Archon Ambassador: Good Will Tour

We just returned from Clallam Bay ComicCon, which was terribly fun (the Embassy’s driver has threatened a proper blog post on the topic; Ambassador Koi is notoriously awful about this sort of thing, but I have included a photograph of the environs so that you know why the Strait of Juan de Fuca is 100% Archon Approved)

Between Neah Bay and Sekiu, low tide

We’re looking forward to our next appearance in Portland, for The Hour that Stretches at the Jade Lounge (July 30th) and then we’re off to Spokane, WA for Spocon!

You can of course get the book as a paperback or ebook here:
Honor & Sacrifice, cover

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Archon Pronunciation Pocket Guide

For those who have asked or simply wondered.

Double a – The non-marked “aa” that appears in place and personal names (Shaan, Ryzaa, Jaahyden, etc) is representative of a single character in Archon, (AYL or AYU). It has old Shandrian origins, so the proper, ancient pronunciation would be “aya” (ah-ya, or ah-yuh). In Sol’s time, the Ryzaan pronunciation is more common, so when it appears between consonants, it sounds more like a long a (a as in “tame”) and at the end of words, “ay-ah”. On the occasion [AYL] appears at the beginning of words, it is pronounced like a long i (i as in “time”) or hard y sound (y as in “yes”) [the character is consonant and vowel, so to torture my English speaking readers less, I change it to the appropriate equivalent at the beginnings of names].

Ergo: Sol’s father’s nickname is pronounced by the majority like “Shane”, but the technical pronunciation is closer to “Shahyan” or “Shayahn”. Jaahyden’s name is pronounced “Jay high den” by most, although Parthenos, Tyrnan, and a few others pronounce it from the back of the tongue, “Jha ayhid in” (yeah, and now you see why everyone just calls him Jady).

Note: The double a in Cha’atz is pronounced “ah-ah” with a clear, brief pause between the sounds. This is a Ryzaan dual vowel character, [ATET], which denotes earned respect and command.

Double e – Aurian in origins and rarely used in modern Archon, the “ee” in words like “Sanjeera” represents a vowel sound dragged between consonant characters, indicated in old Shandrian script by a punctuation mark. Earthly Arabic features similar vowel sounds whereas English lacks them in regular usage. Try rolling the e’s and you’ll come close to how Sheriden, Freyr, and Parthenos would say the name; if you can’t wrap your mouth around it, try: Sanj-yee-ra.

Double i – “ii”, as it appears in Sol’s name, is another old-tongue character, [YIR]. “Ee-year” or “ee-air” are quality approximations. At the end of words, it becomes “eh-yi” or “eye-ee”.

G – The “g” in “genadri” is a hard g; g as in “guy” or “game”. “G” in general, when it appears in Archon words, is a hard sound; “j” sounds are represented with a “j”.

How the Hell do you actually pronounce the full name of the Ilu Empire?. Ilv’xukzuiy?
For the record, this word is Saurtaf and not Archon at all. But if you must know: *from the back of the throat*, not from the front of the tongue –
“Ilf-shook-zhu-ye-eye” … now speed it up a bit… keep practicing. Then remember the Ilu and Khemiir have extra throat muscles you don’t and you’re still doing it incorrectly.
Apologies in advance if it makes you spit or your tonsils feel weird. :P

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A Primer on Archon Religion

I. Pacifist Groups

Attentive readers will note that Archon society is generally atheistic. This is a natural state for kaffir; they relate to nature closely and rarely feel a need to personify or deify anything. Proselytizing is illegal within the Archon Empire, although religion is not outlawed. Several peaceful spiritual groups exist, mostly among humans and haki. These groups are not substantially influential on any level during Sol’s time period (see section III).

The exception among the peaceful groups is the Independent State of Mantzaar on Archos. To the east of Ryzaa’s extensive wilderness lies a rugged coastal region inhabited by a mix of kaffir and haki who believe sexuality and death are sacred and joy is the primary motivation of life. They are conscientious objectors, and maintain their peace and independence (and, in fact, free existence) through trade of valuable compounds (dye pigments, spices, liquor, and most importantly, pharmaceuticals; two primary ingredients to Star Assault’s combat cocktails originate in the Mantzaar state). The head of the faith is referred to only as the Living God, and he/they reside in a temple they never leave. Members of the Harnsvaar are known to ritually visit, although it is unknown what they do inside the temple.

