THE HAARKEN ELECT Part I: The Fate Of The Excludants By Jordan L. Faris
Characters created by Jordan L. Faris
(c)2005-2008 Vanderwolff Grafiction
THE HAARKEN ELECT PART I: The Fate of the Excludants EXT.: NIGHT ON A DISTANT WORLD---MOONLESS, COLD. VAST RANGES OF SLOPING DUNES, DIMLY LIT BY CRISS-CROSSING STREAMS OF LIGHT FROM LOW-FLYING PATROL VESSELS. THIS IS HAARKEN. THE VIEW MOVES BENEATH THE DUNES, PAST DENSE LAYERS OF MAGMA DOWN TO A MONUMENTAL SUBTERRANEAN COMPOUND. IMMENSE CORRIDORS OF METALLIC PANELS STRETCH ON FOR MILES. BEHIND ONE OF THESE STERILE PANELS IS A LABORATORY. INSIDE, SILHOUETTED AGAINST A WALL DISPLAY OF RAPIDLY CHANGING IMAGERY, STANDS A TALL, POWERFULLY BUILT MAN, HIS ARMS CROSSED, HIS RIGHT HAND RESTING ON HIS CHIN, EYES SEIZING ON EACH FLITTING SLICE OF DATA ON THE SCREEN BEFORE HIM. HE IS NOT A TYPICAL MAN OF SCIENCE; HIS VISAGE IS LEAN, ALMOST GAUNT, BUT HE HAS THE PHYSIQUE OF AN ATHLETE, OF A MAN WHO WOULD BE JUST AT HOME SCALING THE FACE OF SOME STARK PRECIPICE AS HE IS HERE, TRYING TO READ SECRET DIALECTS FROM THE FORENSIC IMAGES BEFORE HIM. HIS NAME IS VENABLE. HIS POSITION IS THAT OF HEAD GENETICS BARON OF THE J’RILZN’KAN REGIME, A RULING CLASS CHARACTERIZED BY IMPREGNABLE SECRECY. THEIR MULTI-TIERED SECURITY SHIELDS THEM FROM ASSASSINATION AND PROTECTS THE VESTIGES OF THEIR WEAK, TERMINALLY-INBRED MONARCHY. THE REGIME HAS ORDERED A SERIES OF GENETIC EXPERIMENTS TO FIND AN ANTIDOTE TO THEIR PROGRESSIVE DEGENERATION. THESE EXPERIMENTS HAVE PRODUCED LITTLE OTHER THAN ABERRANT MUTATIONS. THE SUBJECTS FOR THESE EXPERIMENTS ARE REFERRED TO AS THE "EXCLUDANTS". A SMALL NUMBER OF SUBJECTS HOWEVER, THE SO-CALLED "ELECT", HAVE DEVELOPED ENHANCED ABILITIES, AND ARE ISOLATED IN SPECIAL "STASIS CELLS" UNTIL A MEANS IS FOUND OF PASSING ON THESE MUTATED ABILITIES TO THE RULING CLASS, ENDING THEIR DEGENERATION. THE J’RILZN’KAN REGIME HAS A SANCTION FORCE WHICH CARRIES OUT A POGROM AGAINST THE EXCLUDANTS, THE LOWER CASTE MEMBERS OF THE HAARKEN SOCIETY, FROM WHICH THEY CULL THE FEW THAT CARRY THE GENETIC COMPONENT THAT COMPLEMENTS THE DEFICIENT GENE OF THE MONARCHY. THESE RAIDS ARE CONDUCTED AT RANDOM. THE EXCLUDANTS HAS NO ORGANIZED RESISTANCE MOVEMENT; A FEW INDIVIDUALS, HOWEVER, TRY TO COUNTER THE PURGES IN SECRET THROUGH SABOTAGE OR BIOLOGICAL COUNTERMEASURES.
SOON, MEMBERS FROM OPPOSING SIDES WILL BECOME RELUCTANT ALLIES. VENABLE: (touching a small circular pad on his collar) Whither, I need you. A tall woman of striking appearance enters from behind a sheer panel. She has a look of impassive authority, but her hands, clenched tight around a data pad, betray an animosity she disguises from her voice. WHITHER: Your findings on the excludants---are they closer than the last group? VENABLE: (Walking slowly away from the screen toward the opposite side of the chamber) You say it as if you knew already. WHITHER: (taking carefully measured steps toward Venable) I do. And I regret that your failures bear no penalty. Upon you, for devising them. Upon myself, for carrying them out. VENABLE: (turning his head slightly to the side) The only penalty here would be for treason, if your words were to become known, somehow. After all, all we do is try to perpetuate the royal enclave---and once, if I recall correctly, you were an eager volunteer for said privilege. WHITHER: This isn’t the first time you’ve heard how I feel...your silence up to this point could make you complicit in the treason. But no matter. The royal enclave continues to decline, to die---and nothing you’ve done here will stop it.
