Red Mist (pt.2)

I’m keeping my last post going a little. Here’s another few hundred words of the story I’ve been picking away at. Same as yesterday, it’s a little rough on grammar, spelling, and overall quality. I just wanted to get it down and it’s by no means the final version. That all said and done, enjoy and lemme’ know what you think. Oh! Tiny disclaimer: I totally made up the names and events. If it resembles anything real or whatever, it’s happenstance.


“What happened from there?” Dean Daily was as invested in his interview as his audience was.

“It wasn’t long before the next time we were called on to do something important. The wrong man in the right place, they say. I’d been promoted again to commander of the technology division under Faction Three. Was still a Corporal, but I had superseding authority over the decisions of the other Corporals in the division – like that made a difference. This semi-military thing was new to all of us and we just ran with the best idea regardless of ranks.

Around the middle of December –must have been a week before Christmas­– F3 was ordered to the sewers to repair a couple meters of broken pipes before the next attack.”

“Anyone else sick of Anderson,” one of the technicians asked. He was banging away at some rusted cables, complaining that percussive maintenance was the only way any of this would be done inside three days.

“Enough chatter,” Lucius ordered, beating on his own length of torn material. “The Commander wants this done and Anderson agreed to front the cost of tools and time. This isn’t cheap, you know.”

“Don’t I know it,” one of the techs answered from across the way.

“That’s when all Hell broke loose,” Lucius told Dean. His voice was low and even.

Dean Daily leaned in, a cue for his audio technicians to adjust the gain on the microphones. He barely whispered, “Go on.”

“A few days later. The main invasion. You’ve all been through a history class or two, right? Twenty ships dropped out of orbit right on top of us. The hovered, office blocks in the sky. Each carried hundreds of soldiers who wanted out city. Why? Who could say? The SDF wasn’t so hush-hush in those days. New management, I suppose.”

The team from Faction Three felt the shockwaves of ships landing far below the surface. The city was built to withstand natural disasters of all sorts from flooding to super-storms like the one over Siberia.

“What was that?”

Lucius said, “Groundwave concussion. What could have caused that?”

The question was rhetorical, but received an answer. “Nuclear weapons?”

“Idiot,” Lucius answered in kind. “There aren’t any nuclear weapons left. At least, none anyone will admit to.”

“Exactly. What if America is up to that research into nukes again?”

“Shut it. Besides, that was Brittania you’re thinking of.”

“One empire falls apart, a new one took its place. I don’t think anything but the name changed.”

“You watch too many movies.”

“Then what was that shockwave?”

“I don’t know. Those repairs done yet?”

“Near enough. Should we glue the cover plates back on, or leave them?”

Lucius knew he wanted them back on, but they didn’t have the time to adhere them any better than that. “Bolt them in place. If they fall off, no matter. Let’s get to HQ and see what happened.”

The Auto-Bolter was meant as a weapon against the possibility that something might follow them into the subterranean sections of the city. It fired twenty-millimeter slugs meant for short to mid-range suppression. He supposed the Commander adapted the thing from a power tool because the projectiles were almost the same shape and size of a bolt gun one would find of any modern aircraft carrier or battleship. It made quick work of the cover plates and his team was hightailing it back to the surface.

“We high-tailed it out of the sewers damn fast, hoping that nothing happened.”

“But you weren’t sure?”

“Of course! For all we knew, the city was gone. Those shocks didn’t feel like much, but we were almost a hundred meters below street level.”

“That you felt anything at all was the problem.”

“That it was. We came up on the opening salvo.”

“Green Squad, suppressive fire! Red Squad, circle around and flank!” Orders left and right came down from the command staff on the ground – Sergeants barely awake at such an early hour waiting for their superiors to take over.

Lucius ran up to someone who seemed to be giving orders. “Corporal Brad Lucius, reporting.”

“Hell of a time,” the Sergeant said. “You’re tech, right?”

Lucius nodded.

