Tagged: author

Free Chapters

If you haven’t heard already, my book “PETR: A STAR FOLK SAGA” will release Memorial Day Weekend on Amazon in paperback and for kindle.

That’s almost a week away!

As a bonus before then I’m posting two FREE chapters of the book, just to tease you a bit.

Enjoy! And look forward to the book next weekend!

* * * * *

 

Chapter 2

Batumi, Tetradze District, Olympus Mons Technocracy, Mars, 9 October 2304

 

An explosion tossed Petr sideways, the five-point crash harness preventing him from slamming into the cockpit wall. He struggled to keep his shuttle under control as he dove through the stratosphere of Mars.

“What the hell, Batumi Control?” Petr exclaimed. “What’s going on down there?”

“Just land, dammit!” came the exasperated voice of the air traffic controller. “Get down here, stupid barbarian!”

“I didn’t sign on to some combat mission,” Petr said with as much calm as he could muster. Petr continued toward Mars’ surface. This was supposed to be an easy job – in, out, get paid.

The sound of an explosion filled Petr’s headphones.

This paycheck wasn’t worth dying for. Others on Mars could offer Petr jobs. Petr could whip his battered Raptor back into orbit. This client would never hire him again, but this client could also cease to exist in the next hour. The flak erupting around Petr’s shuttle did not bode well.

Money was what kept Petr from turning back. It was money, above all else, that Petr needed if he was going to fulfill his goal of becoming the man he wanted to be and proving his worth to his family and tribe.

Petr touched the rosary hanging from the Raptor’s heads up display.

A light show greeted Petr as he cut through the dark gray thunderclouds and neared the Batumi Space Port. Ruby lasers pulsed across the slate gray tarmac. From high above it seemed like ants swarmed around the space port, as if their nest had been disturbed.

As Petr descended the “ants” became soldiers loping along clad in two-ton suits of power armor. The soldiers looked like the knights of ancient Terra, but the right arm of the suit terminated in the barrel of a powerful laser. Both sides of this battle were firing lasers, hundreds of glistening ruby crystals burned before erupting into powerful beams. Where the beams touched, death followed. The thick carapace of the power armor was no match for the onslaught of the lasers.

Both sides also appeared to be wearing the same armor with the same family crest, and Petr became confused. What was going on?

“Pad one!” the air traffic controller screamed. “You’re flying right over pad one!”

“Pad one is a war zone.”

“You want to get paid?”

Petr grimaced, shutting his mouth and maneuvering his shuttle down toward Pad One.

Combat aircraft roared overhead, some coming dangerously close to Petr, but thankfully none fired at him. Lasers and missiles streaked overhead as Petr set the Raptor shuttle down on the tarmac. One missile whistled so close past Petr’s cockpit that he saw the warhead in stunning detail. Adrenaline pumped through Petr’s body, heightening his senses to their fullest. Petr lowered the Raptor’s rear loading ramp, his mind thinking of only one thing: survival. And survival meant exiting the area as quickly as possible.

A red beam burned past Petr’s craft as he doffed his helmet and squeezed back into the cargo bay. Normally Raptors would have a large empty space for crates and equipment, but Petr’s ship was a second-hand military shuttle bought off a down and out mercenary outfit, and so ten harnesses for power-armored infantry lined the cargo section.

Petr expected space port personnel to greet him and load the cargo, but instead the tarmac lay empty. Petr shuffled to the end of the loading ramp as he looked for someone who knew what was going on. Thunder rumbled, promising rain.

“Hello?” Petr yelled over the din of battle.

Suddenly, a dark form eclipsed Petr.

“Move aside,” said a deep, metallic voice from a speaker.

Petr looked up into the glaring emerald eye of a suit of Renegade power armor. Only Star Folk mercenaries wore Renegade power armor. Petr’s mind tried to work through exactly what he was seeing and why. Why were Star Folk mercenaries here?

“Move aside now!”

