K23 Side Story: Wild Woman

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This is a older story from Sandworm Rodeo starring Metara Fillion, an elven character from Deltan Skies, but reading that book is not required. 

A twenty-one year old Metara Fillion stood at attention next to her fellow cadets in a Sector Omega base training room, a bare stone room. In front of her marched Training Mistress Ellara Pertenian. “Ladies, today you face you final test before you can call yourself rangers! It is a worst case scenario. Your riding dragon is dead. You have nothing, not even clothes. You don’t know where you are. The nearest sector base could a mile or a hundred miles away, there’s no way to know. Your mission is to make it back to a sector base, any sector base, since all of you will randomly distributed in all sections except for Sector Kappa or Sector Beta, you will not be close to civilization.” The forest was divided into twenty-two sections. Sector Kappa surrounded Teolos. Sector Beta bordered the Port of Brocenback.

“Nobody will be watching you. There is no time limit. There will be no rescue. While you might see patrols, they are under strict orders not to assist you in any way.  If you wander into an illegal logging camp and get raped and murdered, so be it! If you get eaten by predators, so be it! If you starve to death despite it being late spring, so be it! Cadets have died or gone permanently missing. Tomorrow I start on a new class of cadets, so I will not know or care if you make it!”

Every cadet stood motionless and at attention in their training armor. Most every cadet was holding back complete terror about what they were going to undergo. It was brutal, but the weak had quit long ago.

Ellara stopped and face the cadets. “It has been a pleasure training you. Your test starts… now!”

A hand reached around and held a chloroform rag to Metara’s face. She was out in seconds.

***

Metara awoke naked in a forested glade next to a clear stream. Song birds chirped down from the branches above. The air was cool against her skin but not cool enough to make her cold. It was mid-morning. She had plenty of daylight left.

Metara sat up and ran to the stream and took a drink of water. Then she over turned a large rock and found a few grubs squirming underneath.

As she ate, she looked around the glade, trying to find her spotter. She found her, perched in a tree at the edge of the glade, looking at her through binoculars, rifle and rucksack strapped to her back; a helmet completely obscured her identity. Metara waved and proceeded to cover herself in a thick layer of mud covered in leaves for camouflage.

Metara had done research on the final test and knew what Ellara had told her were almost all lies designed to scare cadets. Teolos wouldn’t sacrifice their valuable investments on a test. There was a time limit of twenty-four hours and every cadet had another ranger following them who would save them in case in they were going to die or not make it in time. But if they were saved, they would have to repeat the test. If one failed the test three times, they were out of the Rangers. Metara was not going to be one of those few.

Metara found a long stick on the ground. She stripped off the branches and sharpened the end.

Metara began follow the stream as it wound through the forest. Her spotter followed behind in the trees leaping from the branch to branch, trunk to trunk, running between them if the distance was too great.

Sector bases not sitting on a spring or beside a pond or lake were always sitting on the banks of a waterway. If Metara followed the stream long enough, she would arrive at a base as there were always at least three bases in every sector, one larger central one, and a few smaller outposts. It was quite possible they put her downstream from one, but it was equally possible they put her upstream. Even if she was downstream, continue on long enough, she’d still arrive at a base. While cadets were always placed by a stream most never thought to follow them.

As she traveled, Metara shrugged off her Teolian mores, becoming one with the forest, a being of nature, of Illwyn. She was a wild woman, free to run and live off the land. This was the true point of the test, of course. Metara would have fun.

A mile down, she encountered her first predator, a dire grizzly, a gargantuan brown bear with oversized claws. It was drinking from the stream and had not noticed her yet.  She was stuck.

The stream was too wide here to jump across, really a small river. While she could swim, her camouflage would wash off, and the bear could hunt in the water. Going around the bear would merely attract its attention. Trying to attack the bear was a death sentence.

Instead she stayed back and hid behind a tree until the bear wandered off again.

Further up she could hear the roar of water fall.

The stream dived off the cliff into a wide lagoon cut into the trees far below before moving on. She could see the tops of buildings peaking on the distant horizon. It had to be a few good miles, but the end was definitely in sight and reachable by water.  Metara squatted and peered down. There was no white water at the bottom, which meant it was safe to dive.

Metara walked up to the edge. She stood straight up, pulled back and dived off.

She did a perfect three turn drive, going deep into the water, able to touch the bottom if she stretched.

Metara swam to the surface, her camouflage washed off and leaving her bare. The water was freezing, but nothing she couldn’t handle. Metara swam laps around the lagoon; front stroke, back stroke and breast stroke.

A rucksack splashed down followed by her spotter, who was Ellara herself. “Cadet Fillion,” she yelled as she tread water in her armor, “what are you doing?”

