The Eve of Rebirth

*Beep*... *Beep*...

The slow, rhythmic notes from the heart monitor resounded in the silence of the hospital room.

A young man laid flat in the patient bed. He was little more than a boy, having reached adulthood just two weeks prior. His eyelids remained closed and motionless. His pale lips hung ajar beneath the oxygen mask. His entire countenance was one of sickly pallor. There wasn't a hint of youthful health in his image.

His mother leaned in from a chair besides the hospital bed. The shadows beneath her eyes spoke of her exhaustion, but there was little room for fatigue in her heartbroken gaze. Her delicate fingers brushed aside his brown, overgrown bangs and wiped the sweat from his forehead. His body was straining itself just to hang on.

The doctors had warned that he only had a handful of days left. His heart had been born defective, and after eighteen years it was failing outright. There was no treatment other than a heart transplant. Unfortunately for the young man, his family had been unable to secure a donation.

A tear fell from the mother's glistening eyes as her son's slate-blue gaze flickered open. She knew that their hours together had fallen away to only a final few.

"Don't be sad Mama," Alexei spoke faintly in Russian through the oxygen mask. "I've had a good life," a brave yet genuine grin came to his lips. "I'm ready to accept the maker's judgment -- whatever form he may take shape in."

Natalya clenched his thin fingers with a forced smile. A shadow of guilt passed through her gaze, as though berating herself on why she could not show the same courage as her son. He was ready to face the end, yet she could not bring herself to let him go.

Alexei wasn't even brought up to be religious. His father was an atheist. His mother was an Orthodox Christian who didn't receive communion for decades. The son ended up delving five different faiths for answers. But as the gilded Eastern Cross standing above his bed and the strand of Buddhist prayer beads encircling his wrist showed, he never did decide on one of them.

"Is... are they..."

"Your Papa left the airport with him nearly an hour ago," Natalya answered her son's feeble question. "They should be here any minute now."

Apart from the family, Alexei had requested to see one other person before departing this world. Bringing someone all the way from Chelyabinsk, Russia to New York wasn't easy. But as it was their son's final wish, the parents did everything they could to fulfill it.

In that moment, Alexei heard the familiar sound of boots striding down the hallway outside. The heavy footsteps came in perfect marching beat, a lingering habit of his father's time in the army. A softer set followed behind, one that followed a surprising similar beat to the ex-military officer.

"They're here..."

A broad grin returned to Alexei's lips as he exerted strength in his arms, trying to push himself into a sitting posture.

"What're you doing? Lay down..."

"Please Mama," his eyes pleaded. "I've always wanted to do this."

With a sigh of resignation, Natalya left her chair and began winding a lever beneath the hospital bed. The bedframe's upper half gradually rose into an incline, and soon it resembled an upright lounge chair. Returning to her seat, the mother adjusted her son's pillows, propping his back until he sat almost straight.

Raising his head directly above his heart only increased its burden. But what was a few minutes of life when compared to fulfilling a wish?

The door handle spun, and Alexei's father Nicolai walked in first. Following him was the man who came all the way from the other side of the world. Brown haired and tall, the thirty years old man held the lean musculature of a marathon runner. And just like in the photos, his bright-brown eyes and shaven, chiseled chin formed a visage handsome enough to match any Kremlin honor guard.

Stiffening his arm, Alexei brought it up to his head in a formal military salute.

"Fleet Commander Ataman!" His voice rang louder than it had been in months. "Comms officer Elixeievna reporting!"

For a moment, the man addressed 'Ataman' was caught between surprise and the urge to step forward to make the boy go back to rest. Then, as though struck by realization, he stood straight, stiffened his chest, and saluted back with a grin.

"At ease, Captain," he then added, and at last Alexei lowered his hand.

"I've always wanted to do that," the younger man wore a bright smile despite his coughs, as one of his lifelong desires had been crossed off the list.

The mother looked bewildered. But the father smiled with nostalgia. Nicolai understood, and from the door he beckoned Natalya to join him:

"Let's give them some time alone."

"But--"

"You wouldn't understand," Nicolai shook him head. "You've never been in the military."

"But neither has he..."

The rest of Natalya's protests grew muffled as Alexei's father dragged her outside. The two young men were left by themselves, who exchanged amused smirks like two same-age boys despite over twelve years of difference.

"You know, you're even younger than in the pictures," 'Ataman' spoke as he spun the chair vacated by Natalya and sat down on it, his chest leaning forward against its back.

"Been too sick to have my growth spurt."

Eighteen or not, Alexei was barely over five feet. The fact he entered puberty particularly late didn't help either.

"And it's been what -- four, five years since we first met?"

"Four years, seven month, give and take a few days." Alexei nodded with a brief cough. "Not that we really knew each other at first. Not until the Siege of C-J6MT after I officially became your second... Do you still remember?"

The younger man put on a mask of concern as he repeated the same cry from years ago:

"Enemies behind... we've been surrounded!"

'Ataman' smirked back like a wolf hunting for dinner.

"Well they cannot escape us now! We shall have ample opportunity to force their surrender!"

"Of course I remember, Lyosha," he used Alexei's diminutive, a name spoken between only the closest of companions. "How could any of us forget? Seventy pilots; three days of fighting without rest. We drove back wave after wave of assaults. In the end half of us fell asleep in our seats. But we did it! We held the line, against almost six-to-one odds whom nobody else thought possible!"

"And in doing so we defended not only the honor of our people, but our own pride," Alexei nodded.

