This is chapter two of a novel I wrote set in the universe of The Horsemen comic book by Jiba Molei Anderson. The first three chapters were illustrated and published in comic book and trade formats by Griot Enterprises. The remaining chapters 4-7 have been delayed in art development. While they wait for illustrations and print versions, they will be released in a text only format here on my patreon! So all you patrons will get four chapters (over 100 pages of material), exclusive, before it’s official release!
f you want to catch up on the story leading up to this point you can find the individual issues and trade collections on the Griot Enterprises website. You can even pick up this issue , complete with a dozen illustrations, there. The trade book of Mark of the Cloven has the first three issues and comes with a bonus prologue scene.
The Story So Far
The Orisha are the ancient gods of the African continent. They were people who so perfectly represented the ideals of humanity’s good side that they transcended into something divine. In the distant past they did battle with their evil counterparts, the Deitis. These beings represented the different facets of human vice and corruption. The Orisha won the war and defeated the Deitis. Once this was done, they left the world, allowing humanity to grow and thrive no its own.
But the Deitis were not truly dead.
They rose up and, over centuries, used their evil influence to corrupt the world from the shadows. Once this became evident, the Orisha found human excellence to incarnate their energies into. They embodied and empowered seven people from Detroit with their cosmic energy and returned to the world as The Horsemen.
The Horsemen, with their newfound powers, set upon defeating the deceitful Deitis. After seeing the state of the world, and the degree to which the United States was corrupted, they set their eyes to their motherland. In a much disputed act, Shango the Destroyer, wiped the city of Abuja, in Nigera, from the face of the earth and forced the unification of all the African nations.
From the rubble they forged a new shining city and heart of this new African Union, Lumumba. Using their unique gifts, the Horsemen transformed the continent into a blossoming utopia from which to confront the Deitis and heal the world of their harmful influence.
The world of the Horsemen is one of political upheaval and a rising presence of powerful forces. New technology produces threats daily. The Deitis grow bold in their need to maintain control of the world. The return of the Horsemen has released a spark into the world, and people, both good and evil, are finding themselves gifted with amazing new abilities. These people, known as the Manifest, take sides with world governments, the Deitis, and the new African Union.
In Chapter One, Eshu convinces Yemaya to help smuggle some Americans to Canada so they can emigrate to Lumumba. On the way she is attacked by a trio of crippled enemies, children of the Deitis, Ahura. They manage to capture her as she gets the refugees to safety. These enemies were seeking to kill her brother, Ogun and use her as bait. When he arrives, they injure him and he goes berserk. She’s forced to fight him to calm his murderous rage.
Chapter two begins on a lonely stretch of road in Africa, just outside the shining city of Lumumba.
Oya raced down the remains of Daura Road. She smiled, enjoying the cool morning wind rushing past her hair puffs and in her face. Early day, before things got too warm, was always her favorite time to run. The red in her outfit was a splash of color in the surrounding green. Overgrown trees sped by on either side, and in places the grass grew up past her knees through the pavement cracks. It was four lanes, and had seen a good amount of traffic in the past, but not anymore. Now, the only thing Daura Road led to was the Abuja Crater.
There were plans to re-pave it and set up a monument in the center of the great scar that was the birthplace of this new Africa, but so far it had remained in pretty much the same state as right after it had happened. A great gaping hole where Nigeria’s heart had been torn out.
Lumumba City was behind her. It was built adjacent to the crater, but was separated by a few miles of forest. The woods were pretty and provided a good buffer between the modern new architecture of Lumumba and the destruction. Oya zipped through the forest it in mere moments, savoring the smell of the exotic plants. It was so different from where she’d grown up, and she was in no rush. As she got closer to, she began to see bunches of dried flowers on the sides of the road and tied to trees with ribbons. Then there were hand-made signs with names painted on them and more flowers. Then there were faded pictures, stuffed animals, and crosses. So many crosses. She had to slow down to navigate through it all as the roadside memorabilia spilled off the shoulders and took over the old highway. It was everywhere. She took her time, looking at them, and eventually stopped at the lip, surrounded by thousands of the roadside tributes to the dead. Cards, notes, and pictures, all stapled and taped and poorly laminated, fluttered in the hot sun, slowly fading and degrading. They crowded right up to the edge of the crater, pressing to be as close to the precipice as possible, leaning out. Beyond them there was… nothing.
