SALIGIA is a novella I wrote as an exercise in explanation. Many of the Tauran characters who would appear in the Sudden Dearth series needed fleshing out; descriptions both physical and motivational. Set well before SD it also helps to lay the ground for Urion's arrival, linking both SD and Urion's Belt.
I use seven short stories, woven in a plot-line to introduce and hopefully explain these characters further. Due to their inherent natures, each of the characters cameos in one of the Seven Deadly Sins, hence SALIGIA. One means of ingraining the concept of the SDS in Medieval times was the creation of the mnemonic "SALIGIA" based on the first letters in Latin of the seven deadly sins: superbia, avaritia, luxuria, invidia, gula, ira, acedia.
Two of these stories did appeared in my collection The Gift earlier this year, but here are set in their correct context. A soldier, Leftenant Geriond Devane is used as a common device, and truth be told he does not have a good time of it. I will annouce the actual publication date soon, hoping to have everything ready by the second week of July.
It is a theme which I keep touching on, but since being touched by the Amazon phenomenon it has really interested me. From a small fanbase to 10,000 "sales" in two months, seems rather surreal, but that is the reality of Kindle. Now these are FREE sales I know, but as an advertising tool invaluable. No matter which guru of publishing you talk to, read, or listen to, word-of-mouth is still a huge marketing channel. Right now, there are 10,000 (or any combination of that number) more people with a copy of one of my novels or short stories.
Well, I hear you say, they might not like your work and will give you a poor review, but Im not so sure. No, let me explain, I'm not egotistical enough to think that everyone likes my stuff, nor thinks it's perfect or couldn't do with being used as kindling. Nope, what I mean is that you have to raise passion of one sort or another in a person for them to give a review, and that's good. The majority will NOT review. How many of us buy a book in the shop, or online and write a review on it for others? A minority of us is the truth. This does not mean that we liked or loathed it any less, but we are more likely to tell somebody else about it in conversation or on a forum, rather than write a review.
When I write a review, I do so in my own way. I don't point out typo's, or whether the author has the correct POV or could improve their writing craft. Rather, I say whether I liked it or not and why. I do give a warning to those who ask me for a review, saying exactly that. I have seen too many reviews given which spark a food-fight, and to be honest, in that case it's better that the author neither asks for a review nor the reader gives it.
Getting back to the theme of this blogpost - I like FREE, in fact all of my short stories are free on one or other of the main distribution channels. I intend, for now, to keep it that way. If you want, tell a friend about them, and keep checking here as there will be new work available real soon.
I have no qualms posting this very pushy button (no pun intended) as AKnC remains FREE on Amazon.com. Latest statistics, after just over an hour, are 3000 downloads more or less. Great exposure for this and other works of mine.
In an effort to see how the information on AKnC was disseminated, i.e. the fact it had been made FREE, I went surfing. It's amazing the number of linked sites which pass on this information. All of them, rightfully so if they haven't read any of the works, add a disclaimer giving no guarantee of quality. Others clearly point out "real" publishers and those independent guys and gals, even capitalizing the word to make sure no-one misses the fact. Not sure what that means - perhaps that we are more important, with a capital I of course.
Tags and genre labels don't seem to translate well with auto-generation and I've seen some great (without a capital G) examples of this. However I can't, or at least shouldn't complain, as AKnC has reached number 39 in the Kindle Free Charts in just over a day. I eagerly await what happens next.
It's a question I have to ask as Amazon.com has now made A Knight's Charge FREE. This time there was no warning eMail, just the surprise of 400 downloads when I checked this morning!
Now, I'm not sure whether someone let them know of the fact that AKnC was free on other Distribution Channels, or they just decided to kindly give me a boost, but I'm not complaining. Unfortunately it is not FREE on Amazon.co.uk yet, but I will keep checking.
Whatever happens, it helps to give my other work exposure and hopefully it will continue to generate other sales. You will probably notice that I'm not complaining.
I said pricing, not piercing, although they probably do have something in common. The decision about whether to get body art or even which price point to go for takes time, the quellng of fear and of course the worry about what people think. Now, at eighteen it is so-o-o-o much easier to make that decision - F*$k 'em, I'm a rebel. Now though...well yeah, I'm still a rebel.