Metara floated upright. “Taking a break, ma’am.”

“This is an exam, not a vacation!.”

“I thought I could as do I please as long as I made it to a base.”

Ellara frowned. Metara knew why. This test was not made for women like Metara. Most cadets struggled. Metara was enjoying the experience. “I’m giving you a challenge that you must complete or you fail.” She looked around for a minute, coming up with the challenge on this spot.  “Find another dire grizzly and kill it.”

“Isn’t hunting predators forbidden?”

“Not if it attacks you first.” She grabbed her nearby rucksack and swam to the shore. “Get going, this won’t be easy! I’ll be watching.” Ellara climbed up a tree and perched on a limb.

Metara left the lagoon and started to reapply her camouflage. She then had an idea.

She stopped reapplying and sharpened a stick. Then she sharpened a rock into a crude stone axe on another stone.

Metara dived back in the lagoon with her stick, looking for a fish to spear.

A largemouth bass was hanging around the bottom. Her breath was running out, but she stayed still and heaved the stick. It pierced the bass squarely. The bass floated to the surface, leaving a trail of blood.

Metara took the bass to the shore. Back on the mud and leaves went.  She smashed open the bass, and covered herself in fish guts. She then ran into the forest and climbed a tree with a big limb with her tools. All she had to do was wait and hope the kind of predator she wanted would follow her scent.

The all-male Teolian Warriors often criticized the all-female Teolian Rangers for being weak. They were giving rifles and riding-dragon and told to fight from a distance. They were priestesses of Illwyn, not battle hardened soldiers. But there Metara was, not even a full ranger yet, naked, covered in fish guts and mud, lying on a tree limb ready to kill a bear. The final test for a warrior cadet was assassinating a dummy without being detected. It was far from easy, but lame in comparison to surviving in the wilderness with nothing.

She wished her parents could see her now. She always came in second to her twin sister, who did everything they asked and never caused trouble. But now, while her sister had her head in a text somewhere, learning, Metara was being so exceptional, her spotter, her training mistress, had to give her a special challenge to keep her from showing up everyone. Her parents wouldn’t see this, but word would spread if she was successful. Hopefully, they’d be proud of her, but she wasn’t sure.

Metara waited for a good long while, the sun had moved overhead and towards the west a little. She passed the time in a light nap, one with forest.  She was awoken when she heard movement below and a dire grizzly, the same dire grizzly as before came towards her. It had walked down the steep forest inclines on the edges of the waterfall. It sniffed the base of tree and then looked up. The bear stood on its hind legs roared. Metara was out of reach of its front claws as it swiped.

Metara hurled her axe down into the bear’s face. It did no damage, but it caused the bear to fall back on its paws.

She fell onto the bear with her spear, locking her legs around its neck, just below its jaw line. The grizzly bucked and swiped, but it missed. Then it collapses tried to roll onto its back to crush her, but Metara made her move.

She slammed the spear into one of the bear’s eyes. Blood spewed; roars turned into squeals and whimpers as she dug it in.

The bear went silent and limp. Her makeshift spear had reached it brain, killing it. Metara kicked out from under it and stood up. She pulled out the spear and wiped some of the blood on her face.

With a bared chest, Metara let out a primal roar of her own, having conquered one of the fiercest predators in the Forest of Illwyn.

Metara heard clapping from above. Ellara was sitting on a limb in an adjacent tree with a faint smile on her face. “Congratulations, but I wouldn’t celebrate just yet, you have to make it to the base before you’ve officially passed.”

Metara walked back to the lagoon with slumped shoulder, her amazing victory trivialized in an instant.  But after what she just did, floating down a stream was easy.

***

Metara arrived at the Gamma Sector main base to cheers from the other rangers and was immediately given her official light ranger armor to wear. Metara had taken five hours and twenty-one minutes from waking up to arrival, most of that time spent waiting for the bear.

However, Metara was not the fastest to arrive at a base. Someone had beaten her by half an hour.

But the cadet who beat her didn’t have to kill a bear.

 

The Future of this site

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Since my twitter feed is gone, nobody is looking….  except for the countless people who chime in  that I have to be lying about what I observed at Piratz because a slickly produced and edited reality show designed to tell a particular narrative cannot possibly be lying. It never fails to amaze me that people will believe anything a TV show tells them simply because it was on TV.

Anyways, it occurred to now that nobody is watching as hard, its time I go and write the K23 short stories that I’ve always wanted to write but didn’t have the guts too. So yes, there will be a season 3 of K23 Side Stories, and it be full of edgier stories involving mature content(mostly). Does this mean I’m writing a Deltan Skies sequel, possibly once I’m done with these stories. Also expect a return of media criticism articles.  I have a platform from which to speak, so why reinvent the wheel. So I’m not going anywhere, though you may get a site redesign and a new domain in time.

