Happy New Year! And it's been an interesting year, to be sure.
2008 saw alot of changes. I got married, we then fiance and I purchased our first home which I call a house but most call a condo and the prospect of being published finally loomed! i am sad to say that the published product does not loom so much anymore, as Parables has suffered a breach of contract with our publisher, but it WILL be published. APrable 2 is also in teh pipe and Caroline is doing a bang up smashing job on teh art. I just recieved the first colors today and trust me, this book will be an EVENT.
Looking into the yawning future of tomorrow land seems appropriate for this post, as it is the 6th of January and there is still a lot of the coming year to enjoy. Projects that are coming up are the aforementioned Parables (both of them) and another Nano, though that seems a long way away. I have committed myself to finishing last year's Nano project, and have even drawn a diagram with which to assist this goal. On top of that there are a few other projects: Mirror, Mirror(working title), Practical Magic(working title, I know its been taken before) and a super hero story inspired by a very well done comic 'Noble Causes'.
Things I'm looking forward to this year: snowboarding, purchasing a replacement bike for the one that was stolen last year, purchasing some sort of poisoned/electrified horror lock to protect the past from repeating itself, finishing a large writing project so Tina will have less cause to roll her eyes at my dreams of becoming a real writer :), seeing 'The Watchmen' in theaters, reading 'Hitch-hikers guide to the Galaxy', finishing George RR Martin's existing 'Song of Fire and Ice' books (there will be 3 more, come on Martin!), playing Starcraft 2 (possibly buying a new computer to enjoy it on) and growing as a person.
Man look at that, looks like a myspace blog, all personal and stuff. Here's what matters to you guys!
I do plan on updating more writing here. And given that I have started using google docs as the paper medium for my writing I really think it may work out. For starters I'll include an excerpt from Crosswind Gambit, my Nano project. This scene may not exist in the same way in teh final product, it probably won't, but its a good look at what to expect.
Whats happened is that Caster and Palin (two fo teh main characters) have just escaped from an old Temple that was a prison for three immortals. They infected Palin with a virus, hoping to make Palin their servant, to command him to free them. Instead Palin manges to kill all three and escape with Caster. They are travelling to Tollin city to try and find Palin's family. Caster is an errant, a superhero type and Palin is now infected with a virus that reacts to specialized armor, giving him certain extra normal abilities.
Happy New year You guys and Enjoy,
John, The Writer
.:Homecoming for a godslayer:.
Tollin was chaos.
Whatever had happened here had happened a few days ago and now the city flew the sickle of the Harvesters as well as half a dozen others that Palin didn't understand or remember. The temple had been further than Caster had remembered, at least forty kilometers instead of twenty. It took the better part of two days to hike to the city. Palin found that he didn't get tired and needed far less sleep than normal, making Caster the one that had to frantically keep up. She did so without complaint, using her power to boost her when neccessary to catch up with Palin's relestless run.
They had found the doors in the prison still opperational, though three had been smashed, supposedly by Ibis. the one that led to the temple closest to Tollin was opperational and recognized Caster's blood almost immediantely. Palin had wanted to leave immediantly, but Caster had insisted on taking an hour and burying the three bodies they left behind. Palin had begun to argue when Caster had laughed and said unless he planned to cut the blood out of her himself, he would have to wait. The thought of that scared him and he had relented, helping carry and compose the bodies.
"I do not know what gods pray to, but I will say a few words in my own way." Caster said when Ibis, Anunis and the lady were laid to rest beneath a pile of stone. She had then sung a low and lilting song, mournful and joyful in turns. Caster had a passable alto and Palin found himself being reminded of the summer rains, soothing and cool.
"There, no ghosts will haunt this place." Caster gazed around, "at least no more than haunted it before."
From the temple they had made for a road, one of the main ones that traversed from Tollin to the inner states but found that it was being held by memebers of the Harvesters. Fearing the worst they had travelled as fast as they could across country towatds Tollin, avioding the road and any other civilization as much as possible. They crossed one village, much like Caster's, that was being ransacked and in a calm rage Caster tore down a tree, forcing it though the cab of a military truck. She stopped the pillaging of one house and told the family inside to run. They did, but the looks on their faces told Palin that they were as much afraid of her as they were of the harvester men.