VENABLE: (facing her directly for the first time) With your help...I will stop it. And thank you for reminding me why I ignore your quiet litany of insurrection: "complicit in the treason"...do you think for a moment that I would leave myself so exposed? WHITHER: (trying not to appear flustered) What you do...doesn’t worry me. VENABLE: (holding up a small vidchip) Care to watch? WHITHER: (smiling coldly) Proceed. Venable tosses the micro-thin vidchip against the far wall, where it sticks to the shiny surface and expands instantly into a wall size screen. From an angle that suggests a ceiling camera, we see Venable and Wither arguing in the lab chamber. We hear Wither say in defiant tones: If we change the protein in the penultimate cell branch, we can be rid of the royal enclave forever! Just one small change, and they’ll all die! Venable moves toward the exit panel and says over his shoulder, I won’t let you harm them,they’ll know of---at which point Whither points a slim device at him which expels a thin bright crackle of energy, striking Venable in the back, who stops, suspended in the shock of the blast, then crumples to the floor. The scene freezes. VENABLE: (staring at the frozen image) Nothing to say? WHITHER: This never happened. VENABLE: Of course not, and I doubt it ever will, at least for that reason. But anything can be replicated and modified...to one’s tastes.
4. WHITHER: I see your early love for ambient imagery hasn’t dimmed. (softly, with resignation) You have no need to show me this. I know what you are, and I’ve come to hate what I am. You don’t need to threaten me to keep me here. Once, long ago, I signed on for a much different reason---but none of that matters now. This will end soon, in any event. VENABLE: What do you mean? WHITHER: You will either find the antidote or you won’t. Either way, our world loses. There will be more death and the excludants will have suffered for one of two lost causes, and what we have done here will only perpetuate the damage. VENABLE: (moving toward her suddenly) Wither, I wouldn’t-WHITHER: (stepping away) And you and I will finally pay for this black truce that’s destroyed even the last vestige of what we once were. VENABLE: What we never were! You forget-WHITHER: That once you had a great dream, Head Gen-Baron? That you started out with lofty ideals to complement your great talents as a surgeon? That once I would have staked my life on the belief that you would have preferred exile or death to using your abilities on anything that would hurt our people? Yes, Venable, I forget, every time I come here, every time I watch what you do, I forget a little more.
WHITHER TURNS AND LEAVES THROUGH THE EXIT PANEL. VENABLE: (to himself) A gift I envy you, my love. EXT. DAY. A SQUALID, UNEVEN MARKET STREET ON HAARKEN. IT IS A FIERCELY BRIGHT NOON AND THERE IS A LARGE CROWD OF CASUAL, RAGGED ONLOOKERS AND AGGRESSIVE MERCHANTS MIXED WITH THE OCCASIONAL BUYER INSPECTING THE BOOTHS AND FLIMSY KIOSKS. WE SEE A YOUNG BOY, POSSIBLY 8 OR 9, DUCKING IN AND OUT OF THE DOORWAYS OF THE STREET, DISAPPEARING UNDER THE BURLAP-LIKE COVERINGS OF THE STALLS. HE EMERGES FROM UNDER ONE OF THE BOOTH TABLES CLUTCHING A SMALL AMOUNT OF FRUITS AND A WEDGE OF BREAD. AS HE TRIES TO SCAMPER AWAY, A LARGE HAND GRABS HIM BY THE NECK OF HIS SHIRT AND PULLS HIM UPWARD. THE BOY DROPS THE FRUIT AND BREAD, AND TWISTS DESPERATELY, TRYING TO FREE HIMSELF FROM HIS CAPTOR. SOLDIER: Little thief...this is the third time this week we’ve caught you stealing right on this same street. Not very bright, are you? Only this time you won’t get away... BOY: Please...my sister--let me take this food to her! She’s sick... SOLDIER: There’s always a reason to steal, eh? Well, here’s a reason not to-The guard throws the boy to the ground and kicks him, catching him squarely in the chest, sending him sprawling a few feet away, where he lies contorted in pain. The guard approaches, raising his booted leg to bring it down on the child. We see a shadow fall across the figure of the boy, an enormous shadow. The guard stops. SOLDIER: (cont’d) Sir...we found the-There is a massive flash of tensed muscle and a blur of sudden, explosive rage. The guard flies in framed arcs through the air and strikes a tenement wall, where he silently collapses and lies, unconscious. The boy, sitting up with arms crossed tight across his battered chest, stares with a mixture of fear and confusion at the mammoth form standing above him. We see a giant of a man, uniformed and
