Spanning 237 years, The Tento Saga is a future-fiction epic that outlines a tumultuous and brutal path. Civil wars, a mass exodus from Earth and political turmoil, these trying times threaten to break the human spirit.
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The Tento Saga: Mankind's Perilous Journey by Jason W. Egroff - A Science Fiction Novel
The Exile follows mankind’s relocation to Planet Tento. An enigmatic plague renders Planet Earth uninhabitable. While battling a madman hell-bent on mankind’s extinction, Earth’s brutal leader spearheads the effort to save the human race.
Memoirs of a Tyrant takes us back in time to discover Zonfer’s journey to ultimate power. In 2993, he is merely a ground troop in the Austrian Armed Forces. By 3020, his defense corporation has global influence.
Origins of Annihilation follows the mission of Dr. Tobias Schiller, a biochemist at the Tentonian Institute of Science. 200 years after The Exile, the discovery of a cure to the plague that decimated Earth makes it possible to make a return to mankind’s former home.
The Culmination tells the final entry of the epic in a kaleidoscope of perspectives. Politics, war and deception threaten to break the fragile trust that binds the utopian existence on Tento. At the end, a new reality awaits.
Prologue: Prelude to Agony
The president of the United States sat in the oval office. He studied the national security estimate laid out by his security advisor. The title of the report read, “Austria Determined to Dominate the World.” The president’s national security advisor paced, contemplating the nation’s response to the rising threat.
“Sir, I don’t see any alternative to regime change in Austria. The dictator has proven through his actions that he isn’t willing to negotiate peace with his neighbors. I fully believe that he will continue on his current course of action and eventually dominate the entire region,” the advisor concluded gravely.
“I agree. I’m disappointed in the lackluster intelligence estimates leading up to this current report. This man is the worst tyrant since Adolph Hitler. It’s as if we’ve gone back in time a couple of thousand years. If unchecked, this man’s plot for world domination will succeed and his disgusting ideology will rule,” the president stated.
Suddenly, the president’s phone rang. He picked it up with dread.
“This is the president.”
“Sir, NORAD reported thousands of incoming Austrian military craft by air, land, and sea. It appears as if a large-scale invasion of the United States is in action. Early intelligence reports state that it’s General Zonfer’s brigade,” the military official said calmly.
“Deploy forces throughout the country immediately,” the president asserted decisively. “That psychopath needs to be stopped immediately.”
“Yes, sir. I’ll keep you updated on operations.”
The president hung up with a somber expression on his face.
“Sir?” the president’s security advisor inquired.
“We’re at war on American soil. Within the hour, Zonfer’s forces will be at our doorstep. I’d better phone the vice president and prepare an address. Meanwhile, we need to move to the underground security bunker. General Zonfer and his brigade are advancing.”
The president’s associate swallowed hard. “I’ve heard of this man’s tactics. God help us…”
General Zonfer stood on American soil surveying the battlefield, assault rifle in hand. The Austrian forces had taken most of the country with little opposition. The United States’ preparedness was flawed at best. The ruthless military leader oversaw Austrian-dominated New York City. His transport chopper thudded in the background atop the United Nations building. He thought about his next militaristic action when a captain chimed in on his communication channel.
“General, our forces are advancing on the American capital. Deployments of American forces are currently unfolding. Combat operations are going as planned.”
“Excellent. I’ve landed in New York City and will be overseeing the holding of the territory. I will expect hourly updates on progress. When the capital falls, I want to know,” commanded Zonfer.
The general ran down to the ground level of the city streets, with the sound of tanks and jet fighters booming through the world’s economic capital. An officer approached Zonfer and said, “Sir, we have to pass the bridge that connects the city but civilian vehicles clutter the bridge—”
“Take them out,” Zonfer declared without hesitation.
“Yes, s—sir,” the soldier stuttered, startled by Zonfer’s heartlessness.
When the breeze on Tento blew, the planet shivered. It was a cold and desolate planet, the kind of place that not even the commoners liked. For this reason, no one ever visited the planet. Its overcast, dreary clouds wrapped it in a charcoal-gray prison. Tento seemed to cry to be freed from its cold desolation.