Many people ask why, or even look down upon work which is priced at 99p or 99c. It must be crap, right? If it was any good you'd be able to sell it for 6.99 at least. Personally I don't think it follows - the logic that a book priced at 6.99 is SEVEN times better than one that is FREE or costs just 99c doesn't wash. I am sure we can all point to expensive books that we thought were not worth 1c, and equally the other end of the scale applies.
So, I've decided to price my books how I like, and I reserve the right to change my mind whenever I feel like it. Right now all my short stories are free ;P, you just need to know where to look. Remember now "f*$k 'em. I'm a rebel!"
As I swim through the murky waters of book marketing, I see all sorts of advice, ideas and schemes to sell more books. There are a number of people who claim to sell immense quantities of books and yet without direct knowledge, we can only take their word. Now I am not here talking about the well-publicised small number who clearly do have large sales, share their numbers and are even snapped up belatedly by the majors. Forum threads talk of 5K this month, 120K so far this year...join the club, and especially my fellowship...you've no doubt seen the same threads.
There are author tagging threads, author mutual blog following, twittering and facebook fan pages. Tagging is something claimed to generate sales by increased public awareness. Mutual blogging gets your feed seen and potentially more feet crossing your threshold, as does the joint liking and subscription to FB Fan pages and Groups.
Me, and I readily admit this, I am linked to a lot of FB Groups and pages and the truth is that I only really take notice of the comments and posts of nine or ten. This must mean that I am not fulfilling my marketing potential, as does my brief dabble into the Tagging foray on Amazon. To be truthful the biggest impact on and exposure to me was via the Amazon free offer of A Guiding Light. This has now ended, but if Amazon is listening, The Wildwose is still free on Smashwords and Apple!
So, what have I done? I have gone back to my trusted and favourite forums, decided to start my own review thread and continued to write, posting excerpts from my work. I think that this slow and steady approach will help to build and satisfy those who like my work whilst removing the franctic stress caused by trying too hard. Oh, and don't forget Amazon...Wildwose, free on Smashwords and iBooks.
For quite some time A Cold Dish remained steady at Fifteen Chapters. It wasn't that I'd run out of ideas, rather that the rest of the novels had to catch up. Finally with the release of SDIII and with the plot for SDIV revised, its patience was rewarded.
Although set in the Urionverse, its timeline rests between the events in the SD series and before that of Urion's Belt. It is a tale of vengeance, deception, pain and retribution. I enjoyed writing it!
Here is the summary of the novel and I will post some excerpts here over the next couple of weeks.
Watch this space...
A violent storm can pick up an innocent babe, whirl it high and deposit it unharmed many miles away. Annihilation is more likely though
Cruel mistakes are terrible things. James McBride made his first one when he murdered a woman and her two children under the hidden influence of the Church. His greatest error was to leave her husband alive. Caught up in his own plans for power, he unknowingly awoke a violent storm. This storm had a name, Juan Escola, whose response was swift and deadly. When Juan was finished, there would be little left of McBride, the Church or the world.
The yacht’s forward velocity bled slowly away, as the warring tug of gravity took hold. Without the braking kiss of atmosphere it still moved away from the Flagship, yet the remote drone busily went about its duty. Light flared from the bow of the drone as twin cylindrical shapes shot out. Once past the yacht they opened, a microfine net spun free, linked equally to the two cylinders. The Princess Marie ploughed into the net, the movement activating retro rockets which fired, burning their payload madly as they drove themselves back towards the drone. Twin arms clicked into place, catching the net as it was drawn back. Clamps locked in place and the drone fired its own thrusters, killing the yacht’s forward motion and dragging the now immobile craft back towards the Flagship.
Alana woke, her mind groggily trying to make sense of the lights and sounds around her.
“Hit her with another shot,” said a disembodied voice, “awake she could be a handful.”
“Should we remove the armour?”
“Fool!” the first voice snarled, “This one and its companions will be a useful trump card. Sedate them and prepare them for delivery, then freeze them.”