Petr was pushed aside with the suit’s three-clawed, tubular arm. He watched in disbelief as two more troopers in Renegade power armor trudged out of the hangar next to the tarmac and stomped up the Raptor’s rear loading ramp, carrying two oblong, gray crates between them. All three suits were midnight black with Thor’s hammer pendantsfestooned on their rounded shoulder guards and the bulbous, hunchback-like power packs on their backs.

“Who are you?” Petr asked. “What the hell are you doing in my shuttle?”

“Security for the cargo you were hired to transport,” the first trooper said. “We need to go.”

The explosion of a building several hundred meters away set Petr into motion and he darted back up into the Raptor. As Petr went he caught a quick glimpse of the cargo he was to carry. It didn’t look like much. Though the crates seemed innocuous, something nagged at the back of Petr’s mind, telling him these very boxes were the cause of all the wonton destruction outside.

Petr refocused on the payout. This wasn’t his war. He just had to complete this job and collect the money he needed.

“Batumi, this is Petr Drexel,” Petr said as he donned his helmet and snapped himself into the pilot seat’s five-point harness. “I have the cargo and I am preparing for take-off.”

“About time,” the air traffic controller replied, sounding both relieved and exasperated. “Coordinates have been sent to your shuttle. Remember-“

The feed suddenly cut out. The traffic control tower erupted in a ball of flame.

Petr switched from radio communications to shuttle internal communications. “You all better be strapped in back there. This ride could be a little bumpy.”

Petr heard a litany of complaints and curses from his passengers as he shut the shuttle’s rear loading ramp.

Soon the battle was below them, and Petr guided the Raptor away from the space port. Large, fat drops of rain smacked against the shuttle’s cockpit. Petr breathed a sigh of relief. With this job finished, he’d be one more step toward his goal.

An alarm on the shuttle’s heads up display made Petr jump. Missile lock.

“Damn!” Petr exclaimed as he yanked hard on the control stick. The Raptor dove hard right and down.

The missile still followed.

At the last moment Petr smacked the button to the costly countermeasures. There was a series of loud pops as the Raptor fired flares out its sides and back.

“What’s going on up there?” one of the power-armored men asked.

“Shaking missiles.” Petr’s tone was clipped.

The man let out a stream of colorful curses.

Half a second later Petr’s seat surged into his back as an explosion rocked the rear of the shuttle. The missile had cut through Petr’s countermeasures and found its mark.

Petr felt his stomach float up into his ribcage and throat. He saw the rosary hover in the air.

Please God, no, ran through Petr’s mind.

Then Petr was falling. The nose of the Raptor dipped down hard. Petr yanked back on the control stick, praying that some mechanical system in the shuttle still worked.

The shuttle lifted a little. Maybe the landing wouldn’t be so bad and he and his passengers would live to see another day. There simply wasn’t enough time or space to pull the shuttle out of its dive. Petr announced over the intercom “Brace for impact” as he simultaneously did himself, pushing his back into the pilot’s seat as hard as he could.

The Raptor slammed into the ground and Petr pitched forward, his helmet ramming into the shuttle’s heads up display. The harness holding Petr in the pilot’s seat knocked the wind out of him.

The Raptor’s momentum drove the craft forward several meters through the soft dirt blanketing the planet. Until finally, with a shudder, the shuttle came to a halt.

 

Chapter 3

Batumi, Tetradze District, Olympus Mons Technocracy, Mars, 9 October 2304

 

Everything was eerily quiet. Petr sat, head hanging forward. Something in the back of his mind told Petr he needed to get up and move. The pain wracking his body overwhelmed a lifetime of training in the Star Folk Community Fleet. It hurt simply to exist.

With a grunt of effort and immense pain, Petr slapped the harness release and flopped down onto the shuttle’s console. Limbs aching from the crash, Petr pried the bulky helmet from his head, a movement that seemed to take all of his strength and concentration, before dropping it into the pilot’s seat. With great effort Petr crawled back over the empty communications seat and into the rear of the Raptor.