Mantzaari youth rarely rebel and join Archon society (and therefore, the military, abandoning their faith) and are considered a sexual delicacy by other Archons.

II. Military Societies

Training in traditional kaffir combative art forms (ma’at shi, etc) is controlled by three major groups who keep their secrets guarded but their profiles semi-conspicuous.

a. Order of Leviathan

The various ethnic groups of the North Shandrian region of Archos gave a name to the storms and geothermal forces that effected their day to day living. The arts of the Trenches were initially developed to help protect fishermen and explorers. Experimentation and eventual necessity led to outwardly hostile implementations of these same arts.

Leviathan’s primary temple sits north of the Shandrian city of Vyeshaal, built partially underwater, directly into natural stone formations. While parts of it are available for tour by regular citizens, the sacred shrine and training hall are accessible only to those with the capability to breathe underwater, swimming against strong currents. Visitors who arrive wearing clothes or masks (traditionally one carries one’s belongings in a pack and is otherwise naked from the waist up if not completely nude) are never heard from again.

The priesthood of Leviathan, planet side, has long been dominated by Clan Tauveri. The Tauveri control the production and sale of the stimulant atquel and are influential in the political spectrum. The matriarch of said family is purported not to be a current member of the priesthood, but rumors abound that she sent her youngest son for induction at 15. (We have already met him in the storyline; he is one of the Fangs!) The high priest of Leviathan is referred to as “Kia”, and is currently an ex-tanker known only as “Rzhyr”. (You’ll meet him in book two, and get to find out how Jaahyden was expelled from the order).

Off world, the Trenches are headed by war-priests called “Tetrarchs”. The Kia has little power over them while they are in space, and often has to live with their independent decisions. Fortunately for Kia Rzhyr, or maybe quite intentionally, most current Tetrarchs and their Trench guardians are impressively intelligent people who use speech economically and consider their actions wisely.

Notes of curiosity: Of the kaffir war-cults, Leviathan has the most female members. They do not engage in ritual prostitution. As one of the wealthiest and best organized groups, they sponsor a large number of martial arts tournaments and are the chief financial backers of the Harbor Festival (Shandrian winter holiday; boats and homes are decorated, gifts are exchanged; detractors of the festival refer to it as “Shandrian Pride Week”)

b. Order of the Sun

Ancient legends of the Aurian people feature an elven prince named Maalek, his brother, and the lover over whom both fought. On the surface these tales come across as hyperbolic fables with the usual messages of brotherhood, teamwork, and the power of love, but encoded within them are the secrets for using pulse to kill.

Maalek is by no coincidence what the kaffir of Archos call the star around which Archos orbits. The Order of the Sun considers Maalek the personification of nuclear energy, radiation, and pulse. The Order is split into smaller groups, all anatomically named (Hands, Hearts, Tongues) and these groups are notoriously unstable. Members of the Order are often hot-tempered and not always trustworthy (Leviathan adherents say “Never turn your back on a priest of the Sun”). The Maalek priesthood tend to live lavish and perverse lifestyles, funded by the prostitution of their monks and/or by piracy and “the spoils of war”.

Maalek’s influence can be found throughout the exo armor groups, firefighters, and of course in Star Assault. The current head of the Tongues threatened mutiny in the senate and lives in exile; the Tongues are undergoing a schism as a result. The head of the Hearts is a woman reputed to have murdered (or led to the death) several younger monks of Leviathan. The head of the Hands is a mystery even to most members of the Order.

Sun Shrines can be found throughout the coastal region and through Vasa. They are always located on difficult cliffs or pinnacles. One in particular is said to be “The Divine Center” and “The Masked One” can be found there. Members will not speak of what this means aside from that.

c. Order of Aur

The Kez Mountains separate Ryzaa from Eshandir, and for a good chunk of Archon history kept those nations safe from one another. The elves who live within these treacherous peaks are said to be the original genetic stock of Eshandir and Ryzaa and possibly of all kaffa kind. Although their lifestyles seem primitive in light of most of the Archon Empire’s technology and commotion, the nocturnal Kez-fae (Moon Folk) have complex folklore and literature and guard a subterranean library of notable importance. This library, Taun Drau* (“Rock Water”, “water” being the same character as “wisdom” in their script, and “rock” being the same character as “spirit”), is heavily secured, and requires special training as well as permits to enter. It is the only true permanent structure of the Kez-fae (they are nomadic, with groups moving between caves and small stone huts, shared and cared for by all).

