All words presented in this blog are purely opinion, not fact - unless specifically stated otherwise in the post.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Hero

For those of you who are yet to read my short story 'Exile' please go away and read it now, the following contains huge spoilers.

The following is the first two parts of a sidequell short story to Exile. A short story in the same universe set at the exact same time as Exile. I've been writing it in my spare time for a while and wanted to know what you guys think.

So here it is, the first two parts of 'Hero'

“Captain Charles Crowe. Identification code two-two-three-five-seven-jay.” He said, for what felt like the millionth time. His lips were sore, his throat was dry. It was starting to hurt to speak. The split lip, ringing headache and possible concussion didn’t help. Not to mention the ‘aggressive interrogation techniques’ of his captors.
“B’in sayin’ that for six hours now.” The pirate rumbled, basso voice echoing dangerously within the large empty space of the ship’s cargo hold. Six hours? it felt like longer. It felt like he’d been there for days, weeks, months even. Could it really only have been six hours? Or was that another form of interrogation? say its been an hour when it’s been a week, just to make things seem even more hopeless.
Charlie glared up at the pirate. He was tall and hugely muscled - His fists looked to be about the size of Charlie’s head. He was bald with a little stubble, though his hair line appeared to have receded. He had one dark brown eye and one white one, a scar ran straight through the white. He looked like a thug. A mindless thug with passion for naught but the most animalistic of instincts, at least that’s how he looked. His interrogation tactics seemed to prove Charlie wrong. They were subtle, sophisticated, they worked the slow game on him, knowing that he would crack eventually.
Everybody cracks eventually.
Of course there was every possibility Charlie was giving the pirate too much credit. Perhaps it truly had only been six hours and his own mind was putting subtleties where there were none. In fact, The subtleties being in his head made more sense. He wasn't playing with Wren here, after all. It was just a pirate.
"You not ge'in' bored of sayin' that? We're ge'in' bored of 'earin' it." He said.
We? Charlie mused. Who is we?
“Captain Charles Crowe. Identification code two-two-three-five-seven-jay.” He repeated. It made more sense to Charlie than asking the obvious question. He'd already given that much away, there was every chance that he'd give away more on his own.
"You know, I looked you up. Had to, to see if you're worth ransoming." A spark of hope ignited within his chest for a moment. "We offered but they don' wan' you back." And the spark was smothered.
Charlie cursed himself internally. He knew better than to hope. The decision to pay a randsom lay with the grand admiral, and he did not like Charlie. More accurately, he hated Wren's family, and as one of Wren's father's Vassals Charlie's family was just as bad, at least to the grand admiral.
There had been no chance of release, he had raised his hopes for nothing.
Subtlety or not?
“You're from Andal?” He asked. “Went to Andal once, ‘bout ten years ago.” Charlie’s eyes moved up to his captor’s. “‘bout the time you joined up, righ’? Now why was tha’?”


