Friday, March 28, 2014

Administration: Q1 for 2014

The statistical trend I mentioned at the end of 2013 continue, as I expect. Now that this first serial is complete, I will take some time to figure out what to do next; I've spent plenty of time otherwise put to that task instead on the novel. Yes, next week I will begin a new serial. No, I'm not going to tell you anything about what it is or what to expect. You're just going to have to wait.

As for the novel, I'm about done with pre-writing and outlining. Soon starts the Damned First Draft (i.e. bleeding on the page), where the goal is to get the damned thing down and ready for the real writing: revision and re-writing. I hope that this phase is ready by CONVergence this July, where I will want to find Beta readers and talk to the pros I know. You'll hear more about that project when I do the Q2 post.

I am grateful to all of you that are still reading after all this time, even if none of you ever say a damn thing.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Homsar Delgana and the Dogs of Sirius-12

The Master seized control of an Algolian prisoner, and having energized that flesh he swiftly broke out of the brig before the skeletal Patrol personnel presence could respond. When they did, he overwhelmed their thought screens and fried their brains with raw telepathic violence, killing them by way of brain aneurisms. Then he took their blasters and axes and accessed a hidden panel; using secret protocols, The Master released the rest of the prisoners and activated all of the concealed reserves that the Patrol did not know was there because they registered nothing to telepaths like Homsar.

General Zuzu realized this possibility as soon as Homsar called for thought screens, and in moments the Patrol marines reorganized. With Zuzu at the head, they formed a defensive perimeter. As the first wave of Algolians, now awake and armed, run into their position the firefight between them began and no quarter would be offered. Semi-portables attempted to overload defensive screens, and when that failed they resorted to ordinance. Once all of the more high-tech options proved disappointing, that was when the melee assault began and General Zuzu--space axe in each hand--howled in delight; of all the men in the Patrol, who were not Agents, Zuzu loved most to get face-to-face and cut down the enemies of the Republic by his own hand.

Homsar was no slouch. He and The Master reached out and began a furious psychic duel, each seeking to shatter the other's mind well before they found each other and attempted to hack the other's flesh into piles of blood and bone. As they ran through the halls, crawled through tunnels, and scampered up and down shafts they would periodically shudder and slump against a wall or side when a mental blow hit so hard as to reverberate into their physical form. Other minds, of lesser individual potency, joined in against him and soon he felt that The Master rallied the best minds amongst the Algolians to aide him in seeking and slaying Homsar. Instead of this being a contest of two champions, it now was a hunt of a single hero against a rival and his full bodyguard.

Outside, the Patrol and Algolian fleets continued to hammer away at each other in a confusing and merciless brawl comprised of swirling ships circling and shooting and boarding one another. If not for Admiral Campbell's presence of mind, the Patrol would have fallen to the superior numbers and desperation of the Algolians. Instead, he reached the Patrol personnel running the station's artillery and coordinated fire amongst the station and fleet gunners; at first slowly, and then accelerating, the Patrol got the upper hand and in time destroy utterly the Algolian fleet.

Homsar and The Master finally crossed axes when they found each other in the main cannon's control room. The Master and his bodyguard charged Homsar and he met with wordless rage. Twelve on one, and Homsar felt himself roughly matched. Thirteen power-armored men wearing top-end defense screens and using space axes filled that room and soon began wrecking the place inadvertently with missed axes striking bulkheads and the electronics embedded within them. The lights shorted out, and despite all combatants being mentally potent that didn't stop Homsar from turning the tables and striking those bodyguards down one by one as a thresher reaps wheat.

The Master saw himself alone against his foe, and redoubled his efforts to kill the foe. Homsar met each swing and thrust, each feint and jab, with one of his own until he positioned himself before the balcony overlooking the cannon's barrel. Then he and The Master in turn attempted to bait each other over the side for several minutes, and then tried to flip the other over, and then the two locked their axes together and tried to overwhelm the other's thought screens. The fight stalemated, and ended only when General Zuzu burst into the room. The Patrol marine general rushed The Master and impaled the Algolian on his axes, ending the duel- but not the life of this foe.

