you said so yourself.”
“So I did,” said Ragarn, who didn’t need reminding of everything he had said or done. Still, praise was in order—even hog-hounds were rewarded with bones on jobs well done. “Congratulations, Major; we’re another step closer to realizing our dreams of a brighter future.”
“I am honored to be by your side,” said Fullor.
“Incoming call from Magister Branvond,” said ASOS.
“Connect us,” said Ragarn.
The dour face of Major Fullor was replaced with the grinning visage of Magister Branvond. One black eye loomed large in Ragarn’s vision, and the camera panned down to Branvond’s broad copper nose, granite chin, then leapt back to show his entire face.
“Oy, General, this is Branvond,” he said, the volume in his voice spiking and fading as the magister struggled to figure out the controls. “The west is under control, no problem.”
“I didn’t think there would be,” said Ragarn, watching closely for a reaction.
“That so?” Branvond stared at him, the grin like the jaws of an eel-shark. “When am I going to get a real challenge? Fighting out here’s easier than taking a **** after drinking a bottle of laxatives.”
Branvond’s anger, while misplaced, was nothing to worry about. He cared nothing for politics, the constant struggle between alphas and betas. To Branvond the only battle worth fighting was on the field when only the self could be relied on, a pure contest of wills between two combatants. Still, experience was needed, careful plans to strategize victory followed through impeccably. And for that, Ragarn relied on the older Fullor.
“You’ve done well, Magister,” said Ragarn.
Branvond snorted. “Yeah, yeah,” he grumbled. He shook his head, thick black locks like a mane around his square face. “You might want to issue new orders, though; Brynja’s starting to sing to the captives again.”
“Handle it, Magister.”
Ragarn disconnected. He liked Branvond’s enthusiasm, the tribal lust for blood and battle glory; not to mention he was one of the most powerful casters Ragarn had ever seen. But Branvond was fifteen, eight years his junior, and that enthusiasm could quickly be swallowed in rage, dissipated by impatience. Having Branvond tag along with Brynja was supposed to keep him in check, but now that Ragarn reflected on it perhaps Branvond would need to keep her in line.
“Jayms, the other four generals are mounting a counterattack,” said ASOS, voice as sultry as ever. “We must seize the city’s defenses before our forces are annihilated.”
Ragarn picked up his long barreled rifle from where it had been kicked aside and strapped it to his back. His armor creaked from his battle with Trystan—he would have ASOS scan it later for repairs. The grappling hook was a comforting weight against his side, and Ragarn slid his fingers along the coil of wire rope. Then he swept from the great hall.
He hurried down the spiral stone staircase to the basement, the percussion of battle dimming with each step. Blue fluorescent lights led the way down the long hall, shadows sweeping over the dead lining the way, royal soldiers and Chaos Guards alike. Blood smeared the floor and walls, the smell of gunpowder sharp in the confined corridor. His boots splashed through the muck, trampling underfoot a purple banner emblazoned with a silver lotus.
Massive steel doors at the end of the hall had already been thrown inward. Four Chaos Guards guarding the entrance to the control room saluted him as Ragarn marched past. His men were busy punching at the controls, scanning the hologram screens for signs of resistance in the city. A captain hurried up to Ragarn and saluted him.
“General, the control room has been secured,” she said. “But the power lines have been cut, and we can’t restrict the automated city defenses.”
“How juvenile,” said Ragarn, watching as his Guards were decimated with missile turrets in the southern sector of the city. Unplugging an appliance didn’t negate its effectiveness. “Stand aside.”
Ragarn strode up to the mainframe and gripped the torn power cords. His eyes glowed gold; electricity surged through him, pulsing through his muscles and making his white-blonde hair stand on end. The electricity jarred his bones, made his skin ripple with energy, and Ragarn inhaled, feeling the power of his core deep in the pit of his stomach. He pressed a button on the back of his helmet; a thin cord snaked out, darted into the mainframe of the city’s defenses.
“Beginning transfer of city’s defenses,” said ASOS. “Fifty-three percent complete.”
He stared at the left side of his helmet as it flipped through the cameras he already controlled, the right side spinning through letters and numbers as ASOS hacked into the system. Over half of the city was under his control with only a fifth of the military’s strength; but if he didn’t secure the city’s defenses before the generals’ counter he would lose the city before he had fully seized it.
Ragarn paused on a screen viewing the northern sector of the city. A rectangular transport lifted into the air, rotating to face north, its ponderous girth lilting to the starboard side as the ship changed direction. Then it punched its engines and fired over the city, bursts of gunfire glancing off its titanium armor. Even in death Trystan ground a knife in Ragarn’s side.
“Shoot that transport down,” Ragarn commanded.
“We can’t, sir,” said the captain. “Not until we have complete control over the city’s defenses; otherwise the missile turrets are out of our control.”
“Sixty-eight percent complete,” said ASOS.
“Sir, the generals have launched their counterattack,” said a tech working one of the holoscreens.
Ragarn watched as turrets mounted on the city’s wall bombarded his Guards with an avalanche of fire. The explosion ripped through the streets, toppling buildings in clouds of ash. Even from six miles away Ragarn felt the ground tremble beneath his feet, and the fluorescent lights flickered.
“Eighty percent complete.”
The transport flew over the northern wall surrounding the city. Within a few minutes it would be too far away to stop. Yet if Ragarn didn’t pull his forces from the north to deal with the counterattack charging from the south he wouldn’t have the opportunity to complete hacking into the city’s defenses.
“Eighty-six percent complete.”
“What are your orders, sir?” asked the captain.
Royal soldiers pushed back his Chaos Guards, driving closer to the castle from the south and east. Turrets popped up from the middle of the streets and sliced through his troops. His Guards fled and the royalists swarmed closer to the center of the city.
“We’re losing ground in the southern sector,” reported a tech as his holoscreen turned to static.
“Our eastern front is breaking,” said another tech.
The transport was now a quarter mile away, speeding north as the city crumbled to rubble behind it.
“Sir,” said the captain, “I suggest you reinforce Delta and Echo divisions with Major Fullor’s forces.”
“They will hold their positions,” said Ragarn.
“Ninety-three percent complete.”
The royalists from the south and east met and speared for the castle. Missiles and rockets lambasted the castle walls, rocking the control room. Lights flickered and guttered out; blue light from the holoscreens illumined the terrified faces of the techs and soldiers like ghosts reliving their deaths. Two hundred yards away a turret sprang up from the ground and turned its glaring red face toward the castle. This was it: the moment when his dreams and ambitions would be blasted to the sky and he would burn in the ashes. Ninety-eight percent was close, but it wasn’t enough.
You’re a monster. You don’t deserve her. You will never be one of us.
White fire engulfed the head of the turret, exploding it. Branvond spun in a circle, the fur cloak swirling about him, driving his fist into the ground; a shock wave of flame erupted in all directions around him, searing a division of royalists who had charged too close to the castle. He looked up at the camera with glowing white eyes as if he knew Ragarn would be watching and winked.
“One hundred percent complete,” said ASOS.
Ragarn pumped his energy into the mainframe, emptying his core into the city’s defenses. The turrets rotated away from his Guards and fired down on the royalists. They scattered as missiles chewed the Earth under their feet, tossing ragged bodies into the air. The counterattack dissolved.
Turrets on the northern wall turned toward the transport, now over a mile from the city. Ragarn seized control of them. ASOS calculated the wind direction, spin of the earth, and velocity of the transport. He adjusted his coordinates and fired.
Missiles shrieked over the northern wilds. They crashed into the titanium hide of the transport. Engines on the starboard wing exploded and the transport shuddered from impact. It listed to the side, smoke trailing into the sky, then plunged for Earth and vanished from view beneath a shield of treetops. Ragarn didn’t turn away as a massive column of fire erupted like a solar flare.
Ranks of Chaos Guards stormed the streets, rallying under the banners of smoking gunpowder; a second wind, another chance, a new day had begun as his troops tore through the city. Concrete and steel rubble smothered citizens and royal soldiers without impunity. Smoke spiraled high in thick black pillars, holding up the sky which threatened to break and spill its stars over the darkened city streets. He didn’t care if all of heaven itself lay broken at his feet—his vision of a better world called for some sacrifices, and Ragarn had already suffered the worst affliction of all.
He disconnected from the city’s defenses; the golden glow faded from his eyes. Ragarn held down one nostril and snorted clotted blood through the other. ASOS connected him to his officers all across the city.
“Congratulations, everyone,” Ragarn said. “Amitelsa is ours.”
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  • #2
My suggestions:

Start the prologue with the fight scene between Ragarn and Trystan and weave most of the background info into their dialogue, or the dialogue with others. I felt there was a lot of info dumping in the exposition that could have been done better in dialogue. (Either that or it was because the exposition felt weird. I'm not sure.) Plus starting with a fight between the two could make for some very dramatic and tension filled moments as they decide whether to fight, start fighting, and ramp it up until one of them is killed.

In my opinion, Ragarn was incredibly boring. He had zero personality. Even standing over the fallen body of someone who I felt should matter more to him. How about having him kick the corpse once and yell "Dammit! You weren't my enemy, Trystan! Why couldn't you see that!?" Something like that at least.

The part where electricity flows through Jayms I felt was weird. Unless he has some kind of wires or something in his body, the electricity wouldn't do anything but fry him. But I don't know the background of your story. However, it is something that some folks may find a bit odd if they aren't used to it and as such you may not want that in your prologue.

Please, for the love of all that is holy, spell Jayms simply as James. Jayms reads like the plural of something called a Jaym and it was incredibly distracting to me. I would highly advise against misspelling common names just to be different. If you want to be different come up with entirely different names, then you can spell them however you want. A perfect example, in my opinion, is Katniss from The Hunger Games. I've never heard that name before so I have no problems with how its spelled.

Also, if Ragarn is also Jayms, then it would help to have ASOS say so and not leave it up to the assumption of the reader at the very beginning. I know I was a little confused at first. An easy fix in my opinion. The first line could read something like: “Ragarn, we need to go,” said ASOS in his helmet a few feet away. When he didn't answer ASOS said, “Jayms, please. We need to continue on. Your city is waiting for you to liberate it.”

As it reads currently, you have ASOS talking to someone named Jayms, who kneels down beside Trystan, and then some other guy named Ragarn doing stuff, and it's only several paragraphs in that we understand that Jayms and Ragarn are the same person.
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Related to Can Evolved State: Dichotomy Capture Your Imagination?

1. What is the purpose of a prologue in a scifi/fantasy novel?

A prologue is typically used to provide background information and context for the story. In a scifi/fantasy novel, this may include introducing the world, setting, or characters that are essential to the plot.

2. Should I read the prologue before or after the main story?

It is recommended to read the prologue before starting the main story. This will help establish the foundation for the events and characters that will be encountered throughout the novel.

3. Can I skip the prologue and still understand the story?

In most cases, the prologue is not essential to the main story and can be skipped. However, it may provide valuable information and enhance the reading experience, so it is generally recommended to read it.

4. How long should a prologue be in a scifi/fantasy novel?

The length of a prologue can vary depending on the specific novel and its purpose. However, it is typically shorter than the main story and should only include essential information to avoid overwhelming the reader.

5. Can a prologue be included in a series of scifi/fantasy novels?

Yes, a prologue can be included in a series of novels to provide background information or to connect the events in different books. However, it is important for each prologue to also stand on its own and not rely heavily on previous knowledge from other books in the series.

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