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FLASH FICTION
  • Madeline Walz

Son of Destruction (Tale'i o Aneatanga): Part 1

A dark-haired man in dark clothes, standing in front of a rocky, fiery landscape.

Imagine a world ruled by fear, where violence is encouraged and the power-hungry are rewarded. On this hellish planet, children learn early that kindness is weak and love is wrong. They grow up to become sadists and psychopaths, seeking out war and wearing their scars as a badge of honor.


This planet is real. Its name is Aneatanga.

 

Content Warning: abuse, violence

Cover design by Madeline and Elginia Walz

 

The Whanau (Ngāle Whanau)

The Whanau is the military for the planet Aneatanga, though the word is also used to refer to the military’s individual members. Joining the Whanau is the highest calling an Aneatangan can achieve.


All Whanau are shapeshifters. Most can turn into birds or reptiles, and a rare few can turn into swarms of insects. Advancement through the ranks of the Whanau usually comes by challenging a superior officer to a duel without shifting. If the challenger wins, he or she takes the officer’s rank, and the loser usually takes the challenger’s lower rank.


Aneatangans are highly xenophobic. They will send the Whanau to war against other planets at the slightest provocation.

scene break icon: a silhouette of a falcon with wings spread

Age 0 (Taisaga Koro)

Ngana gritted her teeth, trying to ignore the pain of childbirth. She was alone in the birthing room. It was bad enough she had to deal with the humiliation of pregnancy—she would not allow others to see her in birthing pains.


Her growls turned unbidden to a scream as the infant crowned. She was doing this not only alone but also unmedicated. Pain medication was the way of the hau’a, and Ngana was no coward.


She felt the infant slip out onto the bed and relaxed, panting, as it started to cry. Strong, angry cries. Good.


Ngana allowed herself only a moment of relaxation, then sat up. It took just a minute to cut the umbilical cord and clean the boy. She didn’t care what gender the infant was, but a boy meant Whiro would have an heir to the throne. With the proper training, this boy would raise their family higher than the tāwera, the evening star.

scene break icon: a silhouette of a falcon with wings spread

Age 3 (Taisaga Tulu)

Tāwera forced himself to meet his mother’s eyes. Ngana hated weakness, real or imagined, and would hit him if he did something wrong.


“What are we doing?” he asked.


Mother smiled. It was her good smile, the one that was thin and hard. It meant she saw his question as brave, not foolish.


“It is time to begin your training,” she said. Mother tossed a knife at him. Tāwera flinched, but it was covered and couldn’t cut him.


Mother’s smile turned into a glare. “Pick it up,” she snapped.


Tāwera bent over and grabbed the handle, pushing away the tears that welled up at her disappointment. Tears were worse than showing fear. Fear got glares and yelling. Tears got slaps and beatings.


“Unsheathe it,” Mother said.


Tāwera just stared at her, trying to keep his face blank. He didn’t know what that word meant.


“The cover,” Mother growled, “is called a sheath. Take it off.”


Tāwera took the sheath off and dropped it, then looked at the knife. He’d never been allowed to touch one of these before. Mother had said he was too young. He spread his feet, trying to imitate the way Father stood when he fought.


Mother frowned. “Turn your back foot out more.”


He did, but Mother’s frown turned into a scowl. She grabbed his foot and twisted it to the right angle. Tāwera gritted his teeth, trying to ignore the pain it caused in his knee, but a small whimper escaped. He made his face blank again as Mother glared at him.


Mother pulled out—no, unsheathed—the knife she always had at her waist. “Defend yourself.”


Tāwera raised his knife and tried to block her swing, but Mother cut him on the chin. It hurt more than twisting his foot had, but it wasn’t as bad as the last beating Mother had given him. He gritted his teeth and tried to ignore it. It wasn’t easy. It took all his focus to hold back the tears and block Mother’s knife. Soon, he had dozens of cuts and bruises on his arms and chest.


An hour later, Mother said, “Halt!” He hadn’t touched her once, too afraid of getting cut again to try an attack.