Just then, the main cannon fired and the Algolian Fleet got wiped out in a single shot. Zuzu looked at Homsar. "He got to be dead now."

Homsar shook his head. "Not likely. Even if it's just in a rat or something as low as his character, he survived- and he'll be back."

Nonetheless, this ended The Master's attempt to build a powerbase in the Sirius Sector with which to attack the Republic. Another day, another place, but today the day--once more--belonged to the Patrol.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Homsar Delgana and the Dogs of Sirius-11

The Master put his fleet between the now-captured station and the Patrol Fleet, hoping to keep them separated, but this did not happen. By the point his fleet finish redeployment, Admiral Campbell's thought-cloak dropped and revealed that both fleets were mixed together in point-blank proximity. Caught unawares, The Master and his Algolian crews had no time to prepare for the massive bombardment at such short range. This did not do much to the ships of the line, but many of the ships and boats on the wings were crippled or destroyed by that initial volley of fire. Following that up came the marines and their boarding boats, ramming into Algolian ships and storming them without mercy. Even The Master's flagship got boarded.

Just then the station opened fire with its batteries upon the Algolian fleet, adding to the confusion. It refrained from using its super-weapons, as the destruction was too indiscriminate for the Patrol's needs and objectives. The least-affected Algolians returned fire, giving the station--severely undermanned after Homsar and Zuzu cleaved their ways through its interior--pause and halting its own movement. Then, one by one, Algolian gunner crews began returning fire on the Patrol vessels amongst them. A close-quarters knife fight emerged, with ship combat mirroring the many marine actions within those ships.

The Algolian marines revealed themselves to be mutants, in order to match raw might with Patrol skill and gear, and this worked well enough that only the superior discipline of the Patrol marines finally won it for the Patrol. Once the morale of the mutant marines broke, the Patrol marines routed them and soon thereafter wrecked or seized the Algolian vessel in question. The marine maneuvering soon went to a new level as resistance shifted from ship to ship, having marines fighting in space as well as in the confines of ship bulkheads. Marines on both sides got caught in the ship-on-ship bombardment, instantly incinerated by the artillery blasts, and gun crews soon knew terror as a marine breached their section and dumped a grenade into their section.

The Master soon put down the Patrol boarding attempt on his flagship, only to realize that Admiral Campbell's own flagship bore down on it hurling volley after volley of artillery fire upon it at close range. The screens lit up white trying to hold, blinding the pilot and navigator as both sensors as well as their own eyes couldn't get past the interference. "Captain- hard to port, rotate axis to maintain advantage and fire for effect on their engines." The Master said, "Who's still able to move?"

Admiral Campbell saw The Master's ship move. "Match velocities and mirror their vectors, captain." he said, "Don't let them get our flank." He noticed that a portion of the Algolian fleet began to coalesce to a point on the edge of their messy brawl and sent a wordless warning to Homsar. Homsar, aboard the station, nodded and the station's main gun began to power up. The Algolians moved out, rushing the station while inert. The station fired its main gun, burning through the Algolians in one shot and burrowing into the massive brawl, but while the gun cooled down a second wave of Algolians rushed the station. Homsar and Admmiral Campbell sensed that somehow The Master had moved to a ship in that group.

The Master, knowing that his flagship was lost, reached out with his mind and possessed the captain of another vessel. With this he moved his banner, and his former flagship now ended up sunk under the fire of Campbell's ship. His new crew got surprised, but a glower from The Master meant that he soon had total control once more- and his private quarters could be replaced at another time. Seeing that he's got no chance in the current situation, The Master ran his remaining assets for the station. Using the other ships as a shield, he rushed for the station's surface, and one by one the station guns shot down his escorts. As his ship took fire, he reached out again with his mind and found within a suitable body for him to use; in an instant he possessed it, and moments later the station destroyed that ship.

