The Sour Thunder
Solaika Dast is the lone state in a world where scent is the primary means of
communication. The Sour Thunder is the great new invention of each generation,
Solaikan identity, a desire for more, and a scent. Every age, Solaikans release
the Sour Thunder in a formal ceremony. This ritual is an act of solidarity that
makes Solaikans identify one another and feel loyal to the state. In past ages,
the Sour Thunder has been pillaged from neighboring worlds during wars by the
As children in Solaika Dast are usually born as twins, those who are born without
a twin have a unique place in society. For Solaikans, one’s character is perceived
through one’s relationship to one’s twin. One’s twin is one’s reflection and
responsibility. Ages ago, the Vred ruled that all children of single birth would
be separated from their families and raised in a government school. As they
grow older, single birth Solaikans are sometimes required to perform duties
in the name of Solaika Dast. Single birth soldiers of previous generations have
gone to various parts of a neighboring planet in groups to steal the Sour Thunder.
They have always sacrificed large numbers of twinless and each group has had
to learn for itself how to accomplish the task.
By the time the last group found the Sour Thunder, most of the members had been
killed in battle. Blue Jasper was one of the surviving members and, finally
aware that single birth Solaikans are chosen for this dangerous task because
their difference makes them expendable, refused to return to Solaika Dast. He
told the returning Solaikans to inform the Vred he had decided to stay in order
to make the journey easier for future generations. Blue Jasper would guard the
Sour Thunder and simply give it to the next generation. It would be easier he
argued, for one Solaikan to move across borders undetected than for a group
to do so.
To some extent, Blue Jasper believes that many lives will be spared by this
plan. However, he also knows that, if detected, the lone Solaikan will be in
more danger than those of previous generations. Blue Jasper is determined to
free himself from his circumstances and stop the practice of endangering all
twinless for the good of all other Solaikans. Still, he feels guilty about the
uncertain dangers facing the first Solaikan who will make the journey alone
and feels that her life is his responsibility.
When Blue Jasper’s generation has forgotten the scent of the Sour Thunder, and
only the memory of the encounter survives, it is time for another Solaikan to
make the quest. A single birth Solaikan, whose identificatory scent translates
to the sound “Sesom”, is chosen from among the members of the Vred School. She
has been taught that to be chosen for this mission is a privilege and she accepts
her charge as the fulfillment of a prophecy. She imagines that at worst she
will die for Soliaka Dast a hero and that returning with the Sour Thunder will
give her a place of honor. She never imagines that anything but death could
separate her from her homeland.
Sesom departs from Solaika Dast with an aroma that could only be described as
optimism. As soon as she crosses the border into this new territory, she is
dizzied by her own odor of inadequacy. As our story opens, she is lost.
Mendi + Keith Obadike