"They don't understand." Palin said, "you did the right thing saving them, even if they don't appreciate it."
Caster nodded but didn't look like she agreed. They took what they could from the harvester's stock, Palin arming himself with a pistol and rifle to replace his that were still half way around the world and down a hole. Both took what they could to replace their clothes, that had become tatters in the time spent in the temples and fighting Ibis. Caster found woman's clothes in one of the huts and clothed herself in blue skirts and a layers of shirts under a light jacket. They were colorful and Palin spoke against them, said that the blacks and army greens would blend better in the deep jungle. Caster said that there were other things to consider and that she was tired of wearing the clothes of unwashed, dead soldiers. Palin couldn't argue.
After the village there was only miles and miles of jungle. Palin still wore the armor in a bag on his back, still suspicious as to it's function. he voiced it once that even though the immortals that forged it were dead, he did not trust it.
"Then why kill for it?" Caster asked. Palin had no answer for that and ran on in silence.
As the distance between them and Tollin grew smaller, Palin grew more and more sullen. At times he would not speak for hours and then only to call some direction or request from Caster. On the second night Caster asked him what was on mind, that all he did was think and brrod lately.
"Tomorrow we'll get there and I'll see it." Palin said poking at their fire with a stick. "For better or worse, I'll see it."
"You don't know what you'll see."
"Maybe I don't." he said, "maybe in my heart I know exactly what I'll find and I don't know what I'm going to do about it."
"That is life's worst plague and greatest gift."
"The great mystery of life." Caster said with a sad smile, "it throws us into it without a care. Men speak of gods, men strive to become gods, but in the end there is only one real master of our lives and that is us. If we walk into the mystery with courage, we can not fail, no matter what we choose or how we fair."
"I wonder where you got so wise." Palin said.
Caster smiled saddly, "everything I am I owe to my father."
"I thought you might say that." Palin nodded, 'what would your father say when he rises the crest tomorrow and looks down at his city in flames?"
"You don't know that for certain." Caster said, "I need sleep. Till morning."
"Till the morning."
Now standing on the ridge that surrounded Tollin city like a fortified wall at the edge of the jungle, Palin watched his city burning. The skyline was there, rising out of the jungle flat like a glass and metal mountain scape and black smoke ringed the tops of them. At the main roads into the city there were harvester vehicles pulled over and towering units of powered armor stood on guard. Over the city six corvettes hovered, once in a while lances of energy stabbed out into the city, reaching out to touch hidden people. Flights of fighters passed over head, their mark a severed head with an eye patch. bands of mercenaries and harvesters roved the outskirts of the city, patrolling in ragged kill squds.
"There it is, buring." Palin said. "but the vaults may be safe, they might be ok."
"What if they're not?"
"My family is safe, they must have made it out alive, they must have. We have to check the vaults."
"Past that?" Caster asked, pointing down into the city, "your family may well be alive, but the only way they are is if they were slaved out or got out of the city before the invasion. Those are their only chances, there isn't another."
"But we need to face that mystery with courage." Palin said grimmly, taking the armor off his shoulder, "and the answers lay in there. I have to go, you don't have to come with me."
"Your family means that much to you, trully?"
"If your father was still alive and you had a chance to save him, even teh smallest chance, wouldn't you take it?"
Caster was silent for a moment. "I saw him shot, I could not save him. Even if he was able to be saved, it was not in my power. I've made peace with that."
"But if you could have, you would have saved him."
"Then you know I have to at least try."
Caster nodded, "then I will come with you. I doubt you will be able to make it through there alone, even with that technology strapped to you." She gestured at teh pieces of armor that Palin was taking from his pack, "do you even know how it works?"
