By: Hayley Camille

Book 1 in The Chronicles of Ivy Carter series

4.5 billion years before present

Out of the vast nothing, comes something. Fast. Spinning slowly on an invisible axis, its cold body of grainy silicones and blackest carbon is primordial, the remnant collection of unused elements of the Solar System. Hidden in its core, an alien metal lies in hibernation.

Its irregular body is a virgin to the devastation of the sun. As it passes the blistering heat, frozen gases below its surface explode like nuclear missiles, throwing off chunks of dust and gas. Crusted ice clings to its back and leaves a trail of frozen debris in its wake. Torn apart by the solar ultraviolet light, the inert gas molecules become electrically charged, mutating again and again at the mercy of the sun's radiation. Millions of kilometres behind the comet, the ion tail grows, fluorescing like a glittering trail between worlds.

The comet is now bound to the Sun, on an endless cycle through time. Planets come and go. Millions of years pass in obscurity, meaningless but for the slow decay the sun causes each passing. Explosions of ice and gas mark the coupling of the ancient sun and its new bride, until eventually, only a fragile old rock remains spinning through the sky. One final orbit is left; one final opportunity to feel the pulsing energy, the growth of burgeoning new worlds around it as it passes by. New comets have formed; the sun now has younger, more beautiful consorts. The old comet slices perpetual night. Then, with no warning, death comes.

With a shattering crash lost to the voids of space, the ancient body and its alien blood is gathered into the arms of a bigger celestial goddess, Theia. Ancient, unwanted rubble, now given a purpose, a direction. For millennia the goddess Theia consumes, growing stronger, mightier, expanding with each conquest of iron and elemental rock. Gravity smoothes and rounds her and she sails supreme. But greed brings downfall and stability is lost. A larger planet beckons and its gravitational field is irresistible. In silent devastation, the goddess collides and is consumed by infant Earth.

Their bodies shatter in a fusion of metal and gas and the Earth’s new mantle is thrown into space as dust. Slivers of mutant metal rain across the planet, seeded by the ancient comet. They fuse where they fall, clawing deep. Neighbouring rocks feel their strange energy and absorb it, creating small pockets of reversed polarity. The goddess Theia is torn apart, her iron heart sucked into the Earth’s core, her rocky flesh consumed. Mother earth emerges whole and massive in a sea of molten lava.

Far above, the orbiting cloud of debris spin and coalesce forming a bright new moon. Molten energy fuses through it creating an ocean of magma. The young moon is ripped and scarred by the alien stone and its metallic blood spreads deep into its face. Nine hundred million years pass and the magma moon crystallises. A pale, cratered face forever stares coldly at the earth that rejected it.

Eons pass and mother earth matures. In a dense jungle in the Indonesian Archipelago, three heads of an immense volcano shift together on their newly formed plates. The splintered alien rock is wakened from slumber. Rivulets of darkness are pulled together through the fluid volcanic veins. It pools, creating a reservoir in the triad cores. In pieces, it was benign. But now it recrystallizes, concentrated in form and function.

It is too much. Unleashed, the alien heart begins to strip away the fragile shield between earth and ancient sun, exposing nature's efforts to the cruel whims of solar radiation. Life is delicate. Life struggles. Evolution progresses slowly as each new generation of life fights for survival. Without the magnetospheric shield protecting new life, the earth will slowly break and burn.

Mother earth fights back.

The volcanic triad explode in fury, spilling red lava across the lush green earth. Mother nature, once again, heals herself. A cloak of Neodymium binds the threat deep underground. The alien heart is contained, now covered in a flesh of magnetic rare earth. It cools and sets. It is hidden. Earth is safe. Balance is restored.

The sister craters become still. Within each dormant centre, a beautiful lake now sits. One icy blue in colour like a glacial melt; the next a vibrant emerald reflection of its jungle home; and the last deep red, like blood poured from stone.

Ivy’s footsteps rang out from the cloistered stone, echoing off the great sandstone walls that surrounded the courtyard. Large archways threw light across her face and she closed her eyes for a moment, savouring the fresh air.

She glanced at her companion habitually as occasional suits hurried past, shooting furtive glances their way. Ivy straightened her shoulders and coolly disregarded their curiosity. Her companion Kyah, on the other hand, stared back with keen interest. She was always excited to escape the confines of her cage.

“You okay Ky?” Ivy received a nod back and a squeeze of her hand. Taking that as acquiescence, they continued on their path, navigating service roads and buildings for another ten minutes.

The buildings dedicated to Physics were imposing steel and glass. They reached far higher into the chilled blue sky than the sandstone walls Ivy was familiar with. She didn't come to this part of the university very often. She supposed it was quite pretty, with its angular abstract art installations and glistening water fountains running down glassy sheets. Very modern. A bit intimidating, really. Less greenery.

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