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Do you get writing ideas from your dreams?

I sometimes do. Vivid ideas that seem to scream “WRITE ME DAMN IT, WRITE ME!”

Had one this morning.

FBI Team in a Urban Fantasy world with no masquerade (fantastic elements are out in the open).

Two MCs- Agents Andrew Holt and Terrence Raedner.

Holt is an empath (actually he is a telepath but he suppresses that aspect of his powers). he suffers from extreme color blindness. He literally sees the world in black and white, except for those colors that highlight emotions on objects or persons.  His mind processes vivid emotional input as dashes of color, such as scarlet lips of the woman he is chatting up at the bar (she is aroused) or sickly green of a bed occupied by a couple cheating on their respective spouses. Due to his condition (and the mechanics of telepathy) he is withdrawn and careful.

Raedner is a telekinetic. He can manipulate objects large or small from a distance, fire off any loose items at incredible speeds, project powerful TK fields for protection and levitate. He can also enhance his strength and resilience through the use of his TK powers.  Outgoing and playful but with a keen mind for esoteric details and encyclopedic reservoir of  seemingly useless facts.

Da chief- Andrew Bolton. Baddass normal who carries his great-grandfather Colt Single Action Revolver, blessed by a member of the Ghost Dance. It can harm most fantastic or supernatural creatures with a corporeal body. He has seen it all, from ravenous packs of vampires to Centaur serial rapist in his 15 year career in law enforcement.

The Harpy- Special Agent Vanessa Mills. Exactly what it says on her dossier.  First non-human graduate from Quantico with high scores and a chip on her shoulder. Appears completely human, but her suits are tailored to accommodate her transformation. Her shirts and suits have slits in the back for her wings, she wears loose trousers that will accommodate the feathering, prefers heels that will slip out the moment her feet turn to clawed talons and the front of her shirts are padded for modesty, since she can’t  wear a bra. Powers include imitation of any sound heard, enhanced strength/flight (in harpy form) and can stun/disable with her voice. Works twice as hard as her male counterparts due to fantastic racism/sexism.

Sparks- Special Agent Jenny Carter Lewis. Unit cyborg and heavy weapons expert/sniper. Can interface with all kinds of tech in the field and packs a Denel NTW-20 (as in 20mm) anti-materiel rifle to hunt down the big game, such as rampaging dinos in downtown L.A. or an angry troll in the middle of a anti-fan demonstration (short for anti-fantastic). Carter is jovial otaku of all things electronic and guns, with an emphasis on gaming, working out and big guns. Former member of Marine Recon Teams and Cybercom. Studying to get his Juris Doctor and is big on privacy and rules of engagement.

That’s all I got for now. Who knows if this brainstorming, early morning dreaming will lead anywhere.

 

 

Another month, another Blog Chain. Since this is one has a Masquerade theme to it. I though it would be best if I hosted here. This short serves as a prequel of sorts to the main SuD storyline. Enjoy.

The rules of the Blog Chain are as follows:

Hello everyone,

A new month is about to start and I am taking on the role of blog chain host for the first time. I’ll be stealing shamelessly from my predecessor hosts so I hope you’ll give me a pass for the blatant plagiarism in this post.

This month’s Halloween inspired prompt is Masquerade.

I call it a prompt because I don’t want to limit the directions you bloggers might choose to take it. You can apply it (masks, costuming, sleights of hand, etc.) to a scene involving a character, write a short story using it, apply it to yourself as a writer, whatever. Just have fun with it!

If you are interested in participating this month, scroll down to the reply box and enter your blog’s address so I can add you to the list!

Each participant posts when his number is up. The first one will go October 1st.

Even if the blog chain has started, you can still be added to the end of the list until the month is over.

When it’s your turn, you have two days to publish the direct link to your blog post in this thread. I will remind you when it is your turn two times (after your predecessor posts and, ideally, 24 hours before your deadline both here and by PM). If you are unable to publish your entry within two days, the chain will move along to the next person. You will be moved to the end of the chain if you request it (here or by a quick PM to me), deleted if you do not.

