Showing posts with label shadow divided. Show all posts
Showing posts with label shadow divided. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Concept Art: Takeo Sato

“They’re almost here,” noted Taryn upon reaching the massive door, and she wrung the grip of her claw hammer.

Takeo gripped a section of heavy pipe.

Father Stone’s zealots shambled into view, drawn from a mix of races. They advanced along the stairs and dropped down from nearby roofs and catwalks. Bound with red ropes, festooned with liturgical ribbons, their tattered attire did little to hide their ruined bodies. Faced with nightmarish death, millions had accepted Father Stone’s nepenthe. It left them with patchwork flesh, silvered eyes and glinting clusters of glutted nanobots. Moving in unison, they spread out to form a semicircle around D’Arro’s team.

“Cajun, get that door open,” he said and faced the mob directly.

“Right away.” Fumbling somewhat, Cajun retrieved a prybar from his pack. Takeo and Taryn formed a protective wall at D’Arro’s back, separating Cajun from the horde.

“Back off,” Takeo growled, and he raised his heavy pipe. “We’ll defend ourselves if you force us.” He narrowed his eyes.

A wiry, gaunt human man stepped forth, wearing a crown of jagged teeth that had been embedded into his scalp. “You are trespassing,” he rasped as he moved close to Takeo.

“We’re here for Father Stone.”

With all his might, Cajun strained against the door. He heard something pop within, but it didn’t budge. “Oh, come on,” he huffed, and he drove the prybar deeper into the space between the door and its jamb.

The gaunt man smiled wickedly, a rictus of metal teeth and receded gums. He reached for Takeo’s arm. “You would defend yourself with something so crude? How unprepared you are to face the might of this army. The blessing of conversion will deliver you from your small thinking.”

As one, a thundering chorus resounded, “Conversion!”

Takeo warned, “I said back off. Look, we’re just here for Father Stone.”

“Stone is lost.” Lowering his brow, he held Takeo’s gaze. In a deep snarl, the crowned man said, “Again, I offer you conversion.” The throng boomed, “Conversion!”

Reaching back with the pipe, Takeo said, “Don’t force me to do this.”

With a derisive cackle, the crowned man jeered, “Don’t force you to strike me with your primitive weapon? By all means, take your best shot.”

“Not so primitive,” Takeo breathed, and he swung at the old man’s head with all the strength he could bring to bear. However, when the pipe struck home, there was no crack, or clang or crunch. Instead, there was a muted splat as Fogg deformed and spread around the crowned man’s face. He set to reprogramming the nanobot symbiotes.

Moving as one, the ravening horde swarmed toward D’Arro’s team. Howling, they reached out with claws and hungrily peeled open their mouths.

“It didn’t work!” Taryn shouted, and she lunged and dodged, her hammer striking and gutting in short arcs.

“Fogg needs time,” Takeo barked. He was a blur of precise hits and kicks, and he sent a dozen opponents to the ground. “Just hold them off until it’s done!”

The door at last gave way. “There!” Cajun triumphantly announced. “Door’s open, guys!”

“How’ll we know?” D’Arro asked. His enormous wrench struck with crushing force, taking out two or three enemies with each hit.

Takeo insisted, “You’ll know!”

Thanks to Regular Jane for her delicious bokeh background. :)

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Concept Art: Filan Portssi

“Let’s see who else wants to do some eleventh hour delving.” Zerki asked around. Before long, she, Valerie, Gavin, Filan and Takeo gathered and began their search for a way to enter the mountainous corpse of the planet-shaper droid.

“Taryn didn’t want to come?” Gavin asked.

Takeo said, “No, she’s helping D’Arro direct traffic.”

“There!” Filan interjected. “Oh, sorry.” She practically bounced as she pointed to a well hidden hatch some distance from the harvest site, seated along Behemothylax’s dorsal segmentation. Impatiently, she hurried to the passageway and strained against an embedded handle. It slowly turned and opened with a hiss of icy fog.

“Good find,” said Zerki, and she stepped close, hunched down to peer into the guts of the leviathan. “We’ll need light.” With the rip of Velcro, she loosened a pouch cover on her vest and produced a small disc mounted to a heavy band that had been sewn into its pocket. Glancing to Gavin, she added, “You have one, too,” and she tapped hers on. A brilliant cone of light issued forth.

