Genesis: Vision of the New World (Terra Nova Book 2) by D. Ellis Overttun #Extract

A light streaking across the predawn sky, an explosion and an impending menace from above, seemingly unrelated events but connected to space-time distortions predicted by an obscure scientific paper over 250 years ago. That same paper has predicted an end to the universe.
Has the unthinkable become a reality? 
The ruling-class Celesti see the danger as real and imminent since planet Arkos could become compromised in as little as 1,000 years. To them, that is one lifetime. That same timeframe is ten lifetimes to the servile-class Gendu. To them, the threat does not even exist.
There are those within the Celesti who see the Gendu as a more immediate threat. Their solution is to genetically engineer a more pliant servant class and leave Arkos for an unknown planet. Is that even possible?
But will it even matter? The leaders of the Celesti, the Transcended, know a terrible secret: The Celesti are dying.
Against this backdrop of extinction lies the politics of power. A new leader has just assumed her role as the head of the Gendu Houses. However, she is an outsider. Will she be accepted or will she be cast out as an interloper? 
Also, the leader of the most powerful religious organization on the planet is missing and presumed dead. It is the opportunity of a lifetime for anyone bold enough to seize the moment. Who will fill this void? Someone with a hunger for influence and privilege? Or someone with a calling for higher purpose? 
Finally, there is a prophecy from the Codices of Taru which foretells of a time of darkness when the “head will be cleaved from the body” that will announce the coming of the “Deceiver”. Ancient superstition or a vision of the future?
Genesis: Vision of the New World tells this story in vivid detail, an evolution of the narrative begun in Universe: Awakening. As part of this journey, it takes a fascinating look into the world of the Gendu and introduces readers to a host of new characters and relationships. It is a potpourri of science, political intrigue and discovery driven by characters with selfish and selfless motives.

I'm delighted to welcome D. Ellis Overttun to Hair Past a Freckle today. David has very kindly sent an extract from Genesis: Vision of the New World, book two in his Terra Nova series. First, here's some information about the background to the story;

'Minister of Science and First Minister Odessa is attempting to genetically engineer a new servant class. She has selected a feral hominid species known as “orangs”, the closest genetic match to the Gendu, the current servant class. Under the guise of a test flight of the Phoenix, she sends a team comprised of some of our main characters to the Jabiru Wilderness to capture a male and female. The two directly tasked with this endeavor are Mica’el and Gabri’el, formerly guardians from the Ministry of Defense and Security. Along with flight and the ability to render themselves invisible, they are equipped with a PID, a portable immobilization device that will enable them to restrain their targets for transfer to self-assembling cages. Another important piece of technology they bring with them is a black box that contains fruit treated with a sedative they will use as bait.

This is the backdrop to the storyline. However, this chapter focuses on the most eventful day in the lives of two orangs: Tok and Maag'.

Chapter 45 - “Tok and Maag”

It was just before dawn. There was a brief silence before the earliest rising birds announced the new day. Tok opened his eyes and gently nudged his sister, Maag. She opened her eyes and nodded her head. They looked furtively about then started their descent to the ground below. 

The large tree was home to their troop: ten adults and fifteen children. As children, they occupied the highest levels because it afforded them the greatest protection from ground predators. The smaller branches could also support their lighter weight. However, it meant they would have to pass through a gauntlet of adults. Fortunately for them, the adults would have turned in recently after keeping vigil for a good part of the night. They would sleep until midmorning then gather food before returning to the tree to sleep during the hottest part of the day.

The two slowly climbed down to the levels where the adults lay sleeping, stopping abruptly every time they heard movement. One of the adults snorted and opened her eyes as Tok brushed by her. The two siblings froze.

“Tok naaa…” (Tok no…) she mumbled, shaking her head slightly from side to side.

“Ya uat,” (I water) Tok whispered, putting his palm below his waist then brushing it downward.

“O,” she grunted and fell back asleep.

Tok hoped that he and Maag could do some gathering of their own and return before the adults awoke. They had done this several times before. He had been motivated to this course of action because he had been unhappy with the food that had been gathered for him, especially fruit. The troop had a natural pecking order. The adult males would be given first choice from anything that had been gathered, then the adult females and down on the line. Being one of the smaller children, he always chose close to the end. He never wanted for food, but he wanted better. 

Then, one day when he was choosing from a selection of fruit, he happened to pick one that was ripe and delicious. When he did it again, he discovered that he was able to do something that no one else in the troop could do. He knew when fruit was ripe. Something in him made him keep this new-found skill to himself. He knew where the fruit was gathered. So, he went there by himself early the next morning and ate to his satisfaction. His absence did not go unnoticed by his sister, and so, it became the two of them off on these early morning excursions.