Your post must include the list of the blog chain’s participants with the link to each blog.

The aim of a blog chain is twofold:

a) Have fun
b) Discover new blogs
This means that a true chain blogger reads and comments on the entry of the other participants.

Finally, two friendly pieces of advice:

a) Visit this thread regularly or use the subscription feature to make sure you don’t miss your turn.
b) Try to keep your post under 1,000 words. Longer post tend to receive less attention.

——
The three brothers walked down the narrow streets of London’s old city. If any of the passersby cared to take a closer look at them, they would have noticed the striking similarities among the three under their plumed, wide brim hats. The walked among the crowd, dodging vendors, horses and general effluvia that filled the streets.

“Are you sure that are guest are going to show up, Javier?” said the triplet walking on the right.

“Yes, Julian, they will come. The stench of Puritanism will drive the Lords and Ladies to decadence like flies to honey. A perfect introduction to London society. I even convinced Bloodworth to show up,” said Javier, taking the lead.

“But the political risks, Javier. The Mayor is a Republican, while the Lords are in King Charles’ camp,” said Johan on the left.

“Watch yer heads!” screamed a woman from above. The trio dodge a stream of sludge dumped from a second story window.

“The King is losing power Johan. This is an Empire of merchants, not landed aristocrats. From the African slave trade to the sugarcane plantations of the West Indies, new colonies in the Americas and just look  how the Dutch are pushing for more control of the trade routes. Kings are reaching their twilight and burghers are taking over.  Coin equals power and that is nowhere more true than here in London,” said Javier with a triumphant smile.

“Brother, could I have some coin?” asked Johan, looking in the direction of a nearby alley. Johan glanced in that direction and saw a young mother covered in grime, begging for scraps along with her two children. The older, a girl, was not more than five.

“We don’t have time for that. Maybe later,” said Javier.

“But…”

“But nothing. Control, Johan. Control!” said a stern faced Javier.

“Easy for you to say,” said Julian, covering his mouth witha perfumed handkerchief as they turned the corner near the banks of the Thames.

Carriages made their way deep into the Old City. They stopped in front of a series of shops. Groups darted from the carriages, their faces covered in elaborate feathered carnival masks. Down rickety stairs they went, into a ancient hollowed space that looked like an old roman theater, deep in the bowels of the City once known as Londinium.  There music played and couples, all wearing pearl white mask with dashes of intrepid colors dance the night away in the brightly lid center, while others gossip in the darkened corners away from the candlelight.

Javier wondered about the edges. He stopped to talk to a guest here, laughed at a joke there, winked at a lady that passed by. Unlike his guest, he only wore a dark half-mask around the eyes.  From the corner of his eye he saw his brother Johan smacking his lips. He noticed him earlier dragging one of the servant boys away. He also lost sight of Julian.

He tapped a merchant on the shoulder, “Good sir, have you seen my brother?”

The man swayed under the influence of wine, “He is wearing the fanged mask, right? Julian, yes, I saw him leave with the baker’s daughter. Pretty thing.”

“Thank you.”

He left the party through the kitchens. The streets were empty at this hour. He reached the bakery on Pudding Lane. He saw a flicker of candle light through a upstairs window. The backdoor was ajar. Javier slipped inside. He followed the familiar scent of blood. Inside the baker daughter’s bedroom he found what he expected. Johan, his features feral standing over the torn body of  the woman in question.

“You couldn’t resist, could you brother.”

“When the Hunger calls, one answers. You know that,” said Julian. He pulled a change of clothes from a bag. “I leave the rest up to you, dear brother. Time for you to indulge as well.”

Julian left Javier alone in the room with the mangled remains. The sight of a single burning candle caught his eye. The way the flame flickered and danced. The merging of the colors blue, red, yellow and white.

Fire.

