Descent Into Darkness
Descent Into Darkness
by Zanne Raby
GENRE: Science-Fiction / Space-Opera
Descent into Darkness: Mayhem follows the Mayflower in the second book of The Chronicles of Deneb series. Journey along with the crew of the Space Ark Mayflower as they adapt to their new home on the planet Deneb. But along with their struggle to integrate into an alien culture, a new battle sweeps across the planet with the arrival of the human-transmitted Chimera bactovirus, bringing war and fanning the flames of racial intolerance. With a bloody conflict raging across the planet, the crew of the Mayflower is split between the two factions and embroiled in the chaos and destruction. Descend with the crew into darkness, where the only survivors of a global war will be on the right side of the border.
“Pallav? You alright?” Tara’s voice broke him from his reverie and he pasted on a phony smile.
“Sorry darling, I was a million light years away. I’ll be fine,” he promised. Sweat trickled down his back in the unrelenting heat of the Denebian day, his disruptive pattern shirt already sticking to his body as he shrugged into his rucksack.
“Daddy, I’m gonna miss you.” The chirpy sing-song voice of little Jolanta gave him cause to smile at the child as she held out her arms to him. Swooping her up, Pallav dropped a kiss on the little girl’s rosy brown cheek, her eyes glistening with tears.
“And I’m going to miss you too, little one.” Hugging the orphaned girl to his chest, he burrowed his face into the cloud of dark hair that was as soft as a feather before pinching her cheek and gently setting her down. Guilt pierced his heart at the sad resigned look on the child’s face. Had it not been for him, Jolanta would be snug as a bug with her biological parents and not in lockdown high above the capital city living with a pair of humans.
Poor little thing… she’s known so much loss in her short life, he thought. Surrounded by death as the human Chimera bactovirus raged across Deneb, Jolanta had been cruelly abandoned by her mother after Tara retrieved the fallen child from the cobblestoned marketplace in the centre of the capital city. He could still picture his wife walking through the door with the tiny tot in tow. Shocked, surprised, but then captivated, Pallav let the child into his heart. It wasn’t like his two teenagers wanted him around anymore. No, Luke and Isabella were busy chartering their own course in the Wessel world with Gomalan insisting that they attend the best boarding school in the nation.
Taking advantage of his position, Pallav had initiated a thorough search for Jolanta’s parents only to get confirmation that they were amongst the thousands in Styria who had succumbed to the pandemic. Since her arrival, the young orphan had been his little shadow, never leaving his side, following the big man’s movements with her luminous opalescent eyes. He smiled inwardly at the thought of Jolanta climbing into her little cot and begging her new daddy for a bedtime story. Guilt-ridden he realized that he’d miss her more than his own children who were so immersed in their new lives that even their weekly holotalks were rushed and awkward. Laughing at himself, Pallav knew he was totally under the child’s spell.
“I promise to be back in time for market day, so no tears, okay?” Taking the little urchin’s chin in his hands, Pallav stared into her eyes. “And you have a promise to make to me too young lady, don’t you?” The little brown head nodded up and down, serious eyes acknowledging the responsibility her adopted father had assigned to her.
About the Author:
Since the days of the Napoleonic War, there has always been a member of Zanne's family in uniform. Choosing to follow in the footsteps of her ancestors, Zanne joined the Canadian Armed Forces in 1980, and was selected to attend the Royal Military College of Canada – the first year that women were accepted into that prestigious academy of learning. After graduation, she studied to become a Transportation and Movements Officer in the Royal Canadian Air Force.
During a career spanning 38 years, some of the most memorable experiences involved command of 8 Mission Support Squadron as part of Joint Task Force Afghanistan, leading a study on support to the Canadian Arctic involving several trips to Northern Canada, including Canadian Forces Station Alert (the most northern settlement in the world), a three–year tour with NATO at Joint Force Command Brunssum, a deployment as the NATO Liaison Officer to United States Central Command, and finally a nomination as the Deputy Commander for the Canadian Forces Recruiting Group.
After hanging up the uniform and putting away the combat boots, Zanne bought a small acreage in Central Ontario and designed her own house. With an office overlooking the picturesque shores of Georgian Bay, surrounded by maps and images of alien worlds, she is pursuing her life-long ambition to become an author. Enough of the reports and returns that littered her desk over her career, now she could turn her attention to unleashing the creativity that had taken a back seat to the analytical world of logistics. The time had come to shake the dust off and begin a new career. The winds of change had called.
