Authors: Aaron Martin Fransen
The Syker Key
by Aaron Martin Fransen
Text copyright © 2013 Aaron Fransen
All Rights Reserved
To my wife, who puts up with my delusions of grandeur.
Thanks to my good friend @ChrisAFriesen for the cover and advice.
Thanks to my good friend Duncan Scott for acting as my editor.
Thanks for the science goes to the folks at
and especially Wallace Thornhill for his theories on solar dynamics.
Lastly, but certainly not least, thanks to author Laura Knight-Jadczyk for her inspiration.
Visit the world of The Syker Key online at
Table of Contents
Six: A Threat Emerges
Seven: School Begins
Eight: Dominoes Fall
Nine: A Spark in the Darkness
The Key had been in the hands of human hosts for thousands of years. It was comfortable. It had, in fact, known humans since its construction. But it knew change was coming. It knew, but it was not permitted to show it’s bearer the future.
To the eye it was a simple round crystal, barely four centimeters across, with thousands of facets on it’s surface cut by means unknown to men, by means not shared by its creator.
It was a simple device, used only to focus thoughts, to be able to give certain thoughts physical impact. It did not care to the intent of those thoughts, and in fact was completely impartial, refusing to take sides in the battle between creation and entropy. It would not, of its own accord, affect change.
It knew about the coming bombardment from space, but was simply not permitted to warn it's bearer. It also knew that the bearer should have been able to detect it, but due to those vagaries of human behaviour it found confusing, he did not.
When the comet storm arrived, it was thrust up and out of the atmosphere in the same widespread devastation that nearly eliminated mankind. Millions of tons of earth excavated in a single day as fire and smoke engulfed the planet, followed by immense waves that finished nearly all that was left.
In less than one rotation, nearly six billion humans, not to mention countless animals, lost their lives. It was, almost literally, the end of the world.
From its orbit around the sun the Key waited, protected by many layers of rock and dust, dirt that had followed it into the sky.
Slowly, mankind began to rebuild as it watched. Societies strong enough to build monuments, pyramids, cities, and then empires.
It knew that descendants of it’s last bearer had survived, even though genetic lineage was meaningless. They were the only ones left with access to the technology to build the pyramids, both in the east and in the west. The Key had taught them many things, and moving megalithic stones was the last thing they remembered.
And, in time, even that was lost.
It watched as Egypt formed, ruled, and decayed. Behind it, Greece, then Rome.
Then the dark ages arrived as another, thankfully smaller meteor storm struck. Only thousands were lost this time, and man was quick to rebuild, taking only a few hundred years.
But before the dark ages passed, it would find a candidate.
Just over eight thousand years, and finally it found an opportunity. It had travelled far, protected in its rocky cocoon, calmly absorbing energy from the sun and waiting.
It found its target, and for the first time in many millennia it tasted air as it chose to return. To the region known as Gaul it flew, fell, engulfed in fire from the extreme velocity. Many would watch the fireball.
Only one would find it.
June in Gaul was beautiful. Fruit everywhere, bugs chirping, animals in abundance. Summer's warmth tended to bring out every manner of creature and plant as they took advantage of the long days and plentiful sunlight.
This had been a better summer than most too. Only a few decades previous had seen scores of rocks fall from the sky, and in turn hid the sun for far longer than was comfortable.
The sight of a disheveled rider on horseback prompted most of those animals to scurry out of harms way, but the rider himself was certainly in no hurry.
The rider yawned and scratched his beard, the length of the day taking its toll. Summer in paradise indeed. He hated to waste daylight by not covering miles, but spending long days on the back of a horse was taxing, to say the least. His ass was just plumb sore. Years of studying the mystic arts had not taught him any wonderful methods of easing the pain of riding.
The beard in fact betrayed his 38 years, wide patches of grey throughout. Many thought him older.
Pan Syker rode his steed through the lighter brush where he could, avoiding the clearings. Best not to be in the open, exposed. The beauty of everything around him was, after all, a trap, a means of distracting him from the fact at there were marauders at every turn.
And these were not safe times.
But the sun was warm, as warm as he remembered from his youth. Low and streaming through the maple branches, casting its evening orange glow on everything. Danger or not, Pan tried to enjoy it while he could. Lord knows he'd suffered enough cold the last few months, years, the tattered remains of his overgarments sitting bundled up behind him. They made for a soft bed, but he was determined that at the next creek he was going to get them out and give them a nice wash, and probably himself too.
It was fine to be mysterious and all, but nobody liked a sorcerer who smelled like he did.
