That’s right folks, you can now get the highly acclaimed urban fantasy anthology, Shadeskin, in a dead tree version!
Get your copy today!
I love writing in multiple genres at the same time. It works my brain all the way around, sloshing the creative juices everywhere. Now that Supremacy: Reformation is officially off the ground, I need to tell you about my cross-pollination with urban fantasy.
About three years ago, I wrote a short story involving angels and demons, completely ignorant of just how big the urban fantasy genre had become. The story itself wasn’t really that great, so I shelved the idea hoping it would ferment a little more. Well, after the whole Twilight craze drove me insane, I knew I had to bring something different to the UF table to wash away the embarrassing image of sparkling vampires.
I promptly dug up my story and presented to my writers’ group an idea of creating our own UF anthology set in my world. We put our three imaginations together and created Shadeskin, a story of light and shadow set in our hometown of Shreveport, LA. It is a collection of five inter-weaving tales that re-envision the typical angel/demon archetypes. Trust me, you haven’t read anything like this before.
As proof, here is a preview of the first story, Walk the Crimson Path, written by yours truly.
Walk the Crimson Path
The axehead scraped along the concrete, leaving behind a trail of warm blood. Blackened viscera clung to its sharp edges. Awash in red, a thin hand wrapped tightly around its handle and pulled it along with a stammering jerk. Escaping the carnage behind them, pale feet stumbled before the crimson path.
The rising sun kissed the face of the young woman dragging the axe. Shadows crept around her, hiding from the growing rays of light. Her long, black hair, matted with blood, lay flat against her back. She staggered along until finally reaching the street curb.
“So, this is destiny,” she whispered, a forced smile curving her lips.
Several bystanders gathered around her. Proud to be a spectacle, she smiled and drank in their fear and confusion. One man summoned the courage to follow the bloody trail into the nightclub. He didn’t last long before running back outside and vomiting over the pavement.
She admired his tenacity. On any normal day, he or anyone else in the crowd might have been able to alert the authorities, but she knew the force permeating their minds weighed them down. Their eyes were glazed over.
In the still air, the young woman’s hair began to sway at the approach of a powerful entity. A cloud of unnatural darkness materialized behind the bystanders, drawing their gaze. A man stepped regally from the cloud and walked toward her. The crowd parted to make way for his purposeful stride. Renewed fear sparked inside everyone, save for her.
“Where does your destiny take you?” he asked.
“To you,” she replied, feeling her ties to the physical realm loosening. It felt like she was awakening from a dream.
“Now,” he said, his voice cutting the air with finality, “You are mine. Hold on to this.”
He brought her in for an intimate kiss. The moment their lips connected, a peaceful wave rolled through her. Quivering under his power, she let go of the axe and wrapped her arms around his strong neck. The axe handle slapped the concrete, flinging droplets of blood. A surge of warmth resounded within her heart, healing all the torment she had so recently endured.
The sun’s light faded, withdrawing its warm touch from her face. She held on to him for stability as the pavement dissolved. A multitude of sensations charged through her. Opening her eyes, she was alone in darkness. Then, she began falling.
Clara’s furious eyes bore through her mother’s gentle stare. Her father had quickly bowed out of the argument to steel himself in the living room.
“How many times do I need to make my point?” Clara asked through clenched teeth. “You manufacture conspiracies from the tiniest actions of any company that works with the government, especially when it comes to things you don’t even understand, like internet security. Mandrake Solutions is your latest target only because I have a chance to work for them!”
“Conspiracies?” her mother replied. “This is about you turning your back on your father and me to prove a point. Just by taking this interview, you are opening yourself up to a world of corruption. You should know to stay true to your values and not involve yourself with malicious people. We taught you better than that.”
“Oh yes, fearing everything was a great lesson.” Sarcasm dripped through Clara’s words, “In school, I was the weird kid that couldn’t eat the cafeteria food because of its ‘poisonous content’ implanted by the government. It took me forever to convince you that cell phones were safe from wandering ears. I am still shocked you relented on that one.”
“Clara, I know working for a top security firm may seem like a valuable societal contribution, but can’t you see the danger? You will be connected to sensitive areas of our government that will make you a high-profile target. I am just trying to shield you now like I did when you were young. You paint me as an over-zealous mother during your childhood, but, just like then, you are still too young to see the oncoming storms.”