I’m exiting Twitter.

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Over the past few weeks I’ve been dealing with issues that have made it clear that I can no longer be on Twitter. Therefore, I’m deleting my account and disappearing from it. Just know that I’m not disappearing completely,  but it will be without Twitter .I don’t see this as an end, but merely the beginning of a new era. What will probably happen is this blog will be retooled into something completely different. Probably a media review blog of some kind.

Stay tuned.

 

Why I have a problem with #yesallwomen

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I cannot even imagine what’s its like to be a woman, not in a million years. I can write deep women in fiction, but they’re just characters from my head. The amount of sexism that women encounter in intense. Every day they have face harassment and threats of domestic violence and assault, that I, as a man, can not even begin to fathom. My heart goes out to them, really it does. I wish we could all be a equal, but that’s not the world we live in.

Then there’s #yesallwomen hashtag on Twitter and this is what I have a deep problem with.#yesallwomen is everything wrong with Twitter today. Yes the stories being shared is important and need to be shared 100%. The world needs to know, just not this way.

To understand my point of view, you have to separate the stories of domestic violence and abuse women face and look at it in terms of why the hashtag stated and the current state of discourse on Twitter. On the three years I’ve been on Twitter, it has degraded from a micro-blogging service to what amounts to a cesspool of yelling and screaming and various special interests hijacking Twitter for whatever fits their end. Time and time again, I’ve seen plenty of hashtags trend that are based on people jumping the gun and rage about whatever without thinking through the issues at hand.

The case in point is #yesallwomen, which started in the wake of Saturday’s shooting at UC Santa Barbara. Elliot Rodgers, who wrote a manifesto expressing his anger at women in general and sexually active men in particular, shot a guy a convenience store, stabbed 3 men in his apartment, then went to a sorority and shot two women and injured 13 others . Then somehow, in the wake of a horrible tragedy, we get a hashtag where women talk about the misogyny and violence they face in life, which is fine, but in context of the Santa Barbara shootings is  to me its very insensitive, because it forgets the male victims that died and instead becomes all about one man’s disturbed hatred of women.

Hijacking a tragedy where both men and women died and in-essence making it all about the women is insulting, and by denying the right for men to express that, women become everything they’ve accuse men of being. Women have being fighting against having their humanity stripped away for ages and in this instance are stripping men of their humanity. 4 men died in the rampage along with the 2 female victims, where’s the outrage against their deaths on Twitter?  I’ll tell you it certainly wasn’t in #yesallwomen.

The Santa Barbra shootings are not the platform to launch into a discussion about misogyny, not when both sexes were the targets of a twisted individual’s hate. Misogyny is a critical issue and needs to be discussed, just not this way, not this time.

That’s is why I have a problem with #yesallwomen and Twitter in general. A real tragedy is reduced to an excuse to rage against the machine, justified or not.  I today made some comments that were just plain wrong(stand corrected about men losing family court) and I’m sorry for those.  I don’t think I’m wrong in general and I’m not sorry for speaking out.

Women need to speak out against the horrible things they face in life, but they need to do it in the right context, and #yesallwomen is not the place to do it because they do so at the expense of a tragedy with real victims. Violence against men as an issue pales against violence against women in many respects, but we should we not forget that violence against men is still an issue, especially in light of a tragedy where four men died.

 

Candy Crush Saga and the Erosion of the Middle Class

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candy crush sagaFor those living under a rock, Candy Crush Saga is an incredibly popular and quite good free to play game where you match gams candy under various conditions, like taking certain jewels ingredients to the bottom of the board in a certain number of moves.Its free to play meaning you don’t have to pay a cent to play until you get to the  the insanely hard levels that populate it after awhile.  At that point, you will have to pay for buffs or extra moves/time/lives or be in for a painful play experience. While King.com, its developer, says 70% of the people on the final level never paid a cent, that 70% basically had to learn how to game the game  to do it.

But Candy Crush Saga is only the tip of the iceberg of free to play games, games which free to play but uses various psychological tricks to get to get you pay. While I could spend this entire article talking about how games like Monopoly Hotels and Beat the Boss aren’t really games at all but rather cash machines for greedy developers, I won’t.

Instead I’m going to argue that the rise of the free to play gaming system is rather a symptom of this:

Low wage workers strike in NYC

The rise of free to play gaming is actually a symptom of the erosion of the middle class in the United States. 50 years 61% of adults were middle class, now 51% are. Right now wealth is more unequal since the Guided Age of the 1890s. Low wage workers across the nation are striking because they can’t afford to survive anymore  Even Walmart, which had a food drive for its own employees,  is beginning to realize its profits depends on people having money to spend.