His heart beat faster.

Yes, fire. To cleanse my brother’s sins. To burn away the stench of this place. To feed my soul.

He found a nearby lamp and poured the contents on the bed. The thick oil mingled with the congealing blood. Then came the long candle. With a flick of his wrist it flew until it landed on the oil soaked bed sheets, setting them alight.  He watched, entranced by the growing flames. Then he walked away, with careful steps, afraid to give in to the thrill that coursed though his veins. The old blood, the blood of the Fallen calling out to him.

The bakery burned behind him. Flames leapt to nearby buildings.

Cries of alarm filled the air.

He smiled while the City of London burned.

In the Year of Our Lord, 1666.
——-

Hope you enyoyed it and  sorry for the delay

Here is the running list of the October Blog Chain participants:

Auburn Assassin http://clairegillian.wordpress.com/ and direct link to her post
Hillary Jacques http://hillaryjacques.blogspot.com and direct link to her post
Aimee Laine www.aimeelaine.com/writing/blog and direct link to her post
Ralph Pines https://thewonderingswordsman.wordpress.com/
Veinglory http://erecsite.blogspot.com/
Laffarsmith http://www.craftingfiction.com
PASeaholtz http://paseasholtz.com/
Madelein.Eirwen http://madeleineirwen.blogspot.com/
Amy Doodle www.mindovermullis.com
Aheila http://thewriteaholicblog.wordpress.com/ (early second half)
CScottMorris CScottMorrisBooks.com
Orion_mk3 http://nonexistentbooks.wordpress.com/
Dolores Haze http://dianedooley.wordpress.com/
FreshHell http://freshhell.wordpress.com
IrishAnnie http://superpenpower.blogspot.com/
Lilain http://www.abigailschmidt.blogspot.com/
Semmie http://semmie.wordpress.com (near end)

——-

You know that:

Sequels are never as good as the first installment.

Second acts are just place holders.

You can’t recreate the magic of a first impression.

All of these things are true, most of the time.

But not always….

This is the exception that proves the rule.

The first book of the series (Mistborn) felt like a rehash of Sanderson’s debut novel, with only enough twists to keep it interesting but not enough to make it stand out.

This book is nothing like that. The characters are far more interesting, the twists are more interesting, the stakes are even higher.

For the first time in a long time I stayed all night to finish the book, devouring page after page just to see what happened next.

I found the relationship between the principal characters, Vin and Elend is well done, believable and, dare I say it, endearing. Above all else you want these two to succeed, not simply at their individual goals but as a couple. And their character growth is well done, eschewing the typical power curve found in most fantasy stories and instead focusing on personal growth.

I was disappointed somewhat about something that happened with Elend, but I won’t spoil it for you and it is not enough to derail my enjoyment of the story.

Suffice it to say that I have the third installment in hand and will read it as soon as I can and this time I will do it on a Friday night so as to be able to read until Saturday morning!😀

——-

And now some music by Armin van Buuren which fits Vin and Elend perfectly- Going Wrong:

Harry Dresden, private investigator and the only wizard in the Chicagoland phone book.

He has battled the Queen’s of Faerie, Fallen Angels, Demons, Necromancers, and Vampires but when an old lover returns with some surprising news, things are about to change.

Hence the title.

Harry finds out on the fist page of the book that: a) he has a daughter, and b) that the Vampires of the Red Court want to sacrifice her the way of the old Mayan Gods.

Harry ain’t having any of it.

Now this book follows the conventions of the series: Client in Trouble, Harry figuring out the bad guys plans while dodging their attempts to kill him (and/or his client), final battle to stop a dread ritual. But this time Harry allies have been reduced by clever diplomacy from the Red Court and because it is her daughter life on the line, the stakes are higher than ever. The typical Dresden humor is there, as are the interfering fay, the tired gumshoe and the practical magic.