“Mom, this isn’t the Cold War. There aren’t covert agents living among us, planning assassinations for everyone. We live in an information age where our digital lives need protection. I will shield you, even if you don’t appreciate or understand it.”
“Please, rethink this. You have enough talent to work for anyone you choose. Take an interview with any other company, just not Mandrake, not with government contracts. I just-” she paused, her face wincing with thought. ”Believe me, you will understand one day when you-”
“When I grow up?” Clara interrupted. “I am grown up. You can keep your conspiracies while I escape this prison and enter the real, rational world.”
Her mother clutched at the side of her burnt-orange skirt with nervous fingers. A tear formed in the corner of her eye, but she escaped Clara’s room before it fell.
Clara instantly regretted driving her mother to tears again. She heard her father trying to calm her down in the living room. Clara stood fuming in the middle of her room, waiting for the inevitable. After a few minutes, her father appeared in the doorway. Tall and slender, he was the pole that kept their rocking gondola stable.
“I try not to fight with her, Dad,” Clara offered.
He just smiled and hugged her. ”She knows that, but you two are so stubborn and entrenched in your own ideals that neither of you will yield. Not even for peace’s sake.”
“True,” she laughed, looking up into his dark, comforting eyes. A cloud of stubble shadowed his face.
“Remember, Clara, this world is yours to conquer, but at least pay some attention to what we say. We aren’t as crazy as you might think.”
“Just eccentric,” she playfully responded, her anger subsiding.
“The time will come when your perspective will change.” He put his hand on top of her head. ”You’ll always be my little girl, no matter how tall you get or how far you travel.”
“Nathan, we need to go,” her mother called from the kitchen.
Clara looked in her mother’s direction. ”Tell her I’m sorry.”
“Make a little time tonight to stop by the club and tell her yourself.” Nathan leaned in and kissed her on the forehead. He gently squeezed her shoulder before rushing off.
Clara sighed and fell backward onto her bed, cushioned by a mountain of pillows. Her ceiling fan rotated, laughing at her with its periodic squeaking. She lifted a round pillow over her head and punched it a few times before laying it on her stomach. She could almost feel the ‘negative energy’ swirling around the room. Her mother certainly had an odd way of seeing the world.
From the moment she was born, Clara was set up for failure. Her parents thought the world of their only child, but they never grounded her in reality. Instead, they spoiled her into thinking she was special with bedtime stories about how she would someday save the world. While harmless for a young child, the stories didn’t stop as she grew older and instead transformed into prophecy.
As a budding teen, Clara’s talent for re-telling her destiny just seemed weird. The captivated audience she was used to began rolling their eyes and trying to switch the subject to music and boys. Clara, the fated savior of the world, watched her social life go up in flames.
The ‘special’ food she carried to school each day tasted more like ash the longer she was alone. No one believed her anymore about how her food kept her safe from dangerous toxins. The fact she had never seen a real doctor created rumors she couldn’t escape. At first she hated the kids at school for their cruelty, but by high school, she realized her parents had done this to her with their crazy beliefs.
The constant supply of rumors branded her an outcast. Ostracized, she accepted her true fate as the weird kid. She hated her parents every lonely minute of high school. However, they were still her parents and for all their numerous flaws, at least they nurtured her academic side. By the time she graduated, she had outpaced her classmates in every scholastic measure.
Thankfully, college evened things out, allowing her a taste of normal life with actual friends. She started life anew with a clean slate. No longer would she allow anyone to know her as the ‘false destiny chick.’ The sooner she moved away from her parents, the sooner her childhood scars would heal.
The muffled sounds of closing doors announced Clara was alone in the house. Friday nights initiated the nightclub cycle, and her parents offered the best, non-conformist experience down at the Hookah Palooka. They hated it when Clara referred to it as a ‘hippie bar,’ even if it was true.
She sat up on the edge of her bed and looked in her vanity mirror. Frizzled auburn hair fell just past her shoulders. Murky rings cupped her brown eyes, reminders of her argument with her mother. Still, she remained fixed on her goal of shining in her interview with Mandrake.
A pop song burst through the silent air, signaling an incoming call. Clara reached for her phone, her face lighting up after seeing the caller ID.
“Hey,” she answered.
“Hey you,” Drake replied. “Have any plans tonight?”