Born to an ex-Soviet diplomat father -- who immigrated to the United States after the Soviet Union's collapse -- Alexei had endured anti-Russian slurs all his life. During his adolescent years when his health still allowed him to attend school, Alexei had been bullied relentlessly by other children for his nation of origin. Classmates would point to him as the 'Red Menace'. They stuck papers to his back and vandalized his textbooks with the word 'Commie' in red crayon. They accused him of being a spy, and told him many times to "go back to your country".

Some even went as far as to claim that his sickness was divine punishment for his godlessness, that his body was rotting from within just like the evil Soviet Empire had.

Alexei thought he could leave all that behind when he joined Red Alliance -- a Russian-speaking player group in the game EVE Online. But hate didn't stop at the boundary between real and virtual space. Torrents of anti-Russian propaganda preceded the start of the Great EVE War and the invasion of Red Alliance territory. The Western European alliances claimed that the Russians were cheaters, alcoholics, and criminals, that many of them held a connection to the Russian mafia. They painted the Russian players as poor wretches who drowned themselves in Vodka, who went as far as selling sisters and daughters as 'Russian brides', just to afford an escape into virtual reality where they dreamed of rebuilding their evil empire.

The Russians in turn never forgot. Even when the opposition made overtures of peace, the Red Alliance leaders would respond: 'No. We remember what you've said. You're going down.'

...

"So this is the charity group you built," 'Ataman' looked impressed as he examined a photo of thirty-plus people, all standing around a teenage boy in a wheelchair.

"That photo was a year ago. Twice the size now," Alexei answered with pride.

"I take it that EVE had something to do with this?"

"Quite," the younger man's smile turned a little wry. "I still remember how it all started -- in middle school -- when my heart's condition worsened and I couldn't attend school any more. That was when I picked up gaming and joined you all, Grisha."

'Grisha' was the diminuitive of 'Ataman's real name: Grigoriy.

"It really saved me, you know," Alexei's gaze met his partner's brown orbs. "I was unbelievably depressed back then. I never felt like I belonged here during my school years."

"I can imagine," Grigoriy grimaced. "In the land of our Cold War adversaries, right after that bastard Gorbachev destroyed our Motherland. If an American boy moved into my town, I can certainly think of plenty who'd take out their frustration on 'the enemy'."

"It's far worse than you might think."

Alexei sighed. He knew he probably vented this exact topic on at least a dozen previous occasions, but nevertheless Grigoriy listened.

"We Russians are at least naturally skeptical towards government propaganda. We're cynical by culture, enough to realize that our existing knowledge might be false and we're ready to question it. Who knows what falsehoods the state might have put in our heads in their attempt to make the Capitalist West look as awful as possible."

"--Newspapers good only for wrapping our fish!" Grigoriy interjected, and Alexei chuckled at the old, Soviet-era joke.

"Quite."

His smile then vanished.

"But the Americans? It's hard to imagine how politically ignorant some people can be. It doesn't help that their media tells half-truths, sweetened with just enough facts to hide its stuffing of extreme bias: sometimes manipulative, sometimes downright malicious. So when I went to school, they would spew out the most hideous nonsense. Like how the Motherland sent unequipped soldiers to charge the front lines while machine-gunning them from behind -- as if our grandparents could have destroyed the German army by being utter idiots!"

"Enemy at the Gates, the manure of Hollywood -- and they just, eat it whole?"

"Like honeycakes," Alexei shook his head in disbelief. "I was still in school when that released on video. I remember some of the boys' reactions. Even when I tell them recollections from my own grandfather --who was there at Stalingrad-- they refused to believe me. Claimed I was the one 'brainwashed' by Soviet propaganda. Idiot pots calling kettle."

"No wonder you were so fervent during those first days of the war."

Alexei could only offer a wry grin in return. Just like in the Great Patriotic War -- the Russian name for World War II -- Red Alliance found themselves ill prepared for the start of the Great EVE War. The Red Fleet suffered a string of disastrous defeats and was decimated in just a few weeks. Morale collapsed like a deck of cards and its players began to desert.

By the third month of the war, the organization which once held hundreds was down to just seventy pilots. But these final seventy, which included Alexei and Grigoriy, refused to surrender. They refused to just abandon their self-respect and leave.

They swore an oath: that they would recover their territory and take revenge.

They stayed behind enemy lines, and launched a guerrilla war of resistance in an online, virtual game.

They harassed the invaders' supply lines, laid ambushes for hostile patrols, and assaulted lone enemy outposts. They fought through hundreds of skirmishes, and slowly organized themselves into the finest and most tightly-knit fighting force in EVE Online.

...And that, was how their saga began.

They became the legendary Death Squadron, named after their leader 'UAxDeath'. They went on to fight the epic Siege of C-J6MT, winning despite overwhelming odds and inspiring an entire generation of players.

It was their Siege of Leningrad, their Battle of Moscow. It was the pivotal moment, when the Russians found a new rallying cry and returned in numbers, when the entire war turned for the first time.

It also laid the foundation for the birth of the now infamous RedSwarm Federation: a combination between the Russian Red Alliance and the American Goonswarm Federation. The coalition was sealed by an American diplomat-spy whose day job was in the US State Department, who had watched the battle unfold and decided that there was no greater allies than the relentless Russians.

"Red Alliance gave me a place to be myself," Alexei beamed with nostalgia as he thought of the war and its battles, when he defied his parents and woke up at godforsaken hours to fight shoulder-to-shoulder alongside his brothers.

It may have taken years off his life, but it had been worth it. To go into battle knowing, for certain, that every one of your companions spoke with their truest sincerity, that every one of them would gladly watch each others' backs.

