The Kallans – Beginnings: Empire

The Kallans – Beginnings: Empire

Chapter 1 (Excerpt)

15th July 2002

“COME on guys, let’s carry on. It’s not far now,” Ravika encouraged the group of explorers and scientists. He stood rubbing the stubble on his face while he waited for them to start moving again.

The group moaned a little, those seated staggering to their feet, and those standing trying to remain that way. They started to follow their inexhaustible Masian leader and his Ontwaygan friend as they continued their way up Mount Astu.

They moved on again following Baranka, and headed towards another turn in the cliff. They could see that the wind had picked up to an incredible pace, the few trees down that side of the mountain had been shaped to the direction of the wind, as if someone had taken their tops and had pulled them horizontal.

Baranka fearlessly moved around the corner.

The wind hit the Ontwaygan hard as he moved into the more open area around the corner. He lost his balance and slipped over the edge of the cliff, his arms flailing to grab onto anything he could reach.

The others felt the sudden drop as the tether pulled tight. Ravika slipped to the floor under the sudden force, slowly sliding to the edge of the cliff.

An image of his death at the foot of the cliff flashed through Ravika’s mind. He grasped for something to steady himself, before he managed to find a foothold and finally halt his motion towards oblivion… with only a few centimetres left. He clambered up and shouted out to the others to hold tight, and he (he was directly behind Baranka) started to pull the fortunate Ontwaygan back up and onto the path.

When they got him back up onto the ledge, the breathless Jeremy Baranka laid sprawled on the floor.

“Don’t do that again!” panted the Fakrianan called Christophe Vitogra.

“Yes! Don’t. You practically gave us all a heart attack!” added Theo Miazah as he held his arm to his chest.

“I didn’t intend… to!” Baranka panted. “That was… terrifying…!”

Daniel Ravika smiled at the impetuous Ontwaygan’s comment. At least he was still alive. The Iraka, which is the Kallan name for the wind that had pushed Baranka over the edge, was the strongest wind on record in the Kallan states. Battling such a strong force as the Iraka had made the journey a hard one, and this near miss had not helped the morale in any way.

The expedition had been started to try and help unravel some of the mysteries about the origin of the settlers who had come to Kalla. This information had been lost in time, partially due to the uncontrollable first few years of their settlement in this land. Now – as the bimillennial anniversary of their arrival approached – they were researching the possibility that one of the original settlers, one Islwyn Gruffydd, had withdrawn himself and lived in caves called Ilt Kraka, located in Ontwaygo. It was their task to find these caves and any clues they may contain.

Several days had elapsed since they arrived in Ilt Kraka and they had made some progress, identifying several markers in an unknown language, but what they could translate had only revealed Gruffydd’s name.

Now they sat trying to decide the way to proceed past this latest obstacle.

“I only fell because I didn’t watch my balance as the wind caught me!” Baranka told the other five, a little embarrassed at his own overconfidence.

“Maybe so, but we must decide on how to get past this problem.” commented Ravika, “Any suggestions?”

“How about clamping an anchor into the wall, so that we can attach the rope to it. That would help in case we all slip at the same time,” suggested Vitogra, “What do you think?”

“Yes, but we send just one man around first,” added the Sedorian Miazah, “he can set several anchors into the wall, and we can thread a rope between them for better support. We could use it like a handrail, which we clip ourselves to as we walk along the ledge.”

“So are you volunteering, Miazah?” jibed the historian Andrew Zarika cheekily.

“No! I couldn’t do it! But I can see it is the best thing to do.”

“I’ll do it,” offered Ravika. “I think Baranka should be spared the risk of going over the edge a second time, or at least for now.” Ravika smiled cheekily at his friend as he made the last comment.

“Is that wise?” asked Zarika, “You’re leading the expedition; you shouldn’t be risking yourself unnecessarily.”

“Yes I am leading the expedition, but I mean what I said. I’ve suggested the expedition, and I don’t feel that I shouldn’t ‘get my hands dirty’ at all.”

After some discussion about it from the others, Ravika eventually prevailed.

Ravika readied himself, collecting the needed rope and metal anchors from the others. Baranka put the first one into the rock face, just before the corner. The anchor was made of a metal hoop on one end which was just large enough to allow the rope to pass through it. The other end contained a strong clamping system. All he had to do was place the end of the anchor against the cliff, press the small button on the other end and the anchor fired into the wall, pushing grips out to hold it tight against the inside of the bore. This created an almost unmovable anchor for the rope; only the actual wall falling away would release the hoop.

Ravika edged around the corner, his line attached to the first of the anchors. He hugged the cliff face closely, and put his foot around the bend in the cliff path. The wind was strong. Words fail to describe the sheer force of the wind. As he inched the rest of his body around the corner of the cliff, the wind rushed at him from his right-hand side, almost taking his balance away. He held himself tightly against the wall and edged further along the cliff face.