Oya had seen it before. It was clearly visible from the conference room up on the War Horn, but it never failed to terrify her. Even more so, up close like this. The soot-filled hole extended for miles. There was no rubble, no ruins, no remains. It was bowl of hardened ash spread out almost as far as the eye could see. The wind howled across it, unrestrained. They’d saved a lot of the inhabitants before it happened, but not nearly all. It frightened her to think about how Abuja’s people, buildings, cars, and everything had been reduced to dust in seconds.
It frightened her more to know that her brother had done it.
Shango had his reasons, and nobody could argue that the African Resurgence wasn’t a direct result of this destruction. But it still made her skin crawl. She turned, picking her way through the memorials, and began to run around it. She had to get to the other side, to Ogun’s Anvil, and she could have gone directly across very quickly if she let herself get up to full speed. But she wasn’t going to run across the remains of the dead. Circumnavigating it along the South hardly took her more time, and she could do it with a clear conscious.
It wasn’t long before the crater faded behind her and the Jos Plateau rose up ahead. Over four hundred meters of stone rose up at a steep angle. It wasn’t a cliff, but it was an intimidating pile of granite boulders and gravel. She clambered up it, barely slowing down. Beneath the plateau, where she’d been running, trees and bushes had been abundant. Up here, things were flat, and waist-high yellow grass covered the land.
The Anvil, Ogun’s workshop, was easy to spot. It looked like a tabletop plateau, only it was made of solid metal. It was more angular and rigid than a natural formation, red-brown with oxidization, and had long vertical striations in the sides. It was a nearly a dozen stories high and twice as wide. The entire thing was windowless and had only one visible, massive gateway molded into the side. There was a parking lot nearby and dozens of cars were basking in the sun. She spotted the security checkpoint by the entrance and headed for it. They admitted her without issue and led her to a lobby where she barely had enough time to look around before Dr. Utella entered.
“Oya! So good to see you again. Ogun’s expecting you but he couldn’t be pulled away. I’ll bring you down to him.”
Oya liked Ogun’s chief research head, Dr.Utella. He had an ever-present lab coat that matched a ring of stark white hair and an infectious wide smile that, considering his past, always made Oya smile back.
“Good to see you too, Kelechi! It has been too long.” She shook his hand, and he led her out and down the hallway.
“Well, your brother keeps me locked away here. It seems I am always invaluable to one project or another. I am a prisoner to progress!” he joked. They stopped at a pair of sealed doors, and he entered a code into a keypad. They opened, and they entered a bare white room. The doors slid shut and the lights shifted to yellow as they were scanned.
“Ahh, but doesn’t it feel good to be so wanted?” asked Oya with a grin.
“Yes, well, I suppose it’s my own fault for being so brilliant, as Ogun likes to remind me.” Their colors shifted from orange into red as the strange imaging instruments painted the room.
“The perils of genius.”
“As you say.” They blended into purple, then blue, and, finally, green. There was a confirmation chime, and the room reverted to white. Doors on the opposite side of where they entered slid open.
Dr. Utella nodded. “Seems we’re cleared. This way.”
“So how are your sons? Imoh and…” Oya strained to remember his other boy’s name.
“Tunde. Both Imoh and Tunde are doing fine. Imoh is in his second year at university, studying agriculture. Tunde has no patience for school. He’s decided that he can make enough of himself in construction. He’s working at the Kuti Amphitheater.” They entered a large open space, like a hangar. All around the room were machines the size of trucks, all different shapes and sizes.
“It doesn’t bother you? Him not going to school?”
Dr.Utella shook his head. “No, not at all. Why should he end up like me, trapped indoors all day? After what they’ve been through, I do not care how the boys live their lives, only that they live them.”
Years ago, before the African Resurgence, Dr.Utella’s wife had been killed and his son’s taken for indoctrination into the Am-Timan People’s Militia, in Chad. They were there for almost a year before Dr.Utella managed to get the Horsemen’s attention by inventing a groundwater extraction process that did not require digging wells. The material, applied to the underside of pavement, sapped deeper water up, collected it, and could distribute it further down the road. When the rebuilding began, it became standard, and gave him the opportunity to meet with Ogun. Rather than receiving praise for the achievement, he begged for help in finding and rescuing his sons.
Ogun, Oya, and Oshun made short work of the Am-Timan People’s Militia. They returned many boys to their families, found families for the ones who’d lost theirs, and set up rehabilitation centers for the kids who’d been there too long. Fortunately, although the time with them was horrible, Tunde and Imoh had survived as well as could be expected. Dr.Utella had come on as Ogun’s research lead at the Anvil ever since.