“Just avoiding my mother. We clashed pretty fantastically today.” Her voice shook more than she realized.
“Yeah, you sound out of it. More speeches about how you’re wasting your life?”
“Of course. She wants to shelter me from everything, and I am beginning to realize that nothing I ever say will change her mind.” The memory of that earlier conversation burned inside her head.
“Mothers,” Drake said sarcastically, ”They think you owe them your life because they made a decision to bring you into this world.”
“Ha. I like to pretend it doesn’t bother me, but I only lie to myself.”
“Well, keep reaching for your dreams and take her advice where you can. It’s not like she wants you to fail. She still loves you.”
“I know,” Clara admitted. ”It’s just lately, I have been really stressed about this interview.”
“I don’t think any of the other interview candidates can even hold a candle to you.”
“You mean the ones coming from Ivy League?”
“Hey, optimism always wins out, and when it comes to intellect, you have it all,” Drake said firmly.
“I wish I had your cheery disposition.”
“Do you want some of it tonight?”
Clara looked at her computer desk where stacks of books surrounded her cherry-red laptop. “I have a few more things to look over.”
“You need to unwind sometime in the near future.” He seemed a bit pleading.
“I will, just as soon as this interview is over.”
“I will definitely take you up on that.”
“I was hoping you would,” she said, bringing the conversation to a close. Hopefully he wasn’t as dejected as he sounded.
“Ok. I love you.”
She hung up before realizing she had not reciprocated. She started to call him back, but the doorbell rang. She rose from her bed with a sigh and headed to the front door.
A haze of sunlight filtered into the living room through vertical blinds covering a pair of French doors. Past the doors lay a well-kept back yard. A couch and a pair of easy chairs sat around a glass coffee table in the center of the room. Her mother’s tea grew cold in a yellow mug near the table’s edge.
The doorbell rang a few more times before Clara made it to the door, inciting her to fling it open in frustration. Louisiana’s humid summer air greeted her with its wet kiss. She stepped outside and looked around the bend of the house to find no one. Studying for this interview must be more draining than she thought.
She moved back to her room. Opportunity wafted from the stack of books surrounding her computer as she sat at her desk. She cracked open the book on mathematical graph theory she had been reading before her mother’s earlier interruption. Pages of handwritten notes sat wedged throughout, representing the milestones of her college course. Most students never understand the close relationship math shares with computer science, but when it comes to digital security, the two are inseparable.
Her mind floated into the pages of her studies. Information flooded back to her while she read, reminders of a simpler time. Only now did she see the real-world application of what she had learned, and Mandrake would be most interested in the interview candidate who clearly demonstrated such insights. Competition was fierce, but so was she. Well, at least Drake believed in her.
The doorbell rang again, breaking her concentration. Annoyed, she threw her book onto her bed and went back to open the door. A cloud passed overhead, toning down the cheery light in the living room. She opened the door and again saw no one. She let out a frustrated sigh.
Instantly, a loud banging noise snapped her attention to the French doors. A human shadow cast on the blinds wildly slammed its fists into the glass. Clara froze in place, paralyzed with fear.
“Help me!” the shadow screamed desperately before collapsing onto the ground.
Clara’s limbs awakened at once and she rushed to the French doors, quickly sliding the blinds aside. Instead of lying on the ground, the figure leaned upright against the glass, startling her. She fell backward onto the hardwood floor in surprise. A thin young woman with long, dark hair looked down at her through a pair of black over-sized sunglasses.
A chill tingled Clara’s spine, sucking her breath away. She screamed inwardly, commanding herself to move, but she remained pinned to the floor. Fear sliced into her heart like a knife.
The woman swung an axe into the French doors. Harsh lines of cracked glass grew outward from the center of the door. With a twisted smile, she thrust the axe straight into the door, blowing tiny shards of glass into the house.
Clara felt a dark presence reach in and touch her soul. She rolled onto her hands and knees, clawing at the floor in a frantic dash to the front door. The woman laughed softly behind her.
Clara grabbed the edge of the coffee table and pulled herself up. The woman buried the axe deep into her lower back. Clara slammed onto the coffee table, spilling her mother’s tea. She screamed through the pain, trying to crawl across the table.