After about another metre or so, he placed the second anchor into the wall. He threaded the rope through, and continued further around the face. After he had attached the third anchor, he looked around him.

He was teetering on a ledge along the eastern side of a huge cavern. Just fifteen metres across the gulf lay another cliff face, which also had a small ledge running along it, but only part way. The back of the cavern was about twenty metres to his left. The wind was coming in from the north (to his right) and buffeting the back of the cavern, whirling around, smashing against the back of the recess. The floor of the cavern was about three hundred metres below him, a few bent trees carpeting the otherwise barren floor.

On the other side, Ravika could see a door, which was set into an ornate entranceway in the lea of a jutting outcrop. It was constructed of metal, and had a written inscription on it, but Ravika couldn’t quite make out what it was. He smiled. Maybe they were nearing the highlight of their journey. Maybe. What next? So close… yet so far.

Ravika edged back around the cliff face and to the inquisitive group.

“What’s it like?” they asked in sync.

Ravika described the cavern, the others becoming concerned at the forces they were going to have to battle with. What next?

“We’ll have to climb down the cliff then,” Baranka said dejectedly, “There is no other safe way. It’ll take another day at least to get to the other side.”

“Surely there is another way?” cried Vitogra despairingly.

“Maybe,” suggested Ravika. “We can try and create a bridge across it.”

“How?” asked Miazah, his puzzled look mirroring that of Aranya.

“We can suspend two wires across the cavern,” suggested Ravika, “And then we can each slide across one at a time. We have the tools to do it, so we might as well try. It’s better than taking the longer route.”

“Maybe, but it’s dangerous. Do you really want to risk it to gain that one day?” asked Baranka.

“It might be far riskier to try and go down that cliff and then back up again in that hurricane force wind,” replied Ravika defiantly, “Besides, we have the equipment to try and do it. Let’s go for it.”

The group acquiesced and they all made their way around the corner onto the wind whipped ridge.

“Wow!” shouted Baranka as he saw the extent of the challenge, “This is going to be interesting.” There were a few nods in agreement with Baranka’s comment.

Everyone stared at the size of the cavern, watching the wind that rattled anything that was slightly loose. No animals or creatures of any sort could be seen. It looked like no other living creatures seemed able to deal with this tremendous force of nature. They stood in one small corner tightly strapped to the wall, using the rope handrail that Ravika had installed. It was what held them safe from oblivion.

Baranka took aim and fired the first line across the cavern, with one end of it attached tightly to an anchor. The wind caught it slightly… but it didn’t miss. Even though it was pulled taut, the rope stretching across the cavern hummed with the sheer force of the wind.

Ravika placed his clip onto the line, and with two other ropes attached to him, he prepared to push off into the crosswind. At that precise moment, the wind increased slightly and caught him off balance. He almost lost his footing, but through his athleticism he managed to steady himself. Without a backward glance, he stepped off the edge of the cliff and dropped a few feet as the rope sagged under his weight. The other two ropes attached to his hips flapped in the intense wind, like two tails to a child’s kite.

Hand over hand, inch after inch, the others watching on anxiously, he pulled himself gradually along the rope. It was certainly a dubious method of transport.

Finally, after what seemed an eternity, Ravika made it to his destination, catching the ledge on the other side with his feet and pulling himself safely on to it.

“Yes!” Baranka shouted back towards the others, smiling in relief, “He did it!”

Quickly Baranka began to organise their equipment and began to attach each piece to the lines so they could be pulled across to the other side of the valley. Within five minutes he and Ravika had moved everything across.

Miazah, Aranya and Zarika now stood looking nervously at the swaying lines, each shaking violently under the power of Iraka. They shook their heads as they contemplated the crossing they needed to make in such adverse conditions.

“Come on!” yelled Ravika as loudly as he could so that he could be heard over the hurricane force winds. “You can do it!”

With that needed encouragement, Baranka directed Zarika to make the second crossing.

Zarika put out his hand and grasped the rope that stretched away to the other side in front of him. Baranka attached his clip to the line, and instructed Zarika as to how to position himself as he moved along the ropes.

The historian grasped both ropes tightly, his hands in gloves with rubber grips. He moved himself along the line and stepped out into nothing, the rope rushing downwards with him before pulling taut and then pulling him slightly upwards. Zarika hung from the two ropes began to swing himself slightly from side to side, sliding each hand along the rope as he swayed, inching closer to the other side, where he welcomed Ravika’s outstretched hands eagerly.

“Well done mate,” commended Ravika, “You did great. Have a breather.”

Zarika’s hands shook as he steadied himself against the cliff face, the slight recess in the wall giving him a little protection from the wind.

