Where Babies Come From #6

As usual, spoilers ahead. 

Neither Homeward Bound nor On the Edge of Living are particularly plot-filled stories and I’ll group them under the same banner in terms of intent. Both of them are short stories focused on the small guy affected by the Event, showing how normal life has been irreparably altered by the cataclysm.

The premise of Blackout is that all of the stories happen either during or long after the Event, an apocalyptic disaster that shut off every electrical device on the planet, shutting down the global energy infrastructure and annihilating communities in a flash. With electricity disappearing, things like running water, general stores and most businesses start shutting down. Motorised transport becomes defunct, most commodities become useless or so hopelessly expensive to create that they disappear in a matter of months. Old supermarkets like the one Jack finds himself in in On the Edge of Living become free-for-all buffets provided the contents haven’t rotted away yet.

The already-great gulf between the rich and poor in Cape Town was something I decided to focus on in Homeward Bound, the situation exacerbated by the disaster. With poverty and homelessness being an ever-present in the new shattered world, it deserved some attention. The emphasis, though, was on the people struggling to survive, one of the main themes of my works of fiction being man’s determination to succeed.

Thanks for reading and enjoy your day.


Where Babies Come From #2

As usual, spoilers ahead. Get a copy of Blackout or give me a shout if you want a free copy.
We’re going into the more meaty stories now, with Panic being first. I wanted to go to a foreign location for the epicenter of the apocalypse. Doing one of the cosmopolitan European cities would have been a cheap way out and there are enough end-of-the-world stories set in the US, so I didn’t need to add any more. I thought Nigeria, being Africa’s largest economy at this point, would be interesting place in which to set my story.

Most of my stories, novel including, happen long after the Event hits, so I felt obliged to write one at the point of impact. The whole thing is described as horrific, world-ending but very distant in the main narrative, turning Panic into something more visceral and more real. It gave my descriptive skills a bit of challenge in keeping the reader’s attention with a single character, no dialogue and an entire city going to hell. No one in the subsequent stories quite knows what happened, so giving the reader something extra seemed good.

The apocalypse introducing the power of telekinesis was always on the cards, with the end of Panic showcasing my unique take on magic system in science-fiction settings. With telekinesis being a magnetism-like force, I have a somewhat scientific sounding system that’s quite fun to play with. I really enjoy the sense of scale, destruction and power that telekinesis brings to a story, so I wanted to have that as a resource in my novel and in Panic, you get to see where that comes from. Mutagens introducing superpowers are something I’ve seen in some of my favourite pieces of fiction and I took it upon myself to deal with the concept very differently.

Thanks for reading and have a nice day.

Teaser- Panic

The ground below Moussa’s car exploded. Spikes of black tar rose up like Hell’s own fingers to drag him to the abyss, the road bursting to life as they were ripped asunder. He’d seen bombs explode in his backyard, frames rain down from air-carriers and rip his countrymen apart like wet paper and some genetic engineer’s project rip up his town. This wasn’t any of those. This was something beyond the scope of anyone or anything he’d seen before, a fact laid blatantly bare as the ground under entire buildings rose to meet the sky. The Earth itself roared like a wounded animal; infected black pus oozed from the cracks in the ground.
Continue reading

Teaser- Capacity for Atrocity

The armoured feet of a war machine hit the ground with a metallic thud, a stone giving something to hit other the soggy, sooty ground. Rain rattled against the broad curves of the frame’s shoulders and back. The machine dwarfed nearby houses, its head reaching halfway into the third stories of some. It had the shape and swagger of a burly rugby player, bronze plates making an imitation of a tan. Under the heavy-set forearms sat shining axe blades, notches on the sharpened edge telling a number of war stories.
“Tango, activate forward lights.” A small head set deep within armour plating regarded the weapons with silent admiration, floodlights illuminating the way through snowy mist.
The pilot, eyes locked dead ahead at the screen relaying dizzying amounts of information, rested deep within the machine. Around their arms and legs hung braces, a framework of rods and rings that approximated some sort of metal skeleton. They recorded everything the pilot did, down to finger twitches, and forced those motions on the machine. This was the invention dubbed the Motion Matrix.
Another Lordframe dropped onto the scene, splashing mud in all directions. The pair grew in time to be a heavily-armed trio waiting outside a smashed wall several metres higher still than their machines.  The buildings ahead were the ribs of the city’s upturned carcass, the machines vulture ready to venture in.

