Tag Archives: fiction

[D&B Vol. 1] Episode 0004

‘Sword Uthor!’ She barely heard Della yelling behind her, deliberately shut her ears to the power of her friend’s voice, to the command in the name she’d left behind when she’d stuck a knife in her own heart and launched herself into new life.

Not again. Not again. Not again. The chant matched the pound of her feet. Nurses scattered before her, adding their voices to Della’s command to stop. But she wouldn’t, not after the things she’d seen. Oh Powers, the things she’d seen. 

Byrne burst through the doors at the end of the long hall, ignoring the “No admittance” emblazoned across the front. There were more yells, a man hurrying towards her, white coat  flapping, another in the solid blue of a police uniform starting with surprise, hand falling to the gun at his hip. 

She let it flow around her, concentrating on the solid pulse in her chest, the link only a Sword could feel, the one that drew her to her sisters. A window separated her from the emergency care ward, beds and the quiet hush machinery, some occupied, others not and there, there a pale blue curtain blocking the view at the end of the room.

The doctor stepped in her way, towering over her. There was compassion on his face, buried under the anger as he reached for her—

She put him on the ground, stepping over his body as he wheezed for air, already rushing the police officer as his gun cleared its holster. He hit the nurses station, back sliding down the shiny white front before his arse smacked the floor, gasping for air like the first, pieces of his weapon shattered around him.

The curtain at the back of the ward called her, the hot pulse behind her breastbone telling her to hurry. Hurry. Hurry. Hurry. 

Byrne ripped the fabric aside.

Sunmetal didn’t glint or glow. In the grip of one of the royal blood it burned, a ravenous flame fit to rival a star, just like the tip of the dagger hovering over Nova’s chest.

Fear obliterated moderation and Byrne sent her youngest sister crashing into the wall. The dagger fell from Suun’s hands and Byrne caught it on reflex, snatching the burning metal out of the air. It turned black in her hands, the fire eating itself until nothing by but the pitiless cold of space remained.

In the hands of the blood sunmetal burned, but in her hands, the hand of the royal Bastard, it wasn’t flame that licked the metal.

Nova slept, her long black hair arranged in one of Suun’s careful braids, her face a mass of bruises, her right arm an ugly stump wrapped in bandages. 

‘It’s what she wants Byrne.’ Suun’s soft voice drew her gaze to the floor, to the baby sister she’d sworn to protect with her last breath. 

Eyes as soft as her voice, and as dark as the blade in Byrne’s hand gazed steadily back. No reproach, no anger, just a steady, soul deep understanding that cut deeper than any recrimination. Not for the first time, Byrne wondered if Suun had seen the horrors she had, felt the pain, the fear in the time between lives.

‘It’s not what I want,’ Byrne said.

Boots pounded behind her, sharp clack of authority and danger that reminded her of long-ago barracks full of soldiers. Reinforcements had arrived, come to take her away, yelling at her to drop the weapon and get on her knees. She let the dagger fall, touched the cold floor with her knees, but her gaze never broke from Suun’s.

‘When Nova wakes up, tell her to do whatever she wants.’ Byrne said as rough hands grabbed her arms. ‘But I’m not going to follow.’

Byrne had time to see Suun’s complexion turned a whiter shade of ghastly, before the hands pulled her up and marched her out of the hospital.

Don’t forget to check out the episode notes for more behind the scenes content.

Question time

I sense something strange about Byrne, something to do with why sunmetal turns black and cold in her hand, while it burns gold when one of her sisters touches it. 

What do you think this strangeness might be?





[D&B Vol 01.] Episode 003

Another lifetime. Another war they couldn’t win because her sister and Empress fell for the same pretty face.

Suun had kept Nova alive long enough for the paramedics to find them. The woman and her partner had both had the calm, stoic expressions of those who had seen it all, but Byrne had recognised the slightly too-wide eyes and pale sheen of shock as they’d half-jogged into the gym showers. 

There’d been a handful of seconds where all they did was stare, eyes agog at the four teens in their battle-stained uniforms, before Della had laid a hand on their shoulders. The paramedics had gone about their work then, not seeing the incor stains or claw marks, just like the people around Byrne didn’t see them now. 

The hospital beeped and rustled soft-footed nurses rushing past her in a sea of pale blue and white, the doctors striding past with coats flapping, cocooned in their bubble of command.