“Command is in disarray. All I know is that something blew up near the center of town. Get your people over there and get whatever it is working.”

“Any idea what it is?”

“None. Heard from one of the Colonels that we’re calling everyone. We’ll hold here, cover your six.”

Lucius grabbed his hand. They shook. “Thanks. Knock ‘em dead.”

The Sergeant turned back to his people. “That’s the plan.”

 

Red Mist Day Retrospective

So as part of the back story to my book, I’ve been jotting a lot of ideas down. One of them is a major turning point for the war that was effectively “First Contact” for humanity. Red Mist refers to what happened to the enemies of mankind when fighting the guardsmen. The following is an excerpt from a work in progress and, while it’s feeling and sense of style probably aren’t going to change, the exact wording will. It should be taken with a grain of salt in terms of progress.


“And today, we have one of our best and brightest, Colonel Bradley Lucius, hero of the Red Mist! Please help me in welcoming him!”

The host waited for applause to die away while Lucius walked, slowly and with the assistance of his cane, across the stage to his seat. He’d been offered automated help, but declined.

Lucius sat gracefully in the oversized recliner, but refrained from pushing back into a more comfortable position. He sat up, showing off the untarnished uniform of his prized rank: a repairman jumpsuit, one he’d received days before Red Mist Day, a bomber jacket with a few medals sprinkled about and two sets of rank pins: Corporal and Colonel, denoting his ascension from one rank to the other without intervening ranks.

He himself was a dignified, aging man. Wrinkles coated his angular face, but his body moved where he wanted it, albeit slowly. He stared out into the crowd, smiling slightly and waving softly.

“Colonel, welcome to the Daily. How are you today?”

Lucius was somewhat slow to answer. Taking his time, “Well today. Yourself?”

“Pleased as pudding to have you with us. As you know, today marks the sixtieth year since the turning point in the Omega Conflict.”

“Of course. It was when I earned this.” He pointed at his Colonel’s stripes.

“Yes. I was wondering, along with all our guests, if you’d tell us a little about your involvement.”

“Well… Nothing you wouldn’t see in this history books, but I suppose it’s more interesting if I give you the nitty-gritty, eh?”

“Of course! Anyone can read about it, but you can bring it to life for us.”

“I won’t go that far,” Lucius said. “How about this. I’ll tell you how we got the defensed back on. It’s boring thought. Fair warning.”

“How about it,” Dean looked out on the audience. “Do we want to hear it?”

The reaction was overwhelmingly positive.

“You heard the people.”

“Indeed I did,” Lucius said, picking at his left ear. “Started early December 2119. I’d just joined the Method—the Defense Force—that November and they’d put me to work as a general specialist at the lowest rank. I was already pretty good with electrics, so I was repairing energy weapons and running power all over the city before I knew what I’d signed on for.”

“Brad,” one of the other low-ranked specialists called. “You have a minute? Spec-ops grabbed some laser gun or something this morning and they want us to pick it apart for use.”

Bradley Lucius, barely out of his teens, looked up from his work recharging an early human attempt at a directed energy weapon in astonishment. “We get to pick at something like that? I thought they leave the cool shit to the Generals.”

“Generals are busy. We’re the highest rank that isn’t doing anything useful.”

“Useful my ass. I’ve been fixing these things all day.”

The weapons Lucius had been repairing and charging fired, at best, five shot before melting the barrels and depleting the batteries. There weren’t strong enough metals or powerful enough batteries to make them worthwhile in anything less than mass quantity.

“Well drop it and come over here. We might get something nice out of it.”

Of examination of the captured weapon, it was quickly evident that this so-called laser gun was nothing of the sort. It fired super-compressed bursts of plasma from a fuel cell that attached like a rifle’s magazine. While inoperable, they could pick apart how it worked by comparison only.

It fired projectiles out of a barrel, used something resembling a trigger assembly and seemed to have a stock made for a slightly differently shaped shoulder than a human shoulder. All that aside, it was as alien at the creatures carrying them though the streets.