“This is Major Nathaniel Tomkins reporting in,” the first pilot said into his mic. “Time is exactly twenty-three hundred Eastern European time. We’ve hit the Blank Zone’s border in upper Donetsk.
“Blank Zone, sir?” the operator asked.  Major Tomkins grumbled. A radio operator not knowing crucial information this early in a mission was a great sign.
“You didn’t pay much attention in history class, did you?” another pilot jeered with a hint of a laugh.
“Don’t mock him, Simon,” Tomkins said with a cool yet ominous tone. “The Blank Zones are the places your mother told you not to go. The cities and towns claimed by Pre-Event weaponry, radiation and all manner of other disturbances, deemed too dangerous to venture into and almost always devoid of human life, those are the Blank Zones. We’ve received reports of ‘monsters’ coming out of Donetsk. Now these might be the results of mutagens being released on the population or they might be rogue Lordframes, I don’t know right now. What I do know is that we won’t have prepared for nearly a year and flown from Leeds to not do a proper job. I’ll report in when anything of substance occurs. Until then, Tomkins out.”

Simon nodded silently, wise enough not to irk Tomkins. A veteran of numerous such sorties, his achievements still paled in comparison to those of the major.
A light scar twitched on the major’s dark brow as he scowled, tired of waiting around. “Best get on with it. Let’s move.”  The massive machines whirred back into life, their red-hot hearts melting the snow on their backs. Tomkins shoved the ruined chunks of steel to one side, breaking through what was left of Donetsk’s border wall. The two accompanying frames swiftly moved to flank Tomkins, their war machines smaller and lighter than their bulky frontline leader. One of them, that belonging to Simon, clutched a long, tube-like firearm in its hands, always aimed straight ahead as the gunman surveyed his surroundings. They could ill afford to be ambushed by an enemy they had only anecdotal information on.

Teaser- My Angels

Frank and Maria’s daughter had been sick for a long time. But recently, the eight year old’s fever and cough had gotten much, much worse. In the middle of a stricken suburb with more focus on weapons than welfare, the couple was running out of options. There was no way they could afford suitable medication for Anne and there wasn’t a chance in Hell of them finding a doctor that would do them a favour. Anne’s issue was a mystery. She’d just as often have carefree hours outside with the other children as she would have those sputtering in bed. The sickness simply wouldn’t go away.
A knock came on the door and Frank, already on edge, marched there in a huff.
“We’re busy now. Come back later,” he said through an opened door not much wider than a slit. The man on the other side smiled, as if understanding their situation.
“I can help you, Frank,” he said. “I’ll take this issue off of your hands.” Frank glared at the man sceptically but he didn’t close the door. “I’m a reverend, a holy man with an eye for educating the youth. If you allow me to, I can take your children on for free.”
Frank grumbled. “I don’t see how that helps Anne.”
The man at the door narrowed his eyes, something Frank noted immediately as sinister. “Medical facilities, my friend. Specifically, my medical facilities. As a trained medical professional, I can provide whatever help your daughter needs.”
Frank held the man’s gaze, breaking it only to sigh. “Listen, we’re not friends, guy… but I don’t have a choice here. I’ll get my wife on board and then… then we’ll follow you to wherever the hell you’re from… you better be legit, or else.”
The man shrugged. “Fair, good sir, fair.” A lock of hair floated across the visitor’s face. “I’ll wait here.”