Alexei couldn't help but think of that one line coined by the game's community, the one line that both of them felt in their hearts during the countless hours they spent in virtual space:

"EVE is real."

It doesn't matter if it was just a virtue game or if they all flew in digital starships. The struggles they went through. The battles they fought in. The camaraderie they built to share. They might not compare to the mountains of Afganistan where his father fell wounded, or the rubble of Stalingrad that his grandfather once fought through.

But they were nevertheless real.

His father understood. His grandfather would have understood.

"But RedSwarm..." Alexei thought aloud. "When we fought the Great EVE War alongside our American comrades... that was when I truly accepted myself."

"You did grow up in America," Grigoriy patted the younger man on the shoulder in understanding. "Doesn't matter where we are, it's always better to feel that the society we live in accepts us for whom we are. And there was no place better to unravel stereotypes and truly learn about one another, than fighting side-by-side through a great war."

Alexei smiled back as he nodded. Grisha always was a good listener, a dispenser of mature advice as well. It was why Alexei looked up to the older man all these years.

"Doesn't it make you wonder though?" The younger partner added. "If our grandparents had fought with the Americans and British on the same battlefields, instead of coming from two different directions, then maybe the whole Cold War could have been avoided."

"Perhaps." Grigoriy took a moment to contemplate. Then, with a chuckle: "you were always the philosophical one. I still remember how people in our group called you a 'dreamer'."

"I call it 'wisdom'."

Alexei lit a toothy smile, which prompted Grisha to bark:

"Hey now! Don't be going 'old man' on me! I'm the senior here!"

The two of them laughed.

"But that's why, after the Great EVE War, I decided to work with my doctors to start up a charity organization." Alexei paused as he looked down at the photo that Grisha still held, their conversation going full circle at last. "If a fulfilling online life could give confidence and purpose to a homebound boy like me, then why can't it benefit other sick children in the same manner? If shared experiences in virtual space could bring Russians and Americans together in our post-Cold War atmosphere, then why can't it bridge our divisions in the real world?"

Grigoriy grinned, certainly at the former. He didn't look entirely convinced by the latter. But even then, his brown gaze revealed that at least a portion of him would like to believe it.

"That part of you," he pointed his finger. "Definitely speaks American influence."

There wasn't any actual accusation or condescension in his voice, so Alexei only feigned outrage in return:

"Hey! That doesn't make me any less Russian!"

Grigoriy laughed. "Of course not, Lyosha. Of course not."

...

Hours of conversation passed in what seemed the blink of an eye. Before long, the two were eating food from a nearby restaurant which Natalya brought back.

Alexei always did have a craving for Italian cuisine. His Milanese Ossobuco wasn't exactly takeout food, but the veal remained juicy and succulent as his knife cut slices off it.

"You know, when Lyosha and I first met, I thought he was a girl," Grigoriy described to Alexei's mother. "I mean -- his handle name, his avatar, even his voice."

"I can't help it that I'm a late bloomer," Alexei pouted.

His gaze did betray a wistful light, although Grisha wasn't keen enough to notice. His mother did though, but she had always misunderstood what it truly meant.

"What can I say?" Natalya tilted her head as she grinned at her son. "He's always been the delicate type."

"Mama!"

Grigoriy laughed at Alexei's retort, its tone of annoyance no longer faked this time.

"I've never asked, but what made you pick 'Elixeievna'?"

The older man's question was eager and frank. There wasn't a trace of teasing. Nevertheless the pale Alexei looked away with a faint blush.

"It's from a story I obsessed over as a child..."

Grisha's eyebrows shot up with interest. "Which one? I'm not familiar with the name."

Alexei's lips moved but no sound came out.

It was his mother who ended up spilling the beans:

"Tsaritsa Elizabeth Alexeievna, the wife of Alexander I of Russia."

"The conqueror of Napoleon?" Grigoriy asked. History wasn't his best subject.

Alexei finally nodded, and with a soft, bittersweet tone he began:

"Cupid and Psyche -- that's what Catherine the Great and her court called them. They were soulmates who met as children, and thought the world of one another. But Elizabeth was too gentle for the intrigues of the royal court, too serene to maintain a grip on her husband's passionate yet tormented heart. Their marriage was strained for many years, and only in the final years of their lives was their love rekindled to find solace in one another."

"It's quite a romantic tale," his mother smiled.

Alexei knew that his mother always thought he had a childish crush on the historical empress. She could not have been more wrong.

"And I can't even call it 'too American' this time," Grigoriy half-joked.

"You're not a romantic, are you?" Alexei prodded as his smile faltered.

He already knew the answer. After all, they've been together for years, even if they had never physically met until today.

"Not really," Grisha replied as he lowered his fork and put aside his food, as though to show just how serious he took the topic.

"I do believe in love. But I think that 'romance' -- or at least the modern concept of it -- is greatly overrated. Leo Tolstoy captured it best in Anna Karenina. Passion and romantic idealism ruins lives. It's best we be realistic about our relationships."

Don't I know it...

Alexei thought as he felt his heart cringe. The constant, physical pain that he grew accustomed to escalated as his emotions bubbled in displeasure.

In the end, Alexei only had one regret. He regretted the roll of dice made at his conception. He regretted that he never even had an opportunity to fulfill his fondest wish.

If I could with honor change the circumstances of my life, I would do it with pleasure, his thoughts echoed the words once written by Tsar Alexander I, and marvelled at how fitting it was.

Alexei never told his family what it was. Only that it was the reason behind his final request.

This... was as close as he would ever come to fulfilling it.

...

On that night, after a series of heart convulsions led to a brief cardiac arrest, Alexei Nikolayevich Voronkov slipped into a coma.

Upon the insistent of his parents, he was taken off life support the next day. After all, Alexei's heart had been steadily failing for years. There was no reason to torment it in the end.

He lived for only 6,590 days, less than a quarter of the average life expectancy in the United States.

------ * * * ------

Lucina Chandrabha Arrius -- though everyone in her life these days called her 'Luna' -- rubbed her eyes before opening them.

So that was how I died, she thought.

She was eighteen years of age now. For a Samaran, that meant she was undergoing the period of 'Recollection': when she would recover fragments of her past lives.

...Or past life, which seemed to be her case.

There were many things she did not yet understand. The terms 'Russian' and 'American' seem to describe the cultural and/or national identities of another world, something that Alexei held a strong attachment for. But what was a 'Cold War'?

She had seen dreams of Alexei playing this 'EVE Online' before, piloting his favorite vessel -- what he called an 'black ops battleship'. However, what she did not comprehend was how different their worlds must be for a ship to glide through the void, which was then emulated on a flat, crystalline screen that one could, somehow, fight wars in.

A remarkable civilization, she had to admire. They could resolve their differences through wars that no longer killed.

If only her world had been the same, her life would not be the way it was today.

Luna stifled an involuntarily yawn beneath her palm. She rubbed her eyes again and blinked away her tears.

The first rays of sunlight had began to stream in through the attic windows. It was time to begin another day's work.

Looking across the room, Luna sighed as she noticed her roommate, Alisa, still fast asleep. As the junior maid of the household, Alisa was supposed to get up first and then wake Luna.

Give her a few more, She stopped herself from calling out. The fairly new girl had only a day to recover from her recent cold.

Pulling herself out of bed, Luna rinsed her face thoroughly with the metal basin of water she filled last night. After drying herself off with a towel, she pulled off the long chemise that she wore to bed and began putting on her maid outfit. Her legs extended through the midsection first, then she pulled the black and white dress up to her shoulders. Her arms went into their respective, puffy sleeves, before she began pulling on the cords lacing her lower back.

It wasn't a corset. Those were only for upper class women who didn't have to work. But the dress did pull tight enough to hug her slim waist.

Luna scowled as her fingers slipped twice. It was hard to do it properly when the cord knotted halfway up her back. This was where Alisa was supposed to help.

Bet I didn't have... this trouble... in my last life.

After all, boys' clothes were always so much more straightforward.

It took her several minutes to tie and knot the cords, followed by closing the buttons on her upper back. She then tightened the decorative ribbons wrapped around her upper arms, before pulling on her white gloves.

Her outfit wasn't exactly the standard issue. The expensive violet ribbons alone marked her unusual status in the household. In some ways she was higher than the other servants. In other ways she was lower than everybody.

Moving to the windows, Luna saw that the sun's glow was only just above the horizon. The tiny moon that was her namesake could still be seen orbiting the gaseous, indigo giant which dominated the sky.

There was just enough light to reflect off her handheld mirror. She brushed the wavy, silver-white hair that was the reason behind her name. She spent a quarter hour grooming it every night, but the mornings only offered enough time to tidy it.

It's about time, she thought before crying out:

"Alisa! Rise and shine! The sun is up!"

The mousey girl, barely sixteen years of age, grumbled in her bed. Luna watched her toss and turn before finally yanking away her covers.

"Come on. I've already let you sleep extra. You'll be late if you delay any longer!"

The brunette slowly raised her head with a massive yawn.

"...Just once, I'd like to get a full night's sleep."

"You're in the wrong occupation for that. Try housewife."

Luna sent the casual reply as she sat back down. She lifted her skirt before pulling a white stocking up each leg, plus the matching garters to hold them there. Her fingers laced a pair of heeled boots around her small feet next, and all that remained was her apron and hairband.

"If I could get married to someone nice, I would have already..."

Alisa was still grumbling as Luna finished dressing and strode to the door.

"How are you always so accepting of it?"

Luna stopped just as she was about to depress the door handle. An uneasy feeling spread from her heart, before being beaten back by a sobering alliance of self-discipline and resignation.

"Because I don't have a choice," the soft voice that escaped her lips was little more than a whisper. Then, firmer and louder: "Better to accept a decent job for what it is."

And with that final comment, she pushed open the door and departed for her day.

Author's Notes

  • The story of Red Alliance and the Siege of C-J6MT is real. VileRat, who was killed in the 2012 Benghazi attack, negotiated the treaty between the American Goonswarm Federation and Russian Red Alliance to form RedSwarm Federation, one of the belligerents of the 2006-2007 Great Eve War (documented by EVE historian Andrew Groen in his book Empires of EVE I). Many anti-Russian statements which contributed to this conflict were pulled straight out of the book. UAxDeath is also a real character. Ataman and Elixeievna are not, for obvious reasons.
  • 'Ataman' is the Imperial Russian rank for supreme commander of the Cossack army.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

27 thoughts on “The Eve of Rebirth

Open Message Board
  1. MechaKingGhidorah100

    Also read Empire of Eve, fascinating stuff and was a great intro for someone who never touched the game.

    However my thoughts on this story are that in comparison to Flowers and Daybreak especially it is a disappointment. Prologue basically felt like it was screaming at the reader to show us that the main character was foreign. Daybreak sometimes had this issue at time with infodumping about how Kaede acted this and that way due to her upbringing but those explanations were generally far shorter and some of it was subtle. This on the other hand felt like a more well researched version of the characters basically saying "Cyka Bleyt Rush B Idi Nahui Vodka Comrades!" as so much of the conversation and words felt geared to show the Russianness of the character and how different they were.

