Rise of Ahrik is a story about love and fate in the face of violence and war. It has been thousands of years since The War, and civilization has endured a slow rebirth under the rule of women, but war threatens once again. Zharla, the young scioness of a powerful mining clan, must choose between two brothers to marry: Ahrik, a petulant military officer soon to be sent off to war, or Shahl, an aspiring scholar and the one she loves. She is forced to marry Ahrik, but when Shahl is accused of a vicious crime, the three begin to discover that the accusation, the war, and the secret clones that fight it are bound together in an awful triad that seeks to rob them of their agency and destroy women’s rule. Civilization once again hangs by a thread.
Nathan Toronto loves stories about war, and has been known to stay up until three o’clock in the morning reading military history and science fiction. His debut novel, Rise of Ahrik, tells of a love triangle in a matriarchal society thrust into a worldwide war. He is currently writing the sequel, Revenge of the Emerald Moon, as well as an academic book, How Militaries Learn. When he is not writing, he likes to run, play the piano, and eat waffles by pouring syrup in every hole then raising the waffle to let the excess drain off.
War is a vicious thing, the province of chance. A dead Prussian general once said, "No plan survives contact with the enemy." In this scene, Ahrik learns that despite his love for his men, and despite their years of preparation for combat, unexpected circumstances can still rear their ugly head. "War," as yet another dead Prussian general avers, "is a contest of wills." In this chapter, we find out whether Ahrik has the will to fight the monstrous odds stacked against him.
Rise of Ahrik
Ahrik threw himself to the floor, and the whole station rocked back and forth, bobbing through the shockwave. Ahrik wanted to be sick, not for the motion, but for the good men that he knew were about to die in a fight turned sour. More than a thousand berzerkers were bearing down on their space station, and Ahrik guessed that the substation had sustained heavy damage. Would the rebels use atomics on the moon base, too? It was a bad day to be in the Ketel of Ahrik.
“Report,” he ordered, rising to his feet. If this was his day to die, so be it, but he would die fighting.
“Father,” answered Brain, “the shockwave decelerated the second and third waves. They will engage our station, Father.” Ahrik sensed the fear in Brain’s voice. This would be his first real combat.
“Father,” said Graph, “the blast knocked out our peripheral sensors. We’re blind to anything beyond our station.”
Ahrik tried casting a message to Beral and Halel over the tendril link. Nothing. The blast knocked out the tendril link, too. It would take a while to reestablish. He couldn’t even sense the ketelis who were in the command station with him. “Sons,” he said, “we’re going to have to do this the old-fashioned way.”
The clank of enemy craft latching onto the hull echoed throughout the station. Ahrik prayed that the magnetic channeling had worked and that the enemy would breach at the passageways. Much better to pile up berzerkers at the entryways of the command modules instead of having them drop right in.