At first glance, there is no direct correlation between free to play gaming and the erosion of the middle class. In fact, it would be nearly impossible for me to paint a direct correlation without doing serious research for months and writing a several hundred page book. Still, there is some sense to this on the surface.

Gaming is not an essential purchase. One can do without it. As more more and people balk at the high price tag of consoles and $60 games, they’ll naturally gravitate towards lower priced games, namely free ones. However, free to play games are not free to develop, therefore developers have to resort to using shady tactics to make money. In essence, games like Candy Crush Saga are the direct result of a downward pressure on gaming prices, which while nobody will say it publicly, I believe its because its the result of people not having the money to throw around anymore.

Even despite the free-to-play tactics, only 1-5% of free to play game players monetize, forcing game developers to rely on “whales,” or taking advantage of people’s addictions. We can debate the ethics all day(and I fall on the side of its disgusting) but the gaming industry in a sense has been forced to into this model to survive.

Poor people were never really able to afford expensive gaming consoles and games. It was middle-class millennial kids and teens with large amounts of disposable income who could(AAA gaming is aimed at teens for a reason, they have the disposable income to spend on gaming). But these millennials are now adults and not making nearly as much as their parents did. And as they marry and have kids, they may spend money on games for their children. Except the cost of raising a child is rising at an alarming rate. Combined with lower wagers overall, guess who is not buying a $500 Xbox one and the games necessary for Microsoft to make money?

The console of the 1%

The Xbox One is the console of the 1%. The PS4 is not far behind though.

 

Now the PS4 had a great launch and the Xbox One did alright for having a $500 price tag, but I question whether in six to eight months we won’t be seeing a giant nose dive in sales as the sheer number of people who can and will afford a console at original launch price  peters out. Remember that earlier this year, the game industry was in dire straights, with a major publisher going bankrupt and the WII U is a failure. The forces behind gaming’s woes haven’t shifted just with the launch of two new consoles (although evidence points to Nintendo’s woes being of its own making). Still, consider that Microsoft is heavy using free to play game tactics. Is Microsoft being greedy, or is Microsoft using these tactics to extract more money out of a fewer number of players? While I personally believe its the former as I ditched the 360 after my last one broke because I didn’t want to spend $70 on an Xbox live subscription in order to be advertised to all day, the latter could very well also be a factor as well.

King could jack up the price to $30 with none of the shenanigans, but who will pay that much anymore.

King.com could jack up the price to $15+ with none of the shenanigans, but the game would fail.

Again, I can’t really make a direct correlation as its all circumstantial. But the circumstances is what gives my theory weight. Which is more likely, people not willing to throw $30 at a mobile game as good as its 3ds counterpart, or people just don’t have the money to throw $30 upfront anymore?  Games are not immune to economic forces and therefore must respond to a player-base with less money to throw around. But developers need to get paid regardless.

At this intersection lies the free to play game, games which have to be free to get the largest number of people playing, but have to actually make money. While we’d love to blame greed(and there are some cases), the real answer probably lies with an industry responding to a poorer player base and their own to need to pay their workers and make their investors money.

All I can say is play the free-to-play games that respect the player and deliver an actual game(like Candy Crush Saga, Temple Run 2, and Plants Vs Zombies 2, which is from Monopoly Hotels developer EA mobile no less) and if you can afford it, throw the developers a few dollars now and  then, they need to eat too.

My next book will fail!

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thisbookwillfail

The Self-Publishing Industry was once hailed as a new day for authors. Freed of greedy publishers, they could chart a new course to success. Instead, the self-publishing industry has produced a sea of garbage written by people following bad advice from self-help writing gurus with ulterior movies. But even talented writers still face a near impossible task of standing out, or even finding affordable editing.
Self-published author Noah Murphy takes you through his failures and successes during his two years in a broken industry in denial about the the risks facing authors, and the true rewards it can offer them. This Book Will Fail: The Truth About A Self-Publishing Industry In Denial is a book every self-published author or those thinking of self-publishing needs to read.

There will be no more novels from me,  editing them is too expensive in regards to the return. I’m going to focus on short work sold for 99 cents. And my next release is going to be something completely different from anything you’ve seen from me.  I’ve gotten tired of an industry where you’re skewered for not hiring an editor, except the professional ones all cost thousands. Hence, This Book Will Fail, which originally was a joke on Twitter, but morphed in a 10,000 word critique of what feel is a broken industry via relating my experiences in everything from editing to this blog.