“Oh,” he muttered and soon had his own torch ready for use.

Filan offered, “I can go full body, if we need it.” Her hands and forearms faintly glowed.

“Good to know,” said Zerki, and she descended through the hatch. Her companions followed.

Darkness gnawed at them, shrouded recesses filled with glinting blades and jagged points. Carefully, they made their way along the sub-dorsal service catwalks. Below them, rows upon immeasurable rows of devices sagged in immense ropes and stacks, hung indifferently over the scarred heart of the mountain so very far below. Regularly, the silvery blue wash of lighting danced up along vaults of machinery.

Zerki raised her hand, and the others paused while she checked her data tablet. “If these old schematics are still accurate, we’re heading for the central computer core.” She looked long at the darkened, cramped, grime-coated, grated pathways. “It’ll be tough going, by the look of it, but it’s possible we could find out why it went haywire, and ultimately why it just shut itself down.” An excited smile tugged on her lips. “We could be the first people in the entire galaxy to know the truth. What do you think?”

Filan said, “Ooh, I could access its deep core.” She beamed giddily. “I’m in!”

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Remembrance of the Acquainted

In Path of the Time Walker, I delve a little deeper into ellogon culture, traditions and the beliefs they uphold.  At one point in Chapter 12, after the loss of three allies, an ellogon crewman named Elsummu feels moved to recite the sacred Remembrance of the Acquainted.  Here's the passage:

Drawing a deep breath, Elsummu raised one arm high, cocking the other back to form something of a crescent with his shoulders.
He spoke loudly in his native tongue.

He appeared to me with seven faces,
He approached with seven sounds
Footsteps shared.

Who would travel my road matching paces,
Who did seek once sacred grounds
Lessons we bared.

Seven Suns before forgotten gods rose,
Seven fates they had composed
On fiery sands.

Our paths to cross as the Wanting Sun shows,
Our true faces ever closed
By the Woeful Sun’s hands.

To you who were taken before friendship brightly burned,
You are remembered here before the Seven Suns!

Seven faces and seven sounds,
You are remembered now before the Seven Suns!

Elsummu bowed deeply, his arms forming an arch upon the ground.  He held the pose for some time before beginning the second verse.

Thanks for reading!  

Monday, April 15, 2013

Path of the Time Walker Excerpt

An excerpt from Wrath of the Void Strider's upcoming sequel, Path of the Time Walker...

Huddled in doorways, she met frightened eyes, and people hurried away at her approach.  In time, she arrived at a tiered shantytown, built from scraps and the remains of the colonial habitats.  At first glance, it looked like all the most structurally valuable pieces had been scavenged and moved offsite.  “What’s going on here?” she muttered.

A thin, ashen man stepped into view from inside his home and stuttered, “W-We have nothing.  P-Please leave us alone!”  He succumbed to a fit of coughing that left him stooped over by its end.  He slowly straightened, grimacing.

Taryn furrowed her brow.  “I’m not here to take anything from you.”  She nodded toward the darkened interior of his home, toward the others inside.  “What happened to the habitats?”

He studied her, and he coughed lightly into his hand.  “You don’t work for Rowan?”

“No.  Who’s Rowan?”

“She’s lying!” shouted a young looking woman from inside, and she cautiously approached the entryway.  She was thin, like her male companion, and her brown eyes were badly bloodshot.  Her dark brown hair looked frayed and ratty.  “Get back inside.”

“Please go,” he hissed, and he returned to the safety of his shanty.  The woman closed the poorly fitting makeshift door with a slam, and Taryn heard it latch.  A chorus of coughs followed.

Screwing down her brow, Taryn strode to the shanty door and pounded on it.  “Look, I’m not here to hurt you.  I really don’t know who Rowan is or what’s going on.  My friends and I came here to deliver some medicine.”  She pounded again.  “We’re here to help!”

A quiet moment passed, and she growled in frustration as she spun about on her heels and marched away, back toward the road.  Behind her, she heard the door creak open, and the ashen man shouted, “Wait!  Please wait.”  Taryn turned back to regard him.  “It’s been a long time since we’ve seen any friendly faces around here.  Rowan takes great pleasure in tormenting us.”

“Who’s Rowan?”

He puffed his cheeks.  “Rowan Fenmore.  She runs Hygeia.  Her and her kwercian army have been chipping away at the rightful government ever since they got here.”  He dryly laughed, followed by a moment of coughing.  Clearing his throat, he said, “There has been no relief effort, not really.  She keeps us alive, but little more than that.”

Taryn stepped close and set her helmet down on a gutted car.  “Rowan Fenmore… Is she related to Ashley Fenmore?”

The ashen man shrugged.  “I wouldn’t know.  She doesn’t actually talk to us, so much as she herds us.”  He glanced behind him and swept his arm around the shantytown.  “All human.  She saw to that.  Except for the kwercians, she found a reason to deport every member of every other race.”

Crossing her arms, Taryn looked puzzled.  “Why would she do that?”

“Again, I wouldn’t know.”

“Dmitry, get inside!” barked the woman.

He glanced her way and said, “No, Sonja, this one’s OK.  I got a good feeling about her.”

Sonja pointed past Taryn to the main road as a glossy silver sky car set down.  “That’s nice, but Oren and his thugs are here.  You know what they’ll do if they catch you outside!”

His eyes wide, Dmitry bolted back into his shelter and waved Taryn over.  “C’mon,” he hissed.  “They’ll beat you to death if they see you out here!”

She raised a brow.  “I’m wearing power armor.”

“Good luck, then.”  He closed and latched his door.

Taryn turned to face the distant sky car as its gullwing doors butterflied open.  A pair of gnarled oak thugs stepped out, followed by a lean pine of a man.  He tugged on the collar of his woven green suit and surveyed the shantytown.  Immediately, his eyes befell Taryn.  She stood defiantly in her gleaming black armor.  Her head feathers added a splash of red.  With narrowed eyes, he approached Taryn with his enforcers at his back.  “Who might you be?” he asked as he regarded her suspiciously.  His goons moved slowly to flank her.

“Taryn Sikes.”  She scooped up her helmet.

The pine fellow looked her over.  “That doesn’t match what’s printed on your shoulder.”

“Yeah, well, the Captain hasn’t gotten around to that yet.”

“Is he the captain of the Sanguine Shadow, or is that another misprint?”

Taryn shifted her weight over one hip.  “No, that’s right.  She’s the captain of the Sanguine Shadow.”

Oren nodded.  “Forgive me, but I thought Rowan got rid of all the xenos on Hygeia.  For their own safety, of course.  There’s a Canten’s pandemic here, you know.  Maybe it’s best if you and your ship were on your way.”  He pressed thin his lips.  “For your own safety, of course.”

She squared her jaw.  “What are you going to do to these people?”

“They’re sick.  They need their medicine.”

“Is that what you’ve got shoved up your ass?  Because, I don’t see how it could be anywhere else.”

He swallowed visibly and clenched his jaw.  “How unpleasant.”  Looking to his guards, he said, “Alon, Elon, make an example of her.  Make sure everyone here sees the result.”

“Yes, boss,” rumbled the larger of the thugs.

Taryn sealed her helmet, balled her fists and smiled.

·· • ··

An hour previous, Rowan watched as her kwercian brutes marched single-file through a wide door, into a spacious warehouse.  “It took you long enough!  Stack them in that corner,” she said and pointed across the room.  Dutifully, her oaken henchmen arranged them two-wide by two-high.

A particularly gnarled oak asked, “Anything else, boss?”  His massive arms creaked as he lowered them to his sides.

“No.  You can go.”  She crossed the room to inspect her delivery.  Glancing up long enough to glare at her minions, she added, “Actually, Alon, get Elon and you two go find Oren.  Pay the shanties another visit.  Their corrupt governor was just assassinated.  I imagine they could use some guidance after such a shocking loss, and I don’t want them getting any bright ideas.”

Alon, her burliest oak, grumbled, “Yes, boss.”  He followed the others as they marched out of the warehouse.

Rowan returned to her examination.  She ran her fingertips over the surface of the first crate she came to.  After a moment, she straightened and stormed over to the cell door embedded in the far wall.  “Where were these crates supposed to be delivered to before you stole them?”