Among these great literary works is the Book of Aur, which explains in romantic poetry the existence of consciousness and the importance of being merciful to conscious things. Star Assault’s unit numbers reference specific passages in this book; other units of the Archon military are numbered by a more mundane and practical system.

Members of the Aur faith are secretive, but practice in the open. Their primary temple is a sprawling complex of gardens, spas, care centers, baths, and a sexual health facility, in the hills north of Ryzaa city. The civilian face of Aur is kind, community oriented, and tranquil. They offer death options for the elderly and terminally ill as well as therapy for the injured. They do not pray in front of outsiders, only smiling as they work. Their sex working staff are usually handsome young monks skilled in one or more fine art, offering multi-level entertainment for the lonely or grieving. Temple prostitutes are not allowed to leave the grounds during their stint as such, except to join the military or to film pornography. Aur monks are not allowed to engage intimately unless paid to perform so; the only physical contact they have a modicum of freedom over is in combative sports.

The military side of Aur is darker; “showing mercy” translates to “training and being highly specialized assassins”. Even if civilians figure this out, it is never discussed in polite company. Save for necessities, Aur monks income (whether from service, sex, or prize money) all returns to the Temple of Aur. Higher level military cult members can purchase the “guaranty” of an Aur monk, freeing him from his service to the Temple. (The “guaranty” is a certificate all Archon citizens are issued at birth or when nationalized; this is held in trust by their parents or by Universal Credit until the person does their mandatory service – either community or military – and upon the completion of manserve, the guaranty is given to the citizen, making them a complete independent citizen of the empire. The guaranties of Star Assault members are held by the head of the SA Unit’s UC account *unless* that person is a member of an order, in which case the order head keeps the guaranty; as this implies, there are temple members who have never met or seen the person holding their guaranty; only the Order of Aur engages in the practice of selling their monks outright. If you pay close attention to the end of “Honor & Sacrifice”, a Tetrarch of Leviathan bought the guaranty of an Aur monk he willfully injured, and that monk is technically a free citizen staying at Colonel Kiertus’ side for reasons not yet revealed.)

The bulk of medics in Star Assault are adherents of this faith. There are adherents of Aur in nearly every imperially funded hospital. They will usually not reveal this fact unless asked (or if one has the kind of eyes that can see their ultraviolet tattoos), but they can be specially requested.

The other two major orders have a grudging respect for the Temple of Aur; Aur adherents are sometimes smug or arrogant, looking down at Leviathan a little and the Sun a lot. Still, cross training opportunities happen; respect is owed anyone who has trained with all three.

III. Historical Notes

a. The Aurmalki People

Thousands of years before the foundation of the empire, there were still pure humans on Archos. They primarily dwelt on a continent west of Eshandir. They were extremely primitive when discovered by Shandrian explorers. While the Shandrians largely considered them to be strange animals, too physically fragile and emotionally inflexible to be any fun, Ryzaans were fascinated by these short-lived creatures and took to raiding their shores for slaves and food. Some Shandrian philosophers visited and lived among them, and introduced them to kaffir folklore. This turned out a poor idea, as the humans fused the mixed ideas of Aur and Maalek into a belief system which at first was peaceful but slowly morphed into an idea that humans were the next stage of evolution, superior beings to the kaffir. Their relative isolation and paranoia ramped up over the centuries, and when they noticed a civilian space port being built on the islands between their nation and Eshandir, they refused to believe it was there with any positive intentions, and nuked the port into oblivion. Fallout from this ultimately wiped out most of the kaffir in the region of Aurius. Furious, the queen of Eshandir turned her pulse cannons on the nation, then sent her haarkijietj to clean up the rest. While her troops and finances were occupied in relief in Aurius and genocide in Aurmaalek, the Ryzaans invaded and finally conquered Eshandir, which remained occupied until the foundation of the Archon Empire.

b. The Migration

It is believed Ryzaan slaves brought by Ravasich Chemical Technology held on to one or more versions of the Aurmalki faith, which eventually transmuted into the foundation of the Kourhonoi Theocracy. They consider their belief system “the one true faith” and call it nothing else, in spite of being mocked by Archon scholars. It will become apparent in book two that there are secret enclaves of a pacifist sect within the KT who believe all conscious folk are one race, deserving of equal respect and love, and these enclaves consider themselves “Aurmalki”. They are few and far between due to obvious persecution and purges, and seem to end up in despair … or terrorist organizations.

*Draumietj is the familial name given to the guardians of the library as well as guardians of water sources.

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Paperback – update!

Honor & Sacrifice is now available directly through Amazon.com as a trade paperback!

Tribes of Heaven vol. 1, “Honor & Sacrifice”

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Books and how to get them

handscvr

Honor & Sacrifice, Book #1 of the Tribes of Heaven series is currently available:

Print-on-demand trade paperback via Createspace: https://www.createspace.com/4185501

Kindle ebook: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00CWTZKXO/ref=tsm_1_fb_lk

You should also be able to search for the paperback on Amazon.com in a week or so, and you may even see them in brick and mortar stores in a few months. Be sure to take a picture of them if you stumble across Sol’s little armored butt somewhere in the meat world!

Remember that we are on Goodreads so if you have a membership there, feel free to give us some stars – for the Empire! Thanks!

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The Paperback Is On The Way!

We have officially proofed the paperback version.

It will be coming like Ropetrick in the middle of a firefight (that is to say soon, or may be “a lot”… wait…)

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Kindle book available!

Might have a few spelling or grammar scrumps because I gave up and loaded the last best version on my flash drive after Wyvern (my second computer) took the big nosedive. He completely wiped his drives on the way out… never seen a computer do that. I spent hours with transfer cables and data retrieval software… really, it’s something. Note to self: naming the computer after a character who won’t give up information under torture? Probably not the best plan I’ve ever had.

:)

That said, here, an electronic novel about a young man with a strange job, his pet bug monster, and his crazy strung out bosses and their attitudey space ship:

Honor & Sacrifice, Kindle edition!

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Publication News

Ran into trouble when formatting the book for Createspace; 310 pages turned into 501. I am slowly squeezing it down while trying not to squeeze any of the crucial story out.

The book may end up costing me more to publish at this rate though and may require a small fundraiser – not a kickstarter though, just a little fundraiser, since the lack is more in the 50-100 area and not the thousands.

Book two, “Above the Sun” is also on the horizon already, and there is a young adult series planned for later in 2013 or 2014, set during the Ice Armada era, following the story of a young gunner named Nia. Whether we’ll be doing that as standard fiction or a graphic novel is currently up to debate around the ranch.

More to come. Stay tuned!

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The Good News

It would appear we’ve found who we’re going to use as a publisher (more on that later) and we received a *lovely* blurb by an old cohort of ours from our game industry salad days for the back of the print book:

“From the opening pages, I was hooked. Ann Koi’s debut novel is vivid, baroque, and exciting with a combination of xenobiology and mysticism that evokes aspects of Frank Herbert’s Dune. Great, surprising stuff and worth a look.” — John Scott Tynes, co-creator of Delta Green and Unknown Armies

(I may have actually fainted, being compared to one of my biggest influences as a world designer, and by Tynes of all people.)

Now for the more confusing and/or more mixed news.

– There was a massive revision during the last spin through the forges here at the Ranch. While it does not precisely change the story of “Honor & Sacrifice”, it may strongly change the way two (maybe three) characters are perceived by readers. The decision largely stemmed from wanting to get somewhere quicker, but also to avoiding an ugly blindside when that bit of back story came to light in “Above the Sun” (book 2, tentative title) or supposing people actually read all the way through “Roots in Hell” (which was all online and I pulled realizing that that little back story bit was never directly stated in book one and it’s an express train to Spoiler Town)

– I have regained control of my hands through the amazing skills of neurological specialists, so I’m sculpting again. It’s a huge YAY! but it also means a) I’m broke from several doctor’s visits involving travel etc. and scraping the money back together to print H&S and b) I roped myself into a hyper-complicated art exhibit in order to help scrape that money together.

Progress, in some form or other, has occurred.

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Update

Koi here; off to San Diego tomorrow to be traumatized by large crowds.

Still apologizing from the sizable detour I took there for a while, but things are back on track with the print version of the first book. Wyvern, Sol, and Parthenos all ended up making guest appearances in a limited comic – the catalog for the “Familiar Spirits” art exhibition. This will be available online in some form after it is available at the shop, which will be after I return from Comic Con. Why does everything take so long? Because it does. That’s your answer. Please forgive us. Trust me that I would love to spend less time at doctors’ offices, hospitals, funerals, and the really dull parts of my day job.

Also a tiny apology for our down time while our web master had to free us from the yoke of oppressive Russki hackers. That was dumb. We did not lose any data, though, so go Tony!

Take care.

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