There was a gaping hole full of ripped cables and twisted metal where once the aft starboard side of the Raptor existed. The Raptor’s starboard airlock hung twisted and limp where it was still connected to the shuttle.

Two of the men in Renegade power armor were free of the troop harnesses. Both labored to free their comrade who seemed stuck.

“Hold on, Eyolf,” said the largest one through the Renegade armor’s external speaker. “We’ll get you out of there.”

“What a way to die,” said the man still stuck in the harness.

“You’re not going to die here,” said the other trooper in Renegade armor fighting to free his comrade.

The men bent and twisted the harness. After several attempts the harness was manipulated just enough that the third Renegade armored man could force himself out.

Pain suddenly blossomed inside Petr’s chest, and he stumbled with a sharp cry. The men turned to face Petr, three bug-eyed, round helmets staring at him. Petr swallowed hard as realization flooded his mind: they were going to kill him.

A long, pregnant pause filled the Raptor’s cargo bay as Petr faced the three armored Star Folk men before him. All three black, insect-like helmets glared at Petr from the far side of the cargo bay. Petr waited for one of them to raise the barrel of their heavy machine gun and paint the inside of the shuttle with Petr’s blood.

Petr’s knees gave out, and he sunk to the deck of the Raptor. The crash had done a lot more damage to Petr’s body than he’d thought. The world around him was shaky as he attempted to balance himself.

“We’re leaving him,” said the largest man.

“Sorry champ,” said the one with the wild red strokes on his helmet. “Better luck next time.”

“W-w-wait,” Petr said, his words slurred.

The two smaller armored men took one crate each in the three-clawed hands of their suits, then hopped out of the hole in the ship.

Petr reached out and grabbed the guardrails that led up into the cockpit.  His arms held for a brief moment, then let go. Petr’s world spun as he crashed to the floor, his cheek coming to rest on the cool metal deck of the Raptor’s shuttle bay.

Then Petr’s world turned black.

Self-Publishing

I have decided to self-publish my book “PETR: A STAR FOLK SAGA” through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing service.

My book didn’t find traction with agents or publishers after four months of querying. Dozens of rejection emails later I decided the traditional publishing route wasn’t fot me. I have nothing against the traditional publishing route – it’s clearly worked for many people, and it may work for me in the future with another title.

So I’ve dived in working on perfecting the ms for kindle publishing. It’s been frustrating at times. I think I’m done and after another review I find a host of tiny mistakes and I have to go back and correct them before I upload the ms to KDP again.

I’ve seen this screen about a dozen times now…
Draft cover for the paperback. The paperback book will be 5” x 8” and will go for $8.99

I don’t have a release date yet, but I’ll be posting regular updates and freebies throughout the next month, and a release date will follow soon.

When Ideas Strike

Today, Saturday, I had to work my full-time job. Such is the nature of the beast.

And while I was working, ideas for the latest book began to flow. Scenes, dialogue, effects of those scenes and dialogue.

As I worked I thought, “I’ll remember that.”

Morgan Freeman narrating my life: “He did not remember that.”

That’s over exaggerating. I remember some of the thoughts I had as I toiled away today. But not all of it. The vague memories of the ideas I had pale in comparison to when they leapt into my head. They were mighty bucks that strode into the clearing of my mind, only to be scared by the hunter who coveted them, and they dashed away.

So now I have a process to capture these ideas. A little notebook where I’ll jot scenes, feelings, colors, smells, dialogue, and background once the idea strikes. These great, fleeting stags, difficult to catch, will be mine for the taking.

What do you use to capture the ideas that flit through you mind?

Communication During the Editing Process

Update: the book is coming along swimmingly.

Part of the reason the recent editing of the book is going so well is the clear lines of communication between my editor and myself. Like any endeavor – writing, military operations, power plant maintenance, family – communication is key. I find over-communication tends to be better (though perhaps a little annoying) than under-communication.

