There’s nothing quite like a voyage back home...unless it’s interrupted by deadly denizens of the deep! Elvira and crew’s troubles don’t end there, though, for the humanoid, bat-like monsters known as HAVOCs await them after their return to the Falsvik Islands. They must formulate a plan of action before it’s too late. It’s going to take everything they’ve got. Will it truly be possible for everyone to make it out unscathed?
As if life-threatening peril wasn’t enough, Elvira suddenly discovers she can no longer use her aether at all, and, to top it all off, she is entirely torn between her feelings for Rozlyn and Sylas.
New friends (or rivals?) are met along their travels who introduce them to an exciting sport played with small automata, known as micromech brawls. These talented siblings’ lives are about to change forever after they make the journey to Brume for their first professional brawl.
Elvira, on the other hand, doesn’t have much time for fun and games, since, after returning to the capital, she immediately finds herself caught in a dangerous scheme of Madame Toupont’s — espionage. She is provided a tutor to learn as much about Ascendant culture and etiquette as possible before her big debut at the exclusive Ascendant debutante gala. While at the event, she and her lovely attendant find themselves in over their heads and suffer dramatic consequences.
Delve further into this intriguing series and unravel more mysteries as you adventure with Elvira Evenfall and friends!
Excerpts from Necessary Rifts:
The automata were bipedal and bulky, with helmet-like heads, a thin, horizontal, neon yellow sliver of a line serving as their optics, and bodies of polished brass and iron that were painted a dark grey. A blue stripe, to symbolize the police, went around their chests. Their coordinated, uniform marching echoed across the vacated streets and sounded like an army of war machines. They appeared in far greater numbers than Elvira had even expected, totaling around possibly fifty. What few people did remain on the streets hurriedly dashed off to take cover inside of the many buildings.
“Is this really what was deemed necessary to quell some protestors?” Elvira’s mother asked in thinly-veiled shock and disapproval as she glared at the machines.
“That was just the excuse they needed,” Madame Toupont breathed from next to them, her eyes unblinking and haunted. “This is only how it all starts.”
“How what starts?” Elvira had to ask.
Madame Toupont ripped her gaze away. Her frigid eyes had hardened and were steely as they bored into Elvira’s. She didn’t even try to conceal the concern on her face.
Elvira’s heart plummeted in horror.
Government agents assuming control and acting in an authoritative capacity to kill their own people seemed like the stuff of nightmares. Could such a scenario really play out, right before their very eyes? The idea instantly saturated the monarchy with a foul stench of fascism.
“They want an insurrection,” Alveretta extrapolated in dismay.
Gideon balked beside her, but then his expression turned skeptical. “Surely not?” he snorted, dubious.
Elvira’s mother faced Madame Toupont urgently as the BRUisers rounded a corner and marched into better view. “Is this attack on them that we are about to witness really the right move? It will only send the message that more force is needed against the public.”
Madame Toupont sighed heavily, but she continued to watch the automata resolutely.
When she failed to respond right away, Alveretta continued, with growing dread, “A political uprising could lead to a civil war, one between the royalists, with other noble Ascendants, and Parliamentarians in favor of a constitutional monarchy over an absolute one.”
Madame Toupont was just nodding slowly, knowingly. “We’ve discussed it in great length already,” she uttered, which gave Alveretta pause. Madame Toupont had a role to play in this upcoming attack? Was that why she had mentioned her operatives had mapped out the route the BRUisers took? “A revolt is the only sensible course now.”
Alveretta became nonplussed. “You are the one orchestrating this.” It wasn’t a question. “You want the situation to escalate and to see this country fall into degradation. You believe anarchy is the way.”
At this, the ASTRO-LABE leader turned to her, looking slightly affronted. “You and your husband both worked closely with me for many years in the past. Was it really so long ago now that you can’t recall our motives? Our position? Our purpose? A civil war, should it even come to that, would not be my doing, my dear. The years of cruelty and brutality Aethaumaturges and Normals alike have endured was not on me, nor were the lethal responses the military and police have taken against the people of this city recently or the rights that have been blatantly stripped from us.”
Elvira had no idea what she was referring to, but she got the sense that this was what their more in-depth briefing they’d be given later would be regarding.
“Nobles, along with far too many Ascendants in positions of power, have exploited and suppressed Aethaumaturges and Normals in equal measure since as long as anyone can remember. There’s been a dichotomy here for far too long. We are allies, standing together, and resisting oppression,” Madame Toupont reminded passionately. “We will always advocate for those who need it the most. I do not condone any unfair treatment. I don’t appreciate violence, if it can be avoided, but I can’t make excuses as to why it’s not a tactical option and, perhaps in many cases, the only solution. Whether through my contribution or not, the people of this city would rebel sooner or later. I might as well help ensure this initial blow is a devastating one, in order to set the tone. I will, after all, encourage those with the power and drive to do so to act in their own perceived best interests and in the interests of the collective whole, up to, and including, fighting back.”
Elvira noticed her mother back down, a sort of resigned acceptance in her posture.
Madame Toupont blinked and softened marginally, and her face appeared to somehow age even further. “I’ve been trying to make a difference most of the years I’ve been alive. We’ve had some accomplishments along the way, of course, and I don’t mean to downplay those or to discredit any of the hard work and years of dedication from my team. But the League’s long-term goals — acceptance? Equality? Peace? They’re still distant dreams. Perhaps, peace cannot be obtained peacefully, and maybe we’ve been peaceful long enough. We’ve tried that route. No one of any importance has listened. We, the people, haven’t been taken seriously. Now, it’s time for action, not more diatribes. It’s time for change. This is the very culmination of our enterprise I have spoken of, and, rest assured, the League will play a role in the coming days and weeks.” She returned to face the incoming automata far below them. “It is absolutely necessary, Alveretta.”
“Well, I’m booked up for several days,” Lester revealed apologetically as he hauled all his tools out with him into the hallway. “But I can come back next week, if you need. Oh, and, er, in case you should get bored, we do offer personality swaps and modifications, too,” he added. “We have loads of personality chips in stock — naughty teachers, innocent schoolgirls, or boys, perky, adventurous servants...”
Oh, good lord. He was talking about indecent things again. Exceptionally indecent. Related to human-automata acts of pleasure. This was not what Aksel wanted. At all. Even having a single stranger assume he was doing...that…with a monkey automaton made him cringe hard. How could Lester have even thought that!? What types of automata was he used to servicing?
“Although,” amended Lester with a chuckle, seeing Aksel’s horror and disinterest, “in your case, I’m guessing your preference might be more in line with one of the classics — obedient, devoted, companion?” He wiggled his eyebrows expectantly. “Basically like a pet, isn’t it?”
Ugh. What on Aerth? Gross.
Even Aksel’s freckles had to be red by now, as his eyes darted back and forth over the hall of his floor, hoping none of his new neighbors were overhearing any of this.
“Nothing to be ashamed of, mate,” Lester maintained, twitching his mustache. “Everyone’s got a kink, and it’s just an automaton, after all. Anyway, call me if you change your mind or need anything adjusted!”
“Thank you for coming out,” was all Aksel could mumble as the mechanic vanished down the corridor.