She knew that feeling, the confidence of power, the rush of command, remembered it well from that lifetime when she’d wielded the might of a legion in her sister’s name. Remembered too the crushing despair when she held Nova’s body in her arms as the Imperial city burned around her, the strength of its armies laid to waste by her sister’s indiscretion.

And now…now she stood in a hospital ward while the Hordes paced beyond the Veil and her sister struggled to breathe. 

‘We were meant to do it better,’ Byrne said to herself. 

‘We will.’ Della wrapped a hand around Byrne’s arm, hugging it tight to her chest. ‘We know Tellamoth’s true face now, and I know once we complete the ritual, we’ll recognise it in the next life—’

Byrne ripped her arm out of Della’s embrace, horror stopping her heart, making her voice shrill. ‘What?’

The next life? Their lives were now the threat was here. There was no guarantee if they performed the ritual, committed themselves to another go at the Wheel that they would recall anything in another life. 

Byrne remembered the most out of all of them, fragments of memory and snippets of knowledge that pressed against her brain and haunted her nights. Every day the weight of it threatened to swallow her whole, every night she dreamed of blood and terror. And never did she remember enough or soon enough to prevent the same sorry tragedies. 

Even now, she recalled Della as she had been before, tall and statuesque, raven hair cascading down her back, arms banded in the golden marks of a priestess, screaming as the power of the universe pulled her apart molecule-by-molecule. 

Della reached for her again, big dark eyes soft but steady, hiding the thread of steel Byrne knew lurked behind. ‘It was Her last order Byrne.’ 

Byrne shuddered at the way Della’s voice seemed to echo when she used the Imperial ‘Her’, worked to push back the memories of echoing marble corridors and a sea of bowed heads as she stood to the left and two steps behind Nova. Pain and regret swamped her senses, made it difficult for her to concentrate on the here and now, and maybe Della knew that, counted on it even because her next words barely penetrated the haze of memory. 

‘Suun’s with Her now.’

Byrne ripped herself out of the memory. ‘No.’ The colour left her cheeks, she felt the blood drain to her feet but the dizzy rush didn’t stop her from spinning on her heel and sprinting down the corridor.

Don’t forget to check out the episode notes for more behind the scenes content.

Question time

What is Suun doing to Nova and what’s Byrne going to do about it? What kind of empire do you think Nova ruled?

Blake Snyder's Beat Sheet and Scrivener

A screenshot of my novel ' class=
I love the beat sheet’s word count per beat.

About the same time I revisted the BS2, Jami Gold posted an excellent article about using beat sheets with Scrivener. What I liked most about the article was the idea of using the target word count for individual chapters and scenes to lay out the beats.

I don’t know about you, but when it comes to word counts, I find big numbers like 100k pretty intimidating. One of the beauties of the beat sheet is that it breaks down these numbers into manageable chunks. For a 100k-word novel, however, some of those chunks are still 25k words, so I took the idea one step further, with Scrivener.  Continue reading

Teaser Tuesday: The Towers of the Sunset

Can you see how the pieces fit together? Not just the visible ones, like the towers of the sunset, but those unseen, like the heart of a man or the soul of a wizard.

The cover of The Towers of the Sunset by L.E. Modesitt Jnr.
A good book, although the lack of a blurb is confusing.

What’s awesome about it

  • The langauge is beautiful (as you can see above)
  • The worldbuilding and the use of the word ‘masculine’.

What’s not-so-awesome

  • There’s no blurb! At least on my copy. This makes it very hard to place the book in context to the first, The Magic of Recluce
  • The last half of the book is kinda boring
  • Magera is a twit.

Would I buy the sequel? I already did, in fact, not only did get the sequel, The Magic Engineer, I splurged on its sequels as well, The Order War and The Death of Chaos. I just haven’t read them yet.  Continue reading

Katana by Cole Gibsen

I’m pretty sure you’re not meant to hold a sword like that.

Katana is the second book from American author Cole Gibsen. It blends martial arts with the supernatural in a story reminiscent of films such as The House of Flying Daggers and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, except without the teary ending.

The story follows Raleigh, your average teenage skater-chick (not that I’ve ever known any), as she discovers that she’s a reincarnated samurai with supernatural powers.

What I liked and didn’t like

I’m often disappointed with martial arts books and Katana is no exception. I’m not sure what it is I’m looking for in such a novel, but so far I haven’t found it. It may stem from my own involvement with karate, which I’ve been studying for a few years now, or it may be something else entirely.
Continue reading

Page 7

Svana tossed, the sheets twisting tighter and tighter around her legs, her brow furrowed in a grimace of pain.