Science labs in various states of disrepair stood in the middle and far-reaching parts of the planet. The buildings looked as if some new-age weaponry had decimated them. This was only somewhat accurate. There had been an uprising between the scientists on the planet. This and the naming of the planet signaled the only defining moments in Tento’s history.
From Earth, an astronomer named Evan Tento had discovered the new planet. Upon discovery, Tento reported that the planet didn’t appear to hold any promising qualities. At this time in Earth’s history, nothing interested the inhabitants of Earth more than the possibility of life on another planet. Whenever an astronomer spoke, his words pertained to this subject. But the discovery of this planet received the label of a useless discovery. Little did those who dismissed it know that the planet’s discovery would change the course of mankind.
The discovery of Tento came at a very inopportune time. It proved to be the worst time for something significant to happen in the realm of intergalactic biology. If this discovery had come at any other time, Earth’s inhabitants’ excitement would have skyrocketed. Earthlings worried about the direction of their leader. After the great leader Zonfer had devised a plan to eliminate all threatening inhabitants of Earth and to begin his campaign for world domination, all of Earth’s nations united to defend their home. Earth chose to resist. Zonfer had assembled a massive army. When all of the battles had concluded, Zonfer emerged victorious. This signaled the arrival of the great slaughters. Zonfer entered nations and wiped out complete dynasties. Generations of great leaders perished at the hands of the tyrant.
This turned out to be a transitional period for the planet Earth. Zonfer had successfully extinguished all of his possible enemies through a masterful plan of deceit and conspiracy. It took many years for the residents of Earth to accept his unconscionable actions. However, it signaled a very prosperous time in Earth’s history, when the economy was strong and the crime rate was almost nonexistent. It was unclear if this was because of Zonfer’s “final solution” or just because there were fewer people to commit crimes. Unemployment disappeared—a problem of the past. The only people who experienced poverty were those who deliberately decided to not work. Along with addicts and the mentally ill, they became vagrants. The super corporations in the world flourished. Manufacturing boomed and people purchased things just as fast as production took place. For the first time in Earth’s history, 98 percent of the population enjoyed the benefits of an unlimited job market. Little did anyone know that a terrible evil, an evil far worse than Zonfer, stood poised and ready to strike down the inhabitants of Earth.
The architectural wonder that was Zonfer’s headquarters dominated the landscape where it resided. No leader had ever possessed a more imposing or awe-inspiring structure. Custody of such a structure surely proved an individual’s supremacy over all others.
Sitting in his majestic main office, Zonfer contemplated what the new day would bring. As he sifted through the various thoughts that crowded his mind, he stood and strolled through his domain, with arms folded, at a leisurely pace. Zonfer personified the very essence of intimidation. He stood strong at six feet two inches tall, and his posture was flawless. He appeared somewhat younger than his years, with a flowing, shoulder-length, gray and auburn-tinted mane and facial hair. Exceptionally malevolent facial features completed the striking visage—arching eyebrows and deep scowl marks. Little escaped Zonfer’s intellectual ability; he was a man of infinite intelligence and foresight. This combination of mental acumen and physical prowess made Zonfer a tour de force of coercion. Make no mistake, Zonfer ruled planet Earth and its tenants with an iron fist. Nonetheless, the subsequent weeks and months would prove to humble the brutal leader.
As he sifted through the Intelligence reports, he slowly caressed his beard. The last few sentences troubled him. The United States continued to be a thorn in his side. He now regretted not eliminating the government completely. It was a precarious and unusual political situation. Zonfer had ultimate rule over the country but the leadership fought him in every way they could. The pundits described it as the “Zonfer occupation of the United States.” This was as accurate a description as could be formulated.
Zonfer read the transcription of the latest Senate and House activities. “The amendment hereby states that the United States remain steadfast in our resolve against our occupier. The CIA in unison with the U.N. shall monitor Zonfer’s actions and hold the tyrant accountable.”
Zonfer sighed and closed the cover on the tan folder. It was little more than rhetoric. Both he and the rebellious U.S. leadership knew nothing could touch Zonfer. A unifying evil stood poised to strike.