    Chapter One had us pretty quickly dive into a massive conversation about complicated politics and some infodumping which I had to reread a few times due to my eyes glazing over. In Daybreak you first slowly introduced us to the characters and established their relationship and slowly added more politics and plot stuff along the way. It feels like you tried to take a couple chapters worth of stuff and smush it into one chapter. The pacing is off.

    And the main issue with this story is that the two main leads, Luna and Konstatin basically just feel like Kaede and Pascal: Samaran Boogaloo. Kaede/Luna are both half Russian half other culture (Kaede Japanese and Luna Samaran) moeish Samarans with porcelain skin (seriously the description of Luna felt like you copypasted one of Kaede's descriptions) who are somewhat submissive but have a snippy side and are the confidante to their noble master. Pascal and Konstantin are both sons of a great war hero and come across as jackasses to other people (Pascal because he kinda is one and Konstantin so far because it is an act) but are also/actually super competent and despite everyone thinking that their Samaran servant is some sort of fucktoy actually treat Kaede/Luna pretty decently.

    While there are some differences now and may be more established in the future the two characters as well as the dynamic between the two are ALWAYS going to be far too similar to Daybreak. It feels like you are trying to tell the story of Flowers (Polisia getting invaded by eastern invaders) with Pascal and Kaede. Pascal Kaede (and Sylv too) have a really fun and strong dynamic and is one of my favorite things about Daybreak but let them tell the story of Daybreak (which I definitely think has far more plot potential than just till the end of Vol 4) and come up with new characters for us to love for wholy new and different reasons.

    From the few chapters we got from both I would say Flowers was overall the stronger story as main characters were different from Pascal and Kaede but had the right ingredients to have a relationship as interesting and fun as the one developed between Pascal and Kaede. I hate to be so negative but I love your writing, Daybreak still has what has to be my favorite depiction of an original fantasy world and magic system, and you asked for the readers thoughts. I am someone who always criticizes the things they enjoy the most heavily and wouldn't waste a good hour typing up this comment if I hated you or your writing. You have just shown that you can do so much better than this.

    Reply
    1. AoriiAorii Post author

      Thanks much for the detailed feedback, even if it was... very sobering. I do *really* appreciate it and the time you spent nonetheless.

      It wasn't intentional to "screaming at reader to show... main character was foreign", though now that I think about it, it's not too far from intentional? One of the things I had a lot of feedback on Daybreak was that Kaede felt too much like a generic western youth. I've gone a long way into understanding the differences between cultures since when I began writing Daybreak (you could say I've transitioned from being a History Buff to being a Cultural Buff during the in-between years). To give an obvious example, the fact Kaede didn't have a patronymic since the start (which play a very important role in Russian language and familiarity of address) was a major sin in hindsight. Since the main focus in Prologue is that of a character grappling with their cultural identity/dissonance, I guess it 'screams in the face'?

      You're right that chapter 1 could use more streamlining. I wrote it with the assumption that readers wouldn't necessarily grasp everything spoken of. I mostly wanted it to establish firmly: politics will play a VERY important role in this novel (and politics can't be simplified too much without seeming incompetent) -- which is something Daybreak didn't get across until after vol1 and I regret. Think of it this way: Daybreak pretended it was a conventional light novel for all of 1st novel and only revealed its political-military fiction nature in vol2. This time, I'm diving straight in, for better or worse.

      Yeah the main leads do feel similar. I'm not even going to refute it XD Technically, Luna is much more heavily based off Lydia from Flowers, but because of the premise it doesn't quite feel that way. I'm not going to apologize for the fact I have a favorite character dynamic that I enjoy writing about, because when I worked on Flowers I noticed that I *really* missed it. The biggest differences is that Luna is not a naive kid (she comes hard-boiled like Lydia), and Konstantin is not a social imbecile (nor is he a natural military genius). Also his father isn't a war hero, I need to investigate how that misconception got across. The character Konstantin is *closest* to is actually Daybreak's Sylviane, minus the bipolar. But I understand that due to the premise presentation, some big points feel very similar.
      (Luna is also slightly taller and has wavy hair, plus other diff compared to Kaede. I just like the porcelain metaphor ^^)

      Daybreak has plot potential till vol20. It doesn't mean I'll write until vol20. After vol3 I realized a host of issues, which I ran headlong into again for vol4 and realize that it's just not going to resolve itself. So as much as I can idealize Daybreak down the road, I also realized that it just wasn't going to happen.

      Reply
      1. MechaKingGhidorah100

        From the response it feels (to me atleast) that you are trying to correct things that you viewed as having done wrong in Daybreak and at certain points went too far in the other direction. I can see how people saw issue with Kaede, I just feel like this chapter was just a bit heavy with emphasizing our character is Russian. I wouldn't mind so much if the chapter was a bit longer and we got some more time to learn some other stuff about our protagonist. Rereading it I felt I was a smidge harsh in my original comment but my point does stand.

        Politics wise while I can understand not wanting to basically wait till the end of Volume 1 to get into it like in Daybreak but diving right into it before we know much about our characters is a mistake, especially in this story. It is especially important to get us to know the characters given that they are Kaede and Pascal expies and thus the first chapter or two should be about showing what makes these two uniquely Luna and Konstantin rather than coming off to the readers as copies of your original characters. While you know that Konstantin is more like Slyv and that Luna is more experienced and mature than Kaede we don't given the very limited characterization in chapter one which most was devoted to Konstantin pretending to be a dumbass. The massive blob of political talk is also an issue because at this point these are all just names we don't really know or care about and this is your FIRST chapter and therefore something you want to hook us in with.