"I think you just put it on... if its based on the old technology they were talking about, then it might be activated through blood. Or energy." Palin said, "Anunis told me I wasn't infected with the Kael virus, but something similar to it. All the histories say that immortals are basically men, but that their organic matter has been converted into a living machine. Everything is still there its just... changed."
"Corrupted." Caster said flattly.
"Whatever it is, the immortals in the stories were able to power devices with their internal power sources. i think it has to do with a changed heart." Palin winced and rubbed at his chest. "Whatever the virus is doing, it's still working at it. THe pain isn't as bad as it was before, but its there, always there."
"I guess the only thing to do for it is to try."
Palin nodded, finishing to array the pieces on the ground in front of him. THere was a half chest plate that covered the shoulders, and came just to the top of his stomache. The piece had been polished and painted black. There was also a belt, greaves and guantlets, each painted the same gigh polish black, smooth and for teh most part unremarkable. The only devise on any of it was a small emblem on the back of the shoulder section, a black white and red circle cut in three parts by a curving line. Everything snapped into place, and Palin could swear that the shoulder pieces molded to him as he was setting them in place.
"Does it fit?" Caster asked, standing backa bit.
"Well enough but I think... oh." Palin felt the belt tighten by itself then a pricking at the base of his spine. "It's doing something to my back I... AHHHHHH..."
The belted plunged itself into Palin's back, and seemed to join with his spine. Alikewise the another spike pushed itself into the base of Palin's neck, driving right into bone and nerves. the guantlets and greaves were lesser pain but still sent spines into his flesh, bonding with the bone beneath. Palin fell to his knees, a scream escaping his lips. Caster rushed to his side, grabbing at the armror with the intention of ripping it off him but Palin stopped her, shaking his head.
"What is it doing to you?" Caster asked, concern on her face.
Palin gritted his teeth and grunted then managed to say, "its working."
Palin felt the armor now, felt the systems it held in it's casing and knew he had access to them. He wasn't certain exactly what all of tehm did, but they were there, ready for him to use at a moments notice. The pain he felt was his body again reconfiguring to let the armor inside, to interface at an unconcious level. He knew the armror wasn't like he was, wasn't living metal, but at teh same time it had a basic intelegence. It knew that Palin was it's power source, and knew how to find that power. It sensed the virus in Palin and reached out to grab it in painful embrace. With effort, Palin stood.
"You can't go in thre like that. Look at them, look at their guns!" Caster said, "you can barely move!"
"It'll get better." Palin said. It already was better, he could feel blood down his back where the armro had bit into his neck, but he could also feel the information it was giving him, pumping distances and ranges right into his mind. Hesitantly he drew teh pistol and raised it up, pointing at one of the tower's in the distance. In a second his vision narrowed and zoomed in on a man sitting on the front of a half track, smoking a cigerette. Palin knew in teh same instant that the pistol didn't have the range to kill the man, that he would have to move five hundred meters closer to be within killing range.
"It's already getting better." He smiled and holstered the gun, "Come on."
From the ridge to the edge of the jungle where Tollin city began was a hazardeous climb. They spotted three scout teams that, had the scouts been attentive, would have alerted those inside the barriers as to their presence. The jungle had been cleared away from teh precise city limits before to make way for progress, but in this time war teh open sapce had become a killing field. Bodies and burt ount husks of machines littered the cratered grass, sapling trees that had started the long process of regrouth were blasted off at the roots. A few salvage teams rooted among the bodies and teh remains of the machines, finding odd things of value to add to thier plunder. Each team was heavily armed and carried the severed head patch on their guns, flack jackets and bare arms. They looked little more than pirates or renegades.
"What now? We can't force our way in." Caster hissed.
"I know, I know..." Palin held his hand to his head in frustrated thought. "We need a disguise... we need... hmm."
"What is it now... oh..."
Palin was watching his arm flicker and fade, turning into something unseen. He was slowly becoming invisible. Palin could feel teh armor doing it for him, in his head the logistics on teh power supply become known to him and he understood that the field could only remain active for little over ten minutes. He would need to act fast.