Zanne is currently crafting The Chronicles of Deneb, a sci-fi series that will take the reader from a dystopian earth on a voyage across the galaxy in search of a safe haven. But the planets the team discover provide anything but the sanctuary they sought. In her spare time, Zanne enjoys travel, photography, hiking, and gardening. And always, a good story to pass the time.
Q&A With the Author
When did you first consider yourself to be a writer?
I’ve always written in my spare time. As a young adult, I wrote poetry and short stories that never went further than my trusty Hilroy notebooks. But the reality of needing a paying job steered my life in a different direction. So I joined the Air Force, got a paid university degree, and saw the world. Target rich environment to get some real good meat for great stories, right? But for years after, I simply concentrated on my career as a transportation and movements officer. Then in 2013 I was transferred to a billet in Europe with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The task was extremely busy and draining, and to keep my sanity, I began to write again. Slowly, the story filled the pages (well, the computer disk I guess) and grew to become The Flight of the Mayflower, the first novel in the series “The Chronicles of Deneb”. When that novel was published, it was at that very moment that I took a deep breath and recognized that I was now truly a writer.
What advice do you have for a new writer?
Be curious. Look at things from different perspectives. Read, and not only novels in the genre that you want to write, but of a broad swath. Tell the story you want to tell, what moves you, what energizes you. And don’t be afraid of critics, you can never please everybody. Be proud of your progress, because writing is hard work.
What is the easiest part of the writing process for you?
Well I can tell you the hardest part for sure. For me, that’s the first and last chapter in a novel. I want to hook people in the first chapter, and the last chapter just has to finish perfectly to draw the reader into the next book in the series. When my reader reaches the end of the first novel, I want them to wait with bated breath for the next one to come out. Now the second novel is out, Descent into Deneb, and there’s still more adventure to come.
But you did ask about the easiest part, right? Well that’s when I’ve got all the details for the next chapter mapped out. I make a draft in point form before I write a chapter, outlining the action, the characters motivation, any sci-fi tech that I created, as well as the research to keep the science in the fiction. Then I start to write the chapter. All the hard work’s been done and now the fun begins when the black fills the computer screen.
Which character was the most fun to write about? Why?
In Descent into Darkness, I introduce Captain Bafa Villutomi. She’s a twenty-something security officer in the Wessel Army, but she’s got a dark secret. Although Bafa is highly competent, she thinks with her heart and that gets her into trouble. Her assignment is to be the assistant to General Pallav Kóbor, a human from Earth embedded in the Wessel Army. But she’s also batting for the enemy team. Bafa’s sassy, confident but also a bit ditzy and she drives Pallav mad. Yet when the chips are down, he has to count on her to pull his fat out of the fryer. Not that Pallav’s fat, anything but. Bafa was a really fun character to write. She’s a young woman whose eyes are slowly being opened to the truth and she develops into a formidable force.
What is your favorite part of this story?
I did mention that I was in the Air Force, right? So any and all scenes with my combat space ace Fynn Vogel has to be the answer. Especially when Fynn’s piloting a vicious Stryker Skykiller warbird with his crack team like in Chapter 16 of Descent into Darkness, ready, willing and able to blast some enemy butt out of the sky. When Fynn’s around, it usually spells adventure and misadventure, although he’s a real softy at heart.
But there’s another part of the story that was an absolute hoot to write. When General Pallav Kóbor finds himself in trouble, it’s Captain Bafa Villutomi to the rescue. The pretty young officer transforms herself into a sultry, sexy waitress at a strip club to lure the assassin who’s blackmailing her hulking human boss into a trap. Yes, I know that’s two favorite parts but I really couldn’t chose between the two.
Which Character was the hardest to write about? Why?
In The Flight of the Mayflower I introduce the Nobel prize winning astrophysicist Dr. Tara Kóbor (who also happens to be Pallav Kóbor’s spunky wife) and Dr. Daniel Radu, a brilliant astronautical engineer. While rocketing across the galaxy, Daniel mourns the loss of a loved one. When he turns to Tara for support, it develops into something a bit more serious. Tara’s a hard character to write since I can see the mistakes that she’s making and I have to let her continue down her path. She doesn’t respect her husband’s position on life, nor does she respect Daniel. Tara’s a maverick, but a damned confused one. Back on Earth, her career dragged Pallav across the USA until the couple and their two children arrived at NASA. Fêted as one of the most accomplished astrophysicists on Earth, Tara now finds herself floundering in her husband’s shadow on the planet Deneb7. From award winning scientist to housewife on an alien planet, what a jump. In Descent into Darkness, Tara becomes a lost soul and that certainly made her a difficult character to write.
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