If you’re reading Zev’s Afrotheria, above is the Empire of Afrotheria in the form of a map. It’s always so much fun creating a fictitious map. Anything is possible. This is a look at Zev’s Afrotheria map. The mapmaker was having fun with all the zones, and funky names for the provinces. Now to remember it all while creating each chapter.
In the Luna VR, the he-goat Dalia met removed his mask and pointed to the closed door.
“Who was she?” Waweru asked.
Zev toggled his avatar, removing the Pink Piggy mask. The room changed into an industrious workroom where Zev created code for his customers. There were two large tables loaded with tools and digital cards, some of them complete, others in various levels of completeness. Zev spent most of his free time here. Waweru sometimes helped finish some of the coding projects.
“Her userID says her name is Dahlian. She wants permission to use the code I uploaded to the KISTech database,” Zev said. “I’ve been upgrading it for weeks. I’m not sure if I should give her permission to use the original upload, or hand her what I’ve been working on.”
“The difference between you and me is that you won’t put your code up for a bid in the Lunar Marketplace,” Waweru said, sinking into the couch opposite Zev’s worktable. “What did you want to show me?”
Zev stopped fiddling with the greenhouse model he was making for his sister. He reached for a digital card on the desk and passed it on to Waweru.
“What is this?” Waweru asked, downloading the code in the virtual card into his own console. He took a few minutes to study the string of code Zev shared with him. Waweru grinned. “It’s a framework to map and calculate the gradient.”
“I saw the device you created to test the types of soil in an area. If you add this code to the analysis on the device it will be useful to architects,” Zev said. “If you can’t fight your father on going to KISTech, you could focus on refining building applications.”
“Are you giving this to me for free?” Waweru asked, narrowing his gaze on Zev.
“I’m not enrolling into KISTech,” Zev said. He sat back in his chair and faced Waweru. “I’ve accepted the apprenticeship at Santi Corp. The academy counselor sent me a message that they had accepted my application. I won’t have to go to Kirit.”
Waweru let out a soft impressed whistle.
“You’ll end more valuable than us who enroll at KISTech,” Waweru said. “Santi Corp apprenticeship means you can rise up their ranks, Zev. Congrats. I will miss you.”
“Did you talk to your parents about changing classes?” Zev asked.
“Miss Leya helped me fill out the forms and she even wrote a recommendation to Jenga Construction Technical University. I went home to start a conversation. Baba did not give me a chance. He handed me an envelope with a KISTech ID tag, an enrollment package, and the keys to the dorm I’ll share with one of his friend’s kids. He has paid for the first year.”
“Damn,” Zev sighed. “I’m sorry, Waweru.”
Waweru shrugged and lifted the digital card from Zev.
“Thank you for this. I’ll make use of it.”
“It won’t be easy,” Zev said. “KISTech’s only agenda is research on ghost wraiths and how to end them or fight them off. Every student has to do research on ghost wraiths. Are you sure you’ll be okay?”
“I’ll manage,” Waweru said, shaking his head. “I don’t think I have a choice.”
“I’ll miss you, Zev. It won’t be the same not having you as a deskmate,” Waweru said.
“We can always meet here,” Zev said, indicating his workshop. “We’ll call each other and message.”
“Yeah,” Waweru said, with a quick grin. “So, did the hot Dahlian really pay five hundred credits to enter this workshop?”
“Yep,” Zev grinned. “She’s helped pay for three months of our shop’s membership with Lunar VR. I worried the pink piggy would have to turn it into a private room soon.”
“Can I message her?” Weru asked. “She looked like she would talk to me—”
A long beep sounded in the earpiece Zev wore in his left ear.
“I have to go,” Zev said, saving his work on his sister’s greenhouse. He got up, stretched his arms over his head, and grinned at Weru. “See you kesho at the village center.”
“Yeah, man,” Weru said. “I’ll go stalk Dahlian’s account and see if she will message me.”
Zev grinned and logged out. He removed his Luna VR glasses and stared at the screen in front of him. The Luna VR site had a prompt blinking his logout confirmation. Touching the screen to confirm, Zev noted the green light blinking on the wall behind his monitor. His sister was buzzing him.
It meant his parents were home and looking for him. Pushing back his comfortable office chair, Zev stretched his arms over his head and got up, adjusting his dark t-shirt over the grey sweat pants he wore. He hurried out of his room eager to get some food.
The Mablevi home was not extravagant. It was also not a simple house. It was built as a ranch-style house on a one-acre piece of land. Over the years, Zev’s parents added rooms and space as the family grew. When Zev turned four, and his sister was a baby, the house had two bedrooms, a kitchen, a common bathroom, and a living area.
Now, the old living room had turned into a second bedroom for his sister. His parents added two more bedrooms to accommodate their youngest children and a larger sitting area with a dining room.
Zev walked from his room taking the long corridor to the kitchen. He stopped at the kitchen entrance when he found his father giving his siblings an impromptu history lesson.
“It is not known why Mount Njaro rumbled to life, spewing tons of molten lava out into the peaceful forests. After the volcano stopped filling the sky with dark ash, lightning and thunder filled the sky. Our empire’s ancients only know that after the thunder came, instead of rain, Ghost Wraiths arrived.”
Zev crossed his arms against his chest thinking about Dahlian who wanted to find a way to end the ghost wraith menace. The Ghost Wraiths were dark, large phantom-like creatures. Resembling massive wolves with slick, oily black skin in place of their fur, their mouths were filled with teeth sharper than razors. They could crush a human’s body with one bite.
They all learned about ghost wraiths in their first years of school. The creatures varied in sizes and preferred traveling in packs. They wreaked havoc in the villages, injuring defenseless souls, tearing up families and homes, leaving devastation behind. The Ghost Wraiths disappeared when the thunder and lightning ended.