Bare feet landed on either side of her. The axe tore into her side, cracking through bone. Clara curled around it, trying to hold it in place. With a quick jerk, the axe swept out again, taking with it a chunk of flesh. Clara lurched onto her back and screamed until blood poured from her mouth, choking her voice.
Feeling the cold metal of the axehead press against her neck, she looked up in terror at her assailant. The woman bent down, placing her lips next to Clara’s ear.
The woman spoke in a gentle, impassive voice, ”Your vision is too narrow, but only through this pain will you expand it. Tear your heart in half and bury your soul.”
The woman jumped off the table and exited through the front door, leaving it open. Clara looked outside, feeling throbbing pain numb her body. Carefree birds sang her eulogy. She reached for them, wishing they would save her. Blood seeped between her fingers over the glass of the coffee table. Daylight faded away, leaving her in darkness.
End of Demo
I hope you enjoyed this snippet. For the full experience, look for the release of Shadeskin soon in print and ebook.
The digital revolution has permanently transformed the world of publishing and given us access to novels from nearly every electronic device thrown our way. Whether you choose to read on the Nook, Kindle, iPad, or smartphone, you have untethered access to a mountain of unassailable content. How can you even find time to finish just one?
While the art of the written word will always have the novel, I think a new approach is needed for this new age of digital reading. Everyone loves a good story, but few really want to put in the effort required to sit through an entire novel. Well, I have the solution.
About a year ago, my good friend B.L. White came up with an idea of breaking down an epic story into smaller, self-contained episodes that would be quicker to write and get out to readers. This may not be a new concept, but it is one that should be revived since the digital platform is perfect for it. Why wait for a whole novel to be finished when we, the authors, can write the same story inside episodic bites for you to digest throughout the year?
I Shall Not Rest in Peace is the first episode in White’s Void Voyage series. Clocking in at around 33K words, it will take the average person about three hours to read. That is much more manageable for a time-constrained reader than something like George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones. Plus, you still get the benefit of an epic storyline as more episodes are released.
I’m not quite as wordy as White, so episodes in my own series, Supremacy: Reformation, average 10K words, allowing you to read each of them in about an hour. Now, I’m sure everyone has an hour to spare this week to enjoy a good story. Besides, what else are you going to do? Watch a couple episodes of Teem Mom and Jersey Shore?
Void Voyage and Supremacy: Reformation can both fit into your hectic schedule. Just grab your digital device of choice and download them!
Buy Episode 1 of Supremacy: Reformation:
Buy Void Voyage 1: I Shall Not Rest in Peace:
I know you are an excited Redditor who just can’t wait to shout out to the depths of the internet that your book is available for consumption, but hold up for just one minute. Your first inclination will probably be to promote yourself on Reddit. It makes sense: you are an avid Redditor, fellow Redditors should appreciate your work for that fact alone, so why not? Well, it doesn’t really work like that and here is why:
First of all, Reddit is a quirky community of hipster-hating-hipsters that are so self absorbed in their parents’ basements that they will take any excuse to downvote you. So, when they see some post about another Redditor who has self-published a book, they just roll their eyes and immediately click the upside-down arrow in hopes that all your beloved dreams will be crushed just like theirs.
Let’s say, for instance, you have finished a book called, I don’t know, Supremacy: Reformation. Let’s even say that you intend to tell the story in episodic bites that only take an hour to read, giving those with the busiest of schedules an opportunity to participate in an epic science fiction story. Well, Reddit won’t care, even though they could be reading the first episode while they ride the tram or other strange, non-US types of transportation.
They won’t even care that they will be directly helping the plight of a 99%er since they will be giving their entertainment dollars directly to you instead of some jerk, 1%er publisher. No, all they will do is make some comment about, “here we go again…” or “400th repost this week…”. So, the first thing not to do is make a post on Reddit.
Another great temptation will be to submit one of your own blog entries about your book to Reddit. This is another classic recipe for disaster for nearly the same reasons I stated above. No one here cares about your blogspam and submitting your own blog entries seems kind of desperate, anyway. So, don’t do it!
Actually, I don’t think there is anyway that Reddit could be used to promote your book. Maybe you could set up your post as an Imgur link, because everyone blindly clicks on those. Other than that, though, nothing will even remotely work. You will be permanently relegated to the bottom of the Reddit barrel.
So, in short Reddit hates you and your book. Have a good life.