It didn’t take much to convince Maria and even less to convince Anne. The sickly little blonde girl was tired of being bedridden and, more importantly, tired of being a burden on her parents. They doted after her day and night and they didn’t deserve this. No less than she did. The girl tried her best to hold onto the strange new man with golden hair as he mounted his bike and rode off, followed suit by Maria and Frank on her bike. The trip took a number of hours, hours broken intermittently by fuel stops and breaks.
They eventually ended up where the Western Cape used to meld into the Northern Cape. Those days, it was just a uniform wasteland, like a bombsite the size of a community. Only a lonely church building still stood, surrounded by little shacks and outbuildings that seemed to expand from the building itself. The blond man motioned towards the church, as if to declare his ownership of the place.
Maria seemed on the verge of tears. “We’d love to visit this place more but… the fuel cost and the distance and…”
The man raised a finger. “It’s alright, ma’am, I understand. Rest easy, your child is safe in my hands.” Anne’s parents nodded, bidding their daughter teary farewells as they got atop Maria’s bike again and rode back home.

The man led Anne by the hand through the massive golden doors of the church, their bodies assaulted by dust flown along violent winds. The gates closed with an almighty clang, grabbing the attention of a dozen other people inside the church. They were all seated on pews, Anne noted as she lifted her head to look at them. They were all children as well and almost all of them were younger than she was, maybe six at the oldest.
The rest of the church’s main body was blackened and worn by time. Even a place as venerated as this was not immune to the passage of time. Despite that, the pews were noticeably clean and varnished. Special attention had been paid to them. The children sitting on them were as confused as Anne was, seemingly brought to the place as recently as she.
The man deposited the girl onto a pew, one shared with a raven-haired girl with an eye-covering fringe. Anne was missing any sort of familiar face amongst her surroundings… she’d have to make new ones.

My World- Part 3

Angelfall, the day it all changed

Excuse the cliche above. I’ve introduced you all to the Apocalypse Seven before and if you haven’t met them already, here’s their introduction. Effectively, they’re the dream team for evil, edgy teenagers (note: I turn 18 in April. I’m allowed to make this joke.) Being entirely responsible for the state of the world as it is, the angels are the primary antagonists of the series. The Black Angel opposes the protagonist in Wyvern Diary, being a very personal enemy to him. Anything beyond that veers into spoiler territory. I personally love writing the Black Angel because of his ‘overacting’ and his destructive tendencies really test my descriptive skills.

With their high speed and the augmentative qualities of telekinetics, the best way to battle the beast is hand-to-hand, with the ubiquitous sword being more economical than the gun in any case. Characters in the novels fight with both in equal amount. Personally, I love the mental image of a dragon squaring off against a mech suit with squads of riflemen flanking both.

The story of the first novel revolves around Steven’s change from child seeking justice for the world to revenge-filled angry teenager, and the repelling of the angel as he invades Cape Town. Being South African, it gives me great pleasure to be one of the very few authors setting science-fiction novels there/here. I’ve dropped a few hints here and there in Wyvern Diary as to locations and such. Between action sequences which I have been praised in crafting and quieter character-driven plot, I hope Wyvern Diary ends up being exciting and wholesome.

In terms of characters, we have:

First Squad:
Private Steven Hail (16): 
A blond-haired idealistic boy tainted early by a family tragedy. Extremely stubborn and strong-willed, Steven will fight until he blacks out.
Sergeant Emmet Hail (16): Steven’s twin brother, a much more responsible and cool-headed lad but with a dark intelligence about him. Motivated equally to protect his brother and serve his PMC to the best of his ability, it may yet tear him up inside.
Private Sam Steenkamp (16): A red-headed jokester with no sense of seriousness, Sam provides a well-needed jest in the face of horrific battles and monsters. Coming from a scholarly family with heavy pressures on him, Sam discards it all, though how successfully remains to be seen.
Private Isa Claramond (16): Notable for her emotionlessness, stark paleness but otherwise remarkably pretty face, Isa is an enigma to most of the platoon and a deadly one at that. As probably the second best fighter in the platoon, she gives Steven a pointer or two in that department while hiding deep-rooted issues of her own.
Private Amanda Walker (16): Sarcastic and biting where her best friend is jovial, Amanda can barely be found away from Sam. Exceptionally brave and a no-nonsense professional, she prefers to bottle her emotions than express herself. Does that suit her, though?
Private Kyros Manis (16): A kind-hearted young lad born from a Greek father, he is far more jaded than his smile lets on. Blessed/cursed with the ability to create fire, Kyros is a talented telekinetic who fears his own powers. Despite his considerable utility to the platoon, he often doubts his place in the squad structure.
Lieutenant Damian Wolf (22): The devastatingly handsome, hyper-dangerous celebrity soldier in charge of the platoon, Wolf lives for battle and for the thrill. The sole survivor of the previous iteration of the 46th Platoon, he values the lives of his subordinates dearly, prepared to fight a god to keep them safe. Always looking out for the emotions of his underlings, he buries his own wants and needs deep…
Dragon Guild PMC:
Major Maxine Harris (24): Another survivor of the disastrous Congo expedition, Max is Steven and Emmet’s adoptive sister and a superlative fighter in her own right. While accepted by most of her family, she has considerable friction with Steven due to events in their youth. When these tensions reach a point, can she put duty above her personal issues with her brother?
Colonel Sheila Hail (40): The premier one-on-one fighter in the Guild and an absolute hero. She is practically worshipped by her sons, especially Steven. But as to all heroes, there is a dark side, one that many refuse to accept…

Aube Rouge:
Aube Rouge is an Australian-based PMC that provides the nameless goons for much of Wyvern Diary. Headed by an ambitious Black Angel, they invade Cape Town for reasons unknown.
The Black Angel (?): An enigmatic beast from realms far beyond, the Black Angel is supremely confident, overly dramatic and unbelievably dangerous. With close-combat ability besting even the most capable soldier, the Black Angel goes about his private agenda with stunning effectiveness, darkly mocking Steven as he goes. He’s a troll and a murderous one at that.

I hope that outlines things nicely. Thanks for reading and have a great day!

My World- Part 2


I ended up being busier than I wanted to be yesterday, so I didn’t manage to get one of these out. That said, I’m ready to move on…

Fall of Nations, Rise of Commerce

War gripped the minds of everyone on Earth much more strongly than before The Event and it became an everpresent fact of life. Even children become acclimatised to violence and death from an early age and the entire business model of commercial war sweeps all of society with it. On the plus side, at least rulers of a given area admit that they’ll invade somewhere for resources. Battle replaces sport as the primary font of entertainment and competition, leading to massive death tolls across the globe and daily casualties relegated to the realm of statistics.

Enterprising companies band together to form unions, coalitions and associations to replace the fading countries, shareholders replacing any sort of pure democratic process. With the human population falling dramatically, any sort of gender and sex based discrimination falls away and women join the wars as full combatants. In fact, in the story proper, Homeward Bound‘s protagonist and supporting character in Wyvern Diary, Sheila Hail, ends up being one of the best one-on-one fighters in the known world. Racial relations either fall away into harmonious cooperation or explode beyond their breaking points, flaring up yet more conflict. Glorified gangs aiming for extended racketeering masquerade as Private Military Contractors, the biggest and shiniest muscles on the world stage.

The nature of the beast makes war celebrated. Soldiers, especially effective and flashy ones, eclipse entertainers as the most prominent celebrities of the age. Between the hyper-effective but humble Damian Wolf taking it in his stride and Sheila Hail completely indulging in the star lifestyle, and the public supporting all of their habits, stardom ends up sticking to soldiers like glue. War pubs, with bets hedged on tactical shuffles, soldiers surviving and particularly exciting duels between combatants, make honest people turn to gambling to pass the time and forget the horrors. PMCs turn to slogans like “Justice Through Expansion” and “Success Through Sacrifice” to garner support and funding. This draws young men and women like our teenage protagonist Steven Hail into the whole culture, convincing them that they’re really changing the world. Other places are more proactive in their efforts to indoctrinate children. Chapel Six is one such example and one you’ll learn about in Blackout. 