Now I’m not going to write a whole lot on this. I am going to put a lot more into “A Tale of Two Editors – Part 2”. But it has been such a good experience that I wanted to cover it.

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

Throughout the whole editing process this last month, my editor and I have been in regular communication through phone calls, emails, and face-to-face meetings.

Some people may think that this could become cumbersome, even annoying. At times my first reaction is just that.

But the high level of communication has allowed us to deconflict issues we’ve had, reschedule meetings without issue, and to verify next steps and expectations.

Talking through things has allowed my editor to have a much deeper grasp of where I want to go with my story, and the background to it. Sometimes I feel uncomfortable talking about all the nerdy stuff in my book. But the more I explain, the more my editor has been able to guide me in a better direction, and my book is really shaping up because of it.

Now Communicate Some More

I’m going to go back to the possibility of annoyance for a second.

I am very straight forward, concise, to-the-point kind of guy. I want the facts, and then to tackle the solution. I don’t need fluff or prolonged discussion.

Usually.

I quickly found that this would not work in this case.

First and foremost, while my editor and I have gotten to know one another better, we still really don’t know each other well. We have both had to learn to understand how the other operates, reads, and understands things.

While I am a straight to the point kind of person, my editor needs more discussion. That, and I found that greater discussion in greater detail was required so that my editor could really grasp what I am trying to do with my book. It was a bit of a mental stretch for me, but once I got past my mental block, my editor has come to understand my book better and, as I said before, has helped me change it for the better.

For example, I wanted to ensure that the culture of the Star Folk, the main peoples described in my book, had a lot of examples without just info dumping. Info dumps make the writing boring and interrupt the flow. At first I tried to describe this and my editor had a difficult time helping me. But once I described the culture more, where and how I wanted to describe it, and examples of info dumps, my editor was able to give me suggestions and help me brainstorm.

Softy

The issue with this kind of communication is it’s a soft skill. It’s more difficult to make it into a procedure, or to document a process.

I have to understand myself and how I communicate, and learn how the other person receives information, processes it, and communicates back. And I have to do this each time with different people, whether writing, at work, or with family and friends.

As many may know, it takes time, practice, and many iterations of trial and error.

Conclusion

Communication through the editing process has been key to helping my book become better. Sometimes the over-communication has at first seemed unnecessary, but I’ve learned it’s required if I want my editor to really be able to help me. Perhaps if I had done this more in the past, my book would be further along that it is.

The book is, in fact, coming along really well! I wouldn’t normally say that – I would say good, or decent, or it doesn’t quite suck. But I can honestly say the book is making some real leaps to something much more organized, professional, and almost ready for publishing. I will have more updates in the weeks to come.

Until next time. . .

A Tale of Two Editors Part 1

So I’m back into the actual writing schtick. My book previously published under the title “Der Sternvolker” (which, by the way, is terribly improper German grammar; Es tut mir leid) went through a major edit last year, and is going through another one as we speak.

My experience with the two different editors I’ve used has been like night and day. One barely communicated at all, the other communicates a lot. One had a very definitive vision of where they wanted to go, the other looks to me for more guidance.

I’m sure other new writers are going, or will go through similar experiences. Here I will describe my experiences, and welcome input from other just starting authors who working with their first or second editor.

Part One covers my first editor. NOTE: This isn’t a positive or negative, and I attempt to simply relate things as they occurred. I do, however, write several lessons learned at the end.

Editor One

I won’t use names in this article. So the first editor I used shall be dubbed: Editor One.

Editor One was an experienced editor with quite a few titles under her belt, as well as a few titles she wrote herself. I was excited to work with her as she seemed to generally understand the more sci-fi sort of things I was trying to get through, such as Cowboy Bebop and Firefly references. I was in geek heaven. She also had a firm grasp of the Turkey City Lexicon which has become the standard in a lot of writing circles, specifically in sci-fi/fantasy writing.