TL;DR Don’t make posts like this one to promote your book unless it’s on imgur.
The wait is officially over! The first episode of the epic Reformation series in the Supremacy universe is out now! Get your copy for only 99¢ at any of these fine retailers: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords.
This is just the first of many episodes in this series. Each episode’s reading time is around an hour.
With the rest of the galaxy shrouded in darkness, the Second Order stands as humanity’s last bastion of hope until the gods return. Its citizens cling to their emperor who rules with the divine mandate bequeathed him. However, many question his loyalty to the gods saying that he has supplanted them.
In this episode, a Priestess of the Communication Order leads a covert mission that heralds the beginning of a new era for the Second Order. For when the gods return, they will find a people ready to receive them instead of slaves to an emperor.
The stage is all set for the official Minecraft release here at Minecon. All Notch has to do is pull that lever and unleash the final build to the public.
Thousands of us are crammed into the ballroom at the Mandalay Bay anxiously waiting for the opening presentation.
My friends and I have speculated that the creeper on the stage will explode into the blocks on the left and our hero, Notch, will pop out to greet his horde.
Get ready, because the first episode of Supremacy: Reformation will drop in one week on November 22, 2011. This will be the first of many episodes in the Supremacy: Reformation series. Each will sell for $0.99 at all the major, online retailers including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.
For your $0.99, I will give you about an hour’s worth of quality story. Now, even the busiest, most ADD person can enjoy an epic scifi tale. Not to mention you can read it on most all smart phones and tablets.
With the rest of the galaxy shrouded in darkness, the Second Order stands as humanity’s last bastion of hope until the gods return. Its citizens cling to their emperor who rules with the divine mandate bequeathed him. However, many question his devotion to the gods saying that he has supplanted them. The emperor’s own brother secretly leads a new movement to reform the Second Order and empower its citizens.
When the gods return, who will be left standing to receive them?
It’s been a long time coming, but the release of my first science fiction work, Supremacy: Reformation, lies just over the horizon. While I am nailing down the final publication details, I thought I might share a bit of it to whet your appetites. Here is the beginning of Episode 1 for your enjoyment…
A virtual canvas enveloped the Priestess, bringing with it the instant disorientation of floating in sheer emptiness. Surrounded by white light, she steadied her hands out in front of her to gain her bearings. In this space, she felt closest to the gods. While they lay imprisoned far away in the depths of Earth, she relished their light that shone brightly here in her own canvas. Their divine touch seeped deep into her soul, imparting her with much needed strength.
Imagining what she needed to see, a gray sphere swelled out from a infinitesimal point until it was at least as tall as she. Slowly, it began rotating as its surface texturized and morphed into the blues and greens of the planet Centros. Eight teardrop continents spread out uniformly around its equator creating a tall belt that pushed its oceans to the northern and southern poles. Black gridlines faded onto is surface, highlighting an imaginary coordinate system.
A tiny, silver disc formed above each of the continents, representing the major starports guarding the Capitol of the Second Order. She reached out and held her hand above Station Omega, the premier starport, as it rotated in front of her. The virtual planet halted at her command. She swept her hands out from the station painting a silver curtain of satellites and smaller starports that covered the remaining orbital space around Centros.
“Guide me, Sythranos,” the Priestess whispered digging her fingers into the virtual planet and spinning it along its axis until it again rotated.
The gods’ light flowed through her, spilling out from her eyes in silver beams. The empty whitespace housing her and the virtual representation of Centros faded to black revealing specks of distant, twinkling stars. With the rest of the solar system forming around her, she looked back at Centros. At this point, her scaled model should be real-time. She reached out and tapped it to activate the com stream display.
The orbital network glowed with a multitude of colored lights representing the type and density of network traffic traveling through the various starports and satellites. Falling into a trance, she connected with all the streams flowing around the planet. Piercing light shone out of her eyes taking in the network on a deeper level.
Mundane station agendas, civilian broadcasts, and thousands of other types of traffic rushed through her head like a cacophony of sound in an empty theater. Through all the noise, she listened for a very specific communication set. After several minutes, she never heard it.
All felt normal; they had arrived without detection.