“What do you make of it,” the younger specialist asked.

“I have no idea,” Lucius said. “It looks like a gun. If the videos are anything to go by, it fires like a gun.”

“But?”

“But it doesn’t make sense! What the hell is this,” he exclaimed holding up the fuel cell. “What makes it go?”

“Micro-fusion?”

“Not this again.”

“Why not?”

“Because your best reference for that idea is a video game that is was antiquated when its principle event came and went twenty years early.”

“World War Five wasn’t nuclear.”

“I was talking about Three and Four.”

“Bite me. Got a better reason?”

“It’s like arguing with a brick wall.”

“As God is my witness,” the younger tech said, “I am red and held by concrete.”

Lucius turned back to the weapon. “Lets tape it up and see if we can get it firing on our batteries.”

Some hours of tinkering and trying everything from duct tape to cybernetic enhancements, they settled on a relatively basic adaptor to get a current to flow from their batteries to the weapon through it’s fuel cell compartment. The result was a single shot per battery. It wasn’t much, but it made the weapon work using Terran tech to power it.

Lucius took in a deep breath before continuing. His face stretched upwards when he told Dean, “You know what happened next, don’t you? That was a major boon to the tech division’s morale. We figured out alien guns! How strange. You-know-who came down to the catacombs next and all hell broke loose around us. The Supreme Commander said, “Kids, you just made Corporal. You’re in charge of Tech now.” And we were.”

Tag 10 Friends and List 10 Books

So I see more and more on Facebook that people are filling out this “list ten books and tag ten friends” thing. I’ve done it and tagged ten people (and this is pretty much a pain on a phone). I don’t think I gave the full story of some of my choices, so I’m going to expand on that here.

My list will include traditional print media (DeadTreeForm books), light novels, manga, graphic novels and even fan fiction. Never let is be said that all media is equally treated. All lit may be equal, but not all is recognized. This list is in more order than random mixed with “Oh, that reminds me.” This isn’t everything, but a sampling of some of my favorites and the ones that stick with me.

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress (1966) by Robert A. Heinlein

This, as many of my friends can tell you, is my favorite book. I’ve read it many times and feel as if I know it inside and out. This was one of the first Heinlein novels I read and it’s stuck with me for it’s fantastic way of engaging a reader to empathize with an inhuman character. The setting stuns me with every rereading with Heinlein’s rich descriptions of Luna and the cities and homes therein, Terran politics and the affects of one planetary body on another. This book has stuck with me and has changed the way I write my own work in many ways.

Time Enough for Love (1973) by Robert A. Heinlein

Yes, yes. Another Heinlein so placed on the list. If Moon changed my writing in terms of setting and intertwining sociopolitical story, then Time Enough for Love changed my character writing for the better. Lazarus is a man of experience and with each section of the book, you see both the same man and a different type of man. His is a stretched example of how people change with time and this is made easy to see by simply stretching the life span out.

The Boat of a Million Years (1989) by Poul Anderson

From a purely historical standpoint, this novel offers an interesting look at life from period to period – eon to eon. Following the story of a family of sort of ancient (and not so ancient) immortals while the world shifts around them… and the details! Oh, the detailed world. From BC when-ever-the-hell into the far future. Never before had I need a book with description of Roman street life and alien linguistics, and I may never again. Until some smart-ass recommends one to me on the basis of that statement.

The Call of Cthulhu (1926) by H. P. Lovecraft

How do I tell the ways of madness? Honestly, just read the story. It’s online, mostly legally, and is well worth the time to really dig through every word with a fine tooth comb. There is a reason the Lovecraft is considered one of the world’s best, if not the best, horror writer.

Not Simple (2006) by Natsume Ono

From chapter one I knew what I was getting in to, but I kept reading because I wanted to know how Ian got to that diner and why he was sleeping outside. It’s a powerful story that I suggest to anyone who wants to know that there will always be someone worse off. I know that’s a terrible way of looking at it, but it’s the honest truth.