Sassa stood on the threshold and let her twin fight the dream. It used to frighten her, the way Ana thrashed and fought, how her face screwed up and her mouth screamed silently. When she heard the tell-tale creak of the mattress she would rush to her sister’s side and shake her violently awake.

She turned away from the door, sliding it shut behind her, locking out Ana’s nightmare. She was tired, tired and far to used to the silent dreams. It was the times she wasn’t silent, the times when strange, foreign words streamed from her mouth that disturbed her. The sounds tickled something in the back of her mind, something old, something that came with fear.

But this wasn’t one of those times, and as Sassa grabbed her jacket from the back of dining chair, she was glad at least that Ana was no longer shutting her out. The genetic anomaly her twin had stumbled across was … was … Sassa shook her head. There were no words to describe it, not yet at any rate, but they’d find them, publish them, own them. Her and Ana, just like they used to.

Page 6

“Valu,” he/she shouted.

Valu paused and glanced over his shoulder, the muscles in his arms rigid, his grip white knuckled on the sonic stick’s grip. “The decision has already been made Wolern, we’re not welcome here.”

Wolern/Svana clasped Valu’s shoulder, spinning the younger man around to face him/her. “Don’t do this.”

The other man’s face, already set like steel, hardened further as he shook off Wolern/Svana’s hand. “You should be coming with us, you’re not one of them anymore.” He swung his arm, encompassing the gleaming city rising around them. “They’ll turn on you like they have on the rest of us, insist you take their ‘cure’ and then where will you be?”

“It won’t come to that.” He/she reached out again, clasping both of Valu’s shoulders in hands marked by the Other. “If you could just work with them, show a little patien-”

Valu jerked backwards, his face contorted in disgust. “Wake up and smell the ko’choo brother, they’re scared of us, scared of what they made us.” He shook his head. “You’ll be lucky if they let you live.”

Page 5

This page is not working for me, I’ll rewrite it soon.

The compound was peaceful in the small hours with the others tucked away in their bunks. A few, like Svana still roamed the modules and interconnecting umbilici, the graveyard shift who where either unlucky enough or obsessed enough to work the first twelve hours of Hetica’s 38 hour rotation.

Svana leaned against the the curve of the plexiglas and admired the tops of the starlit forest. From it’s position atop the volcanic rim, the compound commanded unparalleled views and a highly defensible perimeter the efficiency of which had not been tested in the eighteen months since the Directorate had landed them on the planet. Which caused much speculation as to the cause of the tension in Captain Kava’s shoulders and the new lines in her forehead.

Something nocturnal winged it’s way through the night, a deep rumbling craw following in its wake.

Page 4

I’ve made an executive decision (since no one else has weighed in), The Hybrid Theory will the 3rd person.

The tall white bucket was almost comfortable put her in easy reach of the fruit. Three discarded skins already lay on the frozen concrete floor of the cold-room and she plunged her hand into the tub for a forth.

The botanists were calling them Citrus musa, the rest of the expedition called the tart, curved fruits Grape-nanas and relished the latest addition to their diet of protein packs and dehydrated vegetables.

Svana peeled the thin, fleshy skin back with practised ease, careful to keep the inner flesh intact lest a cascade of juice run down her arm. She dropped each long piece of red-orange peel to the floor and then began separating the long, slightly curved segments with more gusto.

Page 3 – 1st Person

World changing. My twin’s words ring in my ears, following me into the dark mess hall and around the vacant tables that sprouted the legs of upturned chairs like a herd of hedgehogs. I didn’t need world changing, I’m wasn’t looking for anything more than life changing, my life changing, but all the same something had tightened in my gut when Sassa flung her hands in the air and said the words. The something stayed with me, crouching in the back of my mind, running up and down my spine with equal parts excitement and trepidation.

I push past half-door, slipping into the galley dimly lit by the green exit sign and small red standby lights on the huge appliances. The heavy cold-room door stands at the end of the long row of stainless steel benches and I pull it open slowly, waiting until the flickering automatic light steadies before stepping across the threshold. Rows and columns of carefully stacked and sorted food and, towards the back, a stack of frosted plastic drawers. I slide one out, revealing a pile of orange-red, banana like fruits the gathering party collected the day before, and reach in and pick out the juiciest.

“A single genetic marker.” My breath frosts in the cold as I study the fruit, my mouth already watering. “Changing the world.”