Zerki answered, “They weren’t marked.  We just grabbed all the medicine we could find and packed it into the nearest containers.”

“Shit,” snarled Rowan.  She took a moment to consider.  “What facility?”

“I don’t understand.”

She slammed her wooden fist into the door, and a deafening boom rang through the warehouse.  “I don’t have time for this!  What facility?  I won’t ask again.”  Furiously, she gripped her rifle and set to unlocking the door.  A moment later, she threw it open and leveled the gun at D’Arro.

Zerki cleared her throat.  “K’n-yal.  The Thayless Estate.  If that’s what you mean.”

Rowan scowled, but her expression quickly softened, and she lowered her gun.  “That is what I mean.”  She kicked the door closed and set down her rifle.  Puffing her cheeks, she walked back to the crates, propping her chin in the crook of her thumb and index finger.  “Probably meant for the Sector Three Outer Systems, then.  Good.”

“Why should it matter?” Zerki asked, but Rowan ignored her.

Oren’s sky car was airborne a moment later, headed south to the closest shantytown, while Rowan set to unlocking each crate.  One at a time, she opened every large plastic pill bottle she found inside and smelled its contents.   Some time passed before she was finished.

Satisfied with her findings, she drew her phone and dialed a number.  She held the device to her ear.  After a moment, she said, “Hey, it’s Rowan.  Everything’s still on track.  I’ll keep this number for a few more hours.  Call me back if you get this message in time.”

·· • ··

Lightning flashed from her teleport device, and Taryn appeared directly behind the smaller brute.  The machinery inside her gloves hummed alive, and she tore free chunks of sappy bark from the assailant’s shoulders.  As the oak man yowled in pain, arching his back as he clutched at his wounds, she took the chance to spring from his head, throwing him off balance and crashing to the ground.  She landed on his neck, and a loud crack of wood filled the air.

“Elon!” cried the larger brute.  Gritting his teeth, with tears in his ears, he loosed a primal howl and reached for Taryn as she flashed away in a bolt of jagged light.  A blur of motion, and Taryn appeared behind Oren.  She gripped him around the waist.

“Alon, help!” he wailed as he felt himself lifted up off the ground.

Momentarily confused, Alon swept around and found Taryn as she hoisted his master.  “You!” he boomed and lumbered toward them both.  Again, he reached for her, past Oren, and she heaved.  Oren cried out as he was launched up in the air, and Alon tried to track him, then to catch him.

With a crunch, Oren hit the ground, dazed, his arms and legs splayed.  He coughed as he tried to stand.  “Help me up, you oaf,” he barked, and Alon reached down for him, momentarily losing sight of his opponent.  A blinding flash of light, and Alon found himself high up in the air, with Taryn’s arms around his neck.

Her internal display showed a diagram of her suit.  Every section was red, and the arms and hands were bright red and flashing.  I’ve got to time this just right, she thought, and she began to plummet along with the oak brute, directly down on Oren.

Frozen with shock, Oren stared up at Alon as he fell.  It was the last thing either of them saw as the burly oak struck the well-dressed pine with thunderous force.  Lightning flashed, and Taryn reappeared where she had been, but at a right angle to her original direction of travel.  She shot across the clearing, skipping along its surface, and she tumbled end over end as pieces of her suit broke off, cast high in the air.

At last, she came to rest at the outskirts of the shantytown.  What remained of her armor smoldered, and she wasn’t moving.  Dmitry and Sonja watched for only a moment, before they both dared to step outside their home.  Dmitry hurried to Taryn’s side and coughed as he knelt to check for signs of life.

Lifting free her shattered helmet, he set his fingers against her neck.  Glancing to Sonja, he exhaled a relieved sigh.  “She’s alive.”

“Thank God,” Sonja whispered, and she glanced toward the slain kwercians.  “Let’s get her inside.  See if we can’t get hold of her ship.”  She and Dmitry lifted Taryn by the shoulders and strained against the weight of her armor, but were unable to move her.  Slowly at first, then with growing boldness, more and more of the shantytown’s residents emerged.  They lent their strength to dragging Taryn to safety.