But the tension is cranked up to eleven when the odds get stacked to elebenty.  What makes this story stand out among the galaxy of exceptional Dresden stories that precede it is the decisions that Harry has to make, decisions that he has avoided or dodged until now.

Harry and his world won’t be the same.

I like the character’s growth in this one and how the story continues to expand beyond the borders of Chicago. To those who feel comfortable about the formulaic format of the series might find this expansion uncomfortable but I found it refreshing. And we learn more about Harry family both past and future in this story as well, thus deepening Harry as a character.

And the ending, well, I can tell you that I didn’t see that one coming, that’s for damn sure.

One word of warning, if you haven’t read any of the previous books in The Dresden Files series, don’t try to read this one. The first few books stood alone, but as the series has grown, so has the interwoven plot lines.  You won’t know who two-thirds of the characters are without having read the past volumes. So go ahead, pick them up and read them.

If you’re not a fan of Urban Fantasy, you will be after you read The Dresden Files.

I guarantee it.

Oh and one more thing, I want a dog like Mouse!😉

——-

Or power groups. Many stories have them, they make for the perfect foil and introduce an element of villain cooperation as well as an army of faceless mooks for the hero to fight. SuD has several, most of the fictional but some real (or modeled after real organizations) such as:

  • Yakuza: Ethan meets the leader of the Yokohama Yakuza family. Just like their real life counterparts, they deal in corporate extortion, smuggling of narcotics/weapons, local politics, prostitution and gambling (legal or otherwise). Although honorable, they are criminals and ruthless to the core.
  • Red River: A PMC or Private Military Contractor/Company, i.e. a mercenary company. Three guesses on which real world company they are modeled after, and the first two don’t count.  Corporate and government security, cover operations (including wet work) and intelligence.  Their rank and file come from the best the world’s military forces  and intelligence services can offer (for the right price). Came into existence at the close of the Cold War but have familial links dating back to the filibusters of the mid 19th century America. They are often the muscle for,
  • The Syndicate:  An organization that protects, expands and furthers the interest of the Nephalim on the mortal realm. They use “secrecy in the service of survival” that is, using a series of front companies to allow their members to live in style and feed the “Hunger” without fear of retaliation from mortal authority.  Sometimes allied to,
  • The Cabal: A group of necromancers which trace their origins to the pre-Christian times, these are humans that trade/use spirits/demons from the beyond to further their ends. Their stated goal is to reverse the influence of demons on the mortal realm and make humanity the master of the forces of The Beyond. Most often opposed by,
  • Order of the Temple of Solomon: Better known as the Templars. A multi-denominational group (members come from every sect and branch of the Abrahamic religions). They exist to search and protect ancient knowledge connected to said religions. Mostly scholarly in their pursuits but knights pledged to the service of the Order are powerful exorcist and users of religious arcane lore.  The knights are recruited from existing knightly orders such as Knights Hospitalier/Malta and Papal Orders of Chivalry (although individuals are recruited from all available sources).
  • Bureau of Special Investigations: U.S. government organization created by President Wilson to deal with “paranormal” activity. They police the U.S. for dangerous mystical threats and deploy special forces augmented by individuals with “special” powers to deal with them. They international presence has diminished as other nations/power blocks have created their own forces to deal with said phenomena.

Of course you also have the U.S. Armed Forces, various governments (and government agencies) plus the Catholic Church. Makes for an extremely complicated cast of characters.

That is all for now.

——-

Another Character Write Up/Short.

——

File Name: Alpha-357

Subject: Stephen Barclay Dalton

Psychological Evaluation #7

Interviewer:Alpha India- Pepper

Format: Free-Flow Q & A

Loading Record Logs……

Initiating Playback…..

Question #1: Mr. Dalton, what is your political affiliation?

<<Interviewer notes Non-Verbal/Facial Expressions showing annoyance at the subject of the question>>

Answer: Independent.

Follow-Up #1: Why?

Answer: Because I look to leaders to solve problems, not feed me ideology. Not that it matters which side of the Uni-Party system they claim to come from.