with a phalanx of troopers behind him. His enormous shoulders have military decorations which denote a high position. But his eyes show a quick glint of compassion for the boy, which he tries to shield from his men. QUILL: Corporal Vorklin was out of order...an undisciplined drunk, a bane to our regiment. Take him back to base and detain him on minimum rations for the remainder of his service. A pair of guards approach and lift him up and carry him away. QUILL: (cont’d) The rest of you wait for me in the squadron wing. I’ll take care of this one. The remaining troopers salute and leave him there with the boy. QUILL: (cont’d) Get up. QUILL: (cont’d) Here.... (he extends his hand to the child) BOY: What are you going to do with me? QUILL: (pulling the boy to his feet) You’re a thief. What should I do with you? BOY: I needed the food for my sister. She’s very ill and can’t move. QUILL: Where is she? BOY: (hesitantly) We live...below the street.
QUILL: In the aquemorts. BOY: Yes. QUILL: Very well, then. Show me. BOY: What will you do with us? QUILL: I don’t know. All you need to remember is that I stopped one of my own men from hurting you. Why would I hurt you now? BOY: Follow me. The boy starts to pick up the scattered fruit and reaches down with effort. He grabs his chest in pain. Quill gently straightens him back up and picks up what’s left of the scattered food and places it in a pocket of his cassock . QUILL: Lead me there, boy. They go deeper into the alley and the boy crouches suddenly by a small mesh grill at the bottom of the wall. He pries it loose and sits on the ground. He turns to Quill: BOY: It’s really small, I don’t think you’ll fit through here. QUILL: Let me worry about that. BOY: It’s down here. The boy drops down into the opening. it’s completely dark and all we hear is a splash as he hits water. Quill looks around, reaches under the upper edge of the opening, and pulls back. The mortar and bricks crumble in his hands and he pulls out a few bricks more on the side. He drop through the opening and hits the water in absolute darkness. QUILL: Boy! Where are you!
BOY: Right behind you. Quill spins around and squints into the murky shadows of the sewer. Gradually he makes out the form of the boy, holding what appears to be-QUILL: A spear? And what do you think you’re going to do with that? BOY: I’m sorry, but I can’t risk anything. QUILL: I understand. BOY: You must go back now. Please. QUILL: (sighing and shrugging his massive shoulders) I guess you don’t need any help for your sister, then. BOY: I can care for her myself. And I need the food you have in your pocket. Now. QUILL: (reaching for his pocket) Anything you say, boy. BOY: Don’t try anything. QUILL: Never. Quill slowly reaches into his pocket. Then, with a deft movement of his opposite hand grabs the spear by the shaft close to the head and yanks it out of the boy’s grasp, sending him headfirst into the filthy water. BOY: (coughing, sputtering) Hey---!
QUILL: Why don’t I just hoist back up to the street on the end of this fine weapon? BOY: (scrambling to his feet) Don’t! Wait! QUILL: I must admit, though, I didn’t expect that from you. Any more surprises? BOY: Where’s your gun? Quill reaches down to his side and grips a holster filled with nothing. He looks quickly around, then narrows his eyes at the boy. QUILL: Where is it? BOY: Gone. It fell off when you landed. It’s far down the aquemorts by now. QUILL: You saw and didn’t tell me... BOY: I needed to make sure... QUILL: Where are the rest? BOY: The rest of what? QUILL: Any other items you have stashed at the bottom of your entrances and egress points. I suppose if anyone followed you down here, it’d be convenient to have something close by to stick them with in the dark, eh? BOY: That was all I had.
QUILL: I don’t believe you for a microspan, but that’s no problem. Now, no more games, or I’ll snap you like this: (Quill breaks the spear in two with minimal effort) Understood? BOY: (angry) Well, you can’t get out without my help! Quill looks around him and then up at the opening more than twelve feet above. He touches the slimy stone wall and grumbles: QUILL: Should have let Corporal Vorklin finish you off...What’s you name, brat? BOY: I don’t have one. QUILL: (exasperated) Fine. I don’t care who you are, anyway. Either show me the way out of here, or... BOY: I’ll take you...but, the food first, please. QUILL: (carefully handing the foodstuffs to the child) Be careful with it; I wouldn’t recommend going above ground again for a while. BOY: (taking the food with both hands and placing it in a string-drawn leather-like pouch which he then tucks into his belt) There are other markets.
They work their way through the aquemorts, sloshing through the dense, foul waters that lap ghostlike against the ancient stone passageways. Quill notices for the first time that there is a faint yet perceptible glow that emanates from the walls, or better said, below the walls. QUILL: Why do the walls give off that light, boy? BOY: We don’t know. Some say it is to guide those must live down here. Others say that it is the sign of those who will die...not everyone sees it. QUILL: How long have you lived down here? BOY: All my life. QUILL: Then it must be to guide us. BOY: If so, since you can see it, then you must be meant to stay down here. QUILL: Not likely. BOY: I didn’t say live down here. QUILL: (impatient) How far is it? BOY: We’re coming up on it. They reach a part of the aquemort where the ceiling suddenly drop and there is a downward slope in the water current. The boy turns around at Quill and says: BOY: (cont’d) Hold your breath.
QUILL: I have been. This place stinks. BOY: We’re going under water. QUILL: How will I see you to follow you in this muck? BOY: Once we’re under, you’ll know. Quill looks at him with suppressed anger, and biting his bottom lip, cocks his head to one side and then smiles tightly. QUILL: I’m right behind you, boy. on.
INT. A LONG, SINGLE ROOM---A DEMI-STUDIO DOUBLING AS SOME ASYLUM’S TOOL SHED. THERE ARE BOXES UPON BOXES STACKED ON TABLES WHICH IN TURN ARE PYRAMIDED ON ONE ANOTHER LIKE SOME DEFORMED TRIBAL SCAFFOLDING. AT THE END OF THE ROOM WE SEE A TALL MAN OF COLOR WITH A UNIQUE HEAD KERCHIEF ADORNING HIS GRAVE, INTELLIGENT FEATURES. THIS IS BLYTEN; HE WILL ULTIMATELY PROVIDE A KEY TO END THE EXCLUDANTS POGROM. HE WILL ALSO INADVERTENTLY BRING TO FRUITION THE REGIME’S ULTIMATE GOAL: GEN-SEQUENCE HYPERBIOTICS. CAP.:(VO) This is what it comes down to...a stinking hovel on the fringelands to cover up the only thing left worth doing---getting the decoyliant serum out to the greatest number of excludants... CAP.:(VO) Before we’re all rounded up. Invested. Brought down. Put in stasis. Closeup on Blyten. BLYTEN: Just like my old job...when I was doing the damage. FLASHBACK. WE SEE A YOUNGER BLYTEN, WALKING OUTSIDE A SPRAWLING DOMED STRUCTURE IN A TREE-LINED PLAZA THAT GIVES US THE FEELING OF A CAMPUS. THERE ARE SCORES OF OTHER PEOPLE IN VARIOUS ACTIVITIES: CONVERSING ON THE LAWN, RUNNING AT PLAY, IN REFLECTIVE MOOD BY AN ARCHING FOUNTAIN. BLYTEN IS IN A SMALL GROUP, A COLLECTION OF YOUNG, INTELLIGENT-LOOKING
SCIENTIST EXCITEDLY DEBATING SOME THEOREM. ONE OF THE GROUP IS A TALL, ANGULAR YOUNG MAN WE RECOGNIZE AS VENABLE. VENABLE: ...but there’s always a way around that obstacle. BLYTEN: (excitedly) You call enforced genetic hyperbiotics on random subjects an "obstacle"? Sometimes I don’t know whether to nursemaid you through your next test or knock you down the Academy’s lecture monticle. VENABLE: (mocking a combat pose) "Nursemaid" me? Who helped who pass the last gen-exams so he could stay in the same tier as yours truly? BLYTEN: A mere quirk in the program, my good man, never to be repeated. VENABLE: Ha! The same quirk that will make me the eventual choice of... Down the way we see a beautiful girl approaching. It is Whither, accompanied by two female classmates, who seem more interested in Venable and Blyten than she does. They whisper back and forth as they approach, but only Whither seems unimpressed by the two young scientists. BLYTEN: Hello, Whither...how’s your project, uh, going? WHITHER: Fine, Blyten. You should have a chance to judge for yourself in less than two meridiaspans. VENABLE: You sound very confident...even though you opted to keep me out of your group.
14. WHITHER: It’s just that any project with Venable in the mix stops being a group project and turns into a Venable showcase. BLYTEN: She has you, boy... VENABLE: (bowing in mock deference) Whatever her Noble Reformatrix considers to be just, she being, after all, the scioness of one of Haarken’s prime Lawgivers...what chance does poor Venable have against that? WHITHER: (eyes flashing with quick anger) That has nothing to do with it! This is just my project and I’ll choose who I want working on it! VENABLE: But didn’t we just hear about my being an impediment to all that fine communal dung about group-work? But now it’s suddenly become "just my project and I’ll choose who I want". (smiling) Why Whither, I’m beginning to think you’re just all theater. Deep inside, you’re afraid to let me work close to you so I won’t find out just how very little you actually know. WHITHER: (coldly but struggling to retain control) You’re an impudent idiot and there’s nothing more I need to say. She brushes past Venable and her two classmates follow reluctantly, looking back at Venable and Blyten and smiling coyly. Blyten sighs and scratches the back of his head. BLYTEN: I guess I should be glad or at least hopeful...she really seems to hate you know. But...
VENABLE: Mmm-hmm? BLYTEN: I wish I could get that strong a reaction out of her...even if it is negative. VENABLE: Yes, you do. (slapping him playfully on the back) Come on, "nursemaid" me through some of this material; from the looks of it, Her Highness is going to give us some real competition. BLYTEN: You know...I really don’t think we stand a chance. VENABLE: With her, or the project? BLYTEN: Exactly. Venable gives Blyten a quizzical smirk and puts his arm around his shoulders and playfully drags him back toward the academy. DISSOLVE to... INT. DEMI-STUDIO/LAB AGAIN. BLYTEN PICKS UP A VIDCHIP FROM A CLUTTERED DESK AND GENTLY PRESSES IT AGAINST A WALL. A VIDCAP OF WHITHER APPEARS. BLYTEN: Too much damage, right, beautiful? Fade out. INT. VENABLE’S LABORATORY. VENABLE IS LEANING OVER A SMALL OPTICAL DEVICE, PEERING INTO TWIN CYLINDERS. HE STRAIGHTENS UP AND SMILES. VENABLE: Finally! (touching a small circular pad on his collar) Whither, I need you....we’ve found it!
Whither enters quickly through the sheer panel into the laboratory; a mixed look of concern and slight expectation on her features. WHITHER: What have you found, Venable? Another way to eradicate the excludants? VENABLE: Don’t be petulant, Whither. Our work with the excludants has nothing to do with eradication. We’re just utilizing their innate properties to save the regime. But, look at this! Even your ill temper should be allayed by this breakthrough... Whither approaches the microscopic viewer and looks through the lenses. She studies it for a long silent beat, then says: WHITHER: The degeneration has reversed...if that is indeed the same cell. VENABLE: (excited) It’s not just the same cell, but a hyperbiotic chamber cell! The cells of the excludant factor effectively enveloped the dying Regime cell and froze it, as it were, while taking on all the genetic characteristics of the Regime cell! This is sympathetic reconstruction, not just reversal---rebuilding all traits, my beautiful, recalcitrant, brilliant Whither, except the malamorph properties of the regime cell...replication without deficiency! WHITHER: And what of the fate of the excludants? VENABLE: (bothered) Well, they’ll be...released, or we shall take them out of stasis and place them in...I don’t know! The (MORE)
17. VENABLE: (cont’d) important thing is that we have found the cure for the Regime! It’s now a simple matter of isolating this cell branch process and recreating it in the synth-imaging farm so we won’t have to keep all of your beloved excludants asleep any longer. Don’t you see, Whither? You should be happy! This fulfills your dream, as well! WHITHER: What we have done in no less wrong for the outcome, Venable. VENABLE: (laughing) You’ll feel differently once the Regime is informed...you’ll be hailed as Prime Gen-Baroness of Haarken! Your work here will be studied for eons to come...this will conquer all manners of diseases and defects preciously deemed untreatable, Whither! You can finally let your conscience be at peace, because nothing can hold us back now from doing a greater good by eliminating all physical pain and suffering from Haarken! WHITHER: (uncertain) This is only one out of myriads of uncountable cells we’ve primed and lost....what makes you so sure it can be replicated in the synth-imaging farm? VENABLE: (moving close to her) You worry too much....of course we’ll be able to replicate it, a thousand, a million, a billion times over---(Venable pulls Whither close to him, his arms locked around her)---but none of this would mean anything if you weren’t here to share it with me...(He tilts his head in position to kiss her)
WHITHER: (breaking free gently, twisting out of his embrace) This is your victory, Venable; enjoy it for what it is. Whither starts toward the egress panel, then pauses as if to say something. She thinks better of it, and without looking back, exits the chamber. Venable stands rooted to the spot a few instants. Then, remembering who he is, he turns back to the microscopic viewer and before looking into it, smiles to himself. Part smile, part sneer. He goes back to his work. INT. OF THE AQUEMORTS. WE SEE THE BOY SWIMMING IN THE FOREGROUND TOWARD US, A SHADOWY FIGURE FOLLOWING A FEW FEET BEHIND. THE WATER IS DARK, NEBULOUS, THE ONLY VISIBLE OBJECTS ARE WHAT APPEAR TO BE STRANDED CARTS AND ANCIENT FURNISHINGS, MASSIVE, ORNATE DOORS AND SKELETAL SECTIONS OF BALCONIES AND TURRETS, AS IF HOUSING THE REMNANTS OF SOME SUBMERGED CASTLE. THE ODD THING ABOUT THIS IS THAT WE ARE ABLE TO SEE EVEN THESE SHADOWY OBJECTS BECAUSE OF WHAT APPEAR TO BE EMERALD-LIKE INGOTS EMBEDDED IN THE AQUEMORT WALLS THAT GIVE OFF A DIFFUSED, GREEN GLOW. ENOUGH TO SEE THAT THIS IS THE POSSIBLY, THE BEST-KEPT SECRET GRAVE OF HAARKEN. BOY: (bursting up out of the bilge) Aaaahhhhh! QUILL: (rising up behind him, mouth open, face contorted) SSSSSSplllllllllllllurrphhh! Blast it, boy!(sputter, cough)How can you hold your breath that long? BOY: It’s something you live with. QUILL: (Getting his breath) Where are we? BOY: This is where I live....with my sister. QUILL: You actually have a sister?
BOY: Yes, she’s very ill...I told you that’s why I steal. QUILL: Hmmph. BOY: This way. They slog their way past mountains of debris: a desolate collage of rubbish, human and animal remains and indecipherable emblems of some past colony. Quill takes deliberate steps, trying to follow in the boy’s footsteps, who scampers easily over the embattled pathway. Finally they arrive at an arched entrance to a cavernous hall, barricaded by two fallen beams transversed at an angle, hoary with moss and other plant growth. From deep within the obstructed space we hear a low, sustained moan, which could be wind or something unknown, alive. QUILL: What in the name of the Regime is that? BOY: I’ve been gone too long!
QUILL: Wait, boy! There’s something in there! Let me go in... The boy rushes ahead and clambers over the crossed beams and disappears into the darkness beyond. Quill utters something rude to himself and runs after him, clearing the beams with a nimble leap that belies his size, he peers into the darkness of the tall vaulted hall. He strides without fear into the interior. QUILL: (cont’d) Boy! Boy!! Are you there? Quill works his way into an enormous parlor, lit only by the green glow that spills wanly through the blocked entrance. Quill stops and squints into the recesses of the hall. Perhaps he has noticed that the low, constant moaning has subsided. QUILL: (cont’d) BOY!!!
BOY: (from a few unseen feet away) She’s going to be all right. You can come closer. QUILL: Where are you? BOY: To your left. Turn the corner. QUILL: What corner? BOY: Reach out your left hand and you’ll touch the wall. QUILL: ...another wall. BOY: She’s going to be all right... Quill touches the wall and draws close to it. He finds the edge and slowly turns the corner. First he look around and doesn’t see anyone. Gradually his eyes work upward. At first he stares in disbelief. Then he steps back, in what might be one of the few moments in his life he has shown fear. He instinctively reaches for a weapon that is no longer there. QUILL: This can’t be.... Up above, on what was once the floor of a private library, sits a creature that melds the feline markings of a tiger with the body mass and face of a bear, but with the ears and eyes of a tiger. It is an enormous beast, with golden eyes fixed squarely on Quill, crouching low over the edge of what had been a bannistered second story. At his side, dwarfed completely by the creature, the boy stands with his hand gripping a tuft of fur on its neck, as if that small restraint could hold it back. BOY: I told you I had a sister...
END OF FIRST CHAPTER OF THE HAARKEN ELECT PART I: THE FATE OF THE EXCLUDANTS.