The Vanishment of Suzumiya Haruhi (2004) by Tanigawa Nagaru

This volume of the Suzumiya Haruhi series sticks with me because it breaks from the usual “I’m in an alternate universe” trope by using the nature of the one character who realizes the world changed to point it out. The main character, contrary to the name of the novel series, is openly terrified at the new world and takes any help he can manage (including alternate version of his friends, cheating from the future and a world-ending trust password) to get his way. Causality? We don’t need any stinking causality.

Watchmen (1986) by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons

It’s an enigma wrapped in a mystery tied up with a physical god cooked in bacon. The first time through, I never saw the ending coming, let alone how the real villain was perfect. I won’t spoil anything, but his victory was ensured long before the heroes saw it coming. The next time through, and every reading since then, I’ve sought out every trick and red herring, every little clue that something was amiss. And I’m not disappointed.

Pedestal (2009) by Digital Skitty

I’m probably going to enrage any literary critics that happen by this post some day by having fan fiction on my list of favorite and most (personally) influential books. All I can say to them is “you don’t have to read my blog.” This story is unlike the usual “boy gets Pokemon, boy goes on journey” tale from it’s oftentimes masterful prose and ability to play off the terror of the world the Nameless Narrator finds himself in. NamNar is unlucky, a little bitchy and gets screwed over more times than any main character should. But I want to keep reading. There is never a dull moment and it sticks with me because through half a million words (proving that fan fic authors don’t use editors), I am never bored and I am invested in the boatful of named characters.

Questionable Content (2003) by Jeph Jacques

QC has a way with you. Honestly, I find some of the characters annoying, but only because they remind me of so many people around me (and sometimes myself in ways that I’m not going in to). The references go over my head sometimes, but it’s clever in how even the esoteric ones can be explained to laypeople (as I find myself here and there). For its accessibility and fun, versatile story, I can’t praise QC enough.

MegaTokyo (2000) by Fred Gallagher (& Rodney Caston)

I won’t pretend to be able to explain why MegaTokyo is one of my favorites. But the fanbase, myself included, must have the patience of God to be able to wait so long (sometimes months) for a new page. It tells an intense, maddening but relatable story of a couple of guys who move to Japan on a whim and for whom, the best way home is to be deported. Needless to say, it doesn’t happen and life ensues. I’ve read the whole thing through several times and I’m never disappointed. If I had to point out any aspect of my own work it influences, it’s definitely the randomness of life. Sometimes, a Zilla or a Magical Girl just drop in for no readily explained reason, and we just have to deal with that.

Misfile (2004) by Chris Hazelton

If you wanted a fan service filled, NSFW webcomic, you’ve some to the wrong window. If you wanted a well paced, long-terms story, step right up. If this story has changed by style, it’s in how to pace a chapter. Maybe it comes from running for ten-plus years, but the speed at which the story progresses never seemed slow, but never went too fast. And honestly, in today’s religiously PC (politically correct) world, it’s nice to see a story that tells a complex, gender-related topic without falling into H-game territory.

Nobody Dies (2009) by Gregg Landsman

Again, I won’t argue with lit critics. Nobody Dies is an alternate universe Evangelion fan fiction in which several principle characters who are dead (sorta’) in canon, are alive and still working with the Project Evangelion. This piece changed how I treat the multi-universe and how I can treat canon (as not meaning much). A similar change to when I read Number of the Beast (Heinlein) a couple years later.

Double Arts (2008) by Komi Naoshi

This is one of my favorite, short lived manga series ever. Granted, it was cut short just as the main plot was taking off, but it lives on in the hearts of the fans (of which there seems to be at least a few besides me). It’s straight-forward story-telling, to the point characters engage and enthrall. If I had to pick any part that’s changed in my thinking from this work, it would be in character interaction.