Follow-Up #2: Uni-Party System?

Answer: Yes, two party, one agenda.

Follow-Up #3: Which is?

Answer: To pay off their supporters and stay in power as long as they can manage it.

<< Subject displays a tendency to see conspiracy in the higher echelons of power>>

Question #2: Would you describe your ideological position as, a) Libertarian, b) Liberal, c) Social Conservative, d)Anarchist,  e) Neo-Conservative, f) Neo-Liberal,  g) Communist.

Answer: None of the above.

Follow Up Question #1: Why?

Answer: Why what?

Follow Up Question #2: Why None of the Above.

Answer: I don’t follow any ideology per say.  Pretty words don’t impress me, actions do. Most of the time politicians say one thing to sucker punch the electorate and do then do whatever the hell they want anyway.

<<Subject shows a high distrust of government and perhaps of the democratic process>>

Question# 3: Do you believe in democracy?

Answer: Of course I do! Democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.

<<Note subject defensive posture, raised voice and use of sarcasm >>

Follow Up #1: Yet you have reservations about the current administration.

Answer: That goes without saying. It should be a government for the people by the people and Osborne just shot the concept to hell and back.

Follow Up #2: And what would you do about it?

Answer: Whatever is necessary.

Follow Up #3: So the ends justify the means?

Answer: No, that’s how we got into this mess to begin with. You have to see the situation for what it is and use the necessary measures to restore democracy.

Follow Up #4: Such as?

Answer: Defend the weak, serve as an example to the people and support those who fight for a better future. I’m a soldier, I’ll do the fighting,someone else will take care of the politics. Once this war is over, I’ll be going home.

Interviewer: Thank you Mr. Dalton.

End of Session…..

—–


Well, this was not suppose to happen, but it did.

The book launched a rebellion and won!

A bit of explaining is in order.

Originally SuD was meant to be 3rd person close. At least that was the plan. But no plan survives contact with the paper. I thought that was what I did when I wrote it under the feverish pitch of NaNo ’08. That’s what I thought.

Boy was I wrong!

Apparently my writing voice knows better, because it went all 3rd person omniscient on me. Oh, I thought I could fix it in the re-write, at least that’s what I kept writing on the margins with my Pilot G-2 0.7 (Red).

Did I mention that I was wrong about that?

Sorry, must have forgotten about that.

To recap, I WAS WRONG!

So eighty pages in I gave up and embrace what was already there. Might as well run with it, because it works.

Now the MC is a bit of the strong, silent and homicidal type. That I can fix. More emotion, more clarity, same amount of heroic bloodshed should do it.

But the weird thing is, that even with all the back and forth (between me and my writing voice)  about the POV, the more I read the story, the more I like it. Weird, ain’t it?

——-

And now for some Dash Berlin- Man on the Run:

First, the kitty, because I know that Kelly likes them (and is owned by one).

Second, the reasons why I bought Three Days to Dead:

  1. I heard about it on Kelly’s Blog and decided to support a fellow writer,
  2. Wanted to expand my U/F scope beyond The Dresden Files.
  3. It had an interesting premise

Third, the review.

First and foremost, it is an fast and furious ride which is over before you can even blink. From the moment you say GO! it doesn’t stop, it even barely slows down. The characters are engaging, in fact, the author manages to create a well balanced female lead that is tough yet vulnerable without being either bitchy or whiny.  You feel for Evangeline Stone from the get go and those feelings are enhanced by what she has gone through. Not only that, the romantic subplot meshes seamlessly with the main story instead of hobbling it.

And special mention goes to the tact and skill in handling a particular scene. In the hands of another author it would have either a) averted all together, or b) given way to much information. Instead we get just enough to imagine the horrors alluded too without needing to vomit afterward.

The downside(s)?