I could just post it here for free, but a 99 cent ebook with an eye-popping cover is going to draw more attention, and hopefully start a discussion. It will be out, hopefully, in late August, early September at the latest.

Deltan Skies has been out….

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Deltan Skies has actually been out for two weeks, I just forgot to update the front page to make note of it. Good news is, in the time it’s been out, it’s sold more copies that Ethereal Girls did in for its first 4 months of release. See why it has today!

v1b_EBOOK

A  young elven mage named Quintanelle Fillion flees from her totalitarian homeland to New Delta, a dense metropolis made up of hundreds of mile-high towers. She finds employment working for New Delta’s top private detective, a human named Alfonso Deegan, and his red dragon associate Mordridakon. Quintanelle’s first case thrusts her in the middle of New Delta’s own problems.

After millennia of oppression, members of the disenfranchised avian race have taken complete control of the criminal underworld, but what they want is the one thing they can’t steal. To achieve their goals, the avians’ charismatic leader enlists the help of a goblin shaman cast out from her own suffering people. Together they create a risky and daring plan that involves everyone from the city’s inept mayor and a corrupt city senator, to Quintanelle’s new boss and even her own family.

As their plan unfolds, a dark reality emerges. New Delta stands on the brink of total annihilation, and Quintanelle may be the only one who can stop it. 

Read the first three chapters

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K23 Side Story: Weeding Out the Weak

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Uylouth was anxious. The six century old silver Uthiran had sat in her cavern on her nest made of rocks for the past year. Finally, her thirty-three eggs were about to hatch. Her mate, a red Uthiran named Tokiron, lazed outside their cavern high in one of Uthira’s numerous mountain ranges. Breed always went through the father, and Uylouth was never picky about mating within her breed. Tokiron was strong and hearty, though lazy, which balanced Uylouth’s busy-body personality.

Uylouth jumped off the nest as she felt one of the eggs began to shake.

“Get in here before I go out there and decapitate you,” Uylouth roared, shaking the cavern and the rock ledge Tokiron was lying on. Nothing less would get him inside.

Tokiron galloped inside and stood next to Uylouth. They both watched intently as thirty-three foot-long scaleless red Uthirans hatched, filling the cavern with chirps and cries.

“Can I chow down yet?” Tokiron wagged his tail. “I didn’t eat for the last two days in anticipation, so I’m starving.”

Uylouth scanned the writhing mass of hatchlings, already fighting among themselves who would be at the top of the heap. “Yes you can.”

She pointed with a claw to one hatchling with a deformed wing, another that was barely moving and finally to one with a nasty skin rash.

Tokiron carefully picked up the skin-rash hatchling from the pile with his teeth. Then sucked the baby in and started chewing.

Uylouth turned and walked out onto the outcropping. She would let Tokiron do his job while she hunted for her brood’s first meal.

While the rest of Terrall gasped in horror at the thought of fathers being allowed to cannibalize their children, it served a critical function. It got rid of the weak, as those were the only ones a father was allowed to eat. Otherwise they’d simply end up dead themselves.

That’s exactly what happened with a pair of silvers who lived further up the mountain. The father, Mordridakon, got greedy and ate the strongest hatchlings while the mother was hunting. Mordridakon’s head ended up landing on the very ledge Uylouth was standing on. His former mate took in another silver, got rid of her old brood, and was now sitting on a new clutch of eggs.

On one side of the cliff was a waterfall dropping a hundred feet, where the water flowed a short distance before falling again. Uylouth took a drink of water and then walked to the edge to survey the slopes. Up and down the mountains, other dragons were exiting their caverns to hunt for their own meals.

A silver female named Yukoni, who had very young hatchlings of her own, swooped down and hovered just off the cliff. The hatchlings’ sounds wafted out from the cavern.

“Congratulations on the hatchings,” Yukoni said. “Maybe your hatchlings and mine could play together when they’re old enough.”

“That would be good,” Uylouth replied. “As long as yours don’t try to kill mine.”

“Likewise. See you later. My brood is hungry.” Yukoni flew away.

Uthirans lived in loosely-affiliated groups called clans. The clans served one purpose: on a continent dominated by carnivorous dragons, there needed to be a system to ensure that they didn’t eat all the prey and starve to death. The clans ensured prey remained by limiting the number of Uthirans who could live and hunt in a particular area.

Membership to a clan was not determined by lineage or breed, but simply by the number of dwellings and the prey levels of a particular area. Desert clans had the fewest residents and plains clans had the most, with mountain clans falling somewhere in between. Members of mountain clans, like Tokiron and Uylouth’s Aspiusa clan, lived in the numerous mountainous caverns dotting the Aspiusa Range and mostly hunted mountain goats, sheep and mammoths. They always left enough to ensure the remainder would continue to breed sustainably.