        Think of the analogy of the boiling frog but the water is intense politics and the frog is the reader. You drop reader right away into the boiling word salad they will hop off but if you drop the reader into something that gets them hooked and then steadily introduce the politics in which we as readers will be invested in since we care for your characters. While you have no need for the extended pacing of Volume 1 you definitely want to give it a couple chapters before you go into the full politics as currently Daybreak gets me to care for the complicated geopolitics since I enjoy the characters and it was introduced at a manageable pace but in Eve the politics just flies over my head.

        And here is the sentence that makes me think Konstantin's dad is a war hero.

        “That’s the son of Grand Prince Radomir, Hero of the Triple Ford?”

        “Apple sure fell far from the tree, didn’t it?” The sergeant replied before spitting onto the ground. “A wastrel and a coward. What a disgrace to his father’s honor.”

        And from the cancellation message you gave us it made me think the issue you had with Daybreak was that you just hadn't plotted things out properly and were running out of story since you mentioned the lack of planning as being your big issue which honestly surprised me as I really loved the foreshadowing you gave us, which was enough to speculate on what could happen but enough to still be surprising. Sorry I assumed that.

        I am thankful you are so civil, especially since my review was rather critical, and argued and responded to my complaints calmly.

        Reply
        1. AoriiAorii Post author

          I try to be civil as long as people explain their opinions and aren't just flinging accusations. You took the time out of a legitimate desire to help, so it's the least I could do ^^

          So another issue that I had to dig into 1st chapter, due to Konstantin pretend-fool act, is that I had to show both his wastrel persona at the start, and then reverse it to not have the audience leave with a completed first impression of "he's mostly an idiot". As Konstantin's skills lay in the field of politics and organization, and as I've mentioned --simplified politics is generally seen as 'bad politics'-- I kind of dove straight in. It's basically a version of the In Media Res format of storytelling, where readers are dumped straight into the main plot and from there, slowly learn all the characters, circumstances, background, and setting. It has the disadvantage of a hasty start, but the advantage of setting clear expectations. I did ask my beta-readers to point out anything they found confusing or too info-dumpy, but results generically came back positive and clean. I'll comb thru again, but you have any specific parts you take issues with, feel free to highlight them and I'll see what I can manage.

          (as I've noted: readers aren't expected to understand all the names in such a format. If you grasp: 'oh that's probably a type of ___' or 'oh that's some faction/house/location', it's generally enough. I also wonder if I should of waited until more chapters, because one of the traits of In Media Res? It slows down *after* the opening chapter)

          Yeah 'hero' is the wrong address in hindsight. The title 'Grand Prince' is on par with that of a national ruler. We don't call rulers 'heroes of X' just because they won a battle: that's their job. I should switch that to 'victor' or something like it.

          It IS true I only plotted as far as Vol4 in Daybreak. But since I set up a continental conflict with massive ambitions for its main characters, it really has enough 'story' to go on until I die of old age. The real reason I wanted to end Daybreak is noted in this post. It's actually one of the reasons I have trouble writing vol4: I need to introduce new characters to fill new roles but I just don't have enough energy/inspiration in the story anymore.

          Reply
  2. Darksteel

    This is definitely an interesting premise for a novel, but I'm going to pass on reading this one. Not because of the writing style or anything, just the massive amount of political stuff. I try to avoid any kind of political commentary in my books, especially fantasy ones. I feel almost sick whenever I read anything incredibly biased towards a country, even/especially where I live, and this had a legitimately startling amount of Russian/Soviet Union bias. I was hoping the political stuff would stop after the first chapter, but the names of the people+places in chapter 2 show it's likely to be a continuing theme.

    At the very least, it seems somewhat ironic that it reads like Russian propaganda, after the characters specifically state that propaganda doesn't work in Russia. (Which is clearly incorrect, or they wouldn't bother making propaganda in the first place.)

    I will say that this story has made me interested in the story of the Red Alliance in Eve though, might have to try and find some of those books documenting it.

    Reply
    1. AoriiAorii Post author

      The characters have their own biases.
      I can only state that over the years, I've observed most countries' population showing a fairly healthy degree of skepticism towards government propaganda (and Russian culture is cynical in nature); that does not mean they don't believe it, but they tend to question it more and those who have traveled about (like the protag) easily recognize it as false.
      The United States however is an exception to this due to some well-known reasons.

      Lol, Polisia is based on the Kievan Rus of course it's heavily Slavic in naming! XD That's like saying Daybreak is Nazi propaganda because I use a Prussian naming scheme!

      Reply
      1. Hakurei06Hakurei06

        >And lol, Polisia is based on the Kievan Rus of course it's heavily Slavic in naming! XD That's like saying anime feels like Japanese propaganda.

        All hail glorious nipponese cartoons.
        Actually, hey I still remember that canceled isekai anime where the MC killed thousands of chinese people in WWII as a footnote. I should stop here while I'm still feeling facetious.

        Edit: (You can edit your comments, but the stalker sees all... or at least whatever makes it to RSS)

        Reply
        1. AoriiAorii Post author

          Ask the average Briton and they'll tell you about how they 'civilized' much of the world. Japan just gets highlighted a ton because they lost the last war.

          Reply
          1. Darksteel

            I just saw my comment appear now for some reason, so my response is very belated >.> (I think I have to delete cookies or something for it to show up...)