Chapter 1: Genesis of Destruction
Taber sat in his lab chair examining the new samples from the region of concern. Reports of outbreaks of mysterious infections caused by long extinct diseases had been piling up on Taber’s desk. Whenever something of this nature occurred, research would immediately commence. Taber worked for the biochemistry department of Zonfer’s administration. What he was looking at baffled him.
Staring back at him laid the biological makeup of a destructive force that could very well bring about the demise of Earth and its vulnerable life. Taber performed various tests on this biological anomaly. He determined that it was a single-celled organism that could reproduce asexually. This hypothesis represented the only logical and viable conclusion that the current research information provided. But without more reliable information on the actual organism, the biological calculations didn’t make much sense. He determined that in a period of about twenty-four hours, this organism could cover the entire face of the Earth. The resulting report, with little more than a barely feasible educated guess, came off more than a little ridiculous. Taber, a scientist, wanted to back up his information with solid, well-informed facts. This, given the current state of the facts as he knew them, would be impossible. He knew that, if he was left without further research and data gathering, this threat could assemble in a frightening maelstrom of unimaginable proportions. He gathered the research reports and projections that made the most sense and filed them for submission to Zonfer’s main office. He prepared for—and dreaded—an inevitably awkward presentation.
Zonfer stared at the various information packets Taber had assembled for his boss’s consumption. He examined every report, all the while in subconscious conversation and contemplation. After he finished the final page of the research summary, he sighed and threw it upon his enormous desk, where it landed in a heap. To say the least, he didn’t take it seriously, but he requested the presence of his science officer to discuss the controversial report. Minutes later one of Zonfer’s aides announced Taber’s arrival.
Taber entered Zonfer’s office, hoping fervently that the meeting had nothing to do with his research pertaining to the biological anomaly. However, he wasn’t so fortunate.
“Sir, you requested my presence?”
“Yes,” said Zonfer, “please come in—come in.”
“Did you digest all of my report?” Taber asked with dread.
“Yes, Taber, I did. Please sit and have a drink with me.” He poured some fresh coffee from his sideboard into a second mug and placed it before Taber. Zonfer’s expression frightened the timid science officer.
Taber took his seat and slowly sipped the hot coffee.
“Taber, you take me as an intelligent man, don’t you?”
“Yes sir, of course,” replied Taber humbly.
“Then please explain to me how, Taber, you expect me to buy this horse manure?”
Zonfer’s eyes blazed with fury. He wasn’t the type of man who hid his emotions. His personality didn’t allow it.
“Sir, all I have done in this report is presented the facts to you as I know them. With the information provided, you must understand that little is certain about this organism,” Taber confidently concluded.
“These ‘facts’ you refer to—they include the ridiculous theory about the possibility of this being a biblical Plague? You do realize that nothing like that has been mentioned in thousands of years? The Bible was rejected as fiction long ago, Taber. You being a scientist, I would assume this is something you are aware of.”
There was more than a hint of sarcasm in Zonfer’s voice. Taber didn’t appreciate this in the slightest little bit. He momentarily forgot whom he was addressing and made a fatal error.
“Sir, I really don’t appreciate being made to look like a fool. I merely mentioned the biblical-type Plague as a comparison. I did not mean it as, literally, a biblical Plague. To be perfectly honest with you, the research data couldn’t definitively confirm anything about this thing. I need more time and samples to come to any kind of viable conclusion in this matter.”
Zonfer shifted in his seat and clenched the ends of the armrests of his large chair.
“And I don’t appreciate my biochemist talking back to me. You speak to me like that again and you’ll find yourself at the barrel end of a pulse cannon.”
“My apologies, sir. I don’t know what got into me.” Taber shriveled back into himself like a snail into a shell. He knew Zonfer wouldn’t directly eliminate him because the watchdog agencies studied his every move. Zonfer, however, had his methods of discreet action. Taber had witnessed them on several occasions. Now he appeared to be the latest in a long line of science officers who had lost favor with Zonfer.
“So, are you going to recommend that I tell the public about this inconclusive report or should I let it slide?” asked Zonfer sarcastically.
“Well, sir, I think that’s up to you. Upon further research, I can submit a more conclusive report. Until then, I think the decision would be best made by you.”
“Taber, you know that I’m required to carry out whatever actions you recommend. This entire conversation is being monitored by that organization that had me by the balls when I wanted to eliminate all of the senators on Capitol Hill in Washington. No more beating around the bush. What is your recommendation?”