She tried to move, her armour responding to her mental commands for a brief instant, before she once more was overcome by a muggy haze. Drugs, she was being sedated. No!
One ceramic wing flicked open, its serrated edge cutting deeply into one of her captor’s legs. She was unaware of the damage caused and missed the sardonic laughter which followed her into slumber.
“This one looks promising,” said the disembodied voice, “I know just where I’ll use her.”
Asmode's Lair Spindle
A new moon hung threateningly in the night sky, its arrival had stressed the seas, causing further damage to an already battered land mass. The Construct was massive; it had grown gradually as debris and detritus had been attracted and absorbed during its journey. Its owner collected souls, yet they came with baggage and so that had been accepted too.
“As melodramatic as ever, Brother,” whimpered Beelzebub, the pain of his Brother’s mind had driven him to his knees. His followers lay bleeding and moaning by his side.
“You will join me...”
It was a statement, not a request and Beelzebub was too weak to refuse.
“Of course,” he replied, trying desperately to hide his real thoughts.
“You were always transparent. Your thoughts and desires are inconsequential at this time. Keep it that way and I will let you live.”
Laughter greeted his response and Beelzebub began to pray.
I was recently asked what my timings were with respect to future works. It gave me pause to think and try and flesh out the timing on the rest of the year, well the next couple on months anyway. So, here goes:
A Cold Dish - this novel has been waiting in the wings whilst I waded through the process of editing, formating and publication on Kindle and Smashwords. My expectation is to finish editing and publish before the end of July.
El Juego - Sudden Dearth Bk IV - This one is scheduled for end August/early September, as I have been tweaking the plot line a little.
SD Book V - The plan is to have a little rest and begin this work near year-end ready for Publication Feb/March of next year.
In the meantime I will be inaugurating the first reviews on my review blog.
As I am learning all of the time, I decided to see what different widgets and gadgets may be useful for this blog. This particular one allows direct links to Amazon via their associates program. Not sure whether I will use it, but useful to see how it works.
On seeing the Buy Now box, please don't panic...this novel is still FREE to download on Amazon.com.
Sudden Dearth Book IV Chapter Four Part II will be following soon.
So, decisions made, first reviews in the works and there's no turning back now. What will become obvious is that the first reviews are of perhaps less well known and/or more independent authors. They are authors I have found or who asked to be part of my Kindle Trip.
I had a large selection of works to choose from and I will begin with those that I enjoyed as a sample, before the full novel version. This is a good way of looking at and "tasting" novels, wetting the toe so to speak. My view was that if they hooked me as samples, then it boded well for a more complete version.
As I said previously they are a mix of SF and Horror and I will be posting the reviews on my separate blog. The first four are:
Something Evil by Cal Noble The Ultimate Choice by Lisa Hinsley Elysium Burning by DDD Bryeton Invasion by William Miekle.
A while ago on the Amazon Kindle forum, I asked people to pitch me in order to get onto my Kindle for a business trip I was taking. The rule was that people asked, I downloaded a sample and those I liked went on the trip with me (well their books anyway...). I tended to stick with SF and Horror, although no-one got turned away.
Having worked through the list, chosen my companions and completing the trip, I was left with a fair few review notes. Another promise I made was to post my thoughts somewhere. Having done that it came to me that I should have a seperate Blog to this one, in which I could give my opinion, do reviews and genrally cover things not specifically within the Urionverse. So that is what I will do.
I'm working on the page now and hope to kick it off this week. First reviews will be my notes from that trip, and I'll post the list of those books shortly. Having linked this blog to Goodreads, the reviews will be available there too.
This collection of short stories is made up of a strange mixture. The Urionverse has become fixed within my mind over the last few years, with the original outline drawn within my novel Urion’s Belt. This novel, strangely enough, has yet to be published, but it does lay down a flagpole in terms of the general timeline of other stories. My Sudden Dearth series is set four to five hundred years before the events in Urion’s Belt, and its task is to explain how Urion’s Belt came into being. The Wildwose, A Knight’s Charge and A Cold Dish are placed on the timeline before Sudden Dearth and are intended to describe a little of the worlds and cultures formed within the burgeoning sphere of the Protectorate. Euthan Palace is set three hundred years after Urion’s Belt and describes a more technologically developed Urionverse. At the other end of the scale sits SALIGIA, a novella made up of seven short stories and a common theme. Its purpose is to describe the pantheon of Tauran demons and the reason for their interaction with humanity.