Unbeknownst to them all, the real gamechangers are around the corner…

My World- Part 1


I often get asked the question “What is your book about?” and I must admit, I’m very bad at answering it. My mind gets tangled in spools of plot, unnecessary details and assorted nonsense. With that in mind and with a self-imposed countdown to the release of Blackout mixed in there, let’s get started with a breakdown of the universe of Ira Draconis. 

I’m going to try and do one of these per day. The below is copied straight from Blackout, the next set will be all new content.

Before the End and Immediately After

Mankind had lived like kings, spreading its seeds of civilisation far and wide as its population exploded. Industry and technology helped to feed and satisfy man’s greed; from the earth’s riches came lead and iron and from them came conflict. Humanity has always thirsted for competition, and between sports, war and corporate jousting, it’s had its fair share. For a long time, it seemed as if another global war, one of utterly cataclysmic proportions, was on the horizon. With titanic steel monsters and weapons of mass destruction under the fingertips of every head-of-state imaginable, it would not have been long before the tensions reached a boiling point and a warlike society more dangerous and more violent in its advanced state than anything the twentieth century had to offer was unleashed upon itself. There were smaller wars here and there, old rivalries and grudges springing up, but the global conflict would have been catastrophic.

Then it happened. Cities in Eastern Europe fell silent, their presence disappearing in the blink of an eye. The Europeans panicked, a course of action that became justified extremely quickly. London seemed to be sucked into a bright blue vortex of energy, a catastrophe that sapped the electrical power from the city in a matter of moments. In a moment, England fell into darkness. The world stopped to breathe… Then Abuja shut down.

The world was over. Electricity stopped. Running water stopped. Agriculture stopped. Life stopped. Those lucky enough to have food stocks and stored water became people of importance. Any prior ties or titles, after a while, became meaningless. And very soon, human life became meaningless. Without the pressure of the crumbling governments to police them, violent people started to band together and started to be a law unto themselves. Empty bullet casings, freshly spent from some conflict or another, very quickly grew in importance. Man has always loved symbols and the appropriateness of an empty cartridge representing blood money was too much to pass up. Every shot made someone richer, so people were looking for excuses to fight. Militant groups banded together and set up shop wherever they could, like old-school gangsters marking out their turf.


Violence, of course, breeds violence and, perhaps due to demand or through pressure, the militias became somewhat more formal. For a long time, the concept of private military contractors had been a dead one but with the shutting down of states and parliaments, the corporate animal was free of its chains. The corporate economy, shedding its government ties, took over land on its own and sovereign states were replaced by companies and unions. PMCs and enterprising businessmen were the new ruling class. Thus, drug dealers, gangsters and murderers took over the world.

Through the marriage of business and battle, commercialised warfare was born. Mankind has a knack for creating celebrities and who better to celebrate than the man protecting your way of life? A new age of decadence may yet have been on the rise, gambling dens and advertisers latching onto the life-and-death madness of warfare. With electricity and conventional power practically dead, the overworked civic beast of burden had to backpedal. Steam, bronze gears and iron hammers started to replace the ubiquitous industrial factories, giving the surviving dregs of humanity something to do. They’ve made the best of a bad situation and fifty years on, life started to take up some form of normalcy. Normalcy defined by constant war, famine and degeneration.