When I solicited her editing services she sent me a sample edit of the first few pages of my manuscript, and upon receipt of her edits confirmed I wanted her to edit my work.

It was the price tag that hit me: $2,400.

I had just received my tax return back, and instead of paying off some more debt, I decided to take the leap and pay her for her services.

And so the editing began.

I heard nothing for about four weeks.

And then, one day, my edited manuscript appeared in my inbox! I was ecstatic.

I went through the manuscript to see what she had done. It was diced, chopped, sliced, and beaten. And it needed to be. There was so much in my old manuscript that needed work, and that was just downright bad.

But, most of her notes were comments or recommendations. No hard “change this” or “move this here and it will really pop” or “delete this garbage and rewrite it.”

Included in her fee was a 1 hour consultation on her edits. I sought further information on many of her comments, and where things should go and how I should rewrite certain parts. She didn’t offer much. One of the recommendations I remember after asking if I should write a certain part a certain way was, “Really that’s up to you.”

At the end of our conversation I made the comment that I had a lot of deleting and rewriting to do, and she responded with, “And that’s one of the great parts of writing. You get your edits, and then you get to rewrite, sometimes the entire book!”

And that was that. My hour was up and I had exhausted my services with her.

I delved into the task of rewriting my manuscript – again. And then I re-rewrote it, and eventually stumbled upon my current editor…

Lessons Learned

First and foremost I felt some confusion with the process, especially at the end. My thought was that, while the editor can’t tell me exactly what to write, shouldn’t they at least be able to help with how to write it?

And that is where clearer communication would come in. I should have asked more questions about exactly what more of her editing looked like, maybe have check-ins throughout the process to get a feel for what she was saying and recommending, and get clarity on the details of the 1-hour consultation at the end. Maybe ask how such conversations went over with her other clients, what they covered, and what she absolutely would not/could not do.

I did look into other editors before I chose the one that edited my MS. Pricing for the length of my book (110k words) was about the same, give or take $50. With my contracts/procurement background I definitely got a wide selection of pricing and compare their editing styles and what they offered in their services (ie. post-edit consultation). Ultimately she was the best bang for my buck.

Perhaps I should have looked harder for editors, maybe there were veteran editors out there who could have offered better pricing for the same/similar services. And I would recommend to any readers to absolutely do so. Solicit examples and pricing from at least seven (7) different editors, and I recommend going all the way up to ten (10). Understand their editing style, personality, what they will do, and what they won’t do in the editing process.

Make sure everything is clear, and preferably in writing so there are no questions, disagreements, or misunderstandings down the road.

To Be Continued

I am currently working with my latest editor. Part 2 will be posted upon completion of her editing services, upon which time I will write about the experience, and lessons learned.

I hope this is helpful for new writers like me. If you’re a new writer, or even a veteran writer, tell me about some of your experiences – good, bad, and indifferent, and the lessons you learned. Are there any editors you would recommend to others?

Until next time. . .

A Technocrat

I promise I WILL have a Dragon*Con post up tonight. I don’t have access to my pictures at work (and I was totally slacking this weekend).

With PRIMO VICTORIA out, I have been jonesing to finish up the next book in what I’m (tentatively) calling the post-Earth series. This will consist of the following major novels: Der Sternvolker (soon to be retitled as The Star Folk), The Technocrat, The Elysian, and The Martin.

THE TECHNOCRAT has been in the works for some time now. Ultimately I write a few pages, even a few chapters, but hate the way it looks, sounds, and feels. It doesn’t convey the characters, story, or message I am filling the story with.

Recently I read Know No Fear by Dan Abnett, a Warhammer 40k Horus Heresy novel (and wrote a review on it HERE). My eyes were opened to a different way to write. Know No Fear is written present tense, as if everything is happening as the reader reads the book. Know No Fear was so well written, and conveyed the feelings and ideas of over half a dozen different characters so well that I thought I’d try writing it this way (given, part of that is Dan Abnett’s amazing writing ability).