The end was a bit too quick for me, I almost missed it and it was too neatly wrapped up, which smelled of deux machina and so did the coincidences (which are lamp shaded in the books several times). Also, the background seems a bit generic, the variations on archetypes were interesting (specially the goblins) but not enough to make them stand out from the norm. But no worries, no major info dumping occurs either, so the action flows without any major interruptions.

One last thing, which is a critique of the book, but not of its content.

The cover.

You can read my full argument against cliche covers (with bullet points) if you fallow the link above, but suffice it to say that had I know specifically looked for it, I would probably would never had bought this book just by looking at the cover. It’s interesting on its own, but fails to stand out among the rests of the offerings in the shelf. I know that as a first time author, Ms, Meding doesn’t have a lot of control over such things, but this book deserves better.

Overall, it is a good solid piece of Urban Fantasy, well crafted and above all else, entertaining. Well worth the money. I’m looking forward to the next installment.

Querying still in effect.

In other news, I’m 3-3 on SuD Alpha stage. Now, granted two of the people that read it are friends of mine, but they are also consumers of speculative fiction, which means they are the target audience for the book. Now all I got to do is type up the second part and start the second draft/re-write/revision, which considering that this book doesn’t require as many changes as the first, it should be easier.

Things that I need to work on:

  • Grammar: Always.
  • World Building: Vampires are out, Nephilim are in. Also, clarify some background points without drowning the story in exposition.
  • Work on the MC: He comes out as a bit cold and uncaring. He is stoic, but he needs to work on his empathy. Mind you being a veteran of three wars can zap that out of you, but still….
  • Plot flow problems: Minor ones, but ones that if they are not fixed will cause some major Wall Banger moments.

And whatever else pops up as a I go over it again. But for now I’ll take the good news, thank you very  much!

——

As much as I don’t like writing prompts, I do like to write up shorts around new RPG characters concepts. They sort of serve as writing prompts in their own right. I’s a way to for me to flesh out a character beyond the numbers and rule set. Give it and the world/universe he inhabits some life, not to mention a perfect excuse to write. I’ve already posted one about my current character in our group’s Freeport campaign, and this one deals with a new char for an upcoming Marvel/Mutants & Masterminds superhero campaign (not a crossover, just using the 2E rules). This one is on the Darker and Edgier side of the scale. It is in the near-dystopian future after Marvel’s Civil War with elements from Marvel’s Ultimates universe thrown in as well (and a bit of Prototype/inFamous).

It also contains violence and adult language.

—–

Sgt. Jacob Plum Martin moved down the ruble strewn main street of Wounded Knee, South Dakota. At either side of the street, burning buildings lighted the summer night’s darkness. Most of the town’s inhabitants had fled up the hillock, to the monument that marked another massacre more than a century ago. Behind them, lay the ruins of a museum that had taken thousands of man-hours to build and millions of dollars in donations to keep open.

The stone crosses that made up the monument provided little cover from Martin’s unit eyes in the sky, several recon drones and an armed helo. He and his men walked slowly, with a shark nosed Stryker between them. Five other squads did the same, closing the circle around the hilltop. The plan was simple, once they reached their objectives at the base of the hill, direct and indirect fires would finish off the defenders. A mix of CS/White Phosphorous rounds from the battalion mortars and cannon fire from the Strykers. After that, it was a simple matter of sweeping the top of bodies, and sending them to the portable ovens.

No need to send prisoners to the detention camp in Pine Ridge so they could mix with college kids protesting the government’s “abuse of power”, and no need to worry about the “embedded” press either, they were dutifully reporting this as an attack by native extremist on federal law enforcement. Jacob had done this a dozen times before, in Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran and in Somalia. “Sweep and Burn” the troops called it as in “sweep the battlefield” and “Burn the bodies”. No mass graves left behind to embarrass higher ups, no abused prisoners to damage political futures.

The unit came to a halt. He swept the hillside with his enhanced night vision lenses. He could see the huddled masses of the natives taking whatever cover the terrain offered. They formed a tight oval, armed men in the outer perimeter, women and children in the center.