Tāwera lowered the knife. His left arm was numb from keeping it up so long, and from how strong Mother’s swings were. He had so many cuts that his clothes were ruined from the bleeding.


“You did better than I expected,” Mother said. “Report your progress to Whiro, then you may deal with your injuries.”


“Yes, Mother,” Tāwera said. He wanted to grin, to celebrate the compliment, but that was seen as hū’ngai. It was already hard getting respect with his curly hair—something he’d inherited from Mother. He didn’t need people calling him weak, too.

scene break icon: a silhouette of a falcon with wings spread

Age 5 (Taisaga Rila)

Tāwera stood in the throne room waiting for his father, hating the fear he felt. Fear was for cowards, and he wasn’t a hau’a anymore. He was better with a knife than anyone else his age.


That didn’t matter to Whiro. He could gut Tāwera without even trying. Tāwera didn’t expect Father to be nice, or to not hurt him. That kind of behavior was wrong. But he had never considered before that Father might kill him. If Mother had another son today, that would be possible. If Tāwera failed to prove himself from now on, he would be disposable.


I won’t let that happen, Tāwera thought.


Finally, a small, dark shape flew into the throne room. As the bird landed, it changed into his father. Whiro glared at Tāwera when he saw he was standing, and Tāwera felt that bit of fear again. He kept his face hard and blank, lifting his chin defiantly. He was the crown prince—why should he kneel for the king?


“It is time for you to learn the sword,” Father said. He unsheathed a sword and tossed it to Tāwera.


Tāwera caught the hilt, ignoring the sting as it hit his left hand. It was heavier than he expected, even though he spent more time with his trainer than with his tutor. His arms shook from the effort of lifting the sword.


Father unsheathed a second sword and attacked with no warning. Tāwera managed to block it. The sword was bigger than a knife, and he needed two hands to lift it, but otherwise, it wasn’t so different.


That didn’t mean it was easy. If this had been a real fight, Father would have killed him already. Instead, he collected cuts and bruises. Not as many as his first time with a knife, but these were bigger. The most annoying was a long, shallow cut down his left arm. It didn’t hurt enough to bother him, but he still had to rely more on his off hand.


Tāwera didn’t touch Father once during the duel, but he still held his own well. Or he did until Father cut him on the right side of his head. It hurt so much that he stumbled. Blood dripped into his right eye, making it hard to see. By the time he recovered, Father had his sword at Tāwera’s throat.


Father stood there a moment, staring at Tāwera with his angry red eyes and chilling smile, then lowered his sword. “You cannot let such an insignificant scratch distract you. Do better next time.” He sheathed his sword. “Practice with that blade until you have mastered it. I expect you to at least come close to cutting me in our next duel.”


Father shifted to his bird form and flew away. Tāwera glared after him. I will be better than him. Whatever it takes, he will not insult me again.

 

In Part 2:

  • Tāwera's younger brother has a gift for him.

  • Whiro has chosen a spouse for Tāwera.

  • What is Tāwera willing to endure to join the Whanau?

 

Aneatangan Dictionary (Pafi'upu o Aneatanga)

Aneatanga

destruction, chaos

Hau’a

coward

Hū’ngai

weak

Ngāle Whanau

the army, the military. Can also be translated “the soldier”

Ngana

determination, persistence, bravery

Pafi’upu o Aneatanga

dictionary of Aneatangan

Taisaga koro

age zero

Taisaga rila

age five

Taisaga tulu

age three

Tale’i o Aneatanga

son of destruction. Can also be translated “son of chaos”

Tāwera

the evening star

Whanau

army, military. Also used to refer to individual members of the military

Whiro

the king of Aneatanga and general of the Whanau. Though Whiro is his title, translating to “king” in English, it often becomes the king’s name when he takes the throne, replacing the name he’d had before. The current Whiro and his oldest son, Tāwera, are infamous throughout the universe, even more so than the historical Whiro found in some human mythologies


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