            I'm going to clarify one of my points, which is that I have no problem with naming conventions from different countries. That's perfectly reasonable. The only issue I had with it was that the Russian-esque names were immediately preceded by the intense Russian bias.
            So, a better comparison would be if Daybreak's first chapter showed the main character as a Nazi who worshiped Hitler (bit of a hyperbole, but you get the point)
            Same goes for the anime comparison. It isn't the naming itself that's the issue. I don't know what isekai anime you're talking about, but it sounds awful so I'll probably avoid it.

            Also, yes everyone has their own bias, but part of the charm of fantasy worlds is that most of it shouldn't translate over (No point in saying '[Insert people here] all suck/are awesome!' in a world where there are no such people)
            So, the other concerning part was that so much of the chapter was focused on the bias, when said bias should theoretically not have much impact later on. Typically, in the character introduction, the reader gets introduced to what the author considers that characters main traits. Especially so if said character only directly appears in one chapter.
            The traits introduced in the first chapter tend to be important later on, Chekhov's Gun style (yes I did have to look up what the name was). Such as a military engineer knowing how to maintain their guns and rig makeshift explosives.

            Sadly, the America propaganda thing is pretty true. Luckily, I grew up somewhere where we all were pretty(very) cynical towards the USA, and all countries really. Heck, we don't even get Universal healthcare. I really want to move... Especially now that the Anti-vaccers and Anti-global warming people are spreading.

            Minor pet peeve - can someone come up with (and popularize) a better word for US citizen than American? Cause that's the name of the entire continent, so Mexicans, Canadians, and etc are also American. Maybe we should be called 'Complete Idiots' at this point.

            Sorry my posts are so long. I tend to ramble and over elaborate when trying to explain things.

          2. AoriiAorii Post author

            Intense Russia bias in what way? When the only things I've stated about Russia (as a political entity) were:
            1. Russians naturally distrust and make fun of their media due to its pervasive propaganda (you can find a lot of Russian jokes surrounding this topic)
            2. Gorbachev destroyed the Soviet Union which left a lot of people bitter
            3. Stalingrad... if you think that's Russia bias, I suggest this to show just how badly westerners twisted the facts for Cold War propaganda

            Everything else is about Russian as a people and their identity. I have not even taken any form of a stand on modern Russian actions lol!

            Btw, the character bias I speak of is the fact since Alexei has a cross-cultural upbringing, which gives him more awareness of perspectives (and therefore propaganda), he expects all other people to have similar views. When that's not necessarily the case because most people have not spent years outside their own country. This is a common human perception issue; but if you call this "Russian bias" then... I give up lol!

          3. Darksteel

            I have to reply here I guess? I don't have the option to on your newest post.

            First of all, this has clearly gotten somewhat out of hand, especially considering most of your points are things I never even mentioned?
            I'll go in inverse order, cause only one really needs to be talked about.

            3 - Battle of Stalingrad. I never mentioned this, mostly because all I remember about it was that it was a victory for the SU after massive amounts of casualties on both sides. I am going to watch the video, cause it seems informative, but I'm writing this blind. I'm guessing propaganda and lies about this are where the 'machine gunning allies' bit came from.
            2 - Gorbachev. Again, I never mentioned him.
            1 - This is somewhat important. Personally, I haven't really seen anything showing Russians are less susceptible to propaganda. I have seen some examples of them falling for it pretty badly. Homophobia is probably a pretty good recent example.

            So, why did I say that it sometimes reads like propaganda?
            The big reason, is just that there is no balance between the praise and scorn, it all goes one way. Only the US and Russia are mentioned here, so I'm only going to talk about those. The MC is always talking about Russia in praise, and America in scorn. Based on his upbringing (bullying and old war stories), that is pretty realistic.
            But it read somewhat like propaganda because there is no counter balance. There are no points of 'Oh so-and-so in America is nice' or 'Maybe this thing in Russia isn't good'

            All in all, this seems to have been bloated way out of proportion. Since it seems not to have been intentional, I'll probably wait for a few more chapters and try reading it again. You are very good at writing, and it's an interesting premise. A lot of this definitely seems to be my fault, I've become overly sensitive to this kind of thing after years of trying to avoid any kind of IRL politics when reading for fun, and my replies also bloated the topic, rather than helped. I'm sorry about that.

            Hopefully this explains my original post properly this time. I will read any other response, and probably reply, I'm just hoping it won't be needed.

          4. AoriiAorii Post author

            - How is making fun of Soviet propaganda a praise for Russia? =P
            - How is discussing Alexei's positive-minded American influence not praise for the US culture?
            - Notice that Grisha even admits: had it been an American in post-cold-war Russia, the Russians would probably have treated him just as badly.
            - Nowhere does it say Russians are immune to propaganda. "Cynical/distrustful" of propaganda is not the same as "immunity". Alexei event states "Who knows what falsehoods the government might have put in our heads..." to indicate that yes, people do believe it.
            - Russia also has good reason for homophobia: homosexuals cannot have offspring. When you're a country that lost 80% of its ideal reproductive male population during WW2, population growth is a matter of national security (and no, if you look at modern Russia demographics, they still haven't fully recovered).

            Anyway, I can understand the sensitivity to propaganda issue, but please bear in mind that not everything that feels biased is propaganda. As a writer, I need to focus discussions on a topic rather than just meander all over the place. And this is one of those topics that Americans do come out worse on.

          5. Darksteel

            Please keep in mind everything I had said was based on a single read of the teaser and chapter 1. First impressions if you will.

            That being said. I had missed some stuff. I somehow completely missed Grisha saying that (among other things) which is completely my bad. I think I was in a bad mood when I first read it, but that isn't a good excuse. At the very least, this was an enlightening conversation.