"I'll create a diversion, you run for the edge." Palin said, parlty mystified that the suit was working for him. "See, aren't you glad I took this thing now?"
"Just be careful. I'll watch for your sign." Caster said.
"You won't be able to miss it." Palin grinned, but Caster didn't see it and neither did she notice when he'd slipped away. Palin skirted around the first two salvage crews working in the killing field and headed closer to a third that was working around a bend in the clearing, partially hidden by buildings. Palin grasped a gerande out of the pack he still wore on his back, one of the explossives that he had relieved form the harvesters in teh village they had come across. Quietly he crept up to teh back of teh truck where the men were working. Listening a moment.
"...Fell like a tree in the forest it did, once the front fell." One of the men said laughing.
"Yeah I know, I was there you idgit."
"Never seen so many flags though, never seen so many pirates and clanners in one spot."
"Never seen so much infighting either... clanners are at each other's throats, it's all teh bloody Duke can do to keep them all in line."
"Yeah but there's worlds for the taking, whole worlds!" The first man said. he was a lean and lank man with patchy hair and a dirt smeared face. His smile was lopsided, like he'd been hit too many times on the wrong side of his face. The other was a bigger man with a pot belly that burst over the top of his trousers. Both wore flak vests and web belts hung with ammunition and small arms. There was another bald man driving the truck, he was reading a magazine while the other two worked, cutting the frame of a shelled out tank apart with torches.
"Sure. Taking is fine, keeping's another thing." The big man stood up striaght, stretching his back from teh crouch he'd been settling himself into. He dree a sharp knife from his belt and picked his teeth wth it. "I'd rather the captain fell in with someone who can keep a world. Arc's only one of the super powers. What happens when teh Spire comes with their black ships, eh? They won't sit there in their temples and just let this be. Or teh Striaghts?"
"Pfft, Striaghts are nothing but pirates with airs." The skinny man said, "look, we're capatilists, this here is only a hostile take over. It's probably not quite as ruthless as what they do everyday, buying lives and wrecking dreams."
"Says the man who's sifting through the bodies of people he killed two days ago."
"Least these poor sorry sods had a fighting chance, they fought back. Way I figure Straigths fights so you can't do anything about it, they don't play fair. They'll be snatching up planets as it pleases then, 'cept they'll do it all fancy and those folks won't even know they been hit fater they done. But they'll be beat just the same."
"Still, if the captain was smart, he'd take what he can, fill our hold and run off again into the negative plane where it's safe." The big man nodded, "if he was smart. Staying around here there's bound to be something that goes wrong."
Palin waited until the truck had gone far enough that he had lost sight of where he'd left Caster before setting the gernade gentlely beside teh gas tanks for the torch. he slipped away as quietly as he could, his exit muffled by idle chatter until he made it thirty feet away from the truck, then the explossion masted his headlong run, fire blossoming behind him. there was only one scream; the others were lost completely in the fireball. In moments there was a ground support craft swooping down to teh site, scanning the ground for intruders. As Palin had hoped, the other salvage teams came running, guns at the ready. For a very brief moment of time there was a small window to get to the city as teh watcher's eyes were elsewhere. Palin hoped it would help that the harvesters and their pirates were trying to keep people in, not out.
Palin could only hope that Caster made it without drawing any attention to herself, he was out of sight of her and had to make his way to the city as quickly as he could; the armor's field would not mask him much longer. The city welcomed him wearily when he stepped into it's boundries, like an old friend that Palin had long left a long time ago. It had changed, of course, all things change in teh face of war, but there was still the things that made Tollin city, Tollin city. The edge was estate, their green lawns were mostly still green, though some had been driven over leaving deep tracks in the soft earth. Some houses were obviously ransacked, their doors wide open and banging in the mid morning breezes. The streets were deserted, something that never happened.