So, to tantalize you (and distract you from the fact I haven’t posted anything on Dragon*Con), I give you a brief excerpt from the rough-rough draft of THE TECHNOCRAT.

—–

The Democratic Republic of Haven Butte

Titan, Saturn

31 January 2306

 

It’s “day time” in Haven Butte. Though Saturn’s moon, Titan, is on the dark side of its parent planet, every clock in the city reads daylight hours. Lights all around Haven Butte swat the darkness away in an attempt to regulate the population’s sleeping patterns and create the illusion of an Earth-like day.

Haven Butte is home to roughly twenty-thousand people. It’s large for a city-state on Titan—the fifth largest on Titan to be exact. For over a century the La Rochenoire family had ruled the twenty thousand citizens of Haven Butte. Though they were little more than thugs, the La Rochenoire family did help the former Central European Pact colony expand. Titan’s thick, ancient ice was cut back, and there was a reinvigorated movement to continue terraforming. New structures were built where there was solid ground. Massive plates were built to extend the city over Titan’s oceans where the ice was slowly receding.

Though the La Rochenoire family were bullies at the best of times, the people of Haven Butte tended to look the other way in favor of the slow advancement they were making. The standard of living had risen. The city wasn’t as cramped. With increased area to live came increased area to create businesses and, as long as no one messed with their power, the La Rochenoire family allowed those businesses to flourish. Everything seemed as if it was getting better.

Then the revolution happened. For a decade a growing resistance had smuggled weapons and equipment into Haven Butte. In December of 2305 they launched their coup, killing King Harold La Rochenoire and his family and many of the bureaucrats and soldiery loyal to him.

Now the Revolutionary Council rules the Democratic Republic of Haven Butte—every last one of them hardline communists. Curfews are in place. Private companies and interests are now nationalized.

This nationalization includes two mines owned by House d’Helion of the Olympus Mons Technocracy.

Judd Wooller, president of the d’Helion mining operations on Titan, sits in a jail cell with his small staff. There are eight of them in the cell. The rest of the labor force had been Haven Butte locals. Many of the locals had left to fight for the revolutionaries, only to return to imprison their former bosses and take over the mining operations. Now Judd tries to keep his people alive. He shivers and pulls a thread-bare blanket tighter around himself as if he can squeeze another ounce of warmth out of it. He tried to send a message to Olympus Mons before the rebel soldiers came for him. He still has no clue if it reached its destination.

One of Judd’s staff, a woman by the name of Ayana, stirs in her sleep. Her ebony skin is cut and bruised, and she whimpers as she slumbers. The revolutionaries are especially rough with her. There aren’t many people of color in Haven Butte, and none as dark as Ayana. Ayana is a novelty to male and female urges alike.

These bastards will pay, Judd promises himself.

Judd is a former soldier. He served eight years in the d’Helion House Guards. While Judd’s staff sleeps he is awake and on the lookout for the possibility of escape.

Suddenly there’s a screech of hinges as the door to the small jail opens. Two revolutionary soldiers trudge inside, each encumbered by ragged, mismatched extreme cold weather gear. They speak to one another in a strange dialect, a mixture of Western and Central European languages from dead Earth. One of the soldiers closes the door, and they both remove their hoods. It’s a man and a woman, both at least half Judd’s age. Children playing at war.

The two soldiers stride up to the jail cell and peer in. Judd stares back, a look of defiance on his face.

“Olympians,” the woman says, pointing at Judd. “Stupid.”

The man and woman laugh. The man steps forward and punches a code into the cell door. The woman hefts her assault rifle to cover her comrade. As the door opens Judd’s personnel awake, bleary eyed and confused. Some of them hope that the past few months were just one long nightmare. As their vision clears they realize this is very real.

The man points at Ayana. “You. Come.”

Ayana cringes back and shakes her head.

The woman soldier barks something in her harsh tongue. The man sneers and lunges at Ayana. Ayana screams and tries to scrabble further back into the cell.

