Tuesday, July 10, 2018

The Campaign Approaches: First Art Arrives!

It's becoming real. I'll have a hell of a lot more to say soon, but here's something you gaze upon until later this week.

That's my protagonist for the Star Knight Saga: Sir Ramsey Hennepin, Lord Roland of the Solar Guard. (I'll usually be referring to him by his title if I want to be short with it.) He's missing only his coloring, and there's more coming. If you want early notice, now's the time to subscribe to the newsletter. Otherwise you're going to have to wait for the public announcements.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Preparing For The Campaign: Comments Solicited

The campaign comes Soon (TM). Until it's over, the Thursday post will be about that. Serials will go over to Steemit, with another post giving out the link when that's ready, and get a brief exclusivity period before a repost here. As I finish preparations on the campaign's re-launch, I'll let you people know what's gone on over the week.

I've settled on a series and book title: "Star Knight Saga: Book One, Reavers of the Void". It took some A/B testing on Twitter to nail down that decision, but I'm glad I did it. That title and subtitle, coupled with the cover I've been brainstorming, should leave no doubt in anyone's mind as to what you're going to get when you pick up the book.

I'm waiting on my original character illustration, and with that I can finish the pitch video. The initial goal for the campaign, as before, is to build the capital required to hire the professional help I need to finish the book: editing, cover, etc. and unless you've got some math I need to know it's still set for $1000. Two sets of changes I'm mulling over are Pledge Levels and Stretch Goals; I want comments before I commit to them:

  • Pledge Levels: Simplified from before, at $5/$10/$25/$100. Respectively, and additively, you'd get: a copy of the book in MOBI or EPUB, thanked by name in the Afterword, a copy of the print book as it becomes available, a signed and numbered copy of the print book. The $100 level is limited to a maximum of 50 backers, and the others are unlimited. I have no resources to offer anything else at this time, so I found this to be as reasonable as I could be.
  • Stretch Goals: Starting at $2K, I commit to an additional book in the series, and I commit to one more at each additional $1K to a limit of $10K. (Note: That doesn't mean there will be a limit of 10 books in the series, but rather a commitment to at least that many.) Each backer gets the additional books in the form they pledged at (ebook for the first two tiers, print included at the top two tiers). I have one additional goal I am prepared to add if we reach $10,000.

In addition, I intend to launch a newsletter email list specific to this book series and keep the current one for my writing and publishing endeavors as a whole and I want that to launch when the campaign--success or failure--concludes. In short, I intend to copy what Nick Cole & Jason Anspach did for Galaxy's Edge as best I can going forward. It's a verified formula, so why not use it? I also am prepared to open a Discord server if there is sufficient demonstrable demand for it.

If you have any comments, suggestions, etc. put them below; I will visit this post over the days to come and permit comments as fast as I can to facilitate conversation.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Garmil's Gate Done & Campaign Coming Soon

Now that Garmil's Gate has finished its serial run, I will compile the segments together into a single manuscript presently and let that compiled manuscript sit for a spell before I get to revising and rewriting it. The final version will, again, be made into an exclusive prequel story should the relaunched crowdfunding campaign hit the threshold for its inclusion.

The date for the relaunch will come after the (American) Independence Day holiday, so you've got another week or so; there is no way that I will get the attention that I seek if I attempt to relaunch during the upcoming week, so I won't waste your time or mine trying. Bad idea.

Instead, you will know when it happens--and newsletter subsribers get 48 horus advanced notice--because I'll post it here and across all the socials I use. All I'm saying is that you need not worry about missing out on valuable family time over the holiday. Go forth, enjoy the long weekend, and then be ready to Make Space Opera Great Again.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Crisis at Garmil's Gate - 26

Sibley struggled to make his way to the bridge. At every turn he fought three or four to one, cutting and blasting through would-be pincer moves to fix him before they fry him with blasters. But then they push him into the lift, and from the bridge they run him down to the cargo hold.

In the hold, Sibley sees a giant-sized sensory deprivation tank. Cables and waldos runs from the walls and attach to it, securing it in place. Curiosity claims him, and he approaches. As he does, the foreboding fills him, but he steels himself and advances. As he comes about, he sees what--who--rests inside.

"Mother of God..." Sibley gasps.

"Satisfied?"

Sibley turns around and there he sees a big, blue-skinned brute bearing a beam sword. "I'd hoped to find the captain."

"I'd hoped to fight the Paladin." Gori said, igniting the blood-red beam blade as he approached Sibley, "You will have to do."

"The right-hand men fighting on our masters' behalf, eh?" Sibley said as he stood ready, "I appreciate the poetry of it."

"Consider this a courtesy." Gori said as he squared off against Sibley, "I could have just blown the seals and sucked you out of here, but I'd rather that you know why you failed before I toss you out the airlock."

"Win before you taunt."

Gori lunges at Sibley, a blow the old man beats away but forces him back. Sibley adjusts his stance, putting his sword hand into a place where deflecting the force of Gori's strikes is much easier, and then reads the pirate's body language as Gori attacks. The pirate has youth, reach, and power over Sibley but lacks skill and isn't wearing a personal screen- just armor.

Sibley soon sees that Gori's strikes are better suited to a hatchet than a sword, as he finds the pirate not thrusting now. Still possessing his pistol, Sibley shifts his feet when he moves to parry Gori's next overhead chop. In a smooth motion, Sibley shifts his sword to his off-hand, and as he blocks the chop Sibley draws his pistol and shoots Gori multiple ties square in the guts.

Gori cries out in pain, and he staggers, but he only falls to one knee. "I figured you might try something like this." Gori said, grimacing, and Sibley saw a second layer of armor that his blaster failed to penetrate as Gori got to his feet.

"You're smarter than you look." Sibley said, breaking off and holding Gori at the point of his blaster. The old man flicked a switch with his gun-hand's thumb. "That's a mistake I make only once."

"Fortunately, old man, its not the only one you make this day." Gori said, his breathing labored as he sealed his armor and turned on his suit's magnetic anchors, "DO IT!"

Sibley recognized the tell and sealed his armor also, but not soon enough to anchor himself as the cargo hold's door opened to space. The explosive decompression blew him--and several unsecured items--out of the ship's hold. As he tumbled, he keyed into his suit's comlink for Creton to retrieve him. This took the Baden-Powell away from the Revenge just long enough to allow Dashing Jack's plan to reach fruition.

As the hold's door closed shut once more, Gori released his anchors. "We're ready and the ship's clear. Follow when ready, Captain."

Outside, Ramsey held Jack in a mech-to-mech beam sword clinch. "You're cornered, Jack!" Ramsey said, "Your ship's boarded. The Maribu's soon to catch up, and I'm more than able to hamstring your ship to ensure that Duke Far does so."

Jack answered with a smug smirk. "Am I?" he said, and then he pressed the button he installed into his cockpit.

Ramsey watched as Jack's mech seemed to jump away with the Revenge, without tether or external jump drive, and after a moment he slammed a fist against the cockpit. Soon thereafter he and Sibley rendezvoused with the Maribu and met with Duke Far in the Duke's quarters.

"You're certain?" Far said, "A fallen angel?"

"Aye, Your Grace. No mistaking that visage."

"Which means that this entire affair was a very elaborate ruse." Far said, "But for what end, and why bring the Church into it?"

"We'll find out soon enough." Ramsey said, "But I am certain of this: not only will we see Jack again, but his master also. This prize is a horrible one for them to seize. The Court of Stars must be informed."

"I'll handle that, Lord Roland. There are foolish interests in the Court that cannot be trusted to know the full details, lest they seek to exploit them at the expense of Christendom."

Friday, June 22, 2018

Crowdfunding Update: I Am Not Waiting For Freestartr

Last weekend, Stripe shut off service to Freestartr. This immediately forced Freestartr to suspend all campaigns currently active. While the CEO is at work on replacing Stripe as a payment processor, I am unwilling to wait for this to run its course with regard to the current crowdfunding campaign.

I still believe in the site and its principles, but after private discussion with Mr. Niemeier I've decided to take the opportunity to take a Mulligan and relaunch elsewhere. That place is IndieGoGo. I've set up an account there, but I am not yet ready to relaunch, as there are details I need to address before I bring the campaign up and try again.

  • Change The Title: Yes, I do love this title and especially the subtitle, but I concur that--after reviewing audience expectations for this genre--it's far too literary. I'm changing the series title to the snappy Three World Title format I've long been comfortable with due to it being present in a lot of the anime Space Opera I watched as a child and young adult. The book title can vary a bit in length, but it too needs to be snappy;
  • Make a Video: This will be my weekend task. I've got the video software mentioned, so I'll figure out how to make it work and do the Elevator Pitch video once I get my bearings.
  • Get Original Art: Take a look at Ethan Van Scrier's page at IndieGoGo for Cyberfrog. Scroll down to "Overview" and you get a clear character portrait of the title character. If the title didn't inform you of what to expect, that portrait did. I need to do that too. A picture of Sir Ramsey, beam sword at the ready and sidearm in the offhand, should do.

Once all that is in place, and any other details get hammered out, I will fix a launch date. This time, the campaign will be only 30 days long. Email subscribers get 48 hours advanced notice, so hit up the Contact tab to find the subscribe link. When the relaunch happens, you'll see me announce it here.

I thank all of you for your support, and I can't wait to make this happen. Stay tuned.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Crisis at Garmil's Gate - 25

Dashing Jack and Sir Ramsey took aim at each other, while their wingmen broke off and engaged the enemy. Both men launched missiles at the other, forcing counter-missile fire using beam rifles, before they closed to gun range and began manuevering around each other in a dogfight. During this action, Sibley switched from mech to mech in his attempt to weave his way through the furball and sneak his way to the Revenge, and he ended up relying on his personal vernier backpack when he realized that he couldn't ride his way there.