They rounded a corner, and her brother came into view. He was standing in front of a long machine made of silver. A dozen cylinders, topped by spheres, protruded from it. Overall, it was smooth, rounded, and had only one tiny control panel in the side. Ogun was standing by it, fiddling with some dial or another. She noticed that his arms were wrapped in bandages. Eshu had told her that there had been an attack, and that Ogun and Yemaya had both been injured, but he didn’t have details, and Ogun had shut the conversation down when he’d asked what had happened. Oya knew better than to bother. If Ogun wanted her to know, he’d tell her. If she really wanted details, she’d have to pay Yemaya a visit.
Dr. Utella stopped walking. “I think you can manage from here, my dear. I’m off to see if I can’t finish in time to actually go home tonight!”
“Thank you, Kelechi. It was very nice to see you. Don’t let him work you too hard, okay?”
He nodded and headed back the way they’d come from. “I’ll do my best! Take care.”
She crossed the room to her brother.
“So, is this the toy you want me to see, Architect?” she asked.
Ogun turned and smiled at his youngest sibling. “If you consider a technological miracle a toy, then I suppose it is. I call it the Koso Project.”
They embraced. She noticed that he had more bandages under his shirt and a minor bruise on his forehead. Whatever had happened, they’d managed to make a dent where many had failed.
“So show me. I know you love showing off.”
“Well, this time I can’t take all the credit. You know who Nikola Tesla was, right?”
She nodded. “Sure. Electrical genius from the early nineteen hundreds. Ahead of his time.”
“Right. He supposedly figured out a way to broadcast free electricity out into the world, for miles. No need for wires, outlets, or anything. Electrical devices would just pick up what they needed out of the air.” Ogun walked over to a table, covered with an assortment of gadgets.
“I’ve heard the myth. Greedy electrical companies cut his funding, sabotaged the plan. It’s a tall tale.”
Ogun picked up a remote control from the table. “Could be. Who knows? Maybe he figured it out, maybe he didn’t. All I know is that he inspired me to try it for myself.”
He clicked a button. The giant silver machine sprang to life, and blue electricity ran up the cylinders and danced around the spheres, jumping from one to another. Simultaneously, all the gadgets on the table turned themselves on. Computers booted up, lamps illuminated, and Billy Ocean started crooning from a stereo.
“And I got it.”
Oya’s eyes went wide. “Holy crap, bro! Seriously?”
“This will power anything, and everything, within a hundred mile radius; cars, trains, computers, lights, environmental systems, cash registers, cell phones. Everything.”
Oya walked over to the massive machine. There were no cords leading in or out. Any working components were hidden beneath the smooth exterior. It cackled with energy, but there was no whirr of turbines or machine parts.
“Okay, I get that it’s transmitting, but where’s it getting its power from? Putting aside how you’ve figured out how to broadcast it, I don’t see how something this size can even generate the kind of output you’re talking about.”
“That’s the beauty. It can’t.”
Oya shot him an exasperated glare. “So how does it work?”
“The hard part was the power dispersion, not the source of energy. Basically, beneath the transmit tech, it’s a giant battery.”
“Okay, battery. I can see it. But, where are you hiding the hydroelectric plant that charges it?”
Ogun clicked the button again and everything shut down, the room was quiet.
“No plant. Just Shango.”
Oya stood there, stunned, absorbing the information. “You mean…”
Ogun continued. “Yeah. This is what we’ve been working on for months. Our crews have already deployed over three hundred of them, all over the continent. They’re all zapped full of energy, courtesy of Shango blasting them with the same amount of force that wiped Abuja off the map, safely stored, ready to distribute, free juice to everyone, everywhere. It’ll be ready within the month.”
Oya looked back at the machine with new respect. She slid her hand along the chrome exterior. She had always thought of Shango’s power as destruction. Her impressions had only been reinforced on that grim day he’d changed everything. But this, now, was set to turn it all around. She’d never imagined his power had a flip-side, but now that she was looking at the potential, she was amazed she’d never seen it before. Her mind boggled at the implications of what could be accomplished. Clean, free, abundant energy washing over the entire African Union.
“My god, Ogun, do you two have any idea what this is going to do to us? To the world?”
Ogun nodded. “Change it.”