So, finally we reach this collection which is made up of four separate stories, each set in a different time zone on this convoluted story path. The Dark Wheel fits closely with the timeline of Urion’s Belt, with the Protectorate well-established and confident, willing to use every means possible to maintain its power. Four Minutes, and its three following and interlinked companions, take place on or around the time of The Wildwose and introduce a memorable character who takes part in the Sudden Dearth Series. Superbia and Luxuria are two of those seven deadly short stories which make up the whole that is SALIGIA.
I hope that this provides a little bit of background and, particularly for those who have already dabbled in some of my work, context.
The vagaries of Fold Space affected everyone differently. There were some who spoke of psychedelic nightmares, yet to Alana it had always been a gut-wrenching entry, weeks of boredom and an even worse exit. Not this time. From the exact second of entry she had suffered; vomiting until there was nothing left to project, blood dripping from nose and ears and the awful wailing sound which threatened to collapse her skull. Something had changed and she could only think that it had been Viker.
Their pilot was unconscious and so the craft continued on its unknown course, with no indication of the duration of their torture. Alana just wanted it to stop. Her last conscious thought was of the pain increasing, heightening her agony and then darkness claimed her.
Space shimmered and the Princess Marie re-entered reality smoothly. Those within her protective steel shell whimpered and cried, vomited and bled, and some even died with the strain of their passage. Faint tendrils of light clung for a brief instant before dissipating into the surrounding blackness. This was the last touch of their erstwhile Lord, whose pique had turned him into a murderer. Momentum continued her flight as she left Fold Space, yet it was the only velocity she had. Her engines lay idle and the craft drifted until gravity caught her and pulled her relentlessly in.
Game Control Flagship Unknown Location
There was a grunt of acceptance and the console whirred.
“Small yacht. General rabble...although we do have armoured personnel.”
“The scan shows a pleasing level of technology...and something else,” the silver-haired man slapped his hand against the screen, causing the readout to shiver and then clear.
“Nope. It’s gone now.”
His companion laughed, “Segregate the soldiers and place the others in Zone Two. If nothing else, they will make a useful food source.”
In response to the hammering of fingers on the keyboard, the Flagship’s main hold opened releasing a bulky craft which moved purposefully towards the yacht. On board the private vessel, Alana still slept oblivious of her impending danger.
As promised, here is a resume of my experience of being free on Kindle over the last month. A Guiding Light (SDII) was picked up by Amazon as being free on Smashwords/Apple/B&N and hence the price was adjusted on Amazon, in both the US and UK. Around 200 other books were adjusted at the same time and we had a mass download frenzy. Since that date, people have continued to visit and download AGL at a steady rate.
True to form, Amazon put the price back up with no warning, first in the UK and then in the US this morning. It will be interesting to see what the download pattern changes to.
What I do know is that 4000+ copies were downloaded, some liking AGL enough to then purchase the other two books in the series. Traffic to this blog and my Facebook page increased, which bodes well for later in the year when El Juego (SDIV) is published.
Curiously enough, Amazon did not discount The Wildwose which is also FREE at SW/Apple/Sony/B&N. AGL continues to be FREE at these other sites and Kindle lovers can download AGL FREE at Smashwords in the right format for their machines. This will not change and I'll be publicising this elsewhere. Maybe whoever told Amazon about AGL, will also tell them about The Wildwose???
Just a quick blognote to say that all of my completed books, novellas and short stories are now available on Kindle in both the US and the UK. Also in Germany, but as they have yet to be translated into German I don't think we'll see much traffic from there.
The big Kindle Freebie resulted in 4000+ downloads, from which I would expect to get some feedback as people get round to reading and enjoying their Kindle contents.
Thanks to Diggory Steele-Perkins and Manolo Guerrero for their brilliant Cover Art.