Joining the Aspiusa clan was simply a matter of finding a vacant cavern either by mating with or killing the current resident. Offspring reaching maturity at one hundred were generally kicked from the clan unless they could find their own dwellings in the clan area.

The clan system was why Uthirans were so cruel toward their own kind. There were always more Uthirans than dwellings and available prey. The young were weeded out to a few, strong members. Mates could usually only stand each other as long as there were offspring around; afterwards, they usually split up before one ended up dead. Elders gone catatonic were left to starve to free up a dwelling unless they were one of the lucky few and had an offspring care for them. The only ones that weren’t brutal to each other were mature siblings who often banded together to survive for a few centuries.

The brutality had lessened in recent millennia as the residents of Hominia and Elemchi became more tolerant of their presence. Many Uthirans emigrated, returning only to mate and raise offspring. Uylouth and Tokiron were two such emigrants who met in New Delta and decided to mate with each other. They flew back to Uthira, moved to the Aspiusa Range and lucked out on finding a cavern – the previous owner had very recently gone catatonic.

Uylouth spotted a large herd of goats far below. She jumped off the cliff and went rigid, with her head, tail, claws and wings in perfect alignment. She shot down the slope in a flash. When she reached the herd, she glided over, causing a powerful sonic boom with stunned several goats. Uylouth arced around, grabbed one in her teeth and another in her claws and flashed back up to the cave.

Tokiron was finishing up eating a hatchling in front of a significantly smaller heap.

“How many did you eat?” the silver asked.

“Seven in total.”

Uyloth put her kills down and growled. “You’ve been greedy. I was only gone a short time.”

“Hold on, four were already dead, squished at the bottom of the heap.”

She was going to trust him, this time. “Help me feed the remainder.”

It was clear even then who the strongest were as two hatchlings were firmly implanted at the top. The first was an energetic male who whipped his tail down on his downtrodden siblings, and loudly barked for food. Next to him was a sister, who simply purred as she pushed her paws downward on her yelping siblings. Male and female dragons were identical until puberty, when females became stronger and more powerful. But their parents could always tell by smell.

Their parents picked them off first and placed them in the front. Then they untangled the heap, finding two more squished. Tokiron had a feast as he also devoured the bottom-most living seven.

“Wash your mouth before you feed, I’m not making our offspring cannibals.”

“Be right back.”

They were now down to seventeen hatchlings, sixteen having died in the first few hours of life. There was a practical reason for the quick culling of the weaker hatchlings. While it would take a long time to reach maturity, the hatchings would begin to grow the moment they were fed. The nest was only ten feet in diameter and so space had to be made.

Toikiron returned with a freshly washed mouth. The feeding could begin.

The hatchling’s teeth were dull stubs, so they couldn’t eat directly. Uylouth and Tokiron tore off meat from the kills, chewed it up and regurgitated it into their offspring’s waiting mouths. The two front hatchlings were fed first and the feeding progressed toward the back from there. Once fed, the hatchlings slept. Uylouth ate from the remaining meat and then slept on top of the nest.

***

The next day was the first of three tests to sift through the remaining hatchlings. Uylouth and Tokiron placed the hatchlings out on the cliff when the sun was at its peak. Then they waited. As they had no scales, the hatchlings were vulnerable to dehydration. The strong ones would either seek shade back in the cave or drink from the small puddles of water next to the waterfall.

After an hour, the two strongest drank from the water and then started wrestling each other, but Uylouth removed them before they’d topple over the edge. Another ten crawled back inside. Five never moved from where they had been placed.

***

A month later, once the twelve remaining hatchling had doubled in size and grew a thin covering of scales; it was time for the second test: the flight test.  Uylouth and Tokiron simply flung the hatchlings off the cliff and see which ones would fly. This was easier than the version performed in the plains, which involved flying to high altitudes and dropping them from there.

The two strongest, as expected, hardly dropped ten feet before flying back up to their parents. A female made it half-way to the ground before flying back up. Two males and another female almost hit before they flew away and Tokiron had to collect them as they didn’t have the power to make it back up.

***

Two months later, the six remaining hatchlings were three and a half feet long and no longer needed to have their meat regurgitated to them. This marked the end of their growth spurt and they would grow much more slowly from this point onward.

It was now time for the third test, which varied depending on the breed, but focused around seeing if the hatchlings could manifest the breed’s powers. For silvers, it meant holding onto their parents’ backs as they zoomed past the sound barrier. The weak lost their grip and rocketed into the ground. Red Uthirans, who could breathe fire and at maturity had scales as hard as diamonds, had to be able to withstand high temperatures.