The Glass Towers still rose in the skyline, four monsterous towers that housed some of the larger corporate firms in Tollin city stood out like steel swords, now from their heights three massive flags were flown, two of teh Harvester sickle and one with a pirates flag. More sky scrapers huddled around those four, but did not match their heights and Palin could see that at least of the office complexes was blown out and smoking. Smoke was still everywhere, remrants of the battle that had taken the city. Palin remembered the bio sphere, the parks and the water art that dotted Tollin's landscape. Even though he couldn't see them, he knew that they would have been spared; excepting the possibility of a stray shot. There was nothing of value in the real things that Made Tollin city home for him. Still war had marred it all.
Shaking off the feeling of a son coming home, Palin set off circling the estates, back to where he thought Caster might have entered the city. Around him his body shimmered back into sight and there was a pang of pain through his heart. Rubbing at his chest, Palin wondered if the pain would ever get better or if it was a product of the armor's abilities. When the field was active he could feel the power it was taking from him, draining away at his source. He wondered if the armor was allowed if it would completely drain away his life, killing him. Palin decided that he would have to find out if that were true. Every gift had it's price.
Caster found him, in the end. She had broken into a house a block in and had found an upper story bedroom where the window commanded a view of the street and the next few blocks. She saw him creeping through the back yards and came down to him, waving him into the house.
"There's food." She explained, "this place must have a generator, the power still works. I found food and a radio."
"Did you have any trouble getting across the field."
Caster nodded, "a little. There was a plane that was on spreading out. It was probably searching for you. It came close to the jungle and then veered away. I made it to the buildings just as another patrol was coming from the other direction."
"But you made it? No one saw you?"
"I'm here aren't I?" Caster said, "why the concern?"
"You." Palin was quiet for a moment, "you could have stayed behind. it would have been safer."
"You don't know that. They could have began shelling the jungle, just for fun. They seem capable of anything." She said, "besides, right now I am standing beside a man who killed three immortals. A man that might be a champion."
Palin pushed past her into the house. "I'm not a champion. Where's the food?"
There was leftover bread and some meat in the freezer. Caster turned out to be well versed in the kitchen, making a simple stew. Palin suddenly became aware of just how hungry he was, teh smells of the cooking meat and broth making his stomach rumble. The radio was satalite, conecting to the common braodcast stations but most of the bands were quiet. Palin played with it until he found a station broadcasting a pirate signal.
"... it is day eight of the great Raid, Hall is at it's knees and the Great Harvest Duke is firmly placed as the leader of this new superpower! Glory to the Duke! In his mercy he pleads with those in hiding to show themselves and give themselves over to his new great regeme! Glory to teh Merciful Duke! He also has a message to all those who harbor feelings of mistrust and anger towards our new institution; your attempts at rebelling at pitiful and misguided. All those that defy, will be struck down. This is for teh good of the whole, all the people of Hall will benifit!"
"The Duke's ranks grow each day. This very hour three more corvettes have pledged aligance to the Harvest Duke, these under the command of Aurther Fell, and his some two hundred strong pirate hold. Word has reached us of two entire clans that wish to allign themselves with the Harvest Duke and share in teh spoils of this war! Great is our Duke! Once Hall is completely ours, it is in his eyes to take more planet holds, liberating the colonies one at a time from the tyrany of the Arc..."
Palin turned the dial, disgusted.
"It is only propaganda." Caster said, putting a large bowl filled with stew in front of him and curling up into a large overstuffed chair. "they mean to aggitate the people of this city, of this land. They can not hold this place."
"No, but they can take what they will and burn everything else to the ground." Plain growled.
"This I know, this I have seen." Caster said, poking at her food with a fork, "I do not need to be told. We could wait them out here, if you wish, or search for your family though I do not think you will find them here."
"Or find my unit..."
"Whatever is left of you unit, it is not the same. More likely you could attach yourself to some ragtag rebellion. there is sure to be resistance, gurialla warfare. It is the only way to hinder a force of this size when your resources are limited."
"I want to see the vaults." Palin said, looking out the window, "We'll stay here for now, and go there tonight."
Caster lifted her bowl of stew in a toast, "until tonight then."