The bastards shouldn’t have brought kids into the fight. They should have taken the money. I mean five-grand apiece is more money that they would ever see. But no, they had to protest against the uranium mine. And their sheriff got shot when the BIE officers showed up to break up the protest. Not to mention shooting at us two days ago and setting up an IED that took out one of our Strykers. When will they ever learn that a few idiots with AKs are no matched against well trained troops with armor and air cover. If I had a dollar…

“Bravo 1 checking in!”, the voice that blared through his ear piece pulled him out of his revelry. He checked the terrain before him. The virtual map overlay synchronized  with the terrain before his eyes. A floating dot told him that they had reached their assigned map point.

He keyed in his mike, “Bravo 2 on point!”

‘Bravo 3 we are good to….”

The radio went dead. No static, no sound whatsoever, note even a click. His map overlay froze. From experience he knew that happened when it stop receiving updates from the battalion battlenet. He depressed the button, channel surfing through the assigned frequencies but nothing happened.

A bad time for the net to go tits up.

He heard the whine of twin turboprops overhead. The chopper was making a final run before pulling back to a safer orbit. Airspace deconfliction. He had to double check, lest the mortar start pumping rounds down range and end up showering the wrong targets, i.e., he and his men, with explosives. A flash of light to his left got his attention.  Something had blown off the helo’s tail and it crash-landed on top of Bravo 1 troops, exploding in a fireball that consumed men and machine alike. The turret of his own Stryker exploded, showering the men around him with shrapnel. More bolts from the sky hit the other vehicles in succession. Martin hit the deck and lifted his gaze from the hard packed soil to see Pvt. Simmons chest explode. Whatever was happening, the gunmen on the hill took it as a sign to open fire down at their tormentors. Another flash of light, this time behind him and a plume of white smoke, highlighted with what looked like bright red fireworks rose into the sky. The other mortar section began to fire, but in their confusion launched their bombs far too short. Tear gas shells and white phosphorus rounds pounded the ground around him, mixed with more bolts from the sky. The mix of gas, heated smoke and dry dust chocked his throat, forcing him into a tear soaked coughing spasm.

He screamed into his headset, “STOP FIRING DAMMIT! STOP FIRING! PULL BACK INTO TOWN!” but heard no reply. He ran back down Main Street, looking for some kind of cover from friendly and enemy fire. He skidded to a halt in front of the high school, a red brick affair. Then a nearby car exploded. The shock wave lifted him off his feet. He saw the world spin around him until he landed on his back, the wind knocked out of him. Martin felt his neck sting. He clutched at his throat and found a sliver of metal had pieced the skin, but done no significant damage. He pulled it out with bloody fingers. His body armor had absorbed most of the fragments. The earth shook beneath him. He turned around, saw, and armored figure approach him. He pulled out his 9mm and fired, each shot in synch with the enemy’s heavy footfalls.

One…two…three…four…five….

One hand seized Martin’s wrist, reliving him of his pistol, the other lifted him up from the ground though his armored vest. Martin tried hard not to piss himself, however or whatever this was had just wiped his battalion. The hand that disarmed him, pointed at the flag sill flying on the school’s flag post. A deep, metallic voice  filled his ears.

“I pledge allegiance to flag of these United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation under the Faith of Our Fathers, Indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for ALL!”

The armored figure threw Martin back to the dust, “To the Patriots, the Time has Come to set aside our Differences and Fight for the Republic. To the Citizens, The Time of Fearing One Another is Over, and to All Americans, regardless of Color, Race or Creed, it is Time to Take Our Country Back!”

With those words, the armored figured rocketed into the night sky, leaving Sgt. Jacob Plum Martin, of the 1st Internal Security Brigade ™ Incorporated, choking in the dust.

——

And now for a cool little vid, which in its own way reflects some of the themes expressed above. In Japanese.

Love is War: