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The Rising Star - Chapter 6: Revelations

by  Alexshaw

Posted: Wednesday, March 15, 2006
Word Count: 3329
Related Works: The Rising Star - Chapter 1: Zeus • The Rising Star - Chapter 2: Work • The Rising Star - Chapter 3: Hades • The Rising Star - Chapter 4: The Seer & the Programmer • The Rising Star - Chapter 5: On the Road • 

It was 991 and Sire was ten. He sat on the train with his mother as it sped through the night sky. He was breathing hard and staring out of the window, waiting for police cars to suddenly appear alongside and stop their carriage. He picked over the day's events and tried to make some sense of them.

Sire was a quiet and intense child, occasionally prone to precociousness and answering back, but mainly he followed his mother's advice and kept a low profile. He was not very popular in school, and moving from place to place every six months left him with no friendships that could last. He had learned to do without them and find comfort in books and films. Above all, he shared a deep and loving bond with his mother.

Cerridwen was always there for him. Tall and pale with cropped blonde hair, she was wise and sad, and the whole world to Sire, quietly and gently urging him forward into his studies or creative activities. They communicated mostly without having to speak, since they had been around one other long enough to know how each of them would react to a situation. When they did talk, however, their conversations would last into the night.

Today had been very unusual. They had both gone to be genetically cleansed for the first time. Sire had protested bitterly over this. He had always been proud of the fact that, unlike everybody else, they had abstained from this fashionable practice.

Genetic cleansing, or 'GeneWashing', was a technological procedure, performed in a sealed chamber, whereby every strand of DNA in the body was checked and sorted. The process weeded out impurities that might lead to criminal behaviour and essentially formatted the mind and body for the consumer culture that Zeus depended on for financial stability. Advertisements would be more effective upon anybody who was regularly GeneWashed; users would find that their fashion sense improved considerably, and that they would always be up to date with current fads.

Technically the procedure was not mandatory, but Cerridwen had been receiving mail for many years now from the General Board of Genetics Technology, GBGT, asking her why she and her son had not been for their latest check up. She had resisted for Sire's entire life so far. Cerridwen did not trust GeneWashing. She felt something was inherently wrong with taking away a person's choices and leaving it up to marketers to decide for them. Also, the general insistence that it was very unusual not to have it done regularly made her very suspicious. However, recently she had begun to believe that they would in fact attract more attention to themselves by not being cleansed than by eluding it any longer. Today was to have been the day when they were deemed socially acceptable, except that something went very wrong.

Sire had been interviewed by a slimy and condescending doctor and then put into a child's GeneWash pod. The inner circuitry had failed and had to be fixed. Then the computer controlling the pod had malfunctioned and had to be rebooted. They switched his pod and attempted the procedure again. Sire had felt a few seconds of unusual energy flowing through him. It welled up inside him and seemed to erupt forth from his body. The computer for the second pod failed. Then the lights went out and an almighty explosion took out half of the building.

Sire had clung to his mother as she pulled them both through the collapsing hallways and out into the sun. He was absolutely convinced that he had caused the accident. There was something about the strange feeling in the pod that had gripped him at the exact moment. It just seemed too much of a coincidence.

During the investigation Cerridwen and Sire had slipped away before being questioned. Now they were on the run and Sire was more bewildered than ever.

"Mum?" he asked and looked deep into her grey eyes. He didn't need to ask any more. She had the answers waiting for him.

"Do you really want me to tell you everything?" she asked. "Once it's out you can't go back."

"I'm not sure. Are we in danger?"


"Then I think I should know," he said resolutely. Cerridwen took a deep breath.

"I think the energy you felt in the pod came from you," she said solemnly. "Many of our family have unusual powers and abilities, and one of them is often the power to protect ourselves by using our internal energy as a force field. I think you were struggling to escape and that's why your pod wouldn't work."

"Then you think I made the explosion happen?" Sire asked.

"No. It would have happened in the room we were in if it had been you."

"Then why are we running?" Sire asked. Cerridwen moved closer and spoke in a low voice.

"Because I need to tell you who your father really was."

These words danced like silver fire. Sire had asked before but his mother had only ever fallen silent. He later realised this was because she had not wished to lie to him; either that, or the memory was simply too painful. For ten years he had simply imagined who his father had been. Now the truth about it lay in his hands, and he could barely breathe.

"This is probably what every boy wants to hear, and you'll probably think I've cracked when I tell you," Cerridwen ventured. "But it carries with it more deadly weight and responsibility than you can possibly imagine." Sire nodded solemnly.

"Your father was a king."

The words sparkled. The empty train carriage expanded around Sire and his world opened up out of the darkness.

"The king of where?"

"Everywhere," she replied. "It's impossible to believe now but until only a decade ago, our planets were unified under one system of rule. The family chosen to guide us all was that of Alexandria, and your father was the heir to that family." Sire's heart sank as he looked at his mother. This was insane. Everybody knew that Zeus had ruled supreme for centuries, millennia even. He had never even heard of the Alexandria family. His mother was either lying to him or crazy. Both of these possibilities filled him with fear and doubt. Cerridwen watched his expression change and shook her head.

"After all I've taught you about Zeus and the kind of stories they spin about their achievements, do you really believe that they have led uncontested rule for so long?" She had picked up on exactly what was causing his doubt. Sire thought hard and shook his head. "We stand at a time when the entire planetary system has been through eons of war and the changing of political hands. No one system has ever worked on a permanent basis and there was always a new power waiting in the wings ready to stand up and take control. Zeus has lied to us all. Maybe once, long ago, it ruled the planets, but even then the people stood up against their tyranny and fought for something better. It's only recently that they have come back into power and convinced us all that it has always been like this."

"Why would they lie? What could they gain from covering up the past?"

"Sire, think," Cerridwen said insistently. "If they take away all memory of society being different, then they remove all hope that things can change. Tomorrow will belong to them because they control how we recall yesterday." Sire sat back and allowed this to settle in. Why had she not taught him this before? Why had she never mentioned the Alexandrian royal family or anything relating to this? She looked at his face and answered his unspoken questions.

"I know what sort of mind you have. Once you caught wind of this history you'd research it tirelessly until you found out the truth and the whole tragic story."

"Please tell me," Sire asked. "What was my father's name?"

"Osiris," she replied, picking over each syllable with relish. "Last in a line of leaders that spanned back to when we first reached out from the Homeworld and travelled to new lands. I met him in my father's palace when I was seventeen." She gazed at her son wistfully. "You look so similar. I can see him in your eyes, Sire."

"What happened to him?" Sire pressed.

Cerridwen fell silent and sat back. Sire glanced around them. The train was empty but he could feel unseen eyes watching them both.

"Zeus betrayed us all. By the third year of your father's reign, the assembled corporations that ran the planet had bought their way into political supremacy. Alone, your father opposed them. Where others had fallen by the wayside, he stood proud and fought Zeus every inch of the way. A war of politics arose between the Alexandrian Royal family and the Olympus Corporation that held the majority of power on Zeus; two parties that would stop at nothing to wrest control of the planets from the other. Olympus started an aggressive campaign to defer all power from the royal family over to them, making us nothing more than figureheads. They argued that the democratic election of officials was what the people needed to usher in a new age."

"And you disagree?" Sire interrupted. Cerridwen glanced at him sharply.

"I've always said once somebody comes along who I think is a genuine leader of the people I'd vote for him, until that time, I consider this so called democracy a lie."

"But you don't think anybody like that will ever come along, do you?" Sire asked.

"No, darling. Not while Zeus decides what choices to present us with," said Cerridwen. "Zeus tried everything to dissuade the family; bribes, threats, blackmail. They set the media against us, trying to dredge up any filthy little pieces of our past to use in their bid to bring the family down. They sent assassins after us and took away everything we held dear. But rather than breaking his spirit, every foul deed visited upon his family strengthened your father's resolve to destroy his opponent. Something so corrupt and unfeeling should never have been allowed the chance to ensnare the lives of the people.

"But Zeus eventually found a chink in his armour and exploited it with devastating results." Cerridwen paused and blinked stubbornly. She had not thought about this for many years and the memories were difficult to dwell on. Biting back bitter and stubborn tears, she continued in a manner as emotionally detached as she could manage. "Ten years ago they called a vote to let the people decide."

"And the people wanted Zeus in power?" Sire asked. Cerridwen's eyes misted for a second and she rubbed them fiercely. This shocked Sire; he had never seen her cry.

"No, your father won. In a majority vote, the people got behind the Alexandrian Royal family and declared their loyalty -" She tailed off for a moment. "But Zeus had already planned on that. They had an inside man already paid off with dreams of grandeur and unfathomable conceit poisoning his heart. Your father's brother, your uncle; Seth."

This last word she hissed low. Sire shuddered with a sudden chill.

"He was a nightmare of a man," she continued. "A great shaggy, beast with a mane of hair as black as midnight, entirely governed by hatred and arrogance. He scared me more than any man alive, and it was his unending thirst for power that caused our eventual downfall." Sire stared at her, transfixed.

"There is a law dating back to ancient times that any member of the royal family may contest the will of the reigning monarch for control of both family and dominion. It had not been observed for thousands of years but Zeus used it to tempt your uncle into challenging his brother." She paused, picturing the event in her mind. "I begged your father not to fight, but he honestly believed that if he defeated his brother in the eyes of the frightened people, he would win back their hearts and give Zeus a system-spanning televised show of strength that would cripple their attacks on us.

"The duel was awe-inspiring; two warriors at the peak of their abilities venting years of resentment, hatred and anger upon each other, their blades thundering and clashing as they tore through the winter palace. Each was perfectly matched in strength, skill and frightening charisma. Each had it in them to win the people.

"Ultimately it was your uncle's treachery that doomed us all, for he had poisoned his blade. When your father finally bore him down and defeated the wretched creature, he spared his brother's cursed existence, to show the people that he would never compromise his ethics or his decision to cherish rather than end life - even in one so evil as Seth.

"It was our moment of victory, but Seth's poison had dug deep and had already begun to do its work." Cerridwen choked a little and a single tear trickled down her cheek. "I could see in his eyes that your father had only a few moments of life left in him. As the beast crawled away to lick his wounds, Osiris fell before the eyes of billions and breathed his last, while Zeus closed in around us.

"They had uncovered evidence of extreme corruption and criminal acts perpetrated by Seth - who was, because of your father's death, now the reigning monarch. Using this loophole, all power was stripped from the royal family for a time while the people were required once more to vote on who should lead. With Osiris dead, we had no chance whatsoever. Ultimate control over the planets fell into Zeus' hands and immediately terrible accidents began to befall all of the remaining members of our family. We attempted to run and hide but all were found and quietly killed by those monsters."

Cerridwen held back a sob that stabbed at Sire's heart. "Only I escaped, with my unborn child growing inside me. We are the last evidence that there ever was an opposition to Zeus' power." She fixed him with a penetrating stare. "You, my child are possibly the most dangerous being in existence to them, because you represent another chance for the people to decide to do away with this corporate autocracy."

"But why haven't you been recognised?" Sire asked. "Your name, your face?"

"My name is Isis Alexandria, and my face is quite different to how it was then. I had it reconfigured before you were born." She paused and smiled. "If you had been born in a time of peace, your name would have been Horus Alexandria, but of course I have never called you that."

"That's why we've never been GeneWashed," Sire said. "You think they'll find out who we are." She nodded gravely.

"What about Seth? Did he die too?"

A shadow passed over Cerridwen's face. "I don't know," she said in choked and haunted tones. "They never confirmed his death and he was always wretchedly cunning. I sometimes feel his eyes on us, though I know deep down if he found out we were alive, we wouldn't be for long. That is yet another reason why you must remain in hiding. At least until you are older and stronger."

"Will he come looking for us?" Sire asked. His mind was already conjuring up horrendous images of a stalking terror, more beast than man, relentlessly pursuing them across the worlds. "I must be a threat to him."

"You are. In fact, to everyone in power you represent a potential sudden, drastic change. A ghost from the past." Sire thought about what she meant by this. He did not like the conclusion.

"I'm not my father," Sire said, quietly, almost angrily.

"I know," she replied. "But you must carry out his work."

"Why?" Sire demanded.

"I kept us both alive for this one thing. Listen to me," she said sharply, sitting up and clutching at both of his hands. "We must not let Zeus win. If we die without ever having tried, our lives are wasted." Her voice had taken on a frightening intensity. "But I can see a bright future for the world if we can oppose them when the time is right."

"I understand," Sire protested. He really did want to make the world better, but not only because of a birthright he had known nothing about until now. He felt crushed under the pressure she was putting on him. His face creased up and he almost started to cry. His mother let go of his arms and stared into his eyes, then nodded sadly.

"You're right," she said softly and with great effort. "You aren't your father. You are your own man and I can't tell you how to live your life."

"No, wait," said Sire. He was very confused by now. On the one hand he had roots and a past now which he had never had before, lineage to a line of nobility and ultimately a purpose in life; something he had yearned for all of his days. But it was also terrifying; the idea that everybody who was supposed to be there to help him was now outside the borders of trust. A whole world of people who had forgotten the past and everything that made his bloodline unique, all except the few that would murder him simply for existing. Something was wrong somewhere. The world couldn't be this unfair and corrupt. "I need time to think about this," Sire said.


And time was what he had been given. Years went by without incident. They had hopped from planet to planet and visited many cultures together, always staying on the fringes of society, never in one place for too long. His mother had been kind to him, and had not mentioned anything about his other identity unless he asked. When he had she would spend hours telling him of the family's history and what great wars and movements had occurred to get them to where they were before the pretenders to the throne had seized control.

He learned of his ancient ancestors, great explorers and leaders who had bravely led the way from the Homeworld on to new planets and founded the first colonies. He learned how to wield a sword and studied ancient techniques of battle that had saved lives and crushed nations. He also learned of the remarkable, and sometimes frightening powers of his forefathers: healing the sick and dying, creating impenetrable shields, transfiguration, and occasionally superhuman fighting abilities. It was clear that his blood contained secrets that had been lost into antiquity as their bearers died with them. All the while, Cerridwen was by his side, watching over his studies and encouraging him to absorb as much as possible, for who knew when it might someday come in useful.

Then one day she was gone, disappearing into the night and leaving a young man alone and scared, with an almost insurmountable burden resting heavily on his shoulders. Now as he looked back on the past few years, it was apparent to Sire that since she had gone, his life had been spent looking vainly for a teacher that could rival his mother's level of engagement with him. No matter how hard he tried, none appeared.

Sire saw himself as a failure, a great event that never happened. Mystery and doubt lay both in his past and his future, and he had allowed a fire in himself to die almost into ash after years of disappointment and thankless toil, forever hiding in the mighty shadow of Zeus - until today.

He was not entirely sure what was happening, but this was obviously the first step. Somewhere, deep within Sire, the embers had begun to glow once more.