Baranka now directed Miazah to cross, and the brave faced Sedorian made his way across to the safety of the other side.

Aranya then moved nervously to the edge. He put his hands onto the ropes and started to swing across the gulf. He swayed from side to side as the wind pushed him hard, trying to make him lose his grip. Suddenly, his fingers missed the rope, and he swung onto one arm. He hovered there a few seconds.

“HELP ME!” he yelled, “HELP ME!”

He continued to yell as he squirmed with the wind for a moment before he lost his grip and plummeted, his safety line preventing him falling all the way to the bottom of the valley. Like a spider in a gale, Aranya swung from side to side.

“I’m going to die!” he screamed, “Someone help me before I die!”

Baranka quickly moved himself out along the rope to the position, about the centre, where Aranya flailed desperately.

“Please don’t leave me,” he hollered, “don’t leave me!”

“I’m not going to leave you!” stated Baranka, shouting above the wind as he positioned himself, “Why else would I come out on the rope after you?”

With only the safety rope as his protection, Baranka reached the safety rope of Aranya and began to pull him upwards. Using just his right arm, and swinging from his left, he pulled the terrified Aranya up to the rope. Aranya grasped it desperately, the wind trying to dislodge the Bajinian again. With Baranka’s helping hand, the anxious man made his way across to the other side, and as he stepped free of the abyss, he hugged the wall tight.

The group had a breather after the excitement of the crossing, Baranka and Ravika making sure that the crossing was secure. They checked that the anchors were tight into the cliff face, and they fixed a rope along the side of the cliff which they could all attach themselves too.

“I’m in no hurry to do that again!” exclaimed Miazah with his long drawn out accent.

“I know what you mean. It’s terrifying with that wind rocking us from side to side!” Zarika stated emphatically.

Aranya nodded in agreement with what other two had said. “I’m sure I lost years of my life with that crossing,” he said.

“Don’t worry,” Ravika reassured, “We survived it and we’re here on the other side, aren’t we?” He smiled at them. “It’s time to move on.”

Baranka shook his head slightly at him. “No one could discount your enthusiasm and adventuring spirit.”

Ravika smiled again. He bubbled enthusiasm because he was so close to completing their mission. He could feel it in his bones! His whole life has centred on solving this mystery, and now, it was close indeed!


THE group rested briefly while Ravika went up to the door and examined it carefully. He was too impatient to rest with the others. He tried the door, but, not surprisingly, it didn’t budge. It looked to be locked or jammed. He tried a few different things but had no success. Along with Baranka, he checked that the anchors were tight into the cliff face, and arranged another rope as a handrail. He also made sure their makeshift bridge was secure.

The others had been resting for longer than he expected, and so Ravika began to hassle them. “Come on friends! Help me get this door open! I’ve tried a few things but nothing worked.”

Baranka made his way over to the door quickly and tried it himself. Still nothing.

“What about using the Micro Pulse,” Vitogra suggested. This was a small tool that he had that transmits a small electrical pulse through whatever it is in contact with. “Maybe using it on the door it will trigger the lock to release.”

“Give it a try,” Ravika replied.

Vitogra found it in his backpack and passed it to Baranka who tried it several times on the door locking mechanism. It failed.

“I think this door is bolted shut,” said Baranka as he put the tool down. “I think we need to cut the door off at the hinges. There is no other option to open a bolted door.”

Baranka had always been a hard worker, someone who liked to get into the middle of a problem and help resolve it. With Ravika they made a good team.

With Ravika’s support they set up the tripod and the Focused Laser Beam Cutter, and began using it to cut through the hinges of the door to separate it from its rock doorframe.

“It looks an interesting alloy,” commented Aranya as he watched the purple flame the laser was creating in the metal hinge. “It’s clever how they’ve worked the metal into the stonework, it’s almost moulded into it.”

For about fifteen minutes they continued working on it, the laser gradually separating the centuries old metal from the stone posts. Finally, the door shuddered slightly as it was released.

Ravika and Baranka smiled, swiftly moving the beam cutter off to one side and gripping the edge of the door. The two strong men pulled heavily on the door and it slowly swung away. Pulling it completely free, the men moved the door to the side of the doorframe and wiped the sweat from their brows. Despite the wind, the humidity of this part of the Kallan home world was intense. No work was easy work.

Ravika swept up a torch, and swung the beam into the cave, through which a little light now shone.

The others gathered around him, Zarika looking over his shoulder into the gloom. “What can you see?” he asked.

“Wonderful things.”

From Micah:

I hope you enjoyed reading the first chapter of my book Beginnings: Empire – the first part of the series The Kallans. Please explore the link above to the book and find out where you can read the remainder of the book, both in printed form and as an eBook.

Micah Mathews
December 24, 2018