There is a noise outside. The female soldier lowers her rifle just a hair and looks towards the door.

It’s the opening Judd has been waiting for.

Judd pounces on the male soldier and tackles him to the ground. Realizing what’s happening, the other members of Judd’s staff join in bludgeoning the soldier with their fists and feet.

The woman is screaming now. Two of Judd’s staff members dart through the cell door and lunge at the female soldier. She gets one shot off, winging the first man through the door: Karl, Judd’s chief financial officer. Karl drops with a yelp of pain. The second man, Bradley, Judd’s purchasing agent, slams into the female soldier and knocks her to the ground. Bradley pins her with his greater mass and stronger muscles, and wrests the rifle from her hands.

“You not escape,” the woman says. “More coming.”

It’s silent in the jail except for Karl’s moans of pain.

Now Judd can hear the sound the female soldier heard. A low moan cuts through the air. It starts silent and distant, then grows in volume.

Warning sirens. They are blaring all over Haven Butte. There are exclamations of surprise and fear, and yells of urgency. The heavy tromp of dozens of boots pass the jail.

“What is it?” Ayana asks.

Judd picks himself up off the male soldier and walks out of the cell and out the door of the prison. The arctic cold of Titan cuts past the layers of clothes he wears, through his skin, and down to his bones. His breath catches in his throat from the frozen air. All around Judd the city is in a state of panic. People dart down the street in an attempt to flee. Fear fills their eyes. Soldiers rush the other way, oblivious to Judd or the jail.

Some of the people in the street look up in horror and point at the sky. They babble in their bastardized language. Judd can’t understand. He turns and looks up.

“Dear God,” Judd says.

The sky is falling.

 # 

The first troops on the ground were thirty pathfinders in Ranger-pattern power armor. They had set beacons for the rest of the force, and scouted the edges of Haven Butte. Now, four hours later, the assault force arrives.

Hundreds of drop pods erupt inside Titan’s thin atmosphere to expel their deadly cargo. Infantry clad in two ton Titan-pattern power armor cut their chutes several meters above Titan’s icy surface and hit the ground running. The mechanical joints and artificial musculature of the power armor propels the troopers forward at over twenty-five kilometers per hour.

Defending infantry begin to open up at the oncoming armored soldiers. Bullets whiz through the air. Some strike home into metal alloy chests and limbs with no effect.

The attackers respond with man-pack lasers. The angry, ruby beams screech from the barrel arm guns of the Titan suits and punch into the defenders’ lines. A laser strikes a man and his upper torso ceases to exist. Another laser cuts into a light vehicle, touching off an ammunition magazine. The vehicle explodes, sending fire and shrapnel in all directions. Soldiers surrounding the vehicle are thrown like rag dolls. The Titan troopers fire volleys of missiles from the back-mounted missile racks. The warheads slam into checkpoints and barricades.

Titan and Ranger power armor troopers smash into the defenders. The revolutionaries of Haven Butte put up a brave fight. They die miserable deaths. Haven Butte soldiers are gutted, torn limb from limb, and are crushed. This isn’t a battle. This is slaughter. None of the defenders are left alive.

Finally the Haven Butte forces deploy a few medium tanks. These are relics of a bygone era, barely kept in running condition for over two centuries. Their armor is more welded on scrap metal and paint than anything else. But these tanks have working guns. One tank rakes the attackers with heavy machine gun fire as it rolls down the street and checks their advance. Another tank fires a round from its large bore cannon. It doesn’t hit—a testament to how often the crews have had actual practice—but it forces the attackers to pause for a brief moment.

Suddenly there’s a screech and a roar as if the world is about to end. Planet shattering explosions follow. New craters form just outside of the city as ice and rock is hurled into the air.

There are three of them. Each one is larger than most buildings in Haven Butte. Each one looks like a creature from hell.

They trudge forward through the haze.