The six hatchlings were stood in a line at the edge of the cliff. Tokiron stood back, huffed and blew an inferno of bright yellow flame. Two of the little dragons were instantly charred, while two more fell off the cliff on fire, splattering on the ground far below, leaving just the two strongest behind.

They were heaving, smoking, but otherwise alright. The parents picked one up each and dipped them under the waterfall to cool them down. The adults then placed both of them back in the center of the cliff, and sat back on their haunches. The juvenile dragons glanced up at their parents quizzically. They still couldn’t speak yet; that wouldn’t come for another few years.

“We could have just the killed the rest months ago,” Tokiron said to Uylouth quietly. “It was quite obvious these two were going to make it.”

“But in event they failed a test, all our offspring would be dead.” She sighed. “And there still is that possibility in the century to come. Now we should give them their names.”

Tokiron nodded. “I have the one I’m giving the male picked out. But I’ll allow you to go first.”

Uylouth walked forward and towered over her daughter, who sat on all fours. “You shall be called Selkath, after my mother.” Uylouth licked the top of Selkath’s head. The small dragon purred and nuzzled her mother’s snout.

Uylouth stepped back and Tokiron loomed over his son, who was sitting back wagging his tail with his mouth hanging open. “I’ll call you Mordridakon, after…” he could hear faint growling from behind him, he had to be careful. “–After a strong and hearty acquaintance of mine.” The growling stopped. He licked Mordridakon, who eagerly licked him back and barked.

Thirty-three had been weeded down to two. Now Tokiron and Uylouth could focus on Mordridakon and Selkath to mold them into dragons that would stand the tests of time…

Deltan Skies Revealed

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People may have noticed an extreme lack of content on this blog for the last several months. If Ethereal Girls taught me anything, it is blog posts do not sell books and all the marketing in the world will not help if people do not like what you’re selling(unless they troll you). However,  I have been working on a new book all this time:

v1b_EBOOK

A young elven mage named Quintanelle Fillion flees from her totalitarian homeland to New Delta, a dense metropolis made up of hundreds of mile-high towers. She finds employment working for New Delta’s top private detective, a human named Alfonso Deegan, and his red dragon associate Mordridakon. Quintanelle’s first case thrusts her in the middle of New Delta’s own problems.

After millennia of oppression, members of the disenfranchised avian race have taken complete control of the criminal underworld, but what they want is the one thing can’t steal. To achieve their goals, the avian’s charismatic leader enlists the help of a goblin shaman cast out from her own suffering people. Together they create a risky and daring plan that involves everyone from the city’s inept mayor and a corrupt city senator, to Quintanelle’s new boss and even her own family.

As their plan unfolds, a dark reality emerges. New Delta stands on the brink of total annihilation, and Quintanelle may be the only one who can stop it. 

Some people might find this book very similar to my very first release in June 2011, A Clear and Feathered Danger, which featured a similar book blurb and cover. It ultimately sold more than a hundred copies.  Unfortunately, it was not the book it should have been and neither were its sequels. As a result, the sequels bombed. So, I decided to go back and revise it. What started out as a simple revision and slight expansion snowballed. Soon a 33k fantasy thriller turned into an 87k science-fantasy novel.

There are new friends:

“Alfonso mentioned you help out,” Quintanelle said.

“Yes, I provide assistance on cases and back-end office work for him,” Corazon replied. “What it really means,” Alfonso said, “is it takes over cases and accesses my finances without asking.”

“That is not an accurate assessment of my work.”

“Yes it is,” Mordridakon growled.

There are new enemies:

“What did you think I’d do with a base full of military aircraft and a nuclear bomb,” Platon said, ” force the city to hold hands and sing songs?”

There is more action:

Borga dropped to her knees, but Metara grabbed the turnbuckle and pushed herself up. Borga’s eyes went wide as she realized the consequences.

“Time to tap, bitch!” Metara twisted, forcing Borga over onto her back, with Metara’s quads still firmly in place. Borga had no choice but to submit.

Metara leaped onto the turnbuckle, raising her fists in victory, enjoying the adoration of a nonexistent crowd.

There is more humor:

Every solider on the deck pointed their gun at him. “You’re trespassing in a restricted area!” one shouted. “Leave now or we’ll be forced to open fire!”

Abernathy glared at the soldiers. “If you don’t lower your weapons, every single one of you will be looking for a job because I’m the damn mayor! You work for me!”

The soldiers did not flinch.

“Was there an election we didn’t hear about? The mayor we know is an impotent troll!” A soldier shouted.

