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.
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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.

Teaser- Outed

The two women sat with their feet dangling in the water over the edge of a wooden bridge. The little stream remained a surprisingly clean fixture of the abandoned, overgrown garden, the water supporting ducks and all manner of local fish. The cries of birds signalled the coming of the early morning a bit more clearly than the slowly emerging sun for the two women, both fighting hangovers from the night before. It was particularly sharp for Maddie, fighting the tougher of the two headaches as her tooth-baring grimace attested. Putting her feet in the cold water provided some sort of relief and very definite contrast to the squeezing warmth in her head.
She didn’t really know the other woman too well, not being someone she’d normally hang out with, but out there in the dark, there was no way she was risking herself by going out alone. Being drunk made her way friendlier anyway… Maddie squeezed the bridge of her nose as if it was going to relieve her pain. No way am I giving into peer pressure again… Perhaps the vodka hadn’t been a good idea. It was a bit too late to complain about whatever she was doing the night before, but it didn’t make Maddie curse them any less. Continue reading

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!

Teaser for Blackout

Development of Blackout is going well. I’ve got two artists doing cover work on it and my editor is taking his sweet time with the completed stories. In the meantime, here’s the opening bit from the book itself. First draft material here but I’m very excited to let you guys see this. Read below the line for the intro.

Thanks for reading and enjoy your day.

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