They are Colossi, the epitome of land warfare technology in the solar system. Two are twins—Krakens, each weighing ninety tons and armed with a rail gun and a laser in each arm, dozens of missiles in either side of their barrel torsos, and an anti-missile system on top.

The two Krakens unleash a barrage of nickel ferrous rounds and lasers at the defenders and the surrounding buildings. Skin, meat, and bone disintegrate. Buildings explode and then collapse. One of Haven Butte’s precious tanks erupts in a cascading ball of flame. Another tank has a hole punched in it from a rail gun round and crawls to a halt, smoke billowing from its innards. The crew doesn’t get out.

Leading the Colossus advance is an Oracle. It’s lighter than the Krakens at seventy-five tons. Each arm ends in a heavy and medium laser, and an anti-missile system guards its top. The Oracle is more armor and communications equipment than weaponry. It’s a command unit. All of the attacking troopers wear the crest of Olympus Mons and their noble house, but the Oracle sports long, ceremonial banners of crimson from either side of its bullet-like torso. The House crest flutters in the wind; twin dragons flanking a cog.

Technocrat Lord Rickard d’Helion wades into the fray. He fires his lasers as fast as they can cycle. The Oracle is running hot due to the high rate of fire, but Rickard doesn’t care. Tank armor melts under the onslaught, and the crew inside is fried. An anti-armor team ceases to exist. Squads of infantry in extreme cold weather gear are reduced to burnt meat. Those that survive Rickard’s attacks only live a few more painful moments.

Reports begin to flood over the radio in Rickard’s helmet.

“Zeus, this is Alpha Six, we’ve secured entrance into the city. Squads are advancing on the left flank.” Rickard’s Alpha Company commander, Captain Renner.

“Zeus, this is Beta Six, engaging enemy infantry on the right flank.” Beta Company commander, Captain Watkins.

“Delta Six to Zeus, blocking position set up on the North side of the city. We have captured roughly twenty enemy fleeing the city. Your orders?”

Rickard doesn’t hesitate. “Zeus to Delta Six: no prisoners.”

“Zeus, Delta Six acknowledges.”

There’s the sound of laser discharge and men screaming before Rickard’ s Delta Company commander, Captain Grimes, cuts the transmission.

DRAGON CON

Dragon Con is quickly approaching! This Thursday I will be flying from the small city of Omaha to the wild, bumpin’ metropolis of Atalanta, GA for comic books, video games, animes, and regular nerdish fun.

More info on Dragon Con can be found here: http://dragoncon.org/

It should be a blast. I’m already signed up for a ton of the parties, and I’m told by my friend that I am required to party until 7AM or I drop, whichever comes first. Though in all honesty she’ll be the one struggling to keep up. This ginger always brings his A-Game.

Will I be cosplaying? No. I don’t have room in my bag, and I’ve never really been into the whole dressup thing. Besides, there aren’t a whole lot of notable ginger characters in popular culture. Popular cultures fears we soulless beings.

Will I nerd out? Oh hell yes. I’m taking three pairs of pants and twice as many pairs of underwear just in case.

Will I be there as an author? Technically, no. But I guess I never really drop the label of self-published author. I will not have a booth or set-up. It’ll just be me enjoying my Dragon Con experience. But feel free to say hello. 🙂 And if you’re a fellow self-published author I’d love to talk shop.

Will I be there to plug the miniatures game? No again. The fantasy miniatures game is still in the works. We’re trying to hash out the rules and miniatures, and are still working on getting the loan. Running a business is expensive! But I will have more on that in the coming weeks and months.

Will I party hard? Oh hell yes. If you wanna hang, you had better be ready to stay up till 7AM, and then wake back up at 1PM to do it all again. No excuses, play like a champ! A-Game people! Like Andrew W. K. says, “When it’s time to party, we will always party hard!”

And, of course, I will post updates from the con as I get the chance. Probably as I drag myself out of bed at 1 or 2PM in the afternoon and am dragging at whatever caffeinated drink I can find.

Should be a blast. 🙂

Until next time . . .