To mask his presence, he stayed in an ironic position- squarely between the nearest point-defense batteries and the dogfighting mechs off the starboard bow. While risking life and limb flying down through a hail of blaster fire, against which his personal screen would--at best--let him take one stray shot, the veteran sergeant-at-arms kept cool knowing that so long as he kept inside the blind spots of the guns the odds of getting shot were slim.

Keeping an eye out for the old man was his son, Creton, at the controls of the Baden-Powell, doing his best to drive the gunners' attention away from Sibley when the dogfighting mechs couldn't hold it. Swift fly-bys, blasting the hull near the ship's sensor array, ensured that those point-defense guns that could otherwise have noticed the old man instead chased the scout ship in vain.

While the Maribu now accelerated, giving chase, and therefore kept up its barrage from its turrets the Revenge no longer had any line of sight to return fire. With its missiles depleted, it had no means to return fire either. Nonetheless, both Jack and the few wingmen left he had would not give up or retreat.

"You won't escape." Ramsey said, "I'll soon overwhelm your squadron, then you, and then your ship will be my prize."

The Maribu's guns again got closer with each barrage. Missiles launched upon the Revenge started to overwhelm the point-defense guns, striking near her engines.

"No, Paladin." Jack said as he ignited a beam sword and went to melee, "You and your ally are easily read."

Ramsey's wingmen from Gatewatch, while taking serious losses, now gained the upper hand and began sweeping away Jack's depleted squadron. Sibley now reached the dorsal hull of the Revenge, and with beam sword in hand began to look for a hatch.

"You think the situation is a simple piracy problem, Paladin. Now you shall see how wrong you are."

Hatches on the dorsal hull opened, and armed pirates emerged with blaster rifles. Sibley drew his pistol, used his sword to block a few shots, and ducked for cover behind an active turret. "I'm pinned! BOY!"

Creton came about and strafed the hull, sending some pirates into cover and the rest to their maker. As Creton passed, Sibley broke out and charged the nearest pirate standing. He shot that man down with three well-placed shots, and then turned to the next one; he knocked away the few shots that man got off before returning fire. Once he closed, he cut down the cad with his sword. A third took a shot between the eyes before drifting off into the void, and the last one fired and fired and fired as Sibley calmly advanced on him.

"Mercy!" the pirate cried.

"Exterminatus." Sibley replied, and removed the offender's head.

Then Sibley, finding the nearby hatch, cut his way through to the airlock. He waited for the emergency seal to close off the outside hatch, and then cut his way through the inside hatch to gain access to the ship proper. Once through, he found what he expected: battle lighting, alarm klaxons, and calls over the comms for reports to and from the bridge.

"I'm in." Sibley said into his comlink.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Against The Poz We Must Stand As One

I've seen Brian Niemeier write at his blog more than once about the distressing tendency for those on the Right to not back each other up, especially as it pertains to the culture industries. I can't solve every problem by myself, but I can do something to turn this particular trend around, and you're already seeing it if you read the main blog this week.

I'm making a point of spreading the word regarding people I regard as friends and allies making their own moves to improve the culture, because we've got to make the things that we want to see if we want the culture to be as we'd have it, and that's a task far too great for one man to do alone.

And that means we've got to get better about working well together. I'm learning hard and fast how to manage this thing I've taken on. I don't draw, hence why I want to get help making the cover--come back for why I care about that another time--and that means I'm quickly learning what that entails. I know my writing ain't perfect, which is why I want to hire an editor; Brian's post on what the sorts of editors do (and some suggestions in the PulpRev Discord server) influenced my decision to make that part of the goal. Brian laid out what isn't negotiable, and I'm following the man's lead.

So, if you're wondering where I'm at right now, here's the news: One week in, and we have eight backers. Combined, there's a total of $115 dollars pledged. We need $885 more to meet the goal, so if there's anyone you think would be willing and able to back my project and you haven't told them yet, please do so- share the campaign link far and wide.

And while I hustle to adapt to changing circumstances, I'm taking in the words of the Supreme Dark Lord, Vox Day. He had a Darkstream a few days ago on just this topic. I suggest that you take a listen, as he goes over his own path to making this same realization; as I prefer to learn from the mistakes of others (because I don't have the time to learn from just my own), I urge you to learn from his and commit--as I have--to doing better in cooperating towards common causes.

Western Civilization was not built by atomized men. It won't be saved by them either. Pick up a spear, sling up a shield, and take your place in the phalanx against the enemy. Only together can we stand a chance of winning.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Crisis at Garmil's Gate - 24

"We're in the clear!" Gori said, "Far can't pursue us much further."

Down in the hanger, still in the cockpit of his mech, Jack snapped back: "Not so fast, Gori. We're missing a major player in this drama."

"Captain, really-"

"Shut up and follow orders, Gori. He's coming, and soon."

A boyish thing, more resembling a wolf pulp on two legs than a boy, approached Jack and handed him a small box. Jack petted the pup and sent him on his way.

"Spin up the drives and prepare to jump to the rendezvous point." Jack said, "Don't worry about me, Gori. I've got my contingency plan in hand."

On the bridge, Gori watch the Maribu slowly turn about, firing its guns as the Revenge pulled away, in a vain attempt to pursue. As Jack removed what appeared to be a palm-sized painted rock from the box and slotted it into his mech's systems, Gori saw an alert of an incoming jump light up.

"There he is!" Jack said, and then he turned his attention to the techs about his mech: "Hurry up! We've got a damned dog to shake off."

The Baden-Powell appeared, already on an intercept approach towards the Revenge. Hanging of its hull like a bunch of desperate refugees were the remaining mechs stationed at Gatewatch, all of which now released their hold and rocketed forward to engage the pirate ship.

"You're right, Captain!" Gori said, "He brought Gatewatch's garrison with him."

"Is his mech out there?"

"No."

"Prepare for boarders, Gori. I'm going to buy us time."

Jack closed up his cockpit, detached from his refueling and rearming waldos, and once more sortied from the ventral hatch. Behind him followed the remaining squadron members. The Maribu and the Revenge continued firing on each other, scoring fewer and fewer hits as the distance grew, but the Revenge's point-defense guns lit up as the Baden-Powell and its allied mechs approached.

"Jack's come out." Ramsey said, "I think he suspects the plan."

"So we go with the alternative then, my lord?" Sibley said.

"That we do. Get ready, Sibley. Creton, take your father's seat. It's time you put your pilot skills to the test."

Creton's face lit up with delight and he eagerly replaced his father in the co-pilot position. Without being asked, he moved fire control to his new station, and took up the controls. Ramsey mussed the boy's hair as he got up, and then looked back as he made ready to sortie.

"We're counting on you, lad!"

"Aye, my lord! You can count on me!"

Sir Ramsey and Sibley went to the launch bay. Sibley adjusted his armor to make room for a locator beacon, and Ramsey adjusted the loadout of his mech to concentrate on close-quarters combat. The two fighting men then nodded at each other, entered the airlock, and then dropped out the ventral hatch. Sibley held on to the hull as Ramsey called forth Durendal, then the elder man switch his hold to the back of Ramsey's mech.

"We're off, Creton! You know what to do!"

Friday, June 8, 2018

It's Happening: Support "The Taking of Gabriella Robin"

I'm taking a big step today. Today I launch my first crowd-funding campaign for my debut novel.

Head on over to my Freestartr page today, where you will find the campaign page live and awaiting your pledge of support. I don't have much to offer in terms of backer awards, as one would expect of someone starting out; I can't become someone that can do that sort of thing down the road if you don't trust me to deliver on my modest offerings now.

So what do I offer you?

If you haven't been keeping up, this is my #StarWarsNotStarWars AND my #AGundamForUs contributions, something I'm writing with as much inspiration from the East and the West, from the Pulps as from Medieval and Ancient epics, and played straight and sincere. If you want a hero that John Carter would be proud of, come put your money down for my space knight-errant and his adventures in a galaxy full of wonder and peril. No ponderous, plodding, bloated door-stoppers here: just slim, lithe page-turners like E.E. Smith and Robert E. Howard used to write.

I promise you Action! Romance! Giant Robot Combat! Space battleships pounding each other in engagements full of passion and valor, villains whose evil will make you love to hate them, and a heroine who is every bit the Deja Thoris to my John Carter, my Clarissa MacDougal to my Kimbal Kinneson. Some may not make it to the end, but nihilism and despair have no place in Galactic Christendom, so you'll find no such rob-the-reader endings here.

If you want to see more of this, then you've got to make it happen. $1000 is all it takes to make it happen; more than that just makes what you get--and what comes after this--better. Show me what you've got, folks! Show me that you want this to happen, and make it happen I will! Scout's Honor!

This will also be the LAST time I make this sort of announcement here before I send out an email to the subscribers of my newsletter about such things. If you want to know well ahead of time, then click this link here and sign up. From this point forward, my newsletter subscribers will get no less than 48 hours lead-time for these announcements. I'm getting serious about this now, and that means finding ways of giving value to you as best I can- something else I can do more of down the road if you back me now.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Crisis at Garmil's Gate - 23

On the bridge of Redalen's Revenge, battle lighting and alarm klaxons mirrored the mood of her captain and crew.

"Helm, bring us about. Configure for point-blank range and go all-ahead full!"

Gori looked to his captain. "Ready here, Captain!"

Jack called down to the hangar. "Prepare my mech for launch. I'm going out." he said, and then gave a thumbs-up to Gori. The space pirate headed for the lift while his lieutenant took his position. As Jack descended from the bridge to the hangar bay, Revenge turned about to advance on the Tiger of Maribu, dodging volleys from its turrets in doing so, and it turned on its axis to present all of its guns upon the enemy.

"Fire!" Gori bellowed, and all of the pirate's cannons fired upon the Maribu, scoring solid hits across the dorsal hull. A volley of missiles followed, swarming down and forcing the point-defense systems to their limits. With the mech squadron brawl now moving to push between the two battleships, the Maribu adjusted its position to maximize its turrets' ability to fire upon the Revenge.

Now Jack ran through the hangar bay, rushing across the open space to where his personal mech stood ready for him. Once inside, and the cockpit closed, he keyed the comlink as he rushed through takeoff.

"Gori, transmit Order Zahn and wait for my signal."

Jack's mech finished its takeoff sequence. Powered up and ready to go, Jack maneuvered to the ventral hatch and stood ready. Oh the outside, the Revenge and the Maribu pummeled each other with successive volleys from their turrets as well as emptying their missile bays with repeated launches as they closed to point-blank range. Back inside, Jack monitored the distance between the two ships, and when the distance reach clear visual range, Jack keyed the comlink: "GO!"

Jack launched from the ventral hatch, now appearing upside down from the perspective of the Maribu, and used the exchange of fire to cover its signal until it appeared out of the Revenge's shadow. Then it joined the dogfight, quickly clearing out Far's men and relieving his own. With no more enemy mecha, they fell in behind Jack and followed Jack's assault on the Maribu as the Revenge pummeled it without mercy. While several of his men fell to the ship's point-defense guns, enough slipped across the hull to support Jack's attack on the engines to make the threat of crippling or destroying them viable.

"Maximum firepower!" Jack said, "Now!"

Jack and his remaining men launched every munition they had and exhausted their guns by unloading them into the Maribu's engines. Several satisfying explosions erupted from them, forcing the engineers therein to flee as bulkheads slammed into place to contain the damage and expel the explosive forces into space. With oxygen quickly consumed, the fires flared out fast, but by then the ability of the Maribu to maneuver had already been hobbled.

"We're done here. Let's go." Jack said, and as the Revenge now began to open the distance again Jack lead what men he had left back into the hangar bay of the Revenge. The battleships kept firing upon each other, lancing each other with main guns and further slicing each other up with the secondary guns, but the engagement was now decided and both Jack and Duke Far realized it.

Unless Ramsey arrived in time.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Getting Paid Is The Goal, Not a Shameful Act

I'm going to finish "Garmil's Gate" by the end of this month, so I need to decide what to do next. Late last night, this came over my Twitter feed from the leading Hispanic voice in science fiction, Jon del Arroz. Behold!

As Jon goes on to clarify, this is from the Science Fiction Writers of America's meeting at the Nebula Awards. Seeing this finally got me to get off my ass and move to the next step as a writer: getting paid. To that end, I opened a FreeStartr account. I'll spend my Saturday post on the main blog announcing this with more grandeur, but for now know this: this is how I intend to raise money for turning these stories into books (as I would at IndieGoGo) in addition to accepting ongoing support (ala Patreon).

At the very least, I want to collect "Garmil's Gate", re-write it (because it needs works), let an editor help me finish the job, put a good cover on it, and get it out for sale on Amazon before North America turns cold again. This also means that I'm going to start accelerating work on Taking, since I can see now that the iron is hot and that means it's time to strike.

I think it's time to launch an email newsletter of my own, and put posts like this there instead. I also think it's time to move the serials over to Steemit, reverting this blog to industry-specific as well as craft-specific commentary and analysis. (Yes, I solicit your feedback for this.) Time to increase my skin in the game. It's one this to be well-spoken and respected. It's another to be able to buy your own mountain.

I want to buy my own mountain. Time to make that happen.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Crisis at Garmil's Gate - 22

On the bridge of the Tiger of Maribu, Duke Far stood next to the stellar navigation station when an alert sounded.

"Your Grace," a crewman said, "the scout's in position at the suspect location."

"Main screen." Far said, and the video feed from the scout appeared on the big screen. In real time, the scout showed the asteroid pirate base, and its activity resembled that of a panicked wasp hive. Not one of the vessels leaving the base was a warship. Instead, Far witnessed a bunch of pirates in unarmed mechs towing away the stolen container units, apparently leading to a point on the edge of the solar system- right where it opens to deep space.

"Scout, have any warships or mecha come or gone?" Far said, following a hunch.

"None, Your Grace." the scout said, "This is all that's been going on since the base lit up a few moments ago. Just prior to that a burst signal terminated here. Your Grace, this isn't a muster for battle; these pirates are abandoning their base of operations."

Far looked over at his Communications Officer, who nodded affirmatively in anticipation of the question. "Scout, send the trajectory of the burst signal back here. Stay on station, observe, and if detected flee."

"Yes, Your Grace." the scout said, and moments later the requested data appeared. The Communications Officer superimposed the data on a map of the system, revealing a point on the edge of Garmil's Gate's atmosphere.

"General Quarters!" Far said, and the battle lighting came on as the alert klaxons sounded. "Helm, intercept that ascending ship."

The Tiger of Maribu's engines flared to life once more, turning the battleship about and heading away from Gatewatch on an intercept course. As the battleship raced to intercept Redalen's Revenge, the mech squadron aboard ship scrambled and stood ready to launch upon contact.

"Missiles at the ready." Far said, anticipating what's to come, and soon the map updated with positive sensor contact.

"Launch!"

A salvo of missiles fired their engines and flew from their tubes, clearing the battleship before turning and flying towards their target. Immmediately thereafter the mech squadron launched, taking up their formation ahead of the Maribu. The ship's main guns now powered up, anticipating closure to combat ranges presently.

"Enemy missiles inbound!" a crewman said, "Enemy secondary signals confirmed. Tiger Leader has visual confirmation of enemy mecha and their mothership."

"On screen."

Redalen's Revenge appeared on the main screen, starboard side in profile, racing as fast as it can go for the edge of the system.

"Missiles intercepted and destroyed."

"All ahead full! Time for the Tiger to pounce!"

The mech squadrons broke formation and engaged, turning quickly into a series of dogfights, as the Tiger closed on the Revenge

"We've reached gunnery range, Your Grace!"

"FIRE!"

The Tiger's forward turrets opened fire, alternating fire to maintain a steady assault of three-barrel barrages. The first volley scored a glancing blow and coruscated brilliantly off Revenge's shields, but the second hit square on the pirate ship's starboard side. The hit overloaded the shields, bored a hole in the armor and into the hull. Some hapless pirates not incinerated by the shot itself got sucked out into space during decompression before the bulkheads slammed down and sealed off the breach.

Revenge returned fire, tracking the Maribu and firing a barrage from its own turrets. One missed entirely, but two more hit and stressed the shielding on the ship's fore to its limit. A fourth went just high and skated off the shielding over the dorsal hull.

"Now if Roland can just join the battle." Far said, "We can finish Dashing Jack for good."

Friday, May 25, 2018

Vox Day's Darkstream: Why The Comics Industry Is Collapsing In 2018

The business of comic books is the topic of Vox Day's Darkstream tonight. (No embeds, alas.) It's not encouraging for DC or Marvel or anyone who wants to play in their sandbox.

He puts the blame on Diamond, the monopoly distributor, as the source of the woes afflicting retailers. Marvel and DC producing SJW trash only makes an existing problem worse, and the bad effects accelerate in development. Addressing the distribution issue is vital to having a comics business going forward, and that's what Vox Day is on about here. Worth the listen; he's actually tackling the problem as it is, has a solution, and is making it happen. This matters because DC and Marvel will use Diamond to shut out competition such as Jawbreakers, as all three of them need each other to keep their racket going.

The post-80s crash comic book store business model is on its way out, and breaking Diamond's monopoly on comics is vital to that model. Break the monopoly, break the model, and save the comic book scene for future generations to enjoy. You need to keep an eye on this, even if you're not wanting to work in comics, because something you do make get a comic adaptation (the usual stepping stone to a film or TV adaptation) and that means it's in your business interest as a writer to watch media where your work may well show up.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Crisis at Garmil's Gate - 21

The Baden-Powell broke through Garmil's Gate's atmosphere once more, descending well below the clouds to answer the distress call from the noblewomen on retreat.

"The signal's still transmitting, Sir Ramsey." Sibley said, "I expect that as long as the women can keep the raiders out of their secured room, we can home in on that."

"Creton!" Ramsey said, speaking into his microphone, "On the guns, now!"

"Expecting a hostile reception are we?" Sibley said, and in response two blips came on the sensors coming from the noblewomen's location. "Contacts. Look like the escorts for our raiding party."

"Spin up the guns." Ramsay said, "Take them quickly, boy. We don't have time to waste."

Ramsey saw the guns powering up on his console. "Aye, my lord!" Creton said, his enthusiasm plain, "Standing by!"

"Fire when ready." Ramsey said, "Just make certain that you hit."

The turret rotated around the ship's axis, and the cannons pointed down slightly in the direction of their descent. Creton sat at the controls, fixed on the target reticle, as he saw the lead mech in the pirate element come into range. He marked the wingman's position behind the leader, and in a smooth motion shifted his aim to the trailing wingman. The boy pressed the trigger, and the blaster cannons threw forth a burst of hot plasma bolts downrange.

The leader laughed, thinking that the volley was meant for him, only to hear his wingman cry out a moment before dying as the mech's powerplant exploded. Before the leader got his wits about him, Creton sent a second volley. The bolts slammed into his mech's torso, first burning out the armor and then boring through the cockpit--and him--to the same result. Neither go so much as a ranging shot off.

"Scope's clear, my lord." Sibley said, "We're clear to land."

"No time, Sibley." Ramsey said, "Take the con. I'm dropping down, so I want you and Creton hovering overhead just in case."

"Understood, my lord." Sibley said as he changed seats, "Boy, take the co-pilot's chair."

Creton handed Ramsey the knight's baton, and moments later the ventral hatch opened. Ramsey dropped out of his ship, and free-fell the last half-mile or so to the target while the Baden-Powell veered off slightly. It was a good precaution, because now some ground-to-air missile launched from the surface. Ramsey spread his arms and legs wide, and a thin plasma-like energy flashed up to form a gliding suit out of his armor. The ship drew off and shot down the missiles, and then moved forward in case of more ground fire, which did come as both man and machine came within visual range of the wilderness retreat.

"Sibley!" Ramsey said, "Clear a path!"

Creton used the ship's guns to blow apart the makeshift anti-air gun the pirates put up, and then blew up the shuttle they meant to escape with. Those explosions kept the pirates' attention away from Ramsey until it was too late, and the Paladin glided down from above, swooping down upon them like a mighty eagle. In one smooth motion he landed on one pirate, kneeing the fool in the back and cracking the villain's head open upon the pavement, rolled forward, and shot a second dead with his pistol. A third came at him with a club as Ramsey got to his feat, only to be pushed off his line and shot down by Ramsey.

A forth cried out an alert before being shot dead in turn, and Ramsey knew that violence of action now was his only option. He put his pistol in his off-hand, drew his beam sword, and rushed into the retreat. Two came for him from around a corner; Ramsey ran one of them through, used him as a shield against the other and then shot the second down. They came again and again in twos and threes, until he cut down or shot dead a score in total. The last, standing before the armored door to the secured room, fell on his sword than face his doom like a man.

"I am Lord Roland of the Solar Guard." Ramsey said, putting forth his arms before the camera and showing his face, "The raiders are gone. You may come out now."

Moments a dozen nobles and their attendants emerged from the cramped room, taking their turns blessing him and kissing him, before their hostess and leader emerged. Neither eldest nor youngest, but clearly the highest in station by her bearing. She stood up to Ramsey's chest, a woman in the full bloom of youthful beauty, with straight red hair to her shoulders and eyes blue like a clear sky- a visage so striking that Ramsey paused a moment.

"We are grateful for your valor, Lord Roland." she said, "My father will hear of this for certain."

Ramsey bowed, affecting a courtly manner. "The loss of she whom is heralded as God's songbird would be a terrible injury to Christendom, Countess Robin. However, time is short and I must insist upon haste in escaping. Their master lingers nearby."

Countess Robin nodded. "Agreed. Bring forth your ship, Lord Roland. We are many, but we shall not saddle you for long."

Ramsey keyed into his comlink. "Sibley, bring the ship down and have Creton ready to assist. Tell Gatewatch to expect us presently."

Friday, May 18, 2018

PulpRev Celebrates Its Anniversary

My companions over at PulpRev have a big announcement to make on the mark of PulpRev's anniversary.

More ways for more people to make useful contributions to the mission of the Pulp Revolution is a good thing. We really do need to Regress Harder, and more ways to communicate is a good thing to do; the Discord server remains active on a daily basis, but Discord itself has come out as being SJW-amenable so we should have alternatives and an anon-by-default imageboard (ala the chans) is just the sort of thing we need as backup.

So I am all for PulpRiot, and I hope this takes off soon. It just launched, so of course it's going to be less than bare bones in terms of content; that's your cue--especially if you avoided being seen with us for some reason or another--to come join the masked ball that is required on an imageboard. You're anonymous; what matters is what you say, not who you are, so (like the chans) respect that and come play with us.

The other things talked about--such as the pulp library--should be discussed and acted upon the months to come along with other things mentioned. Once more, with feeling: come join us. We're Making Science Fiction Great Again.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Crisis at Garmil's Gate - 20

Dashing Jack and his man Gori walked alongside the sensory deprivation tank enclosing the prize he came to Garmil's Gate for: the Watcher Azazel. Surrounded by men carefully controlling the transport of the tank, Jack knew he should feel at ease but was not- a tell that Gori noticed.

"Captain, wouldn't have been easier to wake up our prize and let him walk out under his own power?"

"Gori, you're not a well-read man, are you?" Jack said, "There's a very good reason to keep him under and present him to Red Eyes as he is, and that reason is because the odds of something going catastrophically wrong--killing us, or worse--in the process drop like a stone when the one most capable of doing so remains incapacitated."

"You talk like this is a weapon, Captain."

"Worse, Gori. He's the maker of weapons. This angel is a living, breathing, weapons factory. As as I know too well that rewards are useless if you're dead, I'll take the chance of displeasing Red Eyes over the certainty of reward for delivering what he wants into his hands whole, safe, and sound."

They entered the great lift and ascended to the dock.

"It's also faster to do it this way. No harder than moving a warhead this way, and we've stolen plenty of those recently haven't we? As time is not our ally-"

Gori made an obscene thrusting gesture. "The sooner we're back in port making our way through the pillow dens at Ragdoll Randy's!"

"Focus, Gori." Jack said, snapping his fingers, "You know damn well that Fang won't occupy his betters for much longer, and need I remind you what happens next?"

"They come for us."

"And how long do you think it will take for them to conclude that we are here, and come to intercept us?"

Before Gori could answer, the lift stopped and the doors opened. At that moment, Jack got a call from the ship. "Captain, the Tiger of Maribu is here."

Jack hustled out of the way of his man. "Get that aboard and secured at once!"

Gori, anticipating his master's next command, gave it: "All hands, return to the ship. We are leaving! Any man not on board in 10 minutes will be left behind."

"Helm, prepare for takeoff." Jack ordered, "Squadron, get outside and run a combat patrol pattern. I won't be caught by surprise."

Gori looked at Jack, and the pirate captain sighed. "Gori, our team at the retreat is on standby, right?"

"Aye, captain. Shall I give the order?"

"Yes, but make this clear: they must be unspoiled, Gori! I'll unman them bare-handed if they dare disobey! We need them unspoiled!"

Gori gave that order over the coms, using a secure channel. Then he and Jack hurried back aboard Redalen's Revenge with the rest of the away party. As the engines spun up, and the crew ensured that their cargo got locked down, Jack took his seat on the bridge.

"Report!"

"The Tiger of Maribu and Gatewatch opened fire upon the Opulent Dragon. Captain, the Dragon won't last long."

"Nether will we if we don't get going. Lift off as soon as we're able, Helm."

Redalen's Revenge lifted off the prison's dock and backed out slowly, with Jack watching the scene in orbit all the while. Gori kept an eye on the mech squadron on patrol, and all aboard the pirate battleship felt a keen tension. First the Paladin, now Duke Far, and his obstacles keeping them at bay quickly crumbling to dust. The sway team attacking the noblewomen on retreat are the last chance he has to buy time and distance, and he knows it.

"Status on the retreat, Gori?"

"Underway, Captain. They'll report back when they're ready for pickup."

Jack nodded his acknowledgement, but both he and Gori knew not to expect that call. Those men are already dead.

Friday, May 11, 2018

The Galactic Christendom Video Pitch

Recently I saw a post on Twitter that went, roughly, "Post three pics that sell your story." Fuck it, videos instead.

Just add DEUS VULT and lightsabers and you get Galactic Christendom.

Sure, there's substance behind the scenes to ensure that it all holds up, but there's your elevator pitch. It's what I use when I think I'm losing focus, because if I can nail that mood then I'm going to entertain the audience and that's what I have to do. This sets the expectations that I need to fulfill, and thereby allows me to identify and filter out what doesn't belong (such as nihilism and the degeneracy it brings). You don't get much more simple than that, in terms of useful writer tools.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Crisis at Garmil's Gate - 19

The Opulent Dragon and the Tiger of Maribu began firing upon each other, and with the former battleship unable to manuever the fight escalated into a merciless slugfest between the ships' main cannons. Meanwhile, both ships sortied their mech squadrons, which immediately rushed to engage each other. Gatewatch joined the fray, launch its mech squadrons and firing upon the Dragon in support of the Maribu.

The relentless pummeling by naval artillery shook the interior more and more severely, making the fighting inside become perilous beyond expectation. Ramsey, Far, and Far's bodyguard cut a bloody swath through Fang's loyal crew as they race for the Flight Deck, arriving just as they see Fang attempt to forcibly board Duke Far's shuttle only to see the pilot and co-pilot resist them.

Far keyed into a comlink. "Pilot! This is your Duke. We are approaching your position. Stand ready for the men and I to board."

"Acknowledged, Your Grace."

With a nod, Far and Ramsey rushed out of cover to attack Fang on the flank. The shuttle kept the traitor pinned down, and that left Fang open. The first few shots fired at the traitor's position cut down several of his men, dropping them to the deck, before Fang and the remainder shifted their position as best they could to cover against both threats. With Fang and Ramsey in the lead, their beam swords blazing, they quickly closed the gap and fell upon Lord Fang two on one- two of the best swordsmen in the galaxy against one cunning criminal nobleman.

Fang knew he couldn't win this encounter. Immediately on the back foot, he tried to disengage again and again, only for one or the other to thwart the gambit. Beyond the duo delivering his doom, he saw the shuttle admit Far's men. A well of resentment and frustration burst forth, unmanning Lord Fang and prompting him to lash out at Duke Far with a wordless howl of rage. Unmoved, Far stepped off Fang's line and struck. The first removed the condemned man's arm. The second removed his head.

Ramsey extinguished his sword. "I'll have Sibley pick me up."

"They'll fight to the last, but none shall survive." Far said, "Once we're both away, let us discuss the matter of Fang's former ally."

"Agreed." Ramsey said, "A temporary parting, Your Grace."

"Yes, Lord Roland." Far said as he shook Ramsey's hand, "Until later then."

Ramsey nodded, and Far took his leave. Boarding the shuttle, Far escaped the Dragon without further incident. A short time later, the Baden-Powell entered and hovered while Ramsey boarded. Once aboard and underway, Ramsey took his place in the pilot's chair and watched on the main screen as the combined fire of Gatewatch and the Tiger of Maribu finished their pummeling of the Opulent Dragon, with a final volley hitting the power plant and provoking a most violent explosion.

"May God have mercy on their souls." Ramsey said as the Baden-Powell approached the Maribu.

Friday, May 4, 2018

World-Building: The Importance of Memory to Culture & Civilization

A world-building note for today: "Ancient History" can be as recent as five years ago.

I'm talking about living memory, the sort of commonly-held information in a generational cohort of a community people take for granted. For you who routinely write in cultures other than your own, or set at times other than your epoch, you've already gotten a far larger body of such knowledge set off with caveats of some sort so it's not hard to see how common knowledge changes over time.

Because that knowledge resides in the living as an emergent phenomenon (which institutions are meant to emulate by storing such lore somehow via artifice), it is fragile as glass. Have you ever seen people emerge from cults who grew up in them, and then had to unlearn what they learned in the cult? This is the same sort of thing; your setting's "ancient knowledge" is only what your culture keeps alive, by whatever means.

A lot of institutions arise out of the need to store, transmit, and retain fidelity of information over a generational basis. A lot of plot twists in myth and literature revolve around recovering, restoring, transmitting, such information- including the subversion of expectation that what those institutions tell you as a child is true.

Post-apocalypse scenarios in particular have to engage in this at some level to make the story hold up under the weight of the narrative demands put to it, as you're having to deal with things like "How do they make gasoline?" and "Where are they getting the means to do basic field medicine?"- both of which is Ancient History in such a scenario, even if the apocalypse happened just recently enough for an infant to age into someone able to do useful labor (which isn't "be an adult" necessarily).

And that isn't absolute; The Last of Us is an apocalypse scenario where you can see how recent the demarcation line actually is between "Ancient History" and "Common Knowledge", with Ellie being the one severed from the past despite being alive at the end of Civilization.

So, for all you dealing in situations far in the future, or the past, a secret world with its secret history (e.g. as posited by the Ancient Aliens crowd), or a secondary world with its own sense of history, keep in mind that what is commonly believed to be true--common knowledge and Ancient History alike--is shaped by the presence or lack of the institutions that act as a culture's external memory (and individuals capable of accessing and retrieving that information).

A culture with no archives, no preservers, no myth-keepers, no ritual retellings of the culture's core stories explaining itself to itself, no art or architecture, or religion is a culture with no memory beyond what those alive possesses and shares. A culture that is among such, but has no one able to get what information such institutions possess and pass it on to those now alive, is a culture that is on the decline and swiftly facing degradation into primitive savagery.

And yes, you'll see some of this applied in my Galactic Christendom tales (or the post-apocalyptic Wars of the Damned that precedes that era).

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Crisis at Garmil's Gate - 18

Duke Far, leader of House Far, stood on the bridge of the Opulent Dragon with a dejected Lord Fang kneeling before him while Ramsey stood just behind the disgraced nobleman.

"Your guilt is plain." Far said, "And your confession makes moot any question of evidence. You have betrayed your lord and your God. You know the penalties for treason."

Fang bowed obsequeously, touching his forehead to the floor in the expected manner. "I do."

"Then you know what to do." Far said, and he snapped his fingers. A man of his retinue stepped forward with an ornate box. Fang returned to his kneeling position and looked on, expecting the ritual sword from his quarters, but he couldn't see it- Far stood in the way.

"Lord Roland will guarantee things should you fail this one final task."

"Of course." Fang said, a hint of nerves creeping into his voice.

Fang turned about and threw the expected sword at Fang's feet. Fang's mask of calm fell away as he saw that the sword was a wooden training sword.

"Go on, we're waiting." Far said, sternly. Ramsey saw Far's way of dealing with double-talking tricksters.

"Where's my sword?" Far said, concerned.

"His Grace the Duke saw that your sword had broken, so he sent it away with the rest of your effects." Ramsey said, "I had my page's training sword brought in for this affair due to a lack of viable alternatives."

"It's made of wood!"

"Fang, you know that the truly determined will fall upon a sword of reeds, much less wood of this timber." Far said, and now his face showed that he saw that Fang had truly trapped himself.

Fang sighed, and reluctantly he made the ritual motion to pick up the sword. In that motion, his hands crossed at the wrists, and that motion did not go unnoticed. Fang opened his jacket, as expected, to bear his chest and abdomen and made ready to fall on that wooden sword.

The lights went out as he began that thrust. No sooner did they flicker than Ramsey drew his beam sword and slashed down at Fang, but the blow missed. Far also drew his sword, guessing Fang's move, but struck only the trainer. A hatch in the ceiling popped open, and a third beam sword lit up the room, revealing Fang's location. Yet before the Paladin and the Duke could take Fang two-on-one, the doors opened and Fang's men fired into the bridge forcing them and Far's men to take cover.

Fang ran around his enemies and escaped the bridge, once more leaving them in darkness. "Get the emergency lights on!" Far said.

"You're not getting off my ship as easily as you got on." Fang said over the intercom, "I've sealed and locked out the main bridge, and life support is soon to follow. Cut your way out and you'll be swarmed by my men until you're dead. Stay put and suffocate while you freeze solid. Take your pick, my lords."

Ramsey keyed into his comlink. "Sibley"

"Aye my lord." Sibley said, "I knew he'd pull something like this."

"Cripple the ship." Ramsey said, "Then patch His Grace through to the Marabu."

By now Far had a few of his men cutting down the door with beam swords while the rest stood ready with blaster pistols to face what lay on the other side. They felt, then heard, an explosion before Sibley got back on the line.

"That did it." Sibley said, "And you're patched in, Your Grace."

"Captain, this is the Duke. Prepare to repel boarders."

The Maribu's captain answered. "Yes, Your Grace. Proceeding as planned."

"As planned?" Ramsey said.

"You just turned his battleship into a space station, Lord Roland. Did you expect him to escape by stealing away with his personal mech?"

Ramsey sighed. "I did."

Now more explosions rocked the ship. "Not until his pride is soothed, and that means making you and I look weak and stupid."

The door fell to the floor, and Far's men threw smoke grenades into the hall beyond. Without a word, both noblemen followed the men into the corridor. Now in the lead, they headed for the Flight Deck- and Fang.

Friday, April 27, 2018

The Second Pulp Age Dawns

George Martin will not release the book he's been promising for yet another year. At this rate, Godot will arrive first.

While some will repeat the line about Martin not being your bitch, there is a flipside to this: if you don't deliver, the audience isn't required to stick around.

Authors who are not in Martin's position financially don't have the luxury of taking forever to deliver a promised book to a loyal audience, especially now. You are unwise to emulate this behavior; you've got to keep them happy somehow, and as more writers pick up what Nick Cole and Jason Anspach put down that habit will become increasing unacceptable. The audience will desert the slow for the swift.

Pulp Speed, as my fellow #PulpRev folks know it, won't be optional for much longer. That's going to be a shock to a lot of writers, who never expected the Return of the Pulp Age, and its incessant demand for productivity. We're all going to have to be Walter B. Gibson (or as close as we can get) soon enough if we want to do this more than just as a hobby that more-or-less pays for itself.

The difference is that we're not all hustling for magazine publication now, but rather for maximizing the Amazon algorithm such that every book hits big and hard. We're hustling to make Amazon (and its inevitable successors) work for our benefit by ensuring we can ID our audience and satisfy them with exactly what fires them up in entertainment delivered early, often, and repeatedly.

And the SJWs in TradPub will not keep up. All we need to do is answer the cry for order, and the future is ours.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Crisis at Garmil's Gate - 17

Aboard the Opulent Dragon, Lord Fang looked out from inside the brig at the proxy holding him for his master.

"How long until the Duke arrives?" Fang said.

"Not soon enough." Ramsey said, looking back, "You would be wise to start confessing now."

"Not that it matters." Fang said, head low, "If Dashing Jack sold me out, then he's got to be close to his objective, so it's not likely that you or the Duke could do anything about it now."

Ramsey quietly pressed a key on his gauntlet. "Go on."

"The prison, Paladin. You know it's there."

"It's said to be a colony for the worst sorts, yet for whatever reason cannot be executed."

"True, from a certain point of view. Yet all of the traffic to and from the surface consists of Mining Guild vessels moving ore up and supplies down, or nobles visiting retreats with their entourages. When was the last time you saw anything other than scheduled warden changeovers go to or from that prison?"

In his earpiece Ramsey heard Creton: "I'm on it."

"Christendom is rather large, my lord." Ramsey said, "I do not keep track of every last little installation in the galaxy."

"Christendom didn't build that prison, Lord Roland." Fang said, "It was found here, along with that gate, with Garmil's party. Our forefathers, with the Church, seized it. Back then it wasn't a prison as we know such, but rather a tomb with measures meant to keep its interred host confined there."

"They expanded it into a prison once that condition became clear?"

"Indeed." Fang said, "As for who or what is kept in that place, I had no idea who it was until Dashing Jack approached me with this present plan."

"He told you?"

Fang shook his head. "I felt a shiver of suspicion, as his claim of just wanting to usurp the mining operation for Red Eyes was not reason enough for all of the secrecy and compartmentalization the plan required. It's one thing to keep some stashes nearby to swiftly resupply, or store booty from a raid that you can't take to your home port, but Jack hollowed out an asteroid large enough to wholly dock his flagship within. That's not an idle task."

Ramsey nodded as Creton spoke into his ear from elsewhere: "According to Church archives, only one prisoner is there."

"One of Red Eyes' henchmen sets up a significant base capable of repair and resupply of at least one battleship? Yes, that is a big task, and it means he's been preparing for this for far longer than you my lord. You've been had, taken in by your own corrupt heart."

Now Sibley spoke into Ramsey's ear: "You see Fang's play now, don't you? He'll attempt to run as soon as your back's turned."

"And now you sing a song of deceit and treachery far fouler than your own, seeking a mercy you don't deserve in return for telling tales to pass blame to your co-conspirators."

"His Grace the Duke may not share your conclusion." Fang said, "He has a pragmatic character."

"Indeed." Ramsey said, "He may not, but neither would I expect the pragmatic response to be mercy for someone confessed to treason and worse."

Ramsey read Fang, seeing his eyes glance up to the ceiling for a fraction of a second, and then noticed Fang sitting such that he could easily spring up into action. "Sibley was right as usual." Ramsey thought, "He wants to run, but not like a thief caught with a purse- but as an assassin caught in the attempt."

The speakers for the public address system sounded. "Attention! The Tiger of Maribu has arrived."

"My lord shall receive justice presently." Ramsey said as he turned to leave the brig. As he made his way to meet Duke Far, he smiled and spoke to his subordinates on the Baden-Powell: "I have a plan to turn Fang's escape plan back on him, and I think Duke Far will go along with it."

Friday, April 20, 2018

When The Unexpected Happens

As I write this post, I'm working on "The Taking of Gabriella Robin". Recently I hit upon something that writers encounter sooner or later in their work: the Unexpected Event. You've likely heard of these things before, where some writer talks about how they got into a fix or know that the story's got an issue and suddenly a character steps up and says or does something that resolves the issue so the narrative continues.

That happened to me, again. In putting this story together, I recalled that I need to address a problem with my master villain; it does not help to make him seem unconvincingly potent, as a sort of villainous Gary Stu, for the same reason that heroic Stus and Sues routinely wreck stories where they are present. So when I hit on a snag at the conclusion of Act One, the master villain stepped out and took a big risk to cut through that snag like the proverbial Gordian Knot.

I can only get this specific without spoiling things: he intervenes, in a deniable fashion, to stop the hero from rescuing the damsel at a critical moment at Act One's climax. The damsel is the only one who clearly witnesses the master villain's treachery, as she is in the only position to see the deed done at all, after which she's stolen away and cannot gainsay the villain's statement on the matter.

This has had cascading consequences. Now the master villain needs to cover up his actions, which will drive him to escalate his plans and pressure his henchmen accordingly, and it opens up an option I hadn't considered previously for advancing the plot to that satisfying conclusion I know the reader wants. As Bob Ross would say, it's a happy accident, and I am grateful for it. I'm liking how this unexpected change is turning out, and I think you will too when I'm done. No Pulp Speedster am I, yet, but it will be done.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Crisis at Garmil's Gate - 16

Redalen's Revenge descended down into the clouds of Garmil's Gate, swooping with the terrible majesty of a bird of prey, emerging out of the clouds over a vast ocean before it leveled out about a mile above the surface.

"Captain, we're approaching the island prison." the helmsman said.

"Battle stations. All pilots to their mechs." Dashing Jack said, seated in his chair, "We're about to come under fire."

As the pirate pilots scrambled from the ready room to their cockpits, above on the bridge the crew strapped into their seats as the lighting changed over to battle mode. A warning rang out, and Gori looked over at the station reporting it.

"Stand-off missiles, Captain."

"Time to target."

"Two minutes."

"Launch countermeasures. Back-track trajectory, then launch counter-battery barrage."

Redalen's Revenge launched a score of signal-spoofing soft targets to all sides, confusing incoming missiles and driving them off the ship. One by one they reached a dummy target and detonated their proximity-fused warheads, lighting up a dim win-dark sea at twilight with brilliant fireballs. Without a word thereafter, the Revenge's own missiles launched its own stand-off barrage targeting the prison's stand-off batteries.

"Squadron: launch when ready and assume escort position." Jack said. The counter-battery barrage failed to reach their targets, shot down one by one by the prison's own anti-air defenses. Gori watched the barrage's failure, hit a few buttons, and brought it up on the main screen.

"We have enough to initiate the operation." Gori said.

"They will scramble their garrison units now." Jack said, "Continue counter-battery launches until we're within range with the guns, then pummel those batteries to scrap."

"Aye-aye, Captain." Gori said, and on the main screen a window popped up showing the new squadron leader- the man Ramsey allowed to escape.

"We're on station and awaiting orders, Captain."

"Engage the garrison. Clear them out first, and then assist in clearing a hole for the ship to punch through."

"Will you come out to play with us, Captain?"

"Not this time." Jack said, "So don't save anything for me."

"Acknowledged. Over and out." the leader said, and the window winked out. Gori walked over to Jack and bent towards his master's ear.

"A test?"

"At best."

Gori nodded. "One way or another, we'll make use of the Paladin's mercy."

Jack smiled. "Exactly. He acquits himself and proves his worth, does too well and exposes himself, or doesn't do well enough and disposes of himself- all of which I accept as useful outcomes."

The Revenge's squadron surged forth to intercept the incoming garrison units. Missiles flew back-and-forth around them, as big or bigger than their mecha, exploding in varying degrees of proximity. Then the two squadrons got into firing range and their formations broke up quickly into a furball of dogfighting.

On the bridge, the main screen showed the ship's guns to be within range. Jack smiled: "Fire!"

The turrets forward the bridge turned in unison towards the prison. They glowed their coruscating crimson color and then exploded outward into lethal lances of light and fire. Those brilliant beams blew through the twilight skies and beat upon their targets, first hitting as balled fists of angry angels, then melting holes through their thick armor carapace, before they erupted in exploding fireballs spewing death and dismemberment to all within sight.

"Again!" Jack yelled, and a second volley followed the first to the same success.

Meanwhile, Jack's squadron of subordinates successfully suppressed the garrison squadron. Those now fleeing fell to a combination of pursuing fire and getting caught in the explosions of the stand-off batteries, completing the assumption of air supremacy for Dashing Jack. The remaining reavers fell upon the anti-air batteries, losing a few over-zealous pirate pilots in the process, but those remaining guided their mothership in through the hole in the defenses now present.

"Target the main gate. Squadron retreat and await further orders." Jack said, and his men dutifully flew off as the Revenge now took aim at the prison's massive main gate.

"Batter that door down." Jack said, "Don't let the garrison rally."

The ship's main guns fired and fire and fired, hammering the gate without mercy for minutes, until it gave and caved.

"Go in and clear out the docks." Jack said, and his squadron did as commanded. The slaughter therein was swift and short, over well before the Revenge came to rest in the prison's docking bay. As the ship came to rest, and Jack made his way to the outside, his reavers rummaged through the facilities for plunder and other treasures- but found little.

"We've got control, Captain." Gori said as the two walked out to the dock, "And Gatewatch doesn't seem the wiser."

"That's because the garrison wasn't meant to keep people like us out. It was meant to keep its prisoner in."

The two accepted a boost from a waiting mech, which lifted them directly to the control room. As they climbed through the shattered window, Jack saw the mainframe terminal and accessed it. Moments later, he smiled.

"Captain, I take it you found what you came for."

"Indeed, Gori. Red Eyes will be pleased." Jack said, and he looked at a camera feed of the sole prisoner cell: a man of improbable beauty, with a label--a name, presumably--in an ancient tongue.

"Who is that?"

"That is what Red Eyes wants from this wretched backwater, Gori. Behold, the one who began all of this long ago: Azazel."

Friday, April 13, 2018

The Beginning is a Very Delicate Time: How "Legend of the Galactic Heroes" Sets Its Stage

Recently a new adaptation of the original Legend of the Galactic Heroes novel series began airing in Japan. I've posted about this on my main blog, but here I'm going to talk about how the novels, the new series, and the masterpiece that is the previous OVA series all started the narrative.

You're going to need to spend a little time watching the episodes in question to follow along. In addition, the movie that is a remake of the OVA's first two episodes is superior to both the OVA and the new series in how all of this gets handled. So here's a few links:

I will comment here that the novel does follow the brisk pace and presentation of the new series over the OVA, exactly so, and as such I will write hereafter with the understanding that the novel and the two episodes to date (later ones not included) are one and the same for my purposes here.

All that done, let's get to it.

Legend of the Galactic Heroes is one of the best Science Fiction works that Japan has ever produced. It is clearly the best Space Opera that Japan has ever produced. Yes, even better than its three biggest Space Opera franchises: Space Battleship Yamato, Mobile Suit Gundam, and Macross. Yes, even bigger than the rest of the Leijiverse. It's that big and important a work.

But if you read the novels, or watch the new series, you don't get a sense of just how big the stakes are. The reason is that they don't properly set up the true scope and scale of the narrative, while the well-regarded OVA series from late-'80s to mid-'90s and its many side-stories do just that.

Your responsibilities as the writer include the management of the audience's expectations. If you are going to tell a story about the fate of nations, domains, and empires then you have to set that expectation right away. This has to be done right away, within the first few minutes in film or television and within the first chapter for prose, poetry, and comics- and the sooner the better. You can be--and should be--efficient in executing this task, but never lose sight of the importance of presentation as your chief objective.

The first two episodes in both series covers the Battle of Astarte, which is also the first part of the novel. In the OVA series, which takes the time by slowing the pace to establish several things so the proper impact gets delivered to the audience (e.g. Jean-Robert Lapp and his tragic, wasteful death) which serves to establish the character of the three domains as institutions, their people as nations, and the expectation that none of these domains are simple narrative character. In addition to establishing our protagonist (Reinhard) and deuteragonist (Yang), the OVA also establishes the stakes in a manner that the new series/novel does not- something its slower pace and willingness to move material around to better exploit the OVA medium made possible.

The problem with the new series (and the novels) is that they don't take the time to properly establish the narrative and what is at stake here. You get Episode 1 to establish Reinhard and his immediate supporting cast, then Episode 2 wastes time establishing Yang and his, before resolving the battle and finishing the task of setting up their rivalry henceforth. The pacing is wrong, and because of that error (and the misplacement of narratively-relevant material), you get the expectation of two young heroes rising to power as the prelude to a war campaign where they alone are shot-callers- and that expectation gets crushed soon after this.

This is not the case with the OVA. While some criticize it for pulling material from other than the novel it adapts at points, those additions and changes improve the narrative's presentation. How? By properly setting the audience's expectations via establishing what is at stake for both leads- something missing in the new series. The result? The new series comes across as hollow and soulless compared to the OVA, and few things symbolize this like the Opening Theme for the new series: Pretty, Yet Vapid.

Mark this well, my colleagues. This is entirely preventable, and I hope that your editor catches this if you go astray.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Crisis at Garmil's Gate - 15

"Take us out."

With those words, Dashing Jack left his asteroid hideout. He stood on the bridge of his flagship, Redalen's Revenge, with Gori beside him.

"By now Duke Far should have received and confirmed the information provided." Gori said, "Our spies report that Lord Fang is under arrest, and that our Paladin friend is the one holding him at sword-point."

"Excellent." Jack said, "Lord Fang's pride will not allow him to submit, so his reason will surely fail him in his desperate rush to soothe his pride, and when that happens whatever measures he's put in place to guarantee his survival shall surely fail him- but not before causing a mess so massive that it can't be ignored."

"Or resolved quickly." Gori said, and he laughed.

"Correct." Jack said, "But we cannot waste the time we just bought by betraying him. We need to get to the tomb, recover our prize, and escape with him before the Paladin clears the mess we've thrown at him."

"How long do you think we have?" Gori said, "We can't have more than a day, at most."

The Revenge cleared the asteroid and turned towards Garmil's Gate.

"Captain," a crewman said, "we're clear and ready to launch. Orders, sir?"

"Spin up the drive. Helm, take us as close to the tomb as we can get. Once we arrive, rig for silent running."

"A micro-jump?" Gori said."

"Not to worry. I had the calculations done while we were here awaiting the rest of the plan to unfold." Jack said, "With our enemies occupied, so long as we avoid attracting attention we can steal in and out without them being the wiser. If that isn't sufficient, then I've prepared one more trump card. After reading that file, it will prove more useful than I expected."

"The noblewomen on retreat?"

"Indeed." Jack said, "If it becomes necessary, we seize them and use them as shields to cover our retreat. Once we're away, we can ransom them to defray our costs, or trade them for other favors we may need later. For all we know, Red Eyes might be looking for a wife."

The entire bridge erupted in laughter.

"Captain, the jump drive is ready." a crewman said, and Jack smiled.

"Jump!"

In a flash, Redalen's Revenge winked out from before the asteroid base. It passed briefly through a spiraling blue-white tunnel, and then emerged at Garmil's Gate- on the far side from Gatewatch, and just outside its gravity well. Dashing Jack stood still a moment to await word of anything going wrong.

"All stations report no issues, Captain." Gori said.

"To the tomb." Jack said, "Let us finish what our predecessors began."

Friday, April 6, 2018

On Inspiration and How To Use It

Over at the Retreat, I wrote a post in praise of Sabaton's cover of Manowar's "Kingdom Come". I said I would follow up here.

Here we are.

For my part, listening to that song gave me the idea to structure the series I have in my head. The serial here, and Taking, are early episodes to set up the big action and give the master villain his establishment via the deeds of subordinates. In short, a big plot needs big build-up, and that's best done by making it the subplot in a series of adventures meant to tie events together.

Well, one thing leads to another.

Which leads to something more concrete. While Crisis is me shaking things down prior to the big production, so I'm not that worried about making mistakes, Taking is where I'm going in with a clear plan. Thanks to that Sabaton cover, I've gotten that plan, and it began coming together when I listened to the soundtrack to one of my favorite movies.

Because when you hear that you feel goddamn invincible, fires of passion fueling your fighting spirit and driving you to go rescue the damsel and put right what's gone wrong. For the sort of story Taking is about, you need to find whatever means you can garner to bring that mood into your brain when writing the keen points so that you use the right words in the right way to get the desired effect across to the reader. That is the lawful function of inspiration It's not called a "Muse" for nothing.

Speaking of which, this entire soundtrack is also key for me to hit the right tone:

The point to inspiration is not just to have breakthrough moments on dealing with the work of narrative construction, but also to give you a direction to follow when it's time to put in the perspiration required to actually get the job done. That direction then tells you what to prepare to do, and how to go about doing it; it fills in the context between "Idea!" and "Complete Manuscript!" that so many writers require- and the Usual Suspects routinely failed to deliver, playing their part in the creation of the Pink Slime Problem killing Tradpub.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Crisis at Garmil's Gate - 14

Aboard the Opulant Dragon, Lord Fang lay fast asleep in his luxurious quarters alongside one of his personal attendants--his euphemism of choice--unaware of the disaster unfolding in the space below, when an alert sounded loud enough to force the sleeping lord back to waking life. This angered Lord Fang, who rubbed the sleep from his eyes and slapped the comlink.

"Bridge, there had better be an enemy assault in progress."

"My lord," the watch officer said, "you need to answer a message from Duke Far. Now."

Lord Fang waived the lights on, dim, and sat at his office char. "Replay message."

A stern-faced, unhappy Duke Far appeared on the screen. "Fang, I've come into possession of documents indicating that you've been in league with the Red Eyes Pirates. Specifically, that you've supplied them with mecha from our own stores. That you've used the fake attacks to kill rivals, eliminate leaks, and weaken our defenses by assassinating key officials in our network. In short, you've got a lot of accusations to answer for, and not a lot of time before I arrive to board your ship and take you into custody. Don't even think of running; I've asked for the Paladin on station to apprehend you in my name, and His Holiness the Pope has agreed."

Lord Fang felt a primordial fear race up his spine.

"If you wish to take full responsibility, then I await hearing of your successful apology--along with your corpse lying in state--when I arrive. Far over and out."

Another image broke in, this one live: "This is Lord Roland of the Solar Guard, acting on behalf of Duke Far. Lord Fang, you are commanded to heave to and be boarded. I place you under arrest under the charges of high treason, apostasy, and piracy."

"Orders, my lord?" the watch officer said.

"Hold position, bridge. I'm on my way." Lord Fang said as he threw on a shirt and tucked his beam sword into his waistband. He walked briskly from his quarters to the bridge, racing through his mind to figure out how this happened, but a review of his own records showed that he covered his tracks properly- it wasn't his fault. He dismissed Sir Kei and Sir Pei out of hand; they lacked access as well as ambition, so they weren't responsible either. Master Iser died, so he could have released it as a deadman's switch measure, but Fang felt that unlikely.

"I'm get that double-talker for this." Fang thought as he rode the lift to the bridge, "Damn you, Dashing Jack."

Fang arrived on the bridge. Everyone saluted him, as usual, and Fang took the captain's chair. "Status."

"Gatewatch refuses to mobilize, and Lord Roland's ship has maneuvered itself right next to our primary thrusters. Her guns can't miss at that range."

"And that means we are dead in space." Fang said, "Clever man, that Paladin."

"Orders, my lord?"

Fang quickly ran the numbers. "Let the Paladin aboard." he said, "We can handle one man."

Friday, March 30, 2018

Notes on the Paladins of the Solar Guard

The Solar Guard is a military body that serves the Church directly. The Paladins are the elite of that military.

While most of the Guard acts as to secure the Church's properties and interests across the Galaxy, the Paladins--the Companions of the Pope--are those tasked to handle the most urgent matters, either directly or as a favor to another in the interest of Mankind or Christendom more broadly.

Each Paladin has a place at a chamber reserved for him. This is his Seat. Each Seat is named for a heroic figure of Man's past, such as Roland the Frank. Three of these Seats are named for the three traditional Archangels of the faith, and their holders are the seniors of this fraternity. This chamber is rarely used, as the duties of the Paladins often have then in the field, but when they do meet--and it is not to initiate a new brother--they do so at this chamber in the Guard's headquarters on Palatine Hill in Rome.

Each Seat is the seal for a Super Robot that shares the Seat's name. The holder may call it forth when authorized; the Archangels are trusted to do so without needing permission. They also have a highly-customized Real Robot assigned to them, often named for a weapon or other key item of the namesake. (This is why Durandal is Ramsey's Real Robot.) Between the quality of the work, and the skill of the pilot, these Real Robots have taken on enemy Super Robots and won.

The conventions for Paladins accord them noble status, styling them as "Lord (Seat)" formally; the Archangels are accorded as Peers of the Realm and are entitled to be styled as "Duke (Seat)" but most are used to being "Lord" (having held a lesser Seat previously) and let it go under most circumstances. e.g. Sir Ramsey Hennepin, Lord Roland of the Solar Guard. Paladins are treated as (naval) Captains within a military context; Archangels are as Admirals.

A Knight of the Guard that gets elevated into the Paladin Brotherhood leaves the formal Guard hierarchy permanently, becoming "unattached" and--on the rare occasions where they aren't on assignment--allowed to operate independently. Prior to that point, they enjoy a military career that often has them posted to a variety of posts; in this way, Paladin mentors groom potential successors and test their students' character over time.

There are no female Paladins, just as there are no female Guardsmen, and it is literally impossible to change this.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Crisis at Garmil's Gate - 13

Hiding out in a hollowed-out asteroid on the outer edge of the system, Dashing Jack holds a tablet in one hand and a half-empty wine glass in the other as he looks out over the scene below: his ship held fast in the hangar as his crew scurries in spacesuits to fix it.

"Reporting, Captain!" Gori said as he walked into the office, saluting.

Jack turned out, put down the tablet, and sighed. "Is this about the revolt?"

Gori, stunned, answered: "Yes, sir, it is."

"It failed, didn't it?"

Gori dropped his head. "Yes, sir. It did."

Jack waived his Executive Officer over and handed him the tablet. "Now we know why."

Gori looked at the file on display. He recognized the face as that of Sir Ramsey, but what shocked him was the context for the photograph: his personnel file.

"It came with the regular courier drop a few hours ago, shortly before we recovered the survivors." Jack said, "The boss's man inside provided this to him, and he provided it to us."

Gori skimmed through the film, scrolling down. No mention of a father. No mention of a mother. No siblings. Only who recruited him into the Solar Guard, and later took him as a squire: Sir Aitkin Crow, Lord Michael. One of the three sitting Archangels of the Guard, and therefore one of the three Commanders of the Guard- one of the three greatest living Paladins.

"Since he was a boy, this Ramsey's been living a soldier's life. Learned everything at the knee of one of the living legends of Christendom." Jack said, "He's been doing this sort of thing for about 20 years, Gori."

Gori kept scrolling. No wife. No children. No other dependents.

"No leverage." Jack said, "He's a weapon, Gori, a living and thinking weapon. No wonder the Court of Stars sends him out here."

"He put down the revolt in about four hours, Captain." Gori said, putting the tablet on the desk, "Just him, his ship, and his squire."

"20 years of being, at the risk of being dramatic, a questing knight. Gori, we're in trouble."

"What do we do?"

"The ace unit isn't accounted for, is it?" Jack said, and Gori confirmed with a wordless nod.

"It won't be for long." Jack said, "That's his next play. He's use it to slip in under our noses and then sabotage us. He may even disguise himself as the pilot."

"So what's the plan?"

"We need to buy time before we can pull out of here for good." Jack said, "We still don't have what we came for, and because of this Paladin we need to step up the timetable. It's time to cut the dead weight loose."

"Lord Fang?"

"Outlived his usefulness. Time to give him a problem he can't browbeat away. Signal our man at the tomb to ready for our arrival, and ensure that the noble lord's activity get to our adversary's attention. That should keep him busy enough to let us finish our work and leave."

Gori looked his captain, unconvinced.

"Anything else, Gori?"

"If he's as good as our intelligence implies, it's still coming down to a fight at the end. You should have the data on his unit in yours."

"If it comes down to a fight, Gori, then it needs to be one far more crooked in our favor than having unit data."

Friday, March 23, 2018

Settling in at Solaris VII: Making #AGundamForUs

If you haven't noticed yet, there's plenty of giant robots in Galactic Christendom. As far as any outsider would say, this is a mecha property. It is also a Space Opera property; that's not a conflict in the least. (The Macross franchise at times approaches being a literal Space Opera, but instead sticks to idols and rock stars.) That means that the serial I'm doing here is a mecha story, and I am not being subtle about it.

The follow-up I'm plotting now ("The Taking of Countess Gabriella Robin") has plenty of giant robot combat, starting with a cunning raid on an innocent world in Galactic Christendom and culminating in a fleet battle on the enemy homeworld. Once more, I follow the motto of Mekton: Action, Romance, GIANT ROBOT COMBAT. Throw in massive starships slugging it out in orbit over exotic alien worlds, and you've got something you have to be John Scalzi to fuck up. (Even at his worst, Yoshiyuki Tomino delivered.)

There's going to be more over time. Now that I clearly see an opening, I'm going for it.

Eventually I'll have one of those easily-remembered three-word-titles for my franchise, something I'll need to figure out when I finish a manuscript and need to put together a cover and start a promotional hustle. The overall plan is to use multiple stories to bring a pile of characters on the stage before the big mashup begins and we start building towards the events of "The Ghost Fist Gambit".

So yeah, I'm in the arena. I'm on Solaris VII and ready to throw down.

And I'm not going to be shy about what my ingredients are, or why I'm drawing from those inspirations to make this thing happen.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Crisis at Garmil's Gate - 12

The men in the Oni-class mecha laughed until their sensors blared a warning of an enemy unit suddenly appearing below. The laughter stopped, and one of them moved his unit to the edge to look down. He gasped, and he ran back from the ledge. Before the others could ask what he saw, they beheld the same sight.

Durandal, with its cockpit hatch open, rose out of the mile-deep pit. Standing in the open hatchway, arms folded under his chest and feet spread apart, stood Sir Ramsey. His face wore a mask of terrible resolve, and his eyes fixed upon them as if he could see into their wretched souls.

"This is Durandal, the Sword of Roland." Ramsey said, "I've seen what you can do with your mecha. Now you shall see what I can do with mine."

Ramsey stepped back into the cockpit and closed the hatch. The eyes on the unit's head flared as if awakening, and the four men in the Oni units felt a primal fear arise in them and fix them firmly. All they could do was watch as the gleaming silver-steel came out of the pit and landed before them.

"Come at me, curs!" Ramsay commanded, "Come at me if you want to live."

"Attack!" the man in the royal blue unit said, and the four of them rushed Ramsey with beam swords ignited. But they came at Ramsey in a panic, fear driving them to desperation and away from reason or control, and so they came at him in a manner that Ramsey readily exploited. He met the lead man, caught the man's attack with his free hand, and ran the man's unit in half at the waist. He kicked the first man at the second just before the first's unit exploded, severely damaging the second and blowing him to the ground. This let Ramsey turn about and block the third's attack, which he them slipped down the man's blade and severed the third man's sword arm off.

Ramsey turned to the blue unit. "I will leave you for last."

Ramsey then turned his beam sword into a reverse grip. As the third unit picked up the severed arm to use as a club, Ramsey took a step and stabbed that unit through-and-through the chest. As it fell over and exploded, Ramsey stalked towards the blue unit.

"Stay back!" the man said as he took up his best defensive stance, "I'm warning you!"

Ramsey beat away the beam sword. "Or what?

The man did not reply, so Ramsey held his sword at the unit's hatch. "Get out."

The man complied. He emerged from the blue unit with his hands up. "On the ground. Now."

As the man got down on the ground, on his knees, hands behind his head the Baden-Powell approached. It fired on the one remaining grey unit as it attempted to pull a sneak attack on Ramsey, destroying it.

"Typical!" Sibley said, "You left just one, and that one half-eaten."

"We have a prize, Sibley. Send down the lad to collect it. We may need it later. Send him down when you come to collect this man."

"Aye, Sir Ramsey." Sibley said, "So what now?"

Ramsey looked into the captive's eyes. "Verification."

Friday, March 16, 2018

The Barbarians of the Galaxy Approach

I haven't gotten into much detail about the barbarians at the fringes of Galactic Christendom, but they will be a significant presence when I get around to "The Taking of Countess Gabriella Robin". As with the Periphery and beyond in BattleTech, they too are--generally speaking--using technology comparable to the norms of Galactic Christendom. They also are often in thrall to one or another of the Nephalim or the Fallen Angels, usually as the literal progeny of said master or otherwise corrupt in a fundamental way that renders them a subject people- and then their culture finishing the job of yoking them to the master's will.

As such, when they show up it's a big deal. The deeper into Civilization they penetrate, the bigger the threat they present, and the opening of the aforementioned story is one such barbarian raid on a world commonly believed to be beyond the reach of the barbarians. How this happened, and why, is a subplot for the supporting characters to handle while Our Hero chases after Our Damsel to rescue her from being forcibly bound to the barbarian warlord that seized her.

So, later this year, get ready to see our Paladin of the Solar Guard fight his way through a barbarian horde to rescue the beauty of the galaxy from a barbarian warlord set on possessing her- and he alone.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Crisis at Garmil's Gate - 11

Sir Ramsey called Sibley. "What's the status of the spaceport?"

Sibley answered flatly. "The lad's been clearing out the trash on the guns. The lighter units broke and ran. The heavier ones are covering their retreat. We should have this sorted shortly."

"Mark my location and converge on it when you're done there."

"Acknowledged." Sibley said, "Leave some for us."

"You won't be disappointed, Sibley." Ramsey said with a laugh, and he broke the comlink to Sibley. He looked behind him to see the armed workers and stolen Oni still on his tail, and he smiled as they opened fire upon him to no avail. He again linked to their coms.

"Are you unable to aim properly?" Ramsay said, "One man on a hovercycle going in a straight line, and you can't hit him?"

A shot from a blaster rifle hit just off to his left. "You almost did it! You must be their leader!"

The man in the royal blue unit growled. "Push him into the mine!"

The workers broke off and formed up in a column going down a side road. Their torsos twisted like tank turrets, traversing towards Sir Ramsey, while they launched their remaining rockets in a massive salvo at him. The rockets roared through the air, impacting all about him, but none hitting close enough to force him to ground. Then the guns opened fire once more, bolts of plasma searing the air as they passed through.

"My squire's son is a better shot than you sad lot!" Ramsay said, "Not yet a page, and already scored more kills than you have hits, combined!"

Several blaster shots went just over his head. "Better!" Ramsey said, "But still not good enough!"

As the enemy fire continued to hit all around him, Ramsey turned suddenly and rushed right for the workers once more. They kept up their fire at him, still not hitting, when he ignited his saber and weaved through the column kneecapping the workers and turning them into very awkward turrets- those that were still upright after crashing and rolling.

As Ramsey turned about to finish the rebel workers off, the rebels in the Oni fired upon him again. Having taken their measure, Ramsey easily baited them into hitting the wrecked workers instead turning mobility kills into full kills and eliminating the pilots as well as the units.

"Well done!" Ramsey said, "I'm certain that your master will reward you well for killing your own men."

"Bring me that man's head!" the man in the royal blue unit said, "Even if you have to pull it out of a pile half-burned."

Ramsey laughed. He laughed at them. He laughed at them long and hard as he emerged from behind the wrecks and now charged at them.

"And how will you do that, villain, when you can't even hit a single unarmed hovercycle?"

The three Oni-class mecha now coordinated their fire, pushing Ramsey off his attack vector, but Ramsey didn't seem at all bothered.

"Sibley," Ramsey said, "I've seen enough. Time to finish this. Ready?"

"Aye!"

"You know what to do then." Ramsey said, and he lead the enemy mecha to the edge of the open mine pit- where he went over the edge. The three pursuing mecha ran to the edge and looked down, seeing only the impact of the hovercycle as it hit the better part of a mile below. They laughed, and in their laughter they stopped looking down, for Ramsey had let go of the hovercycle.

Ramsey drew forth the baton that Creton gave to him previously. Putting his beam sword away, he gripped the baton with both hands.

"I call forth Roland- draw your sword!"

The center of the baton flashed, and he pulled it apart. Light coruscated from the ends as he turned in mid-air, motioning with the split baton ends as if they were the controls of a mecha, and soon rays of light drew forth a cockpit. They radiated outward, drawing in first the skeleton and then the frame, and finally filling in the armor and externally-mounted weapons. The light faded, and now a fully-functional mecha stood in its place. Thrusters on its back and feet roared to life as its powerplant went online, stablizing it in the air and arresting its fall.

Durandal, the Sword of Roland, had arrived at Garmil's Gate.