El Juego is real close to completion and I will make sure there is an update on status and full publication date.
First of all an apology and an addition has now been made to the blog post Chapter One. It seems that I forgot to post Part 2 to the Chapter. Now corrected, hope you enjoy it and here below is Chapter Three.
Prelate’s Light Geosynchronous Orbit Luther
It was dark inside the crate; cold, dark and distinctly uninviting. She had been waiting for Millennia for the call and yet when she responded, there were none to hear her. Nothing stirred outside the prison and so she began the laborious task of breaking free. One egg tooth was all she had in order to rupture the membrane and wall surrounding her. Once clear of that, she would take whatever further steps necessary to secure her freedom.
Cornelius strode down the corridor, taking small detours whenever he heard the approaching sound of footsteps. He realized that his predicament was less than optimum, in fact so far everything that could hit the fan, had suicidally charged forward to do so. Butt knew that if he could get to the main hanger, there was at least some chance of his finding an escape pod or some small craft, with which he could make good his escape. That was his theory anyway.
At last he found, by more trial and error than knowledge, his way to the main hanger deck, and the sight that faced him, really made him think again about the intelligence of his actions. Skulking forward past the last crates, he came to an open area and two ranks of Clansman, swords drawn, and waiting for him.
He knew that it was him that they were looking for, as their roar of anger and the subsequent charge, really emphasized the point. Being a little short, of weapons that is, he kicked the nearest crate forward, watching it slam into the shins of the first two of the onrushing horde, to subsequently cause a minor traffic jam. With the apparent success of his first attempt, he began to toss some of the smaller crates forwards, anything to buy himself time.
When he had just about run out of ammunition, he looked frantically around for the exit and there above, he saw a walkway which seemed to run around the upper tier of the hanger. Not waiting for further options, he ran up a series of wooden boxes, using them as an improvised stair. Just when he thought he was clear of his followers and about to reach his goal, his lead foot broke through the lid of one of the boxes, unceremoniously dumping him, his makeshift tower and all the surrounding merchandise back onto the hanger floor.
Eager hands tugged the debris free and pulled him, despite his protestations into the centre of the circle of angry men. The whine of a contra-grav chair, told him that his day was complete, as Jenna’s shrill voice caused the sea of men to part before her.
“Now...” she shrieked, “you will p…”
Her voice dwindled away, about the same time as Cornelius felt the scrabbling of claws against his back. Sharp points pierced his skin, as a fairly weighty something dragged its way up him. There was no desire within him to turn and see what abomination was there and he stood rigid as it reached his shoulders and a sinuous tail curled around his neck. Hot breath sawed against his cheek and turning his head slightly he saw a bright red reptilian eye, staring back at him.
Looking towards his would-be enemies he was astounded at the change in them; complete silence, mouths open and some form of stammered salutation. Never one to miss out on an opportunity, Cornelius moved forwards, the creature’s small head butting lovingly against his cheek. This looked like it might be fun.
Jenna was just about to savour the demise of the biggest, relatively speaking, thorn in her side, when her world caved in around her. That which they had searched, killed and tortured for, sat hissing at them from its perch on Butt’s shoulder. Of all of the possible scenes she had replayed in her head of this triumphant moment, never in her wildest dreams had the piggy-eyed and Mohican-topped face before her, played a starring role.
The site of the lop-sided and self-satisfied grin on Cornelius’ face caused something deep inside her to snap. With a screech she dragged a laser pistol free from the belt of the Clansman next to her and aimed directly for the leering countenance in front of her. Her action was met by a scream of rage, and Cornelius newest and, truth be told, only friend launched herself forward. With outstretched neck and her body tautly in line, she appeared as an arrow launched directly from a bow. Straight and true she sped, at the last moment opening her mouth once more as though to cry a challenge. No sound came from her scaled visage, rather a spurt of greenish liquid, whose coruscating force burst directly against Jenna’s snarling lips.