Introduction: Angel Apocalypse

The Black Angel stirred. His dark, muscular body rose up, hulking arms supporting his hesitant feet, and he lifted his head to the night sky. The surrounding air smelled of death and charred flesh and there was nothing to break the all-consuming silence but the Black Angel’s own calm, measured breaths. His eyes, a caustic shade of yellow, scanned the vicinity. He was right in the centre of a deathly silent military encampment. Fragile ramparts lie untouched by scavengers, medic’s tents and ammunition salvos stood exactly as they were meant to and a mighty Lordframe hung limp in the midst of it all. Strewn across the ground, completely intact and seemingly perfectly preserved, were hundreds of human corpses, all of them wearing military fatigues.

Everything was frozen in time and forgotten by all of humanity for nearly fifty years. This place, the petrified encampment of Echo Blue, was ground zero for the Event. The apocalyptic cataclysm that rocked the globe had hit this particular spot directly and time itself had stopped. The wind refused to blow in Echo Blue and carnivores avoided the bodies as if they were poisoned. Having been declared a Blank Zone decades prior, barely anyone dared to tread in Echo Blue. Once or twice there a human scavenger who was bold enough to try and steal weaponry from the encampment only to be scared off by the bodies.

The Black Angel swept his arm and the piled carcasses gave way, moving as he willed them to. There was a sick snap as the angel shoved another out of his path, its back cracking against a steel fence. His long, bony fingers snatched a body from the floor and he brought the corpse to his face. In life, this one had been a corporal but all it did was stare at the angel with wide open but dead green eyes. Not even microbial decomposers had touched his body and it looked as if the body would wake up at any moment. But the body was limp and of little interest to the Black Angel.

Something moved behind one of the encampment’s watchtowers and it did not go unnoticed by the angel. He spun around, pinpointing muffled footprints and the barest hints of heaving breaths, and growled. Something had come. He flung his arm up into the arm, telekinetic charge surging up his energised arm. A wave of energy ripped through the sea of bodies and smashed into the multi-story watchtower, cracking the stone at the base of the construction. In one fluid motion and without the faintest hint of resistance the tower was launched tens of metres into the air. It stayed there, slowly spinning as the Black Angel’s psychic power held it aloft.

The cause of the angel’s alarm stood frozen under the moonlight shadow of the tower. It was a soldier, though not one affiliated with any nearby PMC, and one on the slim side. The angel noted the figure’s black hair, the darkness broken by a bright pink stripe, and paused to scan it further. Until then, the angel was content to watch the figure cower in terror but the soldier had started to run. The floating tower arrowed down to the ground, crashing down into the earth and embedding itself deep into the ground a few metres away from the figure. The soldier stopped, buffeted by chunks of rock and a vicious updraft of wind.

An invisible hand snatched the figure’s lower leg, claws digging into their calf. A pained scream pierced the night as the angel immobilised his target. A telekinetic shove pushed the soldier onto their knees, their upper body pinned against the crushed grey rubble of the watchtower. The angel slowly stalked towards the immobilised soldier, one arm extended to keep his victim in place. He scanned his surroundings as he moved, wanting not draw any more attention. The two of them were alone, of that he was certain…

Seeing as Blackout is due soon and my rewrite of Wyvern Diary is nearing completion, I thought I’d introduce you to the villains of the series. The Apocalypse Seven are the titular wyverns, hugely powerful monsters at least partially responsible for the energy cataclysm that shaped the Earth of Ira Draconis. Between unimaginable levels of strength, potent telekinesis and telepathy, and regeneration that puts the Lernean Hydra to shame, the wyverns are a dire threat to any hero, let alone the teenage one we’re stuck with in Wyvern Diary. 

They are not, of course, omnipotent. Despite their psychic abilities, they can prove to be awkward when dealing with their human pawns and are frequently caught unawares by our customs and formalities. That takes the sting out of the apocalyptic monster but is no reason to underestimate them.

Interested in learning more about the Apocalypse Seven? Look out for Angel Apocalypse, a short story in the upcoming Ira Draconis: Blackout. The Black Angel featured there makes his return in Wyvern Diary, and who knows how that’ll turn out?

Thanks for reading and have a great day!