Taber searched for an acceptable response. He stumbled over his words, his mind in mental disarray.
“Well, sir, I th—think this certainly—”
Zonfer clenched his fist hard. He gritted his teeth and glared at the terrified scientist with absolute contempt.
“I ah—my recommendation would be to—ah—”
Zonfer stroked the pulse cannon that rested on his desk while staring at Taber with a murderous rage in his eyes. Taber silently interpreted Zonfer’s body language and responded accordingly.
“I—I recommend that you not mention it. It would cause an unnecessary panic among the inhabitants of the planet. This is appearing only in a remote region of what used to be the Holy Land. At worst, the casualties would be limited given the general location of interest. The consequences of panic would be far more—dire.”
“All right, Taber. I appreciate your visit and I will think about every option. Now, there are many things that demand my attention. I would appreciate some privacy now.”
Taber froze, staring blankly in Zonfer’s general direction, unblinking.
“Taber!” Zonfer exploded in anger, striking his desk furiously. The science officer jerked back in fear, his body trembling uncontrollably.
“Yes, sir, I’ll be—begin my follow-up report immediately.”
“Don’t bother, Taber.”
Taber exited with a heavy chest and a heavy conscience. He realized the possible outcome of what he had just done.
Chapter 2: First Emergence – November 22, 3033
The Council for Scientific Research sat in session. The topic of discussion was the violent heat waves that gripped the Middle East. The lead member of the panel, Dr. Gilian Waters, stood prominently in the center of the conference room.
“Ladies and gentlemen of the council,” he began, “Dr. Taber, the lead scientist in the science department of the Zonfer administration, has submitted a frightening report to the council for discussion. It concerns the recent climate change in the Middle East. Apparently, in this same remote region, a biological threat of an unknown origin has surfaced. Our goal today is to examine the findings thoroughly and discuss the possible origins of this organism.”
Displays embedded in the desks in front of the scientists flickered in activity as the report loaded onto the council’s research equipment.
“Please examine the findings thoroughly,” said Waters. “When you’re finished with your research, please activate your indicators. At that time, I shall return. Thank you for your cooperation.”
Dr. Waters exited the conference room. He walked to an adjacent room, took a seat at a desk, and turned on a display with the research data loaded. Deep in thought, he examined the preliminary biological test results, scanning images and text. He frowned and rubbed his forehead, baffled by the data.
Meanwhile, in the conference room, the council wasn’t doing much better. Clicks of keyboards sounded intermittently. The council members tirelessly attempted to piece together the puzzle. Gradually, completion indicators were activated. Finally, the last scientist activated his indicator. Soon after, Dr. Waters entered.
“I am excited to hear your findings. To be honest with you, I can’t begin to understand this organism. Ms. Barber, you are the designate for presentation.”
“Thank you, sir. I think I can speak for the rest of the council when I say that I’ve never seen anything like this. We couldn’t even confirm that this organism is, in fact, living. One theory says it could be a chemical weapon of some sort made to look like a single-celled organism, but we can’t confirm that. In terms of the climate change, this is another mystery. I wish I could tell you more, but…” Her voice trailed off.
“Don’t apologize,” Waters responded in a tired voice. “I suspected this would be the case. I’ve been studying the—whatever it is, since Dr. Taber first filed his report. I haven’t been able to come to any definitive conclusion myself. All I know is that the projections are terrifying.”
“Indeed, sir, we concur. Unfortunately, we cannot aid this investigation any further without more information,” Barber responded.
“I understand. Dr. Taber is performing a follow-up on his inconclusive first report. This report will be made available to the council upon completion.
“Well, that concludes this session. Thank you all for your efforts.”
The scientists rose from their seats, still in a state of disbelief at what they had observed. Several discussions ensued as they left the conference room.
Dr. Waters stood outside his office. His cell phone rang and he answered.
“Waters here. Hello, Dr. Taber. How is the follow-up report going?” The doctor’s eyes widened. “You have got to be kidding me! He’s ignoring it?”
A resident of Center City in the Middle East sat in his residence viewing the evening news on television. The commentator began the telecast.