A scream was heard, a shrill protestation of agony as the bright fluid melted its way through skin and bone. No laser fire came forth, the pistol dropped and forgotten as useless hands clawed in desperation at a ravaged and disappearing face. Wings spread, the creature looped round past the dying woman, a haughty stare passing briefly over the shocked and cowering Clansmen, before she lovingly came to rest on Cornelius’ shoulder, her head once more caressing the ugly man’s face.
“Well,” said Cornelius after a few moments of stunned silence, “it really hasn’t been her day, has it?”
Reinstalled back in his stateroom, Cornelius was more than a little confused. In fact, he was approaching the state of incomprehension, usually reserved for a heavy session of drinking in the Forked Tongue. Strangely though, the glass of brandy still sat on the table in front of him, untouched. His new companion lay curled around his neck, like a leathery stole, her chest rising and falling in contentment. She had fed off his dinner plate, eating just about everything placed before her, and then slowly crawled up Cornelius’ chest, until she found her current resting position.
The other extremely disconcerting fact, was the Honour Guard, apparently he had gone in an instant from reviled, to be spat upon, enemy, to some type of revered personage. Two of the Clansman now stood permanently on guard outside the door of his suite. At first he had thought himself a prisoner, but his rebellious stroll around the upper deck had merely seen the men fall into line behind him, hands on swords and eyes alert and protective.
It was all rather galling, his plan to remain unseen in his cabin for the whole journey had now become intolerable, and all because of this strange, scaled and winged creature. Angrily he raised his hand as though to wrench her off him, but as soon as his fingers touched her soft and contented body, he relented. No-one, not even the parents who had sold him to the local Parish Circus, had ever defended him before. She had killed in his defence, and all she wanted was to be with him. That was enough for Cornelius now, and he leaned back in his chair, determined to take advantage of the momentary lull in attempts on his life, to catch up on his rest.
This was not to be, as just as he had closed his eyes, the door chime sounded and shortly after, one of the Clansman ushered in a wrinkled old crone, a supercilious looking suit and the Ship’s Captain. Cornelius grinned as the old woman used her cane to whack the suited man’s hand away, as he tried to help her, and prodded the Ship’s Captain in the backside, causing him to yelp involuntarily.
“Out of my way”, she snapped, “the Dwarf and I have lots to talk about!”
Now, Cornelius knew he was short, had come to terms with his height restrictions and in fact generally played on them, but no-one called him a Dwarf and got away with it.
“What do you want, you old hag!” he snapped, taking his feet off the table.
“Ooh, I think I’m going to like you, Shorty!” she cackled, plumping herself into the chair opposite him, “Not a lot, of course, as I really don’t like anyone!”
Butt stared at her for a moment and then roared with laughter, “Do you want a drink?” he asked sarcastically, as the witch-like creature appropriated and downed his brandy in one.
“That would be nice,” she said, proffering the empty crystal glass to the suited man, “but pour me a proper-sized drink this time”, she ordered the cowering man, “I know they call them Shorts, but come on...”
Again, Cornelius howled with laughter and shambled over to the bar himself, making sure that his drink was every bit as charged with alcohol as hers. He retook his position in his chair once more, gulped down some brandy, smacked his lips and bade the woman continue.
“You!” she snarled, pointing at the Captain, “and you!”, she continued, her finger stabbing weapon-like towards each of them, “are not needed. Begone!”
With that she sank back into her chair and grinned mischievously at Cornelius, who winked back at her, called for his Guards and waited for them to escort the unwanted men out.
“Now,” he said, “How’s about telling me what this is all about?”
The old woman held up her hand, motioning him to wait, poured the brandy down her throat in one, belched in satisfaction and smiled her wicked little smile again.
“Be a good boy and get me another drink, and I’ll tell you how you’re going to save the Universe!”
Viker sprawled nonchalantly across his Command Chair, wings trailing across the ground. Even in apparent untidiness he looked at home. His chest was bare, the power surging through him gave both heat and sustenance. More followers appeared every day, swearing undying devotion to his banner. With each new convert came a further trickle of energy. Now he knew how Walters felt. For a brief moment, he wondered where his former mentor was, but soon dismissed the thought.
“Do we have enough ships?”
“We will have. More flock to your banner, some bringing their own off-world transport. Confiscation of material is done more as a donation. There is no problem.”
