Ah, my second “novel” ever. As in, my second multi-chapter project that I’ve seen to completion. The first was something that I wrote in middle school and never received a title. But this, The Q’taxians, is something I will forever be very proud of.
If you’ve read the Original Series, you will have probably found it to be something of a mess. I was still noodling out the plot at that point, but when I finished it, I genuinely loved it. I still do. I will always have a soft spot in my heart for it as it was something I wrote during a critical healing point in my life.
My wildly shifting emotions are very clear to see to anyone who read it. I was all over the place in tone, but one thing I’ll always appreciate about it is that there’s this somewhat cheeky overtone the latest version doesn’t currently have. That may yet change as I’ve decided that the OG series is going to serve as a blueprint of sorts for a future book. This is a plot I really want to address one way or another.
The opening was always something I really enjoyed. It’s sudden and opens the world up for exploration. It doesn’t start at the “absolute” beginning, but rather at the mid point of a timeline. The story moves both forwards and backwards as it progresses both moving the current plot along and illustrating how it got to this point. I really liked this approach, but I suppose it wasn’t exactly reader friendly.
The most “unbiased” review I ever got on it was that I was “telling” too much. Basically, I set up the world in a series of descriptive paragraphs and dialog. Upon retrospect, perhaps I was being a bit tell-y, but I’ve since read best sellers that put my “telling” to shame. The other thing this comment did was ask a bunch of questions about the plot I’d established. All I could think was “Read the story?” I’m not quite sure what this person expected. Of course the reader had questions. That was the point, but apparently it was worth a demerit. It’s been years and obviously this review still bothers me a bit.
Am I trying to say this version is perfect? Absolutely not! It’s a raging mess! As much as I love it, I know its a bit of a dump. I can still love it even though it’s… It’s okay.
So back to the retrospective. Some key plot elements that have changed between this and the current version are as follows:
Sylus was never in the military.
In the OG series, Sylus is a combatant at the mercy of an unending onslaught against an alien world. He signed up to reach an impossible goal that none had ever achieved before leaving service, going insane, or dying. If someone managed to serve five tours, they’d be taken care of for life on the company’s dime.
Current Sylus is a janitor. With the elimination of the “invasion” plot, his station was downgraded. He works his job because he has to. He has no choice. If he doesn’t, he loses his entire livelihood as it is all provided by his place of employment.
Sylus’ ex never lived with him in La Sombra.
In the OG version, Sylus moved west with his ex. They saw the lucrative opportunity of the military job and his ex decided she wanted him to serve in that position so they could upgrade their life-style.
In the current version, Sylus moves to La Sombra with his son, Daniel, to escape his ex. He takes a job at the Riftworks because that’s all there is. He moved out here for two reasons:
1.) It was all the way across the country
2.) His ex couldn’t follow him into the Mist without jeopardizing her ability to live anywhere else as people affected by the Mist are limited in their global mobility.
I’ve gone back and forth on whether or not the plot even needs Saari… I hate to admit it, but she was original conceived to be Sylus’ opposite. Sylus is a transman while Saari is the equivalent of a transwoman in her species (their gender system is a bit more complicated than ours). I made her because Sylus had to maintain a sense of “being straight”. I was trying to bury a lot of personal feelings.
In the OG series, she’s the high priestess of her people that everyone begrudgingly accepts and “The Voice” of Qaitax (an inherited position). Her introduction is much more bombastic and her affection for Sylus is born of the Nightingale effect. Qaitax considers her his equal. She is a “respected” member of the Brotherhood only due to her sheer strength and direct connection to Qaitax.
In the current version, Saari is still the high priestess of her people, but she her authority was largely rejected. She spends most of her early life fighting for her right to exist as her true gender and not the one she was assigned at birth. Qaitax identifies her as his “Voice” (a position created just for her), but all it really does is keep her from being executed for sedition.
She is also more greatly played up as Qaitax’s “daughter”. They have a much more familial relationship than before. It creates some complications as time-line wise she’s Sylus contemporary if not his senior, but via Qaita, she’s also his step-daughter of sorts. Its a bit fiddly, but honestly defining Saari by any other character does her a great disservice. I’ve learned that very well. She needs to be largely left to her own devices and motivations. She might seem a bit clingy to Qaitax in the first book, but wouldn’t you cling to that one person you know when you’re forced into a completely foreign world? She just needs time to adapt.
Her appearance has also largely changed.
I was too hesitant to commit to the idea of Saari’s horns being permeant so in the OG series, they are an artifact inherited by the Voice which dulls all other sense so they can hear Qaitax’s words more clearly. She is blind without them, but they allow her to see reality through the lens of the Void.