“The heat wave in the Middle East continues, and reports of mass hallucinations are increasing. Citizens are reporting alien beings roaming in their presence, sands catching fire, and various other supernatural phenomena. The death toll continues to rise as new victims are discovered. Over a thousand citizens were found dead today—victims of various fatal circumstances. Suffocation and dehydration were among the culprits.”
The viewer took a deep breath, turned off the set, and threw the remote to the side of his couch. Feeling thirsty, he went to the kitchen to get a glass of water. He took a glass from the cupboard and turned the faucet to the on position. The sink produced a clunking noise, but the faucet gave not a drop.
The man left his home and headed for the local market to pick up some bottled water. The heat was as oppressive as ever. The sweat on his brow accumulated quickly. He breathed heavily, with each breath harder than the last.
After what seemed like hours, he finally reached his destination. The market was eerily inactive, the only noise being the annoying elevator music playing in the background. He found his water and searched for a clerk to pay for it.
“Is anybody here? I want to buy this!” the man yelled while pulling out a handkerchief to wipe his brow.
After the futile attempt to find a sales clerk, he left the store with his unpaid item. Something was strange about tonight. It made sense that few people were about because of the heat but this was extraordinary.
As he began his journey back to his house, he saw a group of people gathered together and gawking at something in the distance. He approached the onlookers.
“What’s going on? Is something the matter?” he inquired.
“Look, do you see that hazy cloud in the distance?” a woman responded. “It’s moving toward the city. We’ve been watching it for about an hour now and it seems to be picking up speed.”
“Yeah, I see it.” His voice trembled. “What the hell could it be?”
“Notice the way it moves. It’s almost as though it’s alive,” Another onlooker observed.
“Look! It’s passing over that herd of sheep!” shouted the woman.
The ominous cloud rolled toward the helpless animals. As the force passed, the crowd watched in horror as the flesh of the creatures began disintegrating from their bones.
“My god, what is happening?” another woman screamed.
Another pedestrian gazed at the sight in sheer terror.
“Mister, what should we do?” she said, shaking with fear.
“Come on, we can take shelter in my house!” The man began to run, urging the others to follow him. One man collapsed in a heap, dead from exhaustion. Then, as they approached the man’s house, the other male member of the group succumbed to the Plague. The cloud engulfed the man’s being, ripping his flesh from his body in a disgusting display.
The female onlooker and the owner of the house were the only members of the group that remained. The woman collapsed to the floor, crying desperately.
“What the hell is going on? This heat—and now this—” she sobbed.
“Maybe the news has something on about this—”
He picked up the remote from his couch and turned on the set. The familiar tag line of “Breaking News” was scrolled across the bottom of the screen. They sat and watched the images in horror.
“…and the cloud just swooped into the city and started eating everything in sight! I saw a guy get caught in the cloud and after it passed, there was nothing left of the guy! I’m tellin’ you! This is the end of the world! This thing is—”
“All right, thank you for that eye-witness account, sir.” The newscaster interrupted.
“To update our new viewers, an unknown disease has engulfed Center City and most of the Middle East. Projections on the casualty rate are not yet available. An address from Zonfer has not yet been scheduled. This is Trina Kall live from Center City for Global News Now.”
Suddenly, the now familiar organic movement of the Plague appeared in the distance behind the telecaster. It advanced with tremendous speed. The camera captured the image of the reporter being mutilated by the cloud and collapsing dead on the street, a pile of bones. The cloud engulfed the camera’s lens and obliterated everything.
The man quickly turned the television set off.
“I think that’s enough TV for tonight…”
The woman continued to cry and moan, the images burned into her mind.
“Listen, I think we’re all right. If it hasn’t gotten us yet, maybe it won’t come near here,” the man said in an attempt to comfort the distraught woman.
“I need a glass of water,” the woman choked.
“Yeah, so do I.”.
The two entered the kitchen. He retrieved two glasses from the cupboard and poured the bottled water. She stood behind him, awaiting her glass. Without looking, he handed the glass to her and she took it. Suddenly, her glass crashed to the floor
“Shit! Did I drop it?” he asked.