“When the Ghost Wraiths arrived, Afrotheria became a realm under siege,” Luca Mablevi said, his voice engaging. His two youngest sons watched him with wide eyes, drawn into the story.
Amare sat on a chair at the kitchen table next to Luca Mablevi. She was helping their father peel potatoes. Zev’s two little brothers were perched on a bench they used at the kitchen table. Their mother was at the kitchen counter kneading dough.
Amare glanced up from the potatoes she was peeling and saw Zev standing by the kitchen door.
She smiled and waved him closer, pulling out the chair next to hers. Zev grinned and moved to sit next to her as Luca continued his story, winking in acknowledgment of Zev’s arrival.
“The empire’s ruling class began an earnest quest to rid Afrotheria of the specter-like creatures. Despite their best efforts, no solution has proved useful in the one hundred and sixty years following the first invasion. The Sable Council, which has always been the highest authority of the realm, has focused all its attention and efforts on creating better defenses for the affected provinces, the capital, and smaller villages.”
“They bolstered the Protection Class, made them grow in power. The Protection Class now runs the formidable Theria Guild. They are responsible for every citizen’s safety in this empire.”
The Theria Guild consisted of powerful men and women who trained in the art of destroying Ghost Wraiths. The citizens of Afrotheria called these men and women Guardians. Zev frowned, thinking of the members of the Protection Class.
It was both a curse and a blessing to survive and prosper in the Theria Guild. Afrotherians revered and feared guardians in equal measure. As a result, guardians preferred to live in a large compound called Oasis. Each Oasis was named after the team stationed in the compound.
“The members of the Theria Guild are our treasure. It is said that the more battles a guardian survives, the higher he or she climbs the ranks,” Luca said, his voice filled with mystery and wonder. “The most dangerous and skilled guardians are found in the Strike Force. The weakest and the trainees are found in the Swala Force.”
“I want to be in the toughest oasis,” Silas said, making their mother gasp.
Silas was Luca and Elina’s youngest son. Zev’s youngest brother. He loved listening to stories about the guardians most, so Luca tried to make them as exciting as he could.
Zev hid a smile and shook his head, stealing a glance at Elina at the counter. He wondered what she would do if one of her children became a Theria Guild Guardian.
“Has our village ever faced a reckoning?” Grey asked.
He was the third born of Luca’s children.
A reckoning was a village’s encounter with a pack of ghost wraiths.
Luca glanced at his wife, Elina, before he nodded, his gaze filling with remorse. He shifted on his chair and continued peeling the potatoes his wife had placed in front of him.
Amare was almost done with her share.
It was not a surprise to find Luca helping his wife with household chores. He often helped with cooking tasks because he loved how Elina smiled at him when he was done.
Luca looked up from a peeled potato to find his four children watching him with wide expectant eyes.
Grey and Silas’s gazes held innocent interest, while Amare, his second-born and only daughter had empathy in her eyes. However, the one who made him pause was his eldest son, Zev.
Zev looked at him with jaded expectation. He had heard Luca’s stories too often. Either that or Zev remembered his grandparents and knew there was no mystery or wonder in a reckoning.
Luca took in a deep breath and let it out slowly. He finished peeling the potato he held before he met Grey’s expectant gaze.
“You were not born when our village endured a reckoning,” Luca said. “Your mom and I only had Zev and Amare. They were home with your grandparents when the thunder and lightning came. The Strike Force Guardians saved us. They were running exercise maneuvers close by and came to fight off the ghost wraiths. They saved us.”
“Not all of us,” Zev said in a quiet voice, reminding Luca of their family’s tragedy.
“You’re right,” Luca said, acknowledging their family’s saddest memories. “Your grandparents were caught in the fight and ended up leaving us.”
Zev was five years old when the reckoning came. Amare was three years old.
Zev remembered their grandparents.
Luca knew his oldest son missed them and hated that the ghost wraiths had taken their lives. He often wished he knew how to heal Zev’s broken heart over the loss of their grandparents. He wished he could wave his hand, and Zev would forget the horrifying day, but that was just wishful. Luca finished peeling the last potato on his tray and washed his hands in the water in the bowl.
Luca wiped his hands on a clean cloth on the table and reached out to squeeze Zev’s slender shoulder.
“We lost your grandparents to a reckoning,” Luca told his other children. “We’re not the only ones who lost loved ones, but we are grateful that our home survived the attack. After the ghost wraiths attacked, the Theria Guild built a training Oasis for the guardians in our Teru Province.”
Grey nodded, his gaze turning serious. He was only seven, but he was the most inquisitive. Silas who was five had already lost interest and was now staring at the open pit fire in the corner. He stood up from the bench and went to sit on the low stools by the fire. He picked up a stick to poke at the firewood. Amare allowed it for a few minutes, and then she got up and went to swipe the stick away from Silas earning a protest.
Luca looked around their comfortable kitchen. The pit fire was built into the wall of the kitchen, meant to warm the room. Their kids liked sitting around the fire in the evening. Elina had insisted on making the kitchen the warmest part of the house.
She was busy at the kitchen counters on the opposite end, where a pot simmered on the cooking range next to the counter she was using.
Luca’s gaze shifted up to the steel grate installed under the roofing sheets. It was as high as the main house’s roof. Specialized steel netting covered the grate. It was designed to keep them relatively safe if the Ghost Wraiths attacked.
Luca did not know if it worked. He had only read the paperwork that came with the steel grate from Santi Corp. He prayed and hoped daily that they would never have to test grates.
“Baba, what is the name of the Oasis in Teru Province?” Grey asked.