Even though there was relative safety during the day, they were still cautious. They were mindful of trees that they could use to take refuge and shadows that could hide predators. At length, they saw a grove of trees they recognized as their destination. They scanned the area and put their noses to the wind to make sure that it was safe then scampered forward. Their caution was warranted. The trees were located close to a pool fed by a small waterfall. As such, it was a spot frequented by all the animals in the vicinity, hunters and the hunted.

Tok climbed one of the trees followed by his sister and quickly found two small red orbs. He handed one to Maag then bit into his prize. The pulp was juicy and sweet. He finished in short order then looked around for more. He picked another for each of them, and they lazed in the boughs. There could be no greater happiness. Red orbs were plentiful. They could eat as much as they wanted. They were safe from harm.

The pool was bordered on one side by savanna. They would remain until they saw animals from the grassland making their way toward them. That was generally an all-clear signal. The adults in their troop would be waking soon, and the two would have to quickly make their way back close to the vicinity of their tree. It was a precision operation, but they had been successful to this point.

Maag made an alert sound indicating that it was time to go. Tok wanted a red orb for each of them to eat on the way home. There was nothing appetizing within arm’s reach but…higher. That was another story. He started to climb despite the protests of his sister who would not follow. He plucked a fruit and held it in one hand as he reached for another. He could feel it with the tips of his fingers…just a little farther.

There was a snapping sound, and Tok fell through the branches face-first into the pool below. Maag screamed, dashed to a lower branch then dove into the water. Her brother lay lifeless as she grabbed him by the scruff of the neck and dragged him to safety. A red mud slurry comprised the edge of the pool, and she found it difficult to maintain her footing, falling several times. By the time she managed to get him out of the water, neither would have been recognizable to the other. 

“Tok! Tok!” she screamed, shaking him.

There was no movement. Death was not uncommon here. She had seen it many times before, but it was always accompanied by screams. This was different. He looked like he was sleeping. Why would he do that now? This was not the time for sleep. Sleeping was done in the tree. She held him close and cradled him in her arms. Her concern for her brother had left her totally oblivious to everything around her.

“Ree…ree…ree,” (Sleep…sleep…sleep) she said softly, as she rocked him back and forth.

The commotion had not gone unnoticed. A large feline made its way stealthily through the undergrowth and took up a striking position behind them. This would be an easy kill, a rarity in this environment. Maag faced the pool. Tok’s eyes were closed. It appeared, soon too, that Maag would sleep. The feline launched its attack, teeth and claws ready to rend flesh from bone. Maag heard the movement behind her and turned in the direction of the noise. She screamed as her arms reflexively tightened around Tok. Then, she fainted.

The attack froze in midair. Then, the terrified feline floated over the water to the middle of the pool. Mica’el and Gabri’el landed a short distance away and seemed to materialize out of thin air. Mica’el stood with his right palm pointing toward the big cat as Gabri’el quickly assembled a cage.

The air suddenly erupted with a cacophony of approaching sounds.

“Mica! We have company! Time to leave!”

Mica’el closed the palm of his hand, and the bewildered feline dropped into the water. He rushed to Gabri’el’s side as the big cat swam furiously toward dry land then quickly retreated into the forest.

“No time for another,” Gabri’el said.

Mica’el nodded his head in agreement. Then, they pointed their PIDs toward the two unconscious orangs. 

“This will be a little tight, but it will have to do,” Gabri’el said. 

“Label contents,” the cage said.

“Not now!” Gabri’el exclaimed.

“ ‘Not now’ confirmed.”

“Up,” he said to the cage, holding his hand just below shoulder level.

The cage rose slowly and stopped when its top touched his hand. 

“Just in time,” Mica’el said.

The two lifted off the ground with their precious cargo between them. Their departure was so hurried that they did not become fully invisible until they reached the tops of the trees.

“Jo’el. Do you read?” Gabri’el asked.

There was no reply.

“Jo’el. Do you read?” Gabri’el repeated.

“Yes…Gabri’el. What is your status?”

“We have been successful. Returning to the Phoenix.”

All the angry troop could do once they had reached the edge of the pool was watch helplessly as two orangs without fur rose up into the sky like birds, glowing like the moon in the darkness. There was a strange-looking object between them with some sort of red blob in its center. 

They had heard Maag’s scream, but she was now nowhere in sight. A subsequent search revealed nothing. Her cries had come from the direction of a depression in the mud slurry. It was surrounded by two sets of footprints. They had seen footprints on the edge of the pool many times but not like these. 

