Author: Glenn Leung
This high up in the exosphere, sound is not a concept that exists. Even so, Savan could hear the clash of the fighters below as he projects an impression of the battle in his mind’s eye. This was his anchor into sanity.
Savan had never done a job in space before. He found that the photos did not do it any justice. The view of Earth from the steel canopy of Skybreak was unbelievably terrifying. The thousand-kilometer tower looked like it would snap off the planet with the slightest meteor shower, yet the fireballs erupting from crashed fighters simply blinked away, the insignificance of their pilot’s lives amplified by the lack of oxygen. Savan found it hard to project explosion sounds on flickering candle flames, so he focused on the living, the struggling. He needed to think he was safe on terra firma.
Without much warning, his projection of the enemy fighters escalated into a concerted assault on the senses. His target was near and starting to work. After a quick psychic adjustment of his hearing, he checked his tether one final time before setting his thrusters towards the highest point of the tower. Facing away from the Earth nearly sent his energy spiraling out of control. The infinity of space held just too many possibilities. Fortunately, he could sense the energy of his target, his new sanity anchor.
The target’s psychic signature was clear, and he realized it was similar to the energy of the concert he had watched the night before. No surprise there, the target was directing the minds of the enemy pilots, filling them with rage and drunken purpose as the frenzied, wizened maestro would have. He was thankful that the orchestra had played Beethoven’s symphony number five, for it appeared that the target was using that very melody for his machinations. His anchor was now solid, feeling as real as the tether that held him to the tower.
Savan’s concentration was interrupted by a deafening twang of angry piano keys. He was glad he adjusted his hearing, for the shock would have crippled even a master psionic. Was the target directing the enemy for a combined kamikaze attack on the tower? No, but it was no relief. The target had sensed him.
A battle between two psionics would look bizarre to most people. All they would see is Savan hurtling towards the lone spaceman who was waving his arms to an invisible orchestra. In fact, the two combatants would not really know what they were doing either. For Savan and his target, they had chosen classical music as their projections of a much deeper, much weirder, mental process. Their battle involved telepathic manifestations of the loudest, angriest music of the Baroque period. Savan had the clear advantage. Not only did the target not expect another psionic to appear, but he was also preoccupied with directing the enemy fighters. Savan channeled off wave after wave of glissandos, crescendos, and fortissimos. Increasing power to his thrusters, he summoned the most animated memory of the previous night’s opus in his left arm and sent out the resounding finale in a punch to the target’s helmet. The plexiglass shattered, pieces floating to a slow smorzando, and the target went limp. Far below, the enemy fighters lost their focus and were quickly obliterated by the tower defenders.
When he caught sight of the target’s lifeless face, Savan radioed his commander.
“The spy is dead, I’m sure of it.”
There was a deafening roar of silence atop the lonely tower.
I like it. But I have a nitpick. It’s a small thing, but it means a lot to me.
Beethoven was most definitely not a Baroque composer and, although it’s ridiculously reductive to generalise like this, Baroque music was refined and complex (not loud and angry). You’re probably thinking of the Romantic period.
“Classical” is often used informally to represent all European music composed between ~1500 and ~1900, so it would probably have been better to use “Classical” rather than the more-precise (and therefore arguably-inaccurate) “Baroque”. (At the very least, “Classical” wouldn’t have dropped me out of the narrative so abruptly that I felt I had to write this reply… :-/ )
But, otherwise, as I said, I really liked it!
Thanks Jon. I will admit that I didn’t do any research into classical music, and the basis of my ideas was based off memories from my time learning the piano 20 years ago.
After this was published, I did listen to Symphony number 5 and realized ‘ loud and angry’ didn’t describe it at all, not even that one famous line. I was like, ‘yep, someone’s gonna call me out on this’. But I do appreciate you doing so. I think it’s important to get the facts right even in works of fiction. I would be annoyed too if someone misrepresented something I care about. Thank you for teaching a valuable lesson to this sometimes overly eager amateur writer and I’m really sorry for being sloppy in my facts
Excellent work, Glenn. Such visual storytelling. You pulled me smack bang into the middle of action and didn’t let up. Thank you.
Thanks, Hari. Appreciate your comments as always.