“Swala Force. It is a training institution where members of Sokwe Recon train new recruits in the Swala force,” Luca said. “They are not the strongest, but they are quite useful. They have managed to give us ten years of peace in this province.”
Grey sighed in relief.
“I’ll join their team when I’m old enough. I want to protect our town too.”
Luca blinked, staring at his son. He could never have imagined any of his children wanting to join the Theria Guild. Luca glanced at Elina and found a similar concerned look on her face. He gave her a slight smile and hoped that Grey would outgrow this childhood dream. It was too frightening.
“What about you Zev?” Luca asked. Zev was seventeen and on the brink of joining a training institute to determine his lifelong career. He was a gifted Technical Class student. “Where do you want to enroll after you graduate from the academy?”
“The academy counselor helped me apply for a tech apprenticeship with Santi Corp,” Zev said.
Luca got up and took the bowl of peeled potatoes to the sink. She was busy rolling pieces of dough into round mounds, ready to make chapati. Luca passed his hands under the kitchen tap. It came on and his gaze lingered on the label on the tap’s knob.
Santi, it read.
Santi Corp was a large corporation in Afrotheria with a group of hidden owners. They were creators and manufacturers of most of the advanced technology used in Afrotheria. Their biggest competition was KISTech in the capital city, Kirit.
“Why does your advisor think you will fit in at Santi Corp?” Luca asked, wiping his hands with a disposable paper towel.
When Luca finished with the paper towel, he turned to throw it into a trashcan that opened just because he was standing close to it. Once again, the name Santi was engraved on the lid.
“She says I have a gift of imagination that Santi Corp will appreciate,” Zev said, with a small, pleased grin.
Luca watched Zev take the tray of peels, his and Amare’s, and take the potato peels to the biodegradable bin made by his wife.
“I’m glad they accepted me,” Zev said, bringing the now empty trays to the sink. He rinsed the trays and started washing the peeled potatoes in the basin. “Baba, I want to do this. I don’t want to move to Kirit for four years at KISTech. I want to stay here in Teru close to you guys. Santi Corp is always looking for gifted tech scholars. It will be a good opportunity for me.”
“I really wish you would join the Conservation Class like your father and me,” Elina said, looking at their eldest son with a frown. “I’ve heard the Tech Class working for Santi has labs in the Deserted Lands of Afrotheria.”
They called the four provinces near the forests closest to Njaro Mountain Deserted Lands. The Ghost Wraiths had rule over these lands. Regular folk could not survive in the Deserted Lands.
“My boss confirmed that Santi Corp is said to have a station close to Njaro Mountain. Their scientists are studying the fracture in the vents that allows the wraiths to invade our lands,” Elina said. “I don’t think I could handle you being so close to danger, Zev.”
“Mom, I will be a trainee. I doubt they would send me out to their most exclusive research center when I know nothing,” Zev said, shaking his head. “Besides, my apprenticeship is in the compound where Swala Force Oasis runs. That’s where we will have our classes. Mama, I have already been accepted into the program. I confirmed with my counselor last week. You don’t have to pay for anything because it is a scholarship.”
“Oh,” Elina said, bracing her hands on the kitchen counter.
Elina studied Zev, apprehension clear in her eyes. Luca could not blame her. This evening was full of hits. Their third-youngest wanted to join the guild. Their oldest son wanted to join the most debated company in the empire.
Santi Corp had dangerous grey areas. He dared not imagine what kind of experiments they carried out at the facility near Njaro Mountains. It scared him to have Zev working with Santi Corp.
Parenting was not easy, Luca decided.
“Alright, enough talk about the future,” Luca said, clapping his hands. “Come on, Zev, let’s help your mother finish making our supper. Amare, take Grey and Silas to the living room. First, they finish homework, then you make sure they don’t watch grown-up shows on the screen. I renewed our subscription for toons yesterday.”
Amare got up, gave Zev a knowing glance before she urged Grey and Silas up and led them to the living room. Zev continued washing the potatoes at the sink.
Luca moved closer to Elina, wrapping an arm around her waist. She leaned into him and let out a sigh. When she met his gaze, he read fear and worry.
“What would we do with a guardian in the family?” Elina asked, keeping her voice too low for Zev to hear. “Grey would have to leave our home and only visit late in the evening. People are so wary of Guardians.”
Luca shook his head and pressed a kiss on her cheek.
“He’s seven, it’s just a dream,” Luca soothed. “You have plenty of time to show him the wonders of conservation science.”
Elina let out a small chuckle. Even after all these years, Luca felt lucky that she had chosen to marry him and given him four children. Outside their cozy home, she was a talented scientist who worked in a small laboratory on strengthening agriculture in Teru Province. She was beautiful, amazing, and brilliant.
“Maybe Amare will follow in your footsteps. She is the only one who loves plants the same way you do,” Luca said, letting Elina go so that they could get started on making the evening meal.
“Maybe,” Elina said, continuing her work with the dough.
“Amare does like plants, but she wants to teach little kids,” Zev said, bursting their bubble with a quick grin. He found a flat round iron pan his mother used to cook the flatbread.
Luca watched Zev turn on the cooker with a fast swipe of his finger over the console. Zev placed the pan over the fire. When he looked up and saw Luca and Elina staring at him, he laughed.
“You still have Silas,” Zev said, his tone soothing. “He might like conservation science and agriculture.”
“Cheeky boy,” Elina said, shaking her head.
Luca grinned and the memory sunk into Zev’s conscious. So did the kiss Elina brushed on Zev’s cheek as she helped him add oil to the flat iron pan. Elina placed the first flatbread on the pan.
“Turn it around, let it feel the heat, Zev. Add a little oil…”
Luca instructed Zev on how to cook the flatbread making sure it didn’t get burnt. Elina watched them with a smile, as she rolled out the next flatbread.