He looked in her direction. Her eyes were wider than two full moons and her hands covered her mouth. She was staring out the window, and the man also turned to look. The cascading cloud of the Plague confronted the man. The woman grabbed him in a deep embrace as the menace broke through the window and devoured them.
Chapter 3: The Reaction – November 23, 3033
Stroking his Fu Manchu, Zonfer studied the sizeable pile of documents on his desk. The title page of the collection of papers read, “Incident #4004: Plague.” Immediately, he recalled his discussion with his main science officer. With a steady hand, Zonfer began to thumb through the incident report. As he scanned each document, his concern grew with each progressive paragraph. Gradually, and with careful contemplation, Zonfer began to accept reality. Initially, he had resisted, even denied the facts. However, by the conclusion of the report, heavy-hearted, he was forced to accept what he held responsibility for.
In the depths of the evil tyrant’s psyche, a switch had been flipped. Long ago, before the formative events in his life had taken place, Zonfer had fought for peace and understanding between cultures. Long gone were those days, a mere heartbeat in time to him. Forced to accept the gravity of the situation, he contemplated the consequences of inaction and immediately began pondering a solution to the problem. He organized his top advisors and began a dialogue in pursuit of a viable way forward.
Zonfer and his associates decided that an address to the populace concerning the catastrophe would be the logical next step. In classic Zonfer style, the address would be quick and to the point. In the past, leaders had orated for hours. The planet’s inhabitants had grown weary of the long, tiresome speeches of their leaders and Zonfer had recognized this fact. His new flair embodied a much-needed and well-received change to political culture, and the result of this change in the public relations arena was an attentive audience. This approach also gave the people of Earth peace of mind; they thought their safety would remain unthreatened as long as Zonfer remained in power. While perhaps a deviant method of reassurance, it sufficed.
Zonfer sat in his main office, alone, his only company the whirling thoughts of how to present a palatable address. He slowly compiled his thoughts and recorded them as they came. As he worked, he realized how much of this entire situation depended on a power greater than himself. He contemplated, of all things, God. The “seeing is believing” leader noticed a strange brainwave pushing him in a direction of a faith-oriented speech. Apparently, the images that had accompanied the Middle East council report had left an indelible mark on Zonfer’s subconscious. Perhaps some soul-searching would be in his immediate future.
Zonfer scribbled down notes on a small pad. He had never warmed up to computers. Individuals around him thought it strange but they respected it. He liked a pen in hand. Soon, he entered full-on speech-writing mode. He carefully injected a pinch of “faith talk.” Zonfer had never witnessed anything like the devastation the Plague had caused, and the images were burned in his memory for a lifetime. The rise of this new, seemingly undefeatable foe forced him to think outside of the proverbial box. The seeds of change had taken root in Zonfer’s mind and there would be no turning back. Luckily for Earth, a new man would be birthed from the dark and eccentric leader who currently dominated the human race.
At nine o’clock international time on November 23, 3033, Zonfer appeared on all of the major networks. He began:
“People of Earth, thank you for tuning in. A time of great concern has arrived. About one month ago, my science officer and I sat in my office and discussed a terrible situation that had arisen. He explained to me that a single-celled organism of unknown origin had surfaced in the Holy Land. He advised me not to concern the entire world with this because the organism inhabited a region of a very remote location and the probability of this organism actually spreading and causing problems elsewhere was slim to none. I now regret this immensely. Yesterday, this organism attacked a part of the Holy Land. It was tragedy on a grand scale; over ten thousand perished. Now, we must focus on what we do from here. The report stated that the problem showed no sign of returning. However, from studying the report that my biochemist gave me, I believe this will be a catastrophe that will resurface. Unfortunately, we have absolutely no way of fighting something that disappears within seconds of doing its damage. We are faced with a great problem, a dilemma that we can only pray we will never have to deal with again. I have come to you tonight to let you know that we are going to have to be strong. We are going to have to play this by ear. I can guarantee you that I am doing all that I can to ensure your safety as inhabitants of Earth. We must unite and we must be strong. Thank you and good night.”
* * *
The citizens Zonfer called his own had faith in him. The enigmatic enemy wasn’t a tangible reality to them. Most wrote the emergency off as a fluke, a freak occurrence. As far as most were concerned, it didn’t require a second thought. But those ideas were soon to change.