There was also a strange object close to the depression. What was it? It felt smooth like the rocks close to the waterfall. When they stared at it, it was like looking into the distance when they stood guard in the tree. Its shape was also different. Not like a rock. Not like a branch. Not like a tree. It even smelled different. It was totally foreign to anything they had ever seen before. They had no words to describe it, but it must have come from above. They instinctively gathered around it in silent reverence. After a while, some of them joined hands, and soon, the object was encircled by a collective ring. They began to sway slowly from side to side. 

“Mmm…mmm,” they began to repeat softly over and over, as they looked up in the sky.

That night there was a discussion of what had happened. Everyone who was there told what they saw as the troop tried to make sense of the day’s events. Tok and Maag were missing. The troop had witnessed two strange-looking orangs floating up into the sky carrying a large red blob. There was a depression and footprints by the pool and an 
object nearby. How could all this be explained? What did it mean? 

It became clear that the two strange-looking orangs must have been Tok and Maag. Who else could it be? The red blob was slurry they had taken. That would explain the footprints and the depression by the pool. The object was left behind in exchange. Then, they floated away to their new home in the sky. From that day forward, everything associated with the day’s events became sacred. Eventually, Tok and Maag’s father became leader of the troop, and their mother became revered as a symbol of fertility. That night’s discussion evolved into one of the oral traditions of the troop.

However, there was one question on everyone’s mind:  Would Tok and Maag return?
When the troop returned the following morning, they noticed the depression, and the last reminders of Tok and Maag were beginning to disappear. It was important to them that this part of the slurry be preserved. So, they collected small stones from close to the waterfall and lined the shallow crater and the outline of the footprints. From then on, a small portion of each day’s gathering was left on those stones so that Tok and Maag would have something to eat if they returned.

Waterfall by Natasha Evelyn Overttun

I'm also grateful to David for including this commentary about the extract;

'This chapter introduces two of the most noteworthy characters in the Terra Nova series: Tok and Maag. While they don’t feature that prominently from the point of view of the narrative, the symbolism they cast is quite notable for readers who dig below the surface. If it’s not clear here, it should be hit-you-in-the-face obvious in Book 3.

So, where did I come up with these names? Well, you probably noticed that “orang” is similar to “orangutan”, and that is no accident. It comes from the Malay and Indonesian word for “man”. As for the names of my two unsuspecting protagonists, I watched videos of simians on YouTube to get names closely resembling some of the sounds that I heard.

Much credit has to go to Professor Alice Roberts’ (@thealiceroberts) BBC three-part series, Origins of Us. It gave me the background information that helped me to build the reality surrounding the physiology of orangs, in particular, the genetic difference that allowed Tok to know when fruit was ripe.

How are events outside the collective experience explained? There are basically two options. Either the events are preserved accurately, and an explanation is left pending. Or an explanation is given. The last part of the chapter shows how the orangs essentially fit what happened that day into their frame of reference. This is fine as long as it is subsequently revised to take in account new knowledge. However, I have found that the reverse happens many times. The explanation remains the same, and it is the “facts” that change.'

Genesis: Vision of the New World (Terra Nova 2) can be purchased from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

For further content hosted on other blogs, please follow the following links;

Genesis: Vision of the New World - Excerpts and Commentary:
Series Overview:

Universe: Awakening - Excerpts and Commentary:
For a deeper dive:

About the Author
I grew up in a town in the Midwest, my mother was a bookkeeper for a small HVAC company and my father was a draftsman. At university, I studied chemistry. However, when I graduated, I did not (or could not) pursue that vocation because I was terrible in the lab.

I have been a storyteller ever since I can remember. It started as a way to get out of trouble and evolved as a way to entertain those around me. My first recollection of writing prose was in elementary school when I had to write a short essay about a picture from a magazine. (Mine was a freshly baked loaf of bread.) In grade 7, I penned two short stories for a school writing competition. One was entitled “My Funny Cousin”, a descriptive piece about a relative (a little older than me) who stayed with us one summer. My mother very quickly killed that story. At the time, it didn’t make sense to me because she told me she thought it was very funny. It was only later that I figured out that I could have replaced “Funny” with “Flamboyant” in the title. So, it was back to the drawing board. My second attempt was a collection of anecdotes about the life of my maternal grandfather titled “The Hilarious Things My Grandfather Did”. That one went on to win.

My first complete novel was a story about a soldier of fortune in the age of horse and bow. At the time, I had contact with people in the entertainment business in California. The feedback I got was that I should take one of the chapters and expand it into a novel. That made no sense to me. What the heck did that mean? How could you expand something so small into something big? So, I never pursued it. However, the comment stuck with me. It was only much later that I figured out that it meant that I should never rush the telling of a story.

This brings us to the present and the Terra Nova Series. (Book 2 has just been published and Book 3 is in progress.) I write for an audience of one: my wife. She loves the stories.
Follow David's wife, Natasha on Twitter as @neoverttun