It was a moment in time Zev would never forget.
Genre: African Science Fiction, Novels set in Dystopian Africa
Chapter 2 – Demus fights ghost wraiths and Dalia meets a Pink Piggy about source code in the Luna VR.
Zev Afrotheria / Chapter Two
Theria Guild Command
Commander Demus oversees the fight against Ghost Wraiths
Glass screens mounted on the walls lit up with the flash of blue fire lasers. Commands rang through the large command dome. Officers manned support stations, responding to order requests and responses, combing through footage on the screens for information needed in the fight.
“What’s the count?” Demus Kiima asked, his tough tone rang in every corner of the command dome.
“One hundred and fifty,” the answer came from an officer sitting at a console in the middle of the room. “One hundred and forty-nine, forty-eight…”
“How far is support?” Demus asked.
“Ten minutes, Commander,” a second officer said, voice calm, simply delivering orders.
Demus cursed under his breath and studied the movements of the Simba Recon Team on the overhead screens. The ghost wraiths were on a direct path to the villages of Thuka Province. Demus had all available guardians on site. Sokwe Recon was taking its time getting to the designated coordinates. He could not blame them too much. They were flying in from a training exercise in Palan Town.
“We cannot lose the barricades we have built in the forest in Thuka Province,” Kiel Iram, Demus’s second in command said. “The Thuka barricades are the only protection we have for the outer lands. Yole Province and Teru are vulnerable. The ghost wraiths move too fast.”
Demus hissed because three men in the Simba Recon Team reported injuries. Their vital signs triggered critical signals on the screens.
“We should have increased surveillance in Thuka. Who else do we have close to Thuka?”
“Teru Province has trainees in the auxiliary training camp,” Kiel said. “Yole Province relies on the Simba Recon for protection.”
Two more men fell in the team.
“Report,” Demus said.
“Fifteen active officers, five injured,” an officer said. “Ghost Wraiths are at one hundred and twenty. They are moving faster than we anticipated.”
“Air support?” Demus asked.
“Sokwe is two minutes out,” an officer called. “We have deployed twenty-five lightning drones from Simba Recon’s Base.”
Demus folded his arms against his chest and watched the drones fly to the open clearing in the forests of Thuka. The Simba team was retreating to the stone barricade and the steel door allowing entrance into their military base. The men in the team carried their fallen teammates. Two snipers worked hard to keep the ghost wraiths at bay, managing to hold off the hundred ghost wraiths in an uneven line along the tree line.
The large beasts snarled as blue laser flames touched greasy dark skin, spilling green blood on the forest floor. The snipers worked to keep their attacks consistent. Still, their retreating formation had the ghost wraiths gaining ground. Five of the men carrying the injured went through the steel gates into the base, followed by three more, who paused at the steel gates to cover the snipers’ retreat.
Demus breathed in relief. He was glad when the team made it through the weathered stone barricade. The team took precious time to close the steel gates. The drones took over the snipers’ work. Directing continuous blue laser fire on a hundred ghost wraiths that descended on the concrete wall. The ghost wraiths clawed at the weathered stone barricade built to separate the forest from the rest of Thuka Province. Demus’s relief was short-lived as three ghost wraiths managed to claw thick ridges in the steel gates. The ghost wraiths concentrated on the weak point in the steel grate. They clawed at the large holes to make them larger working to break into the compound.
“Activate the most qualified in the training center,” Demus said. “Authorize Sokwe Recon to take over command of Thuka Base Ops. General Kinya has permission to use the weapons received from Santi Corp. Kiel, make sure you’ve given him the codes.”
“Yes, Commander,” Kiel said, hurrying to the console to submit the codes to General Kinya of Sokwe Recon.
Demus pressed two fingers into his eyes when he remembered the empire was voting in the morning, then dropped his hands to his side.
“Send out a red alert to all branches of the Theria Guild, including the Black Ops Protection Force. We cannot have a ghost wraith attack on villages on a day everyone is out there voting…”
Dalia Taj meets the Pink Piggy about Code
Dalia Taj logged into her Luna VR account and navigated her avatar to the market center. She needed to find a cute piggy about a proprietary app. She needed permission to implement it in her latest project. KISTech was strict about illegal use. The institute worked on making sure every bit of code developed was documented and attributed to the original developer.
Dalia was working on a scientific experiment focused on analyzing the DNA makeup of a ghost wraith. She wanted to find out if she could develop a biotechnology weapon lethal enough to stop ghost wraiths from reproducing.
She was not the first to have come up with this type of research. There were several such studies, many of those studies far ahead of her own. She was sixteen, and still in school. Her research only counted toward her class grade. Still…a girl could hope for a breakthrough. She would not mind winning research fame by changing Afrotheria’s future. Stopping ghost wraiths once and for all would be revolutionary.
Smirking at the thought, Dalia found the stall set up in the virtual market. It was the weirdest stall in the market. All other stalls in the virtual market were built with glass, wood, and even stone. However, the owner of the pink piggy had built his stall with black tarp. The only decoration on the stall was a pink pig head logo over the open entrance. It looked shady. Yet, Dalia did not hesitate as she entered the stall.
The place was always busy. The inside lighted with flashing lights, clients leaning on a wood counter as they called out orders to two men standing behind the counter. The pink piggy sold Luna VR accessories and plugins. The stall was busy. The pink piggy’s coding was efficient and easy to use.
Dalia waved at the two shop assistants and hurried to the closed door in the back of the main shop. It was pink like the logo on the door. She touched the door handle and the lock beeped. Letting out a sigh, she reached for her virtual card and pressed it on the door handle. It opened after divesting her of five hundred credits.
Dalia pocketed her card and entered the room.