Lt. Commander Nova sat in the commander’s chair on the bridge of the Silver Link pouring over the information crawling along the holoscreens in front of her. The ship’s computers ran through various levels of diagnostics and exchanged information with Station Omega to once again verify their authenticity and mission. As if it wasn’t enough that they had to practically run a gauntlet just docking with the station, the station authorities demanded yet another level of red tape to cut through.
Initially, it all seemed excessive to Scarlett Nova, but considering the Emperor’s personal residence lay a few hundred kilometers below them on the surface of Centros, perhaps the endless security layers were not so exorbitant. Fortunately, she had drilled the importance of perfect protocol into the minds of the bridge crew to the point that everyone reacted from instinct.
Making a circular gesture with her index finger, the holoscreens disappeared, opening her view from the command chair floating directly in the center of the spherical bridge. The crew workstations lined up against the forward bulkhead, following its curvature back around. Only two-thirds were filled, highlighting their understaffed crew. She looked around, ensuring no one had any difficulty with the security protocols imposed by the station.
Peering down over the side of her chair, she saw the pilot strapped into his cockpit at the vertex of the bridge. He gave her a thumbs up while continuing to interact with the holoscreens that wrapped around him. She smiled, returning his gesture. No ship had a better crew.
“Status reports, now,” she ordered while circling her index finger back around. Her holoscreens popped back up catching a flood of reports. Proud of her well-trained crew, she worked through them quickly, . Eventually, the station responded with its traditional acceptance message, releasing the authorization to unload their cargo.
“Finally,” she said under her breath while sending a ping down to Chief Ralisk in the cargo bay.
“Chief Ralisk here, Lieutenant Commander,” he answered.
“The station has just now confirmed our authorization to unload our cargo. You may begin at your discretion.”
“Acknowledged,” Ralisk replied.
Scarlett ended the ping and glanced over to the hatch separating the bridge from Priestess Jade’s meditation chamber. Everything on the ship was running as smoothly as possible, now it was up to the Priestess to prepare the way for them to complete their mission. So much had been risked coming here to Centros, but she would follow the Priestess, her Commander, to the end no matter the outcome. Not even the Emperor himself could tear them apart.
Chief Ralisk turned from the communication console and looked down the nearly empty cargo bay of the Silver Link,, visualizing how to arrange all their cargo. The bay was a tall, hexagonal prism with two, long doors angling into each other on either side. Each door lead to one of the four cargo modules clamped against the outer hull of the ship. Station Omega didn’t allow direct module unloading for cargo transfers which forced him into pulling all their cargo down into the main bay first, before shuffling it onto the station.
His 15-man crew held onto the railings lining the door to module 1, patiently waiting for him to run through the typical drill. Everyone in the bay was equipped with standard loading suits that insulated them from the void of space and enhanced their strength, counter-balanced by a pulse-jet at their back. He pushed off the floor and floated up to meet them.
“Mission is simple: pull down the cargo and push it onto the station. Due to its sacred nature, we must handle it by hand without any loading drone assistance,” he said, noticing a few of them subtly shaking their heads. He added, ”despite your personal feelings, this is a very serious issue with the Commander. We are here to serve.”
They nodded their heads in forced agreement, probably rolling their eyes behind the veils of their helmets. Imparting correct mission philosophy into his crew didn’t concern him. They would do the job for which they had been hired.
He swept his hand across the bioprint pad and the door folded away in sections along the length of the bay, revealing several neat rows of mag-locked cargo cubes. The crew activated their pulse-jets, gliding up into the module to begin dissection of the conglomerate before them.
Paring up against each three-meter cube, the crew grabbed their disc-shaped pushbots from their belts and tossed them toward the cargo. The pushbots spun to life and attached to the corners of the cubes, deactivating the mag-locks. With the pushbots adding the necessary maneuverability, the crew began pulling the containers down into the main bay.
Chief Ralisk sent a confirmation ping to the bridge. ”We have started unloading, Lieutenant Commander.”
With the orbital network running nominally, Priestess Jade looked more closely at Station Omega and the surrounding vicinity. She cupped an invisible sphere in front of her and drew her hands apart watching as the virtual Centros grew in size until it was about four times as tall as she. The glowing lines of network traffic reorganized themselves for optimum viewing at a higher detail level.
Twenty-two red triangles marked damaged satellites in an otherwise perfect communication network spreading out from Station Omega. She had been ordered by the Communication Council to repair and upgrade them as they were an important asset to the Emperor and Centros. Ahead of schedule, the Council would be pleased with her progress.
