Redemption: Snippet 7

Here it is again. Boris #4 should be out before the New Year. Sorry for all the delays. Again, this is presented as is. ENJOY!

 

It was his third day patrolling, and they were about to head back. They’d found a few places that showed and smelt of recent human activity. The smell of anyone in the area ahead of them should have been brought to them by the wind that was blowing towards them. Olaf called time.

Though they had found tracking sign, the Weres had been universally thwarted in tracking anyone by scent. They kept encountering patches of strong ‘woodlands’ odor that had overwhelmed their sense of smell.

Olaf was reasonably sure the hide they had found a half mile back was a day old or less. Still, even in his other form, the human scents had been faint. They were the smells of people who were taking extra effort to smell like the environment. Rubbing dirt and strong smelling plants over themselves.

They headed back to the camp, the wind at their back, relatively unconcerned. They had patrolled the area only hours before, and apart from the hide they had found no new sign of other humans. None of the telltale vampire scent on the wind.

Still, his patrol moved cautiously. Overconfidence in the shuttle was what had gotten them into trouble in the first place. They were halfway back, and the breeze went still.

Olaf’s nose twitched, as did Andre’s. “Cover!” He shouted out the order. There was a human odor in the air now the wind wasn’t blowing it away from them. His patrol quickly dived behind rises, trees and whatever else they could find. Olaf himself took cover behind a tree.

He heard rustles in the brush ahead that confirmed his suspicions.

“It would seem that we are at an impasse,” a voice from the woods said. “We have all five of you located. A firefight was not what we had planned, but we will take it if that’s all that is on offer.”

Olaf thought quickly, then decided provocation was the best option if they were the enemy. “That’s all you have! We will not surrender to a blood drinker’s lackeys!” He shouted back. He loosened the straps on his patrol webbing, preparing to shift if he needed too.

However, he was not convinced they served the vampire. He thought he’d be able to smell what Danislav described as ‘old, off blood’ on a vampire’s troops. Especially if it had kept to one lair for some time, as many did.

There was silence for a moment, then a snarling feminine voice answered, “We have nothing to do with that bitch! Most of us are survivors of attempts to ‘cleanse’ our homes with some of her monsters.” That sounded more like this vampire was nearby and directing the Nosferatu. That was a small relief.

Olaf hesitated. If he took it at face value, then he risked looking a credulous fool in any event. Either that or arousing their suspicions about his motives. “I guess it is a standoff then. I sure as hell can’t trust that you are not working for the blood drinkers!”

Boris Chronicles snippet #5

Leaving the bodies to be destroyed by the blast had been too disrespectful for Olaf. Maybe it wasn’t the battle wise decision. Maybe it would improve the enemies chance of tracking them, if there was enough of a trace to track after the blast.

Either way, it was still the right, the respectful, decision. Besides, while the digging was going on…

Everything paused as the sound from the earth shattering explosion  hit them. Even at this range, sheltered by a hill, the sound of a catastrophically failing etheric reactor was impressive. The shaking of the earth as the shock wave passed was less so. Most of the energy would be directed up, even with the containment of the alloy hull.

“Andre, Richard, test those railguns. Aim for the blast site. Breaking it up will make investigating harder.” Olaf ordered. He’d known about half of his bodyguard most of his life. He was more comfortable going by first name with them.

An Amazon and two of his bodyguards were the dead. Nestor he knew, but he’d needed dogtags to identify the others. Marina and Timothy. He bowed his head, anger and grief mixing. If he’d not been so confident in the security of the shuttle, maybe this wouldn’t have happened.

Of course then it could have happened to others. No-one had really expected someone on planet to have a weapon that could take out a shuttle. At least not outside of Japan. Any other officer he could have sent would have only had a squad with them. Their chances of survival even if they had taken no casualties would have been lower still.

It had been the right choice to come. Or at least the best choice available.

There was a single whipcrack from the hilltop as one of the railguns fired.

The tears of grief and regret flowed down his face as he dug the grave. Slowly other started to help him. Within half an hour they had it as deep as it would go, about four feet.

Even with all their technology, even relative to life before the fall, certain injuries were truly fatal. A crushed skull. A charred hole through the chest. A bolt of energy through the eye. At least it would have been quick, Olaf consoled himself.

He carefully placed each body into the battlefield grave. Anatoly, one of the Weres, handed him a hip flask of vodka. Nodding, Olaf carefully poured some over each corpse’s lips. They would reach Valhalla with drink on their breath.

Then he threw the first spadeful of dirt into each grave before letting others complete the task.

He saluted as the three rocks were placed to mark the graves, the earth was stomped back into place and the turf put back over to hide them from casual sight.

Olaf would forever remember this moment as the moment he learnt a core soldiers truth. That loss and grief are at the center of war. He was coming to realise fast that glory was no balance to them.

He took a swig of the vodka before he handed it back to Anatoly, who took a swig himself before he put it away in his gear.

Olaf made an oath that moment. He couldn’t stop people dying to protect him because of who his father was. Either out of fear or respect. But he would become a man worthy of any who died for him.

One of the railguns was working. The other would still have to be lugged with them. Olaf would not let it fall into the enemy’s hands. For now, carrying it was better than slagging it with one of his few thermite grenades.

He had a feeling he might be happy for every weapon he had.

It was why the only weapon he’d left with the soldiers to arrive at Valhalla with had been their Tomahawks.

He knew they’d understand when the doorkeeper asked why they were so poorly armed.

Their comrades would put their other arms to good use.

Midnight Magic release

The Midnight Magic Anthology is coming out on the 25th of April and is now up for pre-order. Below is a snippet from my title in the anthology ‘Pack, What Pack, Were?’

Pack, What Pack, Were?


I walked to the nearby stream, carefully leaving a trail of human footprints. I started shivering as the crystal clear, but icy cold, water went to my knees. Then I started shifting. It was neither is pleasurable as the second shift had been nor as painful as the first. In a lot of ways, it just
was. I mean it was just a part of me, of who I was.

It’s hard to describe what the world is like through a wolf’s eyes compared to humans. Some colors are more intense, others are duller. You’ve got an overlay of wafting scent colors. All the smells around you subtly add an almost misty overlay to what you see. Gods this is frustrating. It’s like trying to describe the color pink to someone who is blind. It’s exactly like I’m telling you but it’s different as well. What it really is, though, most importantly, is both thrilling and wondrous.

I didn’t look at myself. I had been told by Mom and my sisters that I was large for a wolf. I assumed that any other Were I met would be about the same size. My sister Kate loves petting me in my wolf form. She cooed about how beautiful I was. Vanities aren’t a particularly wolfish trait, though. Fitness, and the fact that I was healthy, those were important to me. Whether I was pretty or not? I couldn’t have cared less.

I could scent a rabbit nearby. There was a slight shift in its odor as it went from concerned to nervous. Rabbits are a massive pest here, so I felt no concern about immediately giving chase. This was part of the reason I’d come out here, after all.

I started by stalking closer, as I was downwind of it. My odor wouldn’t travel cleanly to it. By carefully zigzagging as the breeze shifted, I managed to get within ten meters of it. That was more than pushing my luck, but I was doing this as much for practice as out of hunger. Shifting did leave me hungry, but it’s not the sort of ravenous hunger that you hear of in books and from movies.

The rabbit had calmed down briefly, so I took my chance and made a lightning lunge. My jaws slammed around its neck, and I shook it, snapping its neck quickly. There was no reason to cause unnecessary pain or harm. The sweet, hot taste of its blood filled my mouth, and I started getting down to eating it. I didn’t mind eating the fur and the offal, but I still balked at eating the brains and skull. I could easily have crushed it, but there was just something about it that disgusted the more human side of me. Even in wolf form.

After eating the rabbit, I started spiraling out from where my tent was. The eucalyptus smell through a wolf’s nose is so much more intense and so relaxing. I had to be careful it didn’t lull me into complacency. There could be a human out here hunting feral dogs for all I knew. I’d never camped in this place before.

 

A Simple Trip – snipet

This snippet of A Simple Trip comes to you before it’s final edit. The anthology it will first be released in hasn’t been named yet, but should be out before the end of the month. More news to follow.

Chapter 1

It had taken me months to convince the twins to come to school early, so we could go into the strange shop that was on the way from our homes. I like the twins, they are an interesting pair. They’re both Russian, but not what you’d typically think of as Russian. They are about five foot four, with dark hair and olive skin. Although they come from a family that claims Cossack Heritage they don’t look like the traditional blonde haired, blue-eyed, tall, muscular Cossacks. They looked closer to the Romani, both in features and in the quirky temperament.

“Are you sure this is a good idea?” Asked Katya nervously.

“What makes you so sure he will even be open this early?” Tatiana asked grumpily. Tatiana was not a morning person. One of the major differences between the twins.

“It will be open. I’ve got a good feeling about this.” I said confidently.

The twins looked at each other, as if they knew something I didn’t. If I’d been paying more attention I have noticed the deep sadness and the edge of timorousness to their faces. But I was too wrapped up in my own excitement at getting a chance to see what was in the store. Secondhand stores like this one had some of the best stuff you can find, and for prices a teenager like me could afford.

We left early enough to give ourselves at least half an hour in the shop. Probably longer, as in my excited anticipation I’d hurried. With my long legged gait they’d had to jog to keep up. When we arrived I could hear their heavy breathing, and feel the slight burn of their angry stares at the back of my head. I ignored it. They had agreed to come along, after all. I just hoped Tatiana, the more volatile twin, wasn’t actually mad at me. She could be terrifying.

As we entered the store I barely noticed the elderly cat cleaning itself next the register. What hit me was the overwhelming odor of old books. The kind of smell that only the best bookstores that sell new books have,  but secondhand bookstores all seem to have it permeating them. Used paper and ink, with a hint of another, sort of musty odor. A smell that is one of the simple pleasures of life, in my opinion.

It surprised me because from the front of the store, all you could see was furniture and knick knacks. As the bell above the door tinkled, I heard the shuffling of the store owner. I’d never met him before, for some reason he always closed the shop between three and four. He probably didn’t want the younger kids pawing through his shop and damaging things.

When I spotted him, he seemed to tense up at the sight of us. There was some apprehension, and the flicker of fear crossed his expression. I bowed deeply and said “Good storekeeper, we merely wish to peruse your wares. I swear there will be no damage done to them.”