“I should expect a grand welcome with the amount you charge to enter your private shop,” Dalia said, glaring at the pink piggy working at a desk, building a greenhouse with a virtual builder on the desk. “Does it have to cost five hundred credits to see you?”
“You’re the one in need,” the pink piggy said, not looking up from the assembly on his desk. “Do you think girls like white?”
“Depends on the occasion,” Dalia said, crossing the room to sit on the chair opposite the pink piggy. “Why? Are you building the greenhouse for a girl?”
“Maybe,” the pink piggy said, shrugging his shoulders.
She knew he was male. The only part he kept hidden about himself was his face. The pink piggy’s style was weird like him. He liked wearing black slacks, a white t-shirt, and a black vest. He wore black combat boots as though ready to run at a moment’s notice. Mostly, Dalia was envious of his talent with code.
“So,” the Pink Piggy changed the color of the greenhouse paper to a sickening shade of pink and she winced.
He looked up and seemed to take a moment to take her in.
“You look stunning,” the Pink Piggy said, smiling at her. Strange how she knew the piggy was smiling at her. She bit back a laugh and he sat back in his chair, studying her. “Do you keep your original looks? I mean, you must be so dangerous to meet in the real world.”
Dalia chuckled, pleased that he thought her avatar pretty. She did not use her true features. Her identity was sensitive to flaunt in the form of an avatar in Luna VR. She could just imagine her father’s reaction were he to discover.
She did try to stick to her real figure. Her avatar had her curvy shape intact. She wore a tight stylish coat belted at her waist with a thick red leather belt. Under her coat, she wore a pinstriped skirt that stopped above her knees. Her feet were in knee-length black boots with a four-inch heel. Her braids were long down her back. She wore a gold masquerade mask to cover her face. Reaching into her jacket pocket, she pulled out the card with the code details.
The Pink Piggy is Unwilling
“I need your permission to use this, Pink Piggy,” Dalia said, holding out the card over the table.
The Pink Piggy stared at her long red nails, a sharp contrast from her dark skin, and grinned.
“I would love to see what you look like in real life,” he said, taking the card from her.
“Same goes for you,” Dalia said, making the Pink Piggy shudder.
“Don’t joke, if I show my face, anyone who knows me will come to my house for cheap plugins,” he shuddered, as he read the card.
“Isn’t it money coming to you?” Dalia asked.
“Yeah. I guess. But it is in the how it comes to me,” the Pink Piggy said, frowning as he studied the card he held. “Why do you want permissions for this code?”
“I have a science project that needs the basics,” Dalia said. “I’m willing to pay.”
“This is not about money,” the Pink Piggy said, sitting up in his chair. “I registered this code in the KISTech Registry on a whim. I thought I had created something that could support the ghost wraith fight—”
“It can support it,” Dalia said. “I can’t tell you what I’m working on, but I feel your logic will add to mine. We could create something worth forwarding to the Theria Guild. I’ll keep the source code intact. I promise to include all your rights when I submit my project—”
“It’s incomplete,” the Pink Piggy said, shaking his head. “I work on it on and off because it feels like something is missing. I’m guessing I don’t have enough information to get the results I’m looking for.”
“I don’t mind using it in its incomplete form,” Dalia said. “Please—”
“What happens when you need to compensate for errors I’ve not accounted for?” the Pink Piggy asked, shaking his head. “I don’t sell incomplete work, even to beautiful women.”
“You’re insulting me,” Dalia said, getting up. “You assume I’m not as talented as you. I’m not here to beg to use your source code. I was in search of code that would support a foundation theory I’m developing. Don’t you submit your ideas to the registry because you are looking for someone who thinks the same as you? Or is it that you don’t want to work with me? I can always find another approach.”
“You have a temper,” the Pink Piggy said, folding his arms against his chest.
Dalia huffed and crossed her arms too, staring at the pink piggy head he preferred. She wondered who he was and why he clung to the ridiculous getup. Was he a student at KISTech? She was one of the top students, and she was quite sure she knew everything about the five students at KISTech she considered competition. Could he be one of them?
“You have access to the KISTech’s Registry, so you must be in the Tech Class,” the Pink Piggy said. “Your ability to pay the entry fee into this room means you’re well-off. High enough in the chain to unlock information on my registration information.”
“I have nothing on you, Pink Piggy,” Dalia said, dropping her hands to her sides. “You don’t give away much other than one can find you here at this stall in the Luna VR.”
“Does it frustrate you?” the Pink Piggy asked.
“Yes,” Dalia said, shaking her head.
The Pink Piggy chuckled and pointed to the greenhouse, with the super pink color.
“You never told me what color girls like?”
“Not that shade of pink,” Dalia said, shaking her head. “A light green or earth green works for greenhouses. It doesn’t have to be so pink.”
“Hm,” the Pink Piggy said, leaning forward to fiddle with the controls on the table. The greenhouse turned into a respectable pale green color.
“I’ll think on the code,” he said after a moment. “I have to review what I uploaded to the Registry and what I have in my database. I’ll let you know.”
“How do I reach you?” Dalia asked.
“Your credits left me your user ID. I’ll message you.”
“Don’t stay too long,” Dalia said, with a sigh. She had hoped he would agree tonight. Her project needed to move forward in three days. The empire’s voting aside, she was meeting her class mentor in four days.
“How long is too long?” the Pink Piggy asked.
“Tomorrow?” Dalia asked.
“I’m busy tomorrow,” the Pink Piggy said with a sigh. “Maybe the next day. I’ll have free time to get back to you.”
Dalia meets a He-Goat that greeted her ‘Meh!’
“I’ll look forward to it,” Dalia said, and turned to leave. The door opened just as she reached it, and she had to bite back a laugh when a cute he-goat walked in. The man hidden behind the he-goat head greeted her with a ridiculous meh!