            The thing I was worried about (very unwarranted now it seems) was that this story would be some kind of 'reconstructing the Soviet Union in a fantasy world' thing, which I wouldn't really want to read. I can't remember the names, but I have seen a few books of that type before.

            PS: I know American's (still hate that term) in general get hit harder by actual propaganda, I see evidence of it every day. I also wasn't ever trying to say that your story itself was propaganda, sorry if it seemed that way.

            I think that's everything cleared up?

          6. AoriiAorii Post author

            Ugh, I can agree with that. There's a reason why even official Russian historiography denounces the Soviet Union, because its evil is beyond doubt. (Putin embraces the Imperial Russia image instead, while state-funded documentaries portray Lenin as a traitor to Russia). As I've mentioned, the Polisia setting is based on the Kievan Rus -- a Ukrainian/Russian state known for its multiculturalism and republican influences.

            But yes, I think we definitely have an understanding ^^

          7. Darksteel

            Yeah, it seems my first comment was over the top, but at least we both agree that we wouldn't want to read that >.>

            Since that isn't something I actually have to worry about, I look forward to reading it!

            Also, stop linking so much interesting history, I don't want to be a history buff. XD

          8. AoriiAorii Post author

            Unlike most of the internet, I debate with examples, sources, and citations =3

  3. Nyururin

    I don't mean to sound ungreatful, but considering you don't have much time wouldn't the releases be super slow. It would have been better if you released a bulk of chapters after a year or two

    Reply
    1. AoriiAorii Post author

      I'll be leaving that for the readers to decide. I've always been slower than most web novel writers so there has always been people who'd wait half to a year before bulk reading. Though I am trying to get back to some form of periodic updates.

      Reply
  4. Neumeny

    Aye.
    Also I get by by not following the politics other than to know who is a valid target. It can get rather Byzantine and backroom.

    Reply
  5. Neumeny

    And the pendulum started to swing back. The greatest allies and the worst enemy to mess with in Eve in my experience, even nowadays.

    It's great to see your still continuing and creating stories in this world as I really appreciated and enjoyed the universe you've created.

    This is a very interesting and intriguing start. Enough to set the background and to entice the reader with the character of Luna.

    Also I'm drawn into anything referencing Eve. And love the title.

    Reply
    1. AoriiAorii Post author

      I'm still not sure about the title lol. It references one of my favorite things: the Major Arcana (Fortune's Wheel = Wheel of Fortune card = time of great upheaval & opportunity). My alternative is "Calamity's Eve" which I though was... too edgy, wrong impression.

      So I don't actually play EVE. I try to keep up with the ingame news but it's more confusing than real world politics due to how fast things change. What do you mean the Pendulum is starting to swing back? (unless you're referring to Sir Molley's infamous pendulum declaration of war lol)

      Reply
  6. jak151

    I didn't know you had scrapped the story of flowers, so sorry I had recommended that you post it elsewhere.

    Reply
  7. jak151d

    For starters there where a few instances when him or her where mixed at the beginning of the story that confused me a little bit, making me reread to get a clearer picture. Secondly, I love that you haven't left us and are continuing to write stories in the world of Daybreak on Hyperion. I'm guessing we might get extra or interlude stories of kaede and company in this story? It might help bridge your old readers to this new story, although you may have to reintroduce for any new readers just getting into this story. But anyways, my thoughts based on this first chapter, the story gives me someone who I can relate or find relatable and grounds me to a character even as he reincarnates into Luna and advances into the true meat of the story. I think having Alexei being a part of Luna's memories will give us relatble idioms or topics like in the story 'Savage Divinity'. Continuing into the rest of the story I get the impression that Luna is a commoner of some importance by some early hints as well as cryptic hints that her life is not all dandy, which makes me want to move unto the next chapter and find out what is eating her up and how you the auther will take this story. My final thoughts are, holy hell it's a story set in Hyperion and I've been missing the world setting something fierce, you made a well detailed and historied world that I want to know all about and this gives me it.

    But I do have a question though, have you thought of joining writing websites like royalroad or tapas and post your stories? I mean all three, daybreak, story of the samarrans and this one, I think you would find a lot of support from the websites' staff and fans who are eager to read lengthy and well detailed stories. Some examples are 'Metaworld Chronicles' or 'The Wandering Inn', with Inn being a massive story of 5 novels following a hero summoning setting creating a one way crack in reality sending thousands falling into a magical world that has bloody ends and heroic feats. And metaworld setting in a modern parallel world with magic, where the great wars are humanity fighting for it's existence from undead necromancers, mermen zealots and death worshipping elf cults.

    Reply
    1. AoriiAorii Post author

      Thanks for the detailed feedback. There shouldn't be any pronoun mixups... *looks through*... derp, *fixes*

      I still plan to finish vol4 of Daybreak. I just need to find the motivation for it. But sharing a world is really the biggest 'bridge' between Daybreak and this, and maybe a few noble family names that get passed in between.

      I've never really heard of Tapas (may look into it at some point). I have a rather disdain for RoyalRoad though due to the sheer Chunnibyou quality of stories posted there, or at least, used to be. I've had better experience in fanfiction sites, and that says something ^^; As a worldbuilder and storywriter, I take things very seriously and with a great deal of research, so I don't really wish to be discussed in the same group.

      Reply
      1. Nyururin

        RoyalRoad also lacks committed writers, almost no good novel there gets completed. I am seriously tired of receiving false hope from the promises the authors make of continuing the series, but they simply disappear for a year. Than they suddenly pop up promising to release a chapter, but disappear again.....

        Reply