This did not go unnoticed. "He's inside." Homsar said, "Thought screens on, no exceptions, so kill anyone found without their screen on and active."

Friday, March 7, 2014

Homsar Delgana and the Dogs of Sirius-10

The Master's response to report of the Patrol Fleet once again being underway, and that their reported position being an illusion, got a chuckle out of him- one that unsettled his subordinates. "Well played." he said, "Alert all commands. Battle stations, immediately. This fleet will assume a shield wall formation between the Patrol and the station. Dreadnoughts and other ships of the line shall form the center, with cruisers and lighter vessels on the wings ready to wrap around for envelopment. Station boarding boats on the tips of the wings to await orders." The Algolian fleet did as commanded, and soon they were ready for the attack that they expected.

Admiral Campbell sat on the bridge of his new flagship, the Patrol Fleet now underway at speed and under cloak. He reached out with his mind, and sensed The Master in the distance. Knowing that this Algolian could ruin everything if he sensed them too soon, Campbell spread his sense of perception about the fleet and meditated upon the image and experience of empty space, cloaking himself and the fleet from The Master's own sense of perception by way of a form of telepathic camouflage, in an attempt to deceive the enemy in a way heretofore unsuccessful- but these circumstances compelled Campbell to attempt it anyway.

The Kinneson's Revenge blasted its way through the waves of drone assault boats and made it to the station's last defense perimeter: its anti-ship artillery. The cruiser maneuvered in ways unpredictable to the station's array of fire control computers, breaking prediction algorithms faster than the Sirian slip-stick slingers could compute updates, because Captain Simms figured--correctly--that their artillery is meant for dealing with fleets and not with single ships. Furthermore, the cloak's effects interfered with the station's sensor suite and thus further degraded their ability to track the fast Patrol cruiser. Soon Simms got that ship down on the station's exterior, below the elevation of its primary batteries and forcing secondary and tertiary ones to come online to deal with it. Simms countered by weaving between the gun towers, heading towards the point where Homsar broke into the station.

General Zuzu stood by with his marines, ready to drop at any moment. That moment came and instantaneously they left the ship's hold. Already free, they jetting down to the station's surface and match velocities before breaching the station and going inert. Following Homsar's trail of destruction, they made good time in tracking him down and mopped up station security personnel attempting to confine Homsar into the trapped chamber.

Homsar noticed Zuzu well before that point, because as soon as the general got inside the station the thought screens isolating him were no longer relevant. Homsar threw Zuzu a sit-rep telepathically, and Zuzu filled him in on the Fleet's actions, so Homsar concluded: "Then we need to seize this thing. Send a squad to help me out, and you take the rest to seize command and control."

Zuzu did just that, and soon Homsar saw a mish-mash of Patrol marines outside the power plant. Together, Homsar got out. Then he led them to the other such room, cleared it, seized it, and from there directed Zuzu to the station's command center. Zuzu, wasting no time, bull-rushed the chamber and took out everyone in there within a few mad minutes of melee and maneuvering. Together they quickly ransacked the dying brains of the Sirian and Dragonsworn technicians running the station's systems for vital statistics and commands, and then assumed control of the station entirely.

As the first act, Zuzu threw down the thought screens and made contact with Admiral Campbell.

"Good news, Admiral!" Zuzu said, "Not only have I relieved Agent Delgana, but together we've reversed the situation and taken over the station. We can turn this against the Algolians at any time."

"Understood." Campbell said, "Time to end this."

Aboard The Master's flagship, The Master gasped and then slammed a balled fist against a bulkhead. "Alert all commands." he said, "Prepare for a two-front engagement. The fleet will shift to a double-half-globe formation, with this ship at the pivot point."

The captain of his flagship looked perplexed. The Master bore daggers at him: "They took the station! The trap failed, and now they're using it against us."