Dalia burst out laughing.
“Stop scaring our delicate flower client,” the Pink Piggy said.
“She was expecting it,” the He-Goat said.
“I see a theme starting here,” Dalia said, shaking her head, finally getting a hold of her laugh. “The Animal Farm?”
“Is it?” the Pink Piggy asked.
The He-Goat chuckled and Dalia wondered what it would be like to meet these two in person.
“See you two, little piggy and the cute he-goat. I better not run into a cute chicken out there,” Dalia said.
The he-goat laughed and she left the room, logging out right away.
She removed her Luna VR glasses and placed them on her desk.
Stretching her arms over her head, she got up from her comfortable computer chair and glanced at the muted television screen across the room. The news was running. Her father’s face appeared on the screen. He was waving to excited citizens in an amphitheater.
“Unmute,” Dalia said, sinking her fingers into her braids. She massaged her head for a moment.
‘…Izra Taj and his running mate thank their supporters on the eve of the vote. He will know, by this time tomorrow, how well his campaign run has served him. Mr. Taj has held the office of Commander of Tech Class for six years. Winning the office three times. We’re expecting to see his family by his side as the voting day starts in a few hours…’
“Mute,” Dalia said, as a knock came on her door and her mother peeked in with a small wave. “Mama.”
“Baba is expecting us soon,” Amelia Taj said. “It will be easier if we’re all at the hotel where the campaign team is working.”
“Okay,” Dalia said.
She gave her bed a longing look, but then she knew she was not going to be using it until the voting process was over. Her father’s political ambitions left them all living such strange lives.
“It will be over soon,” Amelia said, as though reading her thoughts.
Dalia nodded and gave her mother a tentative smile. The door closed and she let out a heavy sigh. If her father won and became Elderon, their lives would not return to normal. They would only get harder to handle. She hoped she would be able to continue her research…she hoped the Pink Piggy would give his consent.
Dalia sniffed the wrinkled white shirt of her KISTech uniform and headed straight to the shower.
Genre: African Science Fiction, Novels set in Dystopian Africa
Zev’s Afrotheria is a Fiction Novel set in Africa. It is Afropunk sci-fi with a mix of adventure and romance. The ghost wraiths are not for the faint of heart
Zev worries about upgrading his tablet
“Afrotheria is an empire of people from diverse tribes. It is found on the horn of the Afro Continent. These past decades, the empire’s economy has grown fast. In part, it is thanks to our great quest to rid our empire of the ghost wraith menace. Mostly, it is because of our abundant natural resources, and the intense research carried out by our people in the sciences and technology class. Can anyone tell me why our people are divided into classes?”
Zev sat at a desk in the back of the class, his attention focused on reconfiguring his drawing tablet. The screen was not rendering his schematics right. The more he tried to reconfigure the settings, the more it became obvious that he needed to visit an Upgrade Center.
A soft sigh escaped at the cost of a new upgrade, and he scowled at his deskmate and best friend when Weru pinched his right thigh. Ignoring Weru’s painful attention, he frowned as he calculated the number of shillings in his wallet. He had two thousand shillings left after his last job at the Village Center. His little sister needed pocket money because she was going on a trip to a Conservation Center. She liked buying plants so he had promised her five hundred shillings, which left him with fifteen hundred. His Luna VR business did not give him much cash was not liquid at the moment.
Upgrades on his tablet were not cheap. The one he needed now would cost him four thousand, so he knew he needed to work his part-time job.
Miss Leya calls Zev to answer her questions
Zev looked up from the settings on his tablet to find his classmates watching him; their expressions were of varying degrees of amusement.
“I pinched you,” Weru whispered next to him. “You wouldn’t listen.”
Zev sighed and placed his tablet on his desk. He stood up, pushing his chair back with a nervous cough.
“Miss Leya,” Zev said, trying a smile when the woman standing at the head of the class scowled at him.
Miss Leya was their History and Civics teacher. She taught with devout passion and expected her students to have the same high love she had for the subject. Zev found the class tedious. It was a true tragedy that his technology training included History and Civics.
Zev could never understand why he needed to learn about the past.
“Zev, what are you doing in my class?” Leya asked, folding her arms against her chest.
The frown on her smooth forehead deepened. Her braids were held in a tight ponytail on top of her head. They swayed from side to side as she rocked on her heels. She always looked neat in skirt suits tailored to fit her teaching station. Today’s was pale green.
Zev bit his bottom lip sure there was no right answer to her question.
“I suspect you’ve been paying attention to the tablet on your desk,” Miss Leya said. “You might be the top student in this class, but that does not allow you to ignore my lectures. I would like you to answer my question.”
Zev glanced at Weru hoping for salvation. He had no idea what question Miss Leya had asked. Last he remembered, she was talking about Afrotheria’s Society Classes.
Weru shrugged and Zev gave an internal groan.
The Nine Classes of Afrotheria Society
“Um, Afrotheria has nine classes,” Zev said, plunging in. “They are Science & Tech, Social Welfare, Medicine, Education, Conservation and Agriculture, Justice, Protector Class, Construction & Works, and The Registarion.”
His classmates burst into laughter, and Zev glanced at Miss Leya to find her frown even deeper.
“Thank you for the very comprehensive answer, but it proves my point,” Miss Leya said. “You have not been listening. Answer the question on the screen, Mablevi.”
Zev scratched the top of his head, his fingers sinking into relatively short hair, as he glanced at the glass on the wall at the front. It was lit up with a picture of the Registarion Building in the Capital City, Kirit.
“Can you tell me why the Empire of Afrotheria votes a new Sable Council to work with the head of the Registarion every four years?” Miss Leya asked.
Zev stole a glance at his deskmate and scowled when Weru swallowed back a laugh. Weru had known she was going to call on Zev, and now this was not going to end until Miss Leya made an example of him.
Zev cleared his throat and reread the question on the overhead screen.
“We, the people of Afrotheria, vote for a new Sable Council every four years to encourage change and development in our empire,” Zev said. “Our national hope is to one day be free of the ghost wraith scourge.”
“Who is the head of the Registarion?” Miss Leya asked.
“The Elderon, who has a second in command called a Chancellor. The Elderon is the head of the Sable Council and runs the Registarion on behalf of the people.”
“What does the Registarion do?”
“It assists the eight representatives in the Sable Council in their duties to ensure the various classes have sufficient resources,” Zev said. “The Elderon is also the deciding vote in a Sable Council Meeting.”
“Where are the representatives from the Sable Council from?” Miss Leya asked.
“Um, t-they are voted in from the different classes,” Zev said. “They are often the best in their various fields. For example, the technology representative is Vin Saha, who invented the helmet used by the Protector Class in their duties.”
“Why is the Sable Council so important that it needs a deciding vote from the Elderon?” Miss Leya asked.
Zev paused wondering how to answer this question.
The Sable Council was important, but it was also filled with politics and power fights. He never understood the importance of the crazy political fights among the class heads in the council. Instead of fighting, he thought they should spend their time working for the people.
“Um,” Zev frowned. “The ideal Sable Council represents the voice of the members of each class. They come together to decide on matters like funding, crisis management, and the best way to fight off the ghost wraiths to keep villages safe. They need the Elderon’s vote to break a stalemate when they cannot agree on a matter.”
Miss Leya stopped asking her questions and studied him for a moment before she changed the picture on the overhead screen. Now there was a familiar ‘Vote Now’ sticker. His tablet buzzed a message on his desk and he smiled when he read the acceptance message on the screen. Thankfully, his part-time job woes were now solved.
Zev finds a part time job
“You’re quite versed in Civics, even as you refuse to pay attention in my class,” Miss Leya said. “I know we have four weeks left together Zev, then you’re off to major in your beloved Tech Classes. I hope you’ll one day see the importance of my lessons. Now, are you going to vote tomorrow? You are seventeen, aren’t you?”
Zev shook his head.
“I’m not voting, Miss Leya,” he said.
“Why are you not voting?” Miss Leya asked, an expression of horror on her face. “It is your civic duty to vote, Zev Mablevi. How else will you ever see progress in your village?”
“I’ve been requested to work at the Village Center and help with the voting process,” Zev said. “Since I’m assigned to work the election, I cannot vote, only assist with the process.”
“Oh,” Miss Leya said, and then smiled at him. “You should have told me before. What an experience it will be for you. Very good, Mablevi. Sit down.”
Zev sat with a sigh and grinned at Weru.
“Pay attention in my class,” Miss Leya said. “I would hate to penalize the top student because he’s fussing with a tablet.”
Zev took his tablet and slipped it into his bookbag, reaching for his notebook and making a show of sitting up to pay attention.
“Now, Zev has answered most of the questions I was going to ask about our governing body. I will add one thing. The Elderon and Chancellor make a pair. They both take their position in the Registarion by a majority vote of the people. The Sable Council’s stalemate vote is therefore broken by the empire’s majority opinion. It is not the opinion of all the empire’s people. So, what happens to the voice of the people who did not vote for the current Elderon or Chancellor? Weru, why don’t you give me an answer.
Weru bit back a groan next to Zev, as he stood up.
“They have the minority leader,” Weru said, though his answer sounded more like a question than an answer.
“Correct, Weru,” Miss Leya said. “The minority leader becomes part of the Sable Council as a silent branch named the Opposition. His job is to watch what the Sable Council does and raise concerns if they find fault. It forces the Elderon to be accountable to the people on behalf of the Sable council’s decisions. The system is not perfect, but our empire remains stable for now. Some of you are going to end up working in the Registarion. I’m sure you’ll surprise us all with changes and improvements in the future.”
“Alright,” Miss Leya said. “We’re at the end of our class. I have something to give you before I let you go for the day.”
The Mysterious Form
Miss Leya picked up a bunch of forms from her desk and held them up.
“You’re all at eighteen years old and at the end of your semester in our small village academy. We are three weeks away from your graduation. You should all know your grade statuses by now.”
Chuckles and moans filled the classroom and Waweru sighed next to Zev.
Waweru’s grades were not so great. They were also not low, so he could get by in their science and technology class. Weru could end up working in a research lab or concentrate his studies on technology applications. He had very many prospects. Problem was that Weru’s father was expecting Weru to enter the most prestigious Kirit Institute of Science and Technology.
The institute was in Afrotheria’s capital city, Kirit. The members of the institute worked closely with the Protector Class on the fight to eradicate ghost wraiths. It was prestigious to enter KISTech
Waweru did not want to join KISTech. He wanted the freedom to choose a more sedate life.
Zev could not blame him.
Their Teru Province was a long way from Kirit Capital. Life in Teru was sedate, comfortable, and filled with many bright moments. Zev’s parents had moved here for the quiet and peaceful nature of the province. The most exciting thing they faced was watching a convoy of Guild Guardians driving through their village on training days.
“The form I’m handing out is very important,” Miss Leya said, breaking his thoughts.
She started a slow walk between the rows of desks in the room, handing each student a form.
“You’ll only see this form once in your life. It is an application form used to change the class you entered at sixteen years old. After this, changing your class will get harder than you can imagine. It is difficult to change your class after years of training. It feels like you’re starting from zero, so take my word for the truth. I always ask my students to make this choice now, at eighteen, and few of them ever understand what I’m offering here.
“The Science and Technology Class is very elite, but it is also very consuming and demanding. If you do not have the knack for innovation, the highest you’ll get is managing tech for companies, making household gadgets, or repairing them. If you don’t do well there, you’ll be doing grunt work in science labs. I’m not scaring you. I’m preparing you for the future. If you don’t enjoy the Science and Technology class, you can choose to enter a different field at this time. No one will stop you. It is your future.”
Miss Leya paused by Zev’s desk and he started to reach for the form she was holding out to him. He frowned when she pulled it away from him and handed it to Weru.
“In the case of stop students like Zev, we expect to keep them in Science and Tech in case he invents a weapon that can destroy ghost wraiths on sight.”
The class filled with chuckles and whistles at the compliment.
Zev sat back in his chair with a grin. He enjoyed science and technology, mostly the tech part. Still, he took the form from Miss Leya when she handed it to him with a wink.
Zev did not want to enter KISTech, but he did want to work at the lab where his parents worked here in Teru. It would keep him close to his family and he would have a nice stable income.
Miss Leya continued down the row to the back.
“You do not have to turn in that form to me now,” Miss Leya said. “We have two days off. As you vote out there, and a new Registarion is ushered in the day after tomorrow, think about your future. What you truly want to do, and if you have found the right place. If you have not, come find me. I’ll assist you to find the place that serves your gifts as you wish. Do you hear me?”
The class filled with murmurs and whispers about the forms.
Zev folded his form and put it into his bag next to his tablet. He shifted closer to Weru.
“You should fill the form in and change your class,” Zev said.
“My dad would kill me,” Weru said with a shudder.
“You’re eighteen, Weru,” Zev said. “You should have the choice to do what you want to do.”
“I can just imagine me telling Baba I want to move to the construction and works class. He’ll have a heart attack,” Weru said with a sigh.
“Try talking to your mom for help,” Zev said.
Waweru gripped his tablet tight and shrugged.
I’ll think about it,” Weru said, folding the form from Miss Leya and slipping it into his shirt pocket.
Miss Leya returned to the front. She was trying to get the class’s attention. She tapped on her desk with a ruler.
“The credit belongs to,” Miss Leya said.
“The man in the arena whose face is marred with dust, sweat, and blood, again and again,” Zev and his classmate finished her sentence.
“Now that we’re on the same page, revise the last two chapters in your textbooks. We’ll have a quiz on the day you return to class. Zev, I expect a full account of your experience assisting the voting process at the village center. Class dismissed. Waweru, come see me.”
Zev patted Weru’s shoulder and grabbed his backpack, as he got up.
An Agreement to Meet in the VR and Zev meets his Sister
“Meet me in the Luna VR at nine tonight,” Zev said. “I have something for you.”
“Sure, I’ll message you before I log in,” Waweru said, as he gathered his books.
Zev left the classroom and stopped when he saw his little sister Amare waiting for him. She smiled and lifted a clear zip-lock bag filled with sugarcane strips.
Zev chuckled and motioned her to follow him along the hallway.
Amare handed him the sugarcane when she joined him, and he took her schoolbag from her.
“Do you have to work tomorrow?” Amare asked as they headed to the front gate of the school. “It would have been nice if you could help babysit the twins.”
“I need cash for my tablet,” Zev said, chewing on a slice of sugarcane. “Also, you have the tour to see the conservation garden coming up. You need the money to buy the berry plants you wanted for your garden.”
“Zev, you don’t have to do that for me,” Amare said. “I was going to make Mom Ava’s hair for extra money.”
“You don’t like making hair,” Zev said. “Don’t do it.”
“Fine, but I get to bring you lunch kesho. The twins and I will wait for Mom and Dad as they vote, then we can leave together.”
“Sounds good, can you make fried potatoes and beef stew?”
“I’m not taking orders,” Amare said.
“You can also make chapos with beef stew or pilau rice. All three with beef stew is good too,” Zev continued making Amare laugh.
They walked home as they always did after school…
Genre: African Science Fiction, Novels set in Dystopian Africa
Njaro mountain rumbled, the sound heavy, earth-shaking, it filled the hearts of men with fear. Dark clouds of smoke filled the sky over the mountain, thicker than rain clouds, they raced down the mountain as though alive.
In minutes, wild animals ran from the forests surrounding the majestic mountain. The men, women, and children in the closest villages had no courage to stay then. For when a lion runs, what can a man do but run to survive too?
Zev’s Afrotheria is a Fiction Novel Set in Africa. It is Afropunk sci-fi with a mix of adventure and romance. The ghost wraiths are not for the faint of heart.
Zev’s AFrotheria – Fiction Novel Set in Africa, All Rights Reserved
In an hour, hot red lava spewed from the depths of the mountain. Damaging, angry, hotter than hell as man knows it, the lava spewed forth, forging a river of fire. No living thing survived a single touch. Not the tall, decades-old trees, birds, insects, and struggling animals that remained in the forest. Certainly, not the humans who remained in stubborn determination in their homesteads hoping for divine salvation.
The lava came down, flowing in rivers of molten rock that destroyed anything it touched. Silencing life in a hundred-mile radius. Njaro Mountain’s majestic volcano brought with it a calamity after the lava hardened. In a strange twist of nature, hidden in the depths of the earth, deadly creatures emerged from the cooling vents.
The people of Afrotheria called these creatures ghost wraiths. The dark, large creatures resembled massive wolves with slick, oily black skin, and a mouth filled with teeth sharper than razors. They could crush a human’s body with one bite. A new world began in the Empire of Afrotheria, one ruled by the menace of ghost wraiths.
Genre: African Science Fiction, Novels set in Dystopian Africa