In the current version, Saari’s horns are part of her skull. She can’t take them off. I’ve also seemingly evolved them into “antlers” as they can grow velvet but don’t shed it naturally. Basically, her eyes grew out of her head and calcified. She can see the same as she did in the OG version: Through the Void and not a literal expression of reality.
In the OG version, the Q’taxians as a species are very much still alive and at war with humanity. The war ultimately ends when Sylus merges with Qaitax collapsing the subterranean Halls in which they lived. Sylus uses the military’s tram system between worlds to save as many as he can creating a refugee crisis back on earth.
In the current version, the Q’taxians are specters. They’ve long died out and it is by their draw on Qaitax’s energy and their complete corruption by the void, that they remain even remotely present. They flicker in and out of reality. Some relive their final moments, others relive random points in their lives, while others still have no concept of even being dead. When Sylus merges with Qaitax, the Halls collapse and, though it’s not mentioned yet (spoilers) the Q’taxians wake up from their daze and realize what’s happened to them.
Sylus was disgustingly closeted in the OG series. I couldn’t just outright say he was trans. I refused to. So not only was he mostly written as CIS but he was also in a “straight” relationship with Saari (a transwoman). It was this way because that’s where I was in my life. I’m still very closeted offline, but I’m doing well enough that I can be more open with Sylus.
In the current version, the plot starts further back in his life and more than once is it made clear that he is trans. I never say “Sylus is trans”, but a lot of his struggles very clearly extend from that condition. He’s also gay.
Toward the end of writing the OG series, Jeron started creeping up as a love interest. I couldn’t have that because that would make Saari obsolete even though she had become her own character, I was still writing her as some kind of foil to Sylus. If Jeron stepped in, Saari would have to step out which is why I knew towards the end that the whole thing would need to be rewritten. I couldn’t ignore how pesky Jeron was becoming in that department so I put them together in the current version and I think its working out so much better.
Jeron is probably my favorite character. He started out as a bit of a stand-in for the “straight man” in an insane world. This has since very much changed.
He still works in the Diner with his father, his backstory is largely similar, but now he’s openly in a relationship with Sylus.
I originally wrote him to almost be a throw-away. He’d have his moments then bow out. Now he’s in the plot almost as much as Sylus himself.
In the original run, I had no intention of giving him any powers or any really special qualities. He was meant to be just “that guy” who anchors the madness to reality.
In the current run, Jeron is an audiomancer meaning his capable of manipulating the Mist through sound to either weaponize it or use it as a shield.
To be honest, Jeron wrote himself. He decided what he wanted and it fit into the plot, so I went with it. He grew increasingly upset with his place in the original run and was actually a major catalyst in my re-write endeavor. He made it clear that he wanted certain things that, at the time, I wasn’t ready to write, but my mind has since changed. As crazy as it sounds he decided he wanted to be with Sylus. So I wrote Saari around that accordingly. As it stands, Saari can exist rather well with Jeron in this capacity. In fact, I think this decision liberated her character quite a bit and I really do owe it all to Mr. Jeron Miles.
Qaitax’s history has been INCREDIBLY fleshed out. The entire mechanic of the Void has been fleshed out as well.
In the OG series, the Qalians (prot-Q’taxians) were a species that fed on the Void. They accessed it freely and drained energy from it to support their way of life. When the Void inevitably cuts them off, the are forced under ground into the Halls. They can’t survive there for long, so they summon any Lord that will answer. Qaitax, being weak and inexperienced, responds intending to destroy them for the glory of the Void, but instead he’s trapped and becomes their power source.
The current plot has a similar backstory to the Q’taxians and their relationship with Qaitax. HOWEVER one key difference that is a MASSIVE SPOILER, is that Qaitax does not willingly come to their world. He is forced there through a generations-long war between the Void and the Qalians. He is used and controlled as a combatant until the war is over and then he is handed over to the surviving Qalians as a prisoner. The Void won, by the way, but that whole encounter is a bit… complicated. I’ll get to it in the plot eventually.
MASSIVE SPOILERS AHEAD
Haurex in the OG series is a campy antagonist that was designed to be a sort of… sex pest to Sylus. His arch was meant to really abuse Sylus in every way possible. He was identified as an agent of chaos that the surviving Q’taxians on Q’taxia had summoned to replace Qaitax. Unfortunately, Haurex was far stronger than Qaitax so while he accepted their summons, he didn’t fall for their trap. Now he’s on earth and he intends to basically needle Sylus into insanity because Sylus going insane would pretty much guarantee the destruction of earth.