A sorcerer. How ominous a sound, for something so mundane. It was nothing but understanding nature, and he was far from the best around. He personally knew about a dozen, most were decent fellows, but a couple were certainly questionable and he chose not to associate with them, were it possible to avoid it.
Since he was a child had he wanted to be what he had become, yet in the becoming the goal had lost all romantic notion. To be expected, of course, at least to some degree, but he missed those long gone days of, at least in retrospect, careless afternoons spent with his best friend, whom himself had no interest in things magical.
As a youth he remembered it was never as carefree as he chose to recall, but it was a nice fantasy.
His horse nudged him, sensing something he could not yet.
Then he saw it, the bright flash from behind him. He turned, half expecting to see a brigade bearing down on him, but instead only saw a fireball, and it was headed his direction.
It would miss, barely. The ground shook with a thunderous boom like he had rarely heard, and as the fireball finally passed overhead it broke into pieces and started to glow, gleaming rivulets of blue and purple light streaming in every direction.
Pan had seen fireballs from the sky before, but this was something else, as though God himself were in that stone and trying to break out. It was brilliant, and impossible to look away.
It crashed into the woods only a couple hundred yards in front of him. In a drier year it probably would have set the entire grove alight. As it was, only a single tree was fell from the impact. Spot fires betrayed the crash, but they would soon extinguish themselves.
He dismounted and rushed over to the crash site, careful to avoid the sparks and flames jutting up from random locations on the forest floor.
Cautiously Pan approached the remnant. It looked smaller up close, fragments strewn about for several yards, but the main piece still intact. This was no simple rock from the sky, he realized. There was something else inside it, something crystalline, something...different.
And small enough to fit in his hand. It was covered in so many facets that he could not make any single face out clearly. It was spectacular, hypnotic, no longer glowing, but refracting light in ways he had never seen.
He tapped the crystal, careful not to burn him self on what he was sure was an intensely hot rock. It felt cool to the touch.
Again he touched it, longer this time, but this time the crystal touched him back, like a bolt of lightning reaching from its surface through his skin, and aimed directly at his mind.
As his skin made contact he could suddenly see other lands, other worlds. The crystal spoke to him, sang to him, and promised to tell him the secrets of the universe.
Pan fell back, breathless, staring at the crystal.
No, he thought. Not a crystal. A tear of God. A key to unlocking life itself.
He reached for it once more.
Eight years later Pan found himself in the same part of the country, and the memory of that day flooded back to him. He still possessed the crystal, but it had not sung to him since that day. Yet he could not bear to part with it, for in that moment of insight he had come to understand things about the world that had changed his life, more so than even his training had shown him.
His interest in the stars themselves had grown since his encounter. He didn't fully understand it yet, but he knew there were linkages between the arrangements of the planets, the Sun, the Moon. The crystal had shown him that much.
So he had arrived with a purpose, to see the imminent solar eclipse. Not his first, to be sure, but still a sight rare enough to be captivating.
The Key, as he had come to call it, had promised the secrets of the universe, but had nare delivered. It was waiting for something, he could sense that. He had always been fascinated with solar eclipses, but this time he could feel the Key pushing him, guiding him, as though it was the most important thing in the world to see.
So several months he spent making his way back, to the lush forest where he had first found it.
Many locals considered him a mystic, bordering on being a warlock, a wizard, but he knew better. There were many practicing this elusive art, much as Pan had even before finding the Key. Of course, no others had been shown that understanding from a crystal from the heavens, and did not have the benefit of it’s insight. What Pan thought he knew before finding it, and what he knew after, were worlds apart.
He looked at the sky. Just past noon, and the moon approaching the sun. Watching the eclipse was a way to extend that understanding, so he hoped. He did not consider it to be the evil omen many of his peers did.
The land started to darken around him.
He didn’t know what to expect, but it wasn’t to have the Key in his pocket suddenly begin to grow warm. He looked down to see it begin to glow through the material of his pocket. He removed it, holding it gently in his hand, mesmerized as the rhythm of the flashing light increased. Was it his imagination, or was it becoming brighter as the eclipse darkened the land?
He dismounted. Pan knew enough not to look directly at the eclipse. He’d gone so far as to build a kit so he could watch the transition of the moon across the surface of the sun, but it sat on his horse, now forgotten.
He could feel the Key singing to him again, after all these years. Even with all he had learned, it reminded him that he still knew almost nothing. And it was showing him more. Like a veil slowly lifting, as the Moon crossed the path of the Sun, the fog slowly began to clear in his mind. The Key was opening it’s memories to Pan.
