AUTHOR'S NOTE: Welcome back to Fallen. If you haven't already, please read The Awakening, which introduces the characters here. Reviews are welcome!

From here on out, the story will be taking on a more action-oriented style, as one of the things I heard most often about Awakening was that nothing much seemed to happen. I've got some things in the works though, and this time around, there won't be much in the way of boredom.

Thanks, as always, for reading! - Earth Exile

"The Seas of Fallen"

Evan North wakes up late, which for him is unusual. The rumbling of the Gantrillian's engine often wakes him long before he wants to be up, leaving him to wander his small cabin, read one of the hundreds of available books, or, as he usually chooses, to go up on deck and watch the awe-inspiring night sky of planet Fallen.

Today, though, golden sunlight casts rays from the small window directly into his eyes like a wake-up laser. His jolts with surprise, and he sits up quickly, rubbing sleep from his eyes and pulling on a blue and white poncho-style shirt.

He closes his brown-green eyes and takes a deep breath, and as he slowly lets it out, a tingling awareness fills him, expanding throughout the flying ship, washing over the few people in it. After only a second, though, the peculiar feeling passes, and he grumbles in disappointment.

Channeling his so-called magic gets easier every day, but he still has no idea what it's good for, or how to do anything with it. Sebastean's been sitting on the deck with him every evening, cross-legged, guiding him psychically through the mental contortions required to touch the energy of Fallen that now beats in his heart.

Three weeks on this boat, stopping only at small settlements, smaller than Halfmoon Grove, to spend some time on the ground. Three weeks of running, he muses, from people who are everywhere, the Seraphic fringe group who seem to have dedicated themselves to eliminating his newest friend, Sebastean. Three weeks of calm, of travel, and of practice, and the most he can do is just barely touch his power.

Apparently his eyes glow like everyone else's when they Channel, but he doesn't notice anything except a strange... sharpness. Everything in his sight becomes a shade more colorful, more contrasted, clearer, and every sound becomes louder and easier to understand. But only for the seconds that he's able to hold on to the energy, and then it's gone and everything fades back to normal.

As though there is any such thing as normal, here. The Gantrillian spends most of every day over water, as Fallen is close to ninety percent ocean, and the oceans are nothing like those of Earth. The water is crystal clear, free of pollution, and every living thing of Fallen exhibits some kind of bioluminescence, so even at night one can watch the collossal creatures of the sea swimming in their enormous paths.

Nobody on Fallen bothers with actual boats. Evan was actually frightened when he saw the things swimming far beneath the ship, and rightly so. The combination of near-unlimited space and supernatural energies have filled the ocean with gargantuan things like whales, but without a whale's seeming sense of gentle purpose. These beasts are long, wide, and alien in every respect, devoid of calm eyes and gradual tapering flippers, instead favoring long, long tentacles dragging behind muscular, threatening bodies, arms ending in massively webbed claws, mouths out of nightmares.

But those monsters of the deep are far below, albeit clearly visible at all times, and it's not in the tempest of nature that Evan finds himself lost. Instead, he's adrift in the unpredictable currents of a woman.

He walks out, yawning, to see the other four inhabitants of the ship already going about their daily lives. Sebastean sits precariously on the side rail of the deck, legs dangling over the monster-filled abyss, writing or drawing in a sketchbook. Kari and Oden play a game of war strategy unique to Fallen, the rules of which Evan hasn't bothered to learn yet.

And Aelia, white-haired and pale, gorgeous, perfect, simply watches the ocean below, leaning over the stern railing, long hair following the ship like a flag of surrender. She does this almost every day, for hours at a time.

If anyone were able to follow her eyes, they'd see the unnatural shapes twisting in the ocean below, obeying her shining gaze thoughtlessly. Evan doesn't notice, though if he were by some strange coincidence to attempt to Channel while looking down at the sea, he'd realize a path of figures carved into the waves, all his own face, melting back into the natural ebb and flow as soon as Aelia's focus broke.

The truth of this trip is that none of them really know where they are headed, and so every morning they simply set a random course in a random direction and then go about their various hobbies and chores.

He chooses to sit down with Oden and Kari, book in hand, and have some breakfast while absently watching their game. The entire ordeal is played out on a grid, ten squares by fifteen squares, with each player's set of pieces assembled at the short ends. It's rather like chess, except each of the twenty pieces is unique, with its own set of moves and abilities.

And since the table they use is powered by a Sparc drive, the pieces are holographic in nature, animated to move and fight like tiny living things. Oden's team is composed of various humanoid figures, each brandishing weapons or fistfuls of fire, whereas Kari's pieces are a jumble of females in bizarre clothing, no real continuity at all. Evan marvels that they can even keep track of whose pieces are whose, and what each does.

As he watches, one of Kari's tiny women responds to a touch by creating a transparent wall across four squares, to which Oden grumbles, "Damn," apparently foiled in a plan. He diverts a shirtless, burning figure around the wall, but not far enough for its attack to reach Kari's pieces.

Evan likes watching more than he would playing, he decides. Too many rules. He buries himself in his book, a collection of fables involving animals he's never heard of, and bites into a firm, juicy fruit. Another day begins.

Nobody says anything much.