Current Haurex is… Downplayed. He still has very strange feelings for Sylus. I have yet to really sort them out. I don’t think it’s romantic attraction, but it’s something strangely affectionate. Right now, Haurex is acting the opposite of his nature. I’ve changed him from a harbinger of chaos to “The Herald”. He lays the groundwork for the Void to consume a world. He lures the inhabitants into a sense of complacency and instills their faith in the benefits of the Mist. The Mist being the same substance that allows spawns from the Void to move freely across a world. He basically dulls the masses until the invasion proper begins. He typically poses as a politician or religious figure to see his ends met.
I’ve always liked Cassidy since her inception. She is currently only hinted at through seeds in the current run, but I understand her character much better now. She will be returning full-time in a future book what will likely mirror the events of the OG series, but in a more up-to-date way.
Originally, Cassidy was a girl who lived alone and was being subcontracted to sell scouting cookies by a wealthy family. She has a strange tattoo on her back that repels all things related to the Void. This becomes the center of the OG plot. She doesn’t know her parents well as they come and go much like DD’s parents in “Ed, Edd, n Eddy”. They leave sticky notes around to remind her to do things and let her know they love her.
Current Cassidy is MUCH more complicated. She steals the cookies she sells so she can make money to feed herself. She DOES still live alone and her parents are still MIA, however, I’ve figured out what exactly she is and who her parent(s) are.
I’m STILL fighting with this kid’s age. I think he’s a pre-teen, but in the OG its very clear he’s a child. His age basically determines Cassidy’s “age” plot-wise and I’m still ironing it out a bit.
Daniel is much more mature and fleshed out in the current version. He’s a lot more than a troubled child and Sylus’ son. I’m really proud of how much he’s grown. In the OG version, he was not going to receive any formal education and just learn from whatever he found online. In the current version, he’s taking online classes. Sign of the times, huh?
In the current version, he’s also an artist and a future sigil weaver.
Currently, his relationship with his father is genuine but difficult. He loves his dad, but at the same time, he finds that he has to be the stronger one of the two more often than not and it wears on him. After all he and his father had been through, he would never say anything to him. Basically, he grins and bears it for his dad.
The Kids in General.
I messed the kids up early on.
Even though Cassidy meets Quip first and can communicate with him, she was not the Spawn Tamer. She was the Sigil Weaver because of the mark on her back.
Even though Daniel was an artist, he wasn’t the Sigil Weaver. He was the Spawn Tamer because he adopted Quip.
It was reversed for some bizarre reason. I think it was because Quip became Daniel’s pet, but since Cassidy is practically adopted into their family, Quip is her pet as well.
This blunder was a really big part of having to rewrite the entire story.
Cassidy is neither a Sigil Weaver nor Spawn tamer now.
Quip is underrated. He’s a variant of spawn called a gaunt which serve as apex predators in the void spawn power structure. They’re smart creatures that tend to directly serve their respective Lords.
Quip’s appearance has always been the same: A dog-like creature woven of grey-ish tendrils that feel like shark skin. He has a Y shaped head and no visible eyes. His mouth is at the base of his head where it connects to his neck. He has extra back tentacles that can be formed into wings or used as weapons in conflict.
Quip has no Lord in the OG version. He wanders around free of influence and meets Cassidy at the edge of the Mist. She takes care of him by sharing food and water. Sylus eventually befriends him and offers him a place at his house. Daniel quickly falls in love with the dog-like creature and insists they keep him. Cassidy is hurt, but knows they can give Quip a better life. Eventually, as mentioned above, she becomes part of the household and can be with him again.
Quip has a… complicated back story in the current version. One I won’t get into due to MASSIVE SPOILERS, but instead of being free-roaming, he’s a prisoner at the Riftworks formally referred to as Nine. He is eventually released into Sylus’ custody.
He goes on to live with Jeron and Daniel during the “Dooms Days”. He becomes their loyal protector and hunts for their food supply.
The Final Thoughts Section.
The story has evolved a lot and this is not an exhaustive list of what has changed, but these were some rather big ones I felt like mentioning in an attempt to show the growth of the story. In fact, you can compare the two plots right now as both versions are listed on the site. The OG Series will NOT be undergoing any restructuring or editing. It is what it is. The Current Series is in the process of being edited and rewritten so what’s on the site is its alpha format and subject to a lot of change which might not be reflected in this post.
I hope this was an entertaining read at least. I’m very proud of how far this story has come and where it’s going to go. I’d love it if stuck around for the rest of the adventure!
Check out these two versions right here on the site!