There is more drama:

Sisqub extended his wings and raised his beak. “Imagine countless avians huddled together in the dark, most having never done anything but exist, massacred because their only crime was wanting to live above the hominids on tower-tops, closer to the wide open Deltan skies.”

“Ye ashamed of the hate put in ye head by ye people,” Eluna said, “but ye have no idea what true hate be.”

Tears rolled down Quintanelle’s face.“Take me up. I can’t take it anymore!”

Sisqub folded his wings and lowered his beak. “You are only seeing what lies on the path to where we’re going.”

On May 30th….

“There’s not really anything to debate,” Leyla said. “They want citizenship and will do anything to get it, even if it means destroying the city.”

Pilpen shook his head while clicking his tongue. “That’s what Sisqub wants you to think. The Syndicate is still a megacorp and is working with the other megacorps to completely take over New Delta. “

Leyla rolled her eyes. “Good luck with that…”

Get ready to fly…

  The gunship creaked and moved aside, revealing a Mer pushing it. The Mer’s comrades were visibly crushed and mangled in their twisted coffins.  When the space was big enough, it thumped into the office with an angry look in its eyes. The vehicle was scratched and dented, but still functional. It had all six plasma cannons out and both arms were rifles.

”I ventured to the surface in the name of peace and unity,” the Mer said. Its automated voice was calm, but its clicks were sharp and angry. “But if it’s war you want, it’s war you get!”

The Deltan Skies!

Alfonso smashed his headset against the ground. He trembled with rage, his eyes burned with fury, his jaw clenched tight.

The CDU soldiers stumbled out their craft, some speechless, others crying.

“What was that?” Metara cried through choking sobs.

“The Syndicate’s gigantic fuck you to the city,” Alfonso seethed. “But the fucking has only just begun!”

Chapter 1 will be up to read on May 15.  Join my mailing list to be notified when this book his Amazon, Smashwords and Barnes and Noble.

Ethereal Girls 2 Announcement

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From left to right: Meadow, Phoenix, Liza and Jonola.

From left to right: Meadow, Phoenix, Liza and Jonola.

 

“Stupid fleshlings!” Jonola hissed. “They wouldn’t know a good book if it hit them in the face!”

Jonola, along with Liza, Phoenix and Meadow, were hanging out in Meadow’s room at the Travilah Academy for Powered Students.  Jonola was curled-up on Meadow’s bed next to Liza, who sat on the edge.  Phoenix leaned against the closet while Meadow sat cross-legged on the floor on her mat.

Meadow replied, “Some books fail, others succeed, it’s the nature of publishing.”

“But you’re in the book,” Phoneix said as she fidgeted with a dagger.

Meadow folded her arms. “So? This society just isn’t ready to accept us, that’s all.”

“I don’t care if the book doesn’t sell a hundred copies,” Liza cried, “all I want is for people to stop calling the drawing of me on the book cover ugly! I don’t have an hourglass figure, but otherwise it’s me.”

Jonola ran a hand along her scales. “I don’t have an hourglass figure either but you don’t see me complaining.”

“But the hatred isn’t directed at you, it’s directed almost entirely at me!”

“Oh yes it is. Some idiot fleshing said I had breasts.” Jonola turned her snout up. “That’s an insult to Lamia!”

“I wouldn’t worry about it,” Phoenix said, “He was making it all up.” She sighed. “We don’t even know a Stacy.”

Liza’s cell phone buzzed in her pocket. She pulled it out. “I got a text message from Noah.” Her eyes lit up. “It says he’s going to write an Ethereal Girls sequel, just because!”

Jonola uncoiled and slithered up and over Liza’s shoulder to look. She let out a happy hiss while wiggling her forked tongue. “Yes!”

Meadow stood up and stretched with a faint smile on her face. “Does it say what the plot is?”

“No,” Liza said.

Phoenix flipped a dagger in the air and caught it, visibly unmoved. “We’ll find out soon enough.”

Liza added. “Noah also announces that his next release, the K23 Detectives reboot Deltan Skies, will be formally introduced March 4th where it will be given a firm release time frame. He adds that if people like this original book announcement and are interested, they can purchase Ethereal Girls eBooks for 99 cents at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Smashwords. He closes by asking that those who’ve already read the book and enjoyed it, please leave a customer review.”

Jonola slithered off the bed. “That doesn’t make any sense. Who’re the K23 Detectives?”

“It does make sense,” Meadow said, “it just wasn’t meant for us.”

Phoenix looked up. “I often wonder if we don’t really exist, if we’re nothing more than book characters created from Noah’s imagination.”

“Just as long as people accept me,” Liza said, “that’s all that matters.”

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