“Private yachts,” scoffed Viker, “will be of no use to us.”
“I disagree, My Lord,” replied Johns, “Their mere presence attracts others. We have sent these yachts and their crews out recruiting. Two new transports arrived today.”
“How long must we wait?”
“Give me two more weeks,” said Johns, “and your fleet will almost be as good as new”
“Very well,” said Viker, “now what can I do to amuse myself in the meantime?”
Johns watched as Viker gazed at a pair of his female servants. He was uncomfortable with the changes he was seeing in his former section member. There was a gradual shift in his determination of right and wrong, and Johns was unhappy with the new direction.
Alana watched Viker from the shadows. He knew she was there but did not care. This self-indulgence rubbed raw; an Angel was bright, luminous, a beacon to all. His winds spread wide, enfolding the weak and helpless. What he did not do was take advantage, sneer at lesser folk, and it galled.
She met his eyes as he looked over the girl’s bare shoulder. There was no need to say a word. Death hung as a promise in the depths of his once bright orbs. It was time and Alana knew it. She turned away, his laughter following her down the corridor. Once outside the building she continued on, looking for her section members and ignoring Johns’ call. They had spoken about this moment in whispers and it was time to act.
“Let them go,” Viker said wearily, the thunder of the yacht’s thrusters ringing round the chamber.
“They are traitors,” snarled Johns, his own love for Viker blinding him to the obvious.
“That they are, and we will deal with them in our own time. They are, however, of no real consequence to our current plans.”
“We are leaving?” Johns eagerness was apparent.
“Yes. I have sated my curiosity for this world. Pick out the healthy and apt, we leave in the morning.”
“And the rest?”
“Not my concern,” said Viker waving him away “they were dying before we came, and that won’t change when we leave Forget about them.” Johns’ conscience did awaken for a brief moment, but he shrugged it off. He almost mentioned to Viker the need to clean his wings; red streaks mixed with the normally white feathers, but again it went from his mind as quickly as it had arrived.
Viker smiled as Johns left. The power which suffused hs body needed an outlet and there was none to be had in helping people. Well, there was, but it was not the power he was looking for.
Private Yacht Princess Marie Outer System Limits Macaulay Disputed Zone
“Now where to?” asked Shin, one of the seven members of Alana’s squad who had lifted with her.
“We have the courses already plotted which we were intending to follow. I suggest we skip a world. That will give us a breathing space.”
“Alana,” said Shin, “these worlds are burnt out. We’ve got a yacht full of refugees here and don’t expect to find anything better along the way. What’s your real plan?”
She couldn’t put it into words, but she had felt a familiar tug, a presence still watching over her. Alana was not a Eyatolian. Luther was her world and she had followed one man off planet. He would know what to do, if he would have them back. A self-deprecating laugh escaped; the mirror showed her how much they had changed, their fine features and high foreheads mimicking the change in Viker. Their armour’s ceramic wings did not belong with their former unit. That though could change.
“We’re going home,” she said, “and I want this...” she pointed at the Angel’s emblem, “..removing straight away.”
“Our mission hasn’t changed. I’ve just woken up.”
The pilot called out a warning for entry into Fold Space and Alana gave a sigh of relief. They had gotten away. At least for the moment.
Kermadec Island Macaulay Disputed Zone
In his room, Viker toyed with the doll in his arms. He had made it himself. His act of nonchalance was only that. This mutinous behaviour on Alana’s part was a betrayal which could not allow to pass. There were things he would have let go in the past, not now. Each day he carried the burden of power stole away a little of his remaining humanity. Marius had received a virulent present from Shan which had warped his mind. The remnants of Marius sat within Viker, a disease which slowly ate its way through his subconscious. Soon, there would be little left of the young man, in its place an old and pestilent evil.
Giggling insanely, he twisted the last of the doll together, feathers from his own wings giving his creation the semblance of one of his followers. Gently he blew life into the doll, waiting until it quickened into consciousness before he snapped its neck and cursed his ex-followers. Energy burst forth from between his hands and reached out for the yacht, just as it entered Fold Space.