It knew the future but would not share it. It would not interfere in free will, but could and did show him the past. It hinted at worlds beyond, at civilizations great and small, carefree and dangerous, but ensured his focus was on the world of his birth.
And nothing was in stone. Both past and future were variable, he could see. He wasn't sure if he was even capable of understanding all of the intricacies of time, or who all the players were, but he was certainly gaining a better insight.
He knew part of him was being overtaken so completely by the crystal that he was losing touch with reality, but a tiny sliver recognized that the eclipse was almost at its peak.
As the moon crossed the sun and the corona glowed, the Key exploded with light. Pan was completely overwhelmed with the knowledge and power being pushed into him, through him. He almost felt like he was drowning in an avalanche of information, threatening to push his mind to the breaking point. Images, memories, scents, sounds, all those things that the crystal had evidently recorded over the millennia streamed into his mind. He was unable to breathe while the crystal passed along its memories. It was like trying to hold onto a lightning bolt with his bare hand, and he could not let go.
In a moment, it was over.
The Key stopped, and Pan looked at the powerful device in his hand. He was changed again. This time he knew how to control it, and through it, he could control much, much more.
Present day, Western Canada.
John Syker watched his son from across the fire pit.
Zack was watching the sky from his sleeping bag. Summer or not, nights in the mountain were cold for ten year old boys, but John knew he was used to this. John had been accused of being cheap in the past, but when it came to sleeping bags he had been sure to get something that would at least hold up if weather took a turn for the worse.
Zack looked at the crescent moon. “Too bad we missed the full moon, but that’s still pretty cool.”
Being a single father had had its cost for John, but it’s one he knows he would never had traded for anything. He loved his son dearly, and was prepared to move Heaven and Earth to keep him safe. “What’s that?”
“The moon. It’s pretty bright. Never seems that bright at home.”
“That’s life in the city for you,” John offered. “All that light pollution ruins sky watching.”
A rustling in the brush signalled the return of John’s friend Will. “And just think, you didn’t even want to come out!”
Zack gave Will a look of disbelief. “No uncle Will, you were the one who didn’t want to come.”
“Yeah, I nearly had to bribe you to get your ars out of the city," John said, agreeing with his son.
“Hey, don’t encourage him.”
“Doth I hear whining?”
“Yeah!” Zack laughed.
Zack looked to the moon again as the two men turned their attention back to their beers. The mood turned quickly somber, as the nights in the woods had a habit of doing. “I had a dream about Mom again last night.”
John looked at his son. In the four years his wife had been gone, the pain had finally faded, mostly, but there were times it would still pierce him. Adrienne had been his life, and losing her would have been unbearable if it weren’t for Zack. He followed his son’s gaze to the moon. “Yeah, I miss her too.”
“I think she’d want you to start dating.”
John laughs. “You do, eh? Well, it’s not quite like going to the store to pick up oranges.”
“Uncle Will says it is!”
John turns a steely gaze to his friend, who holds up his hands defensively. “He asked, I told him!”
The last thing he wanted was his friend’s fidelity, or lack thereof, being a significant influence on Zack. “Will, I’d appreciate it if you’d leave your dating tips to yourself.”
The next morning John quietly cleaned up the camp site while the other two slept in. He always was and always would be a morning person, his wife would say. Sometimes being in your own head was the worst place to be.
The cleaning was at least a distraction.
Will, he knew, was also not a morning person, preferring to sleep until either the sun was well up, or the coffee was made. Preferably both. As for Zack, the only thing that would get him up early was cartoons, or more recently, meeting his friends online for a game.
By the time Zack stirred, the site was packed and ready to go, except for the personal effects of John's companions. “Is the coffee ready?” he asked through half closed eyes.
John smiled at his son’s brazen attempts at adult behavior. Sarcasm or not, he wasn’t about to encourage him. “No coffee, no hot chocolate, just cold water.”
The drive home was more sombre than the drive out. It always was. John enjoyed the outdoors, but three days of being in a strange environment always took its toll, and he was glad to be going home.
After depositing Will at his admitted bachelor pad, Zack turned to his father, more serious. “I think you need to start dating again.”
John wondered where this was coming from. “Why?”
“Is it tough?”
John smiled at his son. “Why? Thinking about it?”
“No,” Zack said defensively, but not quite sincerely. “Just wondering is all.” He started to shuffle his feet, and John decided not to antagonize him. Dating was hard enough, no matter the age.