“It is your light I renew here, Sythranos,” she prayed quietly to her patron diety. ”Hide it from our Emperor, his own ego has subverted your mandate for the Second Order. Shield us from his watchful gaze in the approaching hours so that we may bring about your swift return.”
She looked past the damaged satellites to the city that lay below Station Omega on the surface, Centros Prime. The silver pouring out of her eyes mingled with the city and reflected back at her. The gods were with her, comforting her during this trial. She felt an answer to her prayers burn through her heart.
Centros Prime shined brighter against the gray mountains that protected it, creating the illusion the planet had a giant, teal eye, the Eye to the Stars, as some called it. Jade looked directly into the center, wondering if the Emperor ever looked out beyond Centros. The city shone so bright, it would be hard for anyone to look past it.
Jade spread her hands apart and then brought them back together, trying to shrink her model back down. It didn’t move. She tried again, but nothing happened. A dull lance of teal light shot up from the city, engulfing her face. She jerked away, but the light held her in place. A shadow crawled through her mind, undoing her sense of security. Everything faded away from the planet until she was left with the Eye staring up at her, issuing a silent challenge.
The Order cannot survive outside my hands, Priestess, a voice spoke inside her head. Strong and firm, it could only be the Emperor. Why do you stand alongside my brother while he commits sedition?
“I stand with the gods!” She answered.
The eye, still vaguely resembling a city enclosed by mountains looked at her, lifeless. A familiar power emanated from it, cutting to her core. I am the servant they sent to lead you, the Emperor reminded her.
“No, they entrusted you to follow their leadership, not to take up your own mantle.”
One in the same.
She cried out, trying to grasp onto anything, but only finding empty space. The Eye burned into her, searching through her memories for buried secrets.
“He is here!” Her own voice echoed through the chamber without her having spoken the words.
Instantly, gray walls rose up around her. She thrashed around in vertigo until slamming her shoulder into a solid wall. She reeled back and found herself backed into the corner of her meditation chamber, or what passed for it, on the Silver Link. The small room was completely empty, but had enough space for a modest office setup, as was customary for most ship commanders. The Priestess, however, only needed space to think.
“A vision,” she said, calming herself down.
She made a small gesture with her hand and a holoscreen popped in front of her, displaying her reflection. A black cord of hair snaked over her right shoulder contrasting with the silver of her eyes. A hint of fear flushed her sharp face. The navy blue of her uniform sparked up a renewed determination within her as she looked at the commander’s insignia on her collar.
She closed out the holoscreen and pushed off the wall to float toward the hatch. It opened before her and she floated out onto the bridge to see her crew working diligently under Scarlett’s command.
“Commander on deck!” Scarlett called out, bringing everyone to attention.
“As you were,” Jade replied, floating up to the command cluster to take her chair. Scarlett gracefully moved to the one next to it.
“Everything is in order out here, Commander,” Scarlett reported. Her short, auburn hair curved down past her ears, giving determination to her young, round face.
Jade looked into her green eyes finding strength. In a low voice, she said, ”No, during my preparation, I was warned by a vision. We have been compromised.”
After finally getting Supremacy: Reformation out of editing limbo and under the watchful eyes of a few demo readers, I will have to again delay its release. I received some excellent feedback earlier this week from one of said readers, and his comments are forcing me to rethink my entire opening. I try not to be too perfectionist with my work, but in this case, it is completely justified.
I refuse to release anything half-baked. So, for all you readers out there eagerly waiting to see what kind of sci-fi I can write, you will just have to wait a bit longer. And for all you readers who have yet to discover me, you don’t really care right now, but as soon as you do get your hands on a reworked version of Supremacy: Reformation, you will be thanking me I took some extra time
Trust me, the wait will be worth it. The opening to a story is the most important part because if a reader is not hooked from the beginning, it will be an uphill climb for the rest of the journey. We have all read books like this and I will not do this too you. Supremacy: Reformation i s just too important to me.
Strap in to your reading chair and crawl through other authors’ imaginations while I take a little time to pour on the awesome sauce. Even with all the changes I am thinking of making, I still should be able to release toward the end of April, so you only have to wait a month at the most.
Speaking of delays, at least I am not the one who had to delay a project that had already been delayed for 14 years:
While I do not have any firm release dates yet for Supremacy: Reformation, I do have something to whet your appetite. To appreciate the full breadth of the story you need to start at the absolute beginning anyway.
Behold! The mythos that fuels the Reformation series inside the Supremacy universe:
At the Origin, the two supreme entities of Light and Dark filled everything with their power. Light was an open expanse anchored at its center by a sphere of formless mass. Dark was a brooding void fueled by logic and reason. They both distanced themselves from each other, content to exist independently. Eventually, Dark desired ultimate control and reached out to steal Light’s mass. Light resisted, and thus began their eternal struggle.
They each pulled on the sphere unwilling to relent. The strain escalated until the mass exploded, leaving a ring that marked the line at which both entities had gripped it. The rest of the mass traveled outward, escaping both entities.
In anger, Dark swallowed Light with its void, dispersing it into pockets of small remnants that became the stars. Light reached out through the stars, grabbing at the exploded mass until it swirled around, forming the galaxies. As the universe began to take shape, the energy from the two supreme entities that at one time filled everything, faded into mere background noise.
The ring of mass broke apart into forty shards. The power of both Light and Dark mixed within, birthing a consciousness. The shards transformed into bipedal creatures of immense power, able to control space and time. They were the Gods.
The Gods saw the beautiful universe congealing around them, but felt it lacked meaning. Focusing on a single galaxy, they cultivated numerous planets and populated them with creatures of all sorts, but they were not satisfied. They held a council and decided they should create a new being closer to themselves—one they could commune with. So, they created humanity.
They gave humanity a consciousness and form similar to their own, but did not give it any power above imagination. The Gods foresaw that human imagination was the only tool it needed to thrive, and thrive it did. Soon, the entire galaxy was inhabited with the Gods’ paramount creation.
Humanity was grateful for its existence and lived to serve the will of the Gods. The Gods rewarded humanity with technology forged by their own divine hands and beyond human comprehension. Humanity used this technology to further enrich its society, ushering in an era of complete peace.
The Gods divided humanity into five Orders across the galaxy to better rule its creation. Each Order had its own collection of denizens that used their specialized talents to serve the galactic community. Every person born fit perfectly within his or her Order and fulfilled a necessary role. Everyone’s needs were met by their own hard work.
The Gods were pleased with their creation.
Discontent sparked inside one of the humans by the name of Xylus. Dreams of usurping the Gods and ruling the galaxy himself played through his mind. A mysterious longing within his soul drew him to a forgotten portion of the galaxy where the powers of Dark remained strong. He called out to the supreme entity, offering himself over to it. Dark answered his malice with a horde of demons from the depths of space that followed his every command.
With his newly found power, Xylus brought war upon the unsuspecting Gods and began the Fall. The entire galaxy burned in an unprecedented era of violence and darkness. War raged on for centuries as both sides vied for humanity’s ultimate destiny.
The Fall ravaged the galaxy and nearly destroyed the ancient Orders, but in the end, Xylus stood victorious. He imprisoned the Gods on a planet far from the galactic core, called Earth. He purged all memory of the planet from the official records and ensured no one would ever come near it again. Xylus even covertly spread misinformation about its location to keep it hidden and forgotten. With the Gods cast down, he ascended to godhood.
Xylus began reshaping the galaxy as he wanted, but he never suspected that the Gods had been the only force suppressing Dark. Now uncontested, Dark rose up through the unwilling vessel of Xylus and consumed most of the galaxy, shrouding it in its black void. Given enough time, Dark would regain its full strength and pull all the mass of the universe back to itself. Humanity was doomed, unless the Gods could be resurrected.
In this ensuing aftermath, the Second Order went unnoticed as the Fall had barely touched its borders. Its citizens carried the hope of the Gods in their hearts and waited in faith to hear from them. They now lived in devotion to their divine emperor who carried on the mantle bequeathed him.
In their last days before imprisonment, the Gods dispatched a messenger that prophesied over this unscathed oasis. The Second Order was commanded to wait until the appropriate time when the Gods would draw them to Earth by the light of a fallen star. Then they would release the Gods and be shielded against the forthcoming judgment cast on the galaxy.
It has been nearly 400 years since the prophecy and many believe the time of the fallen star has come…