~|~


“That was a great session.” Dylan grinned, stuffing his holo-tab into his rucksack. “What’s gonn’a happen next?”
Wren frowned at the young Elf assassin player. “That would be telling.” He said. “Do you really want me to ruin it?” He opened his eyes wide and and spoke in a grave tone. “For everyone?”
“He doesn’t know yet, Dyl.” Charlie laughed, patting Dylan on the shoulder. “That’s why we do these games a week apart. He has to figure that out.”
“Oh, ok.” Dylan said, rolling his eyes.
“I’ll message you on the holo when I have some idea of what I’m going to do.” Wren promised. “You could run the next game if you want.”
Dylan smiled but shook his head. “I like enjoying the story. I’m not good at that stuff, I just like playing.”
“You sure you can’t stay the night?” The youngest of their group, Magnus, asked as he stepped around the others. “Wren’s dad doesn’t mind.”
Dylan shook his head, turning on his heel and heading towards the door. “Can’t, my Dad’s shipping out in the morning and I want to see him before then.”
The others followed Dylan, passing out of the games room, past the kitchen, through the landing.
“You getting him to find out about taking the military qualification exams early?” Charlie asked, always more aware of what was going on than any other member of their group, except maybe Wren
Wren had always been their groups leader, being from the most prestigious family, but Charlie had always felt more aware of things. He supposed that was the problem with growing up as the first son of an Earl; you didn’t need to know everything because there was always someone there to tell you. Charlie supposed that he, himself was Wren's 'someone'.
That wasn’t to say that Wren wasn’t smart, from what Charlie could tell he was incredibly smart, he’d just never had to try hard. Never had to prove himself.
Charlie wasn't a nobleman. Well, no, that wasn't true. He was of the nobility, but barely. Most of e true, old nobility saw him as nothing more than a commoner. His father was a vassal of Wren’s, Senior Admiral of the Navy, beholden to the Earls and the Emperor of the Mao-Winsor empire - though his loyalty to Wren's father always seemed to come first. Everything he had, he’d worked for. Everything he had, he’d earned. Nothing had been given to him. But that didn’t matter to Charlie. Wren was his friend, that was enough.
They followed Dylan down the stairs to the front doors and out into the late evening. Dylan walked over to his two-pad skimmer, still resting by the wall where he'd discarded it upon arrival.
He righted it and brushed off of the handle bars before securing his rucksack and climbing on. The hover craft turned on automatically, responding to his weight. Dylan stood with the skimmer between his legs and looked over at his friends.
“I’ll see you guys next week.” Dylan promised. He leaned forward and shot off down the path towards the main gate.
The three of them watched him go, seeing him to the gate and then watching it crack slightly to allow him to leave. "Little Dylan in the navy." Wren commented, smiling as they made their way back into the house proper. House was the wrong word for it, of course. Houses didn't have wings. Wren's fathers home was a mansion, elegant, sophisticated and completely pointless. Charlie used to play hide and seek in the house with Wren and there had been tens of rooms, maybe hundreds that had been empty or used for storage.
It seemed so silly to Charlie, but then he wasn't a wealthy nobleman. Maybe Wren knew exactly what each thing was for, but Charlie doubted it.
"I'm not sure whether to be proud or very worried." Wren continued.
"Worried?" Magnus repeated, confusion in his voice as wren led them into the drawing room. Charlie didnt understand why they called it that, nobody ever did any drawing in there. They just watched holo-net in there. Cartoons and stuff. Nobody else spent any time in there, just Wren and his friends.
"Were you not playing with us in there?" Wren asked, laughing. “Dyl’s fun but he’s not subtle. I’m proud of him for joining up, don’t get me wrong. takes a braver man than me to put his life on the line like that, but I’m not sure I’d want him with his finger on any triggers.”
“I don’t know.” Charlie shrugged, turning the holo-projector on. “I think he’ll do alright.”
The holo-net lit up the room with cartoons, but only for a moment. a moment later a news report took over, emergency broadcast logos cycling across the bottom and top. “We interrupt your regularly scheduled holo-net interactions to bring you breaking news; ships of unknown origin have appeared on our sensors. We advise that everyone to make their way to their nearest shelter.” The reporter said. “In other news, nude photos of teen singing sensation Mika Moore were discovered today, stay tuned for an exclusive look as we stay with you throughout this ordeal.”
“Wait, what?” Magnus asked. “ships? shelter?”
“It’s fine.” Wren said, waving aside the problem and sitting down on the sofa, a little too eager to watch the news. “Its probably just an economy personnel carrier that forgot to book a landing.” He shrugged, eyes returning to the holo as the story about Mika Moore continued.
Chalie’s eyes locked onto the news report for a few moments when the pictures were displayed, but as soon as they were taken back down he returned to the conversation. “If it was serious, my dad would come get us.”
The banging of doors and pounding of footsteps almost seemed as though it was on queue. No sooner had Wren assured them that his father would come get them had they heard the rumble of his entourage searching and the basso echo of the Earl of Andal calling for them. “Wren!” His father called.
Wren’s eyes widen and he leaps up, waving a hand towards the holo-display, shutting it down and making the naked pictures of Mika Moore disappear. “In here dad.” He called.
The foot falls thundered down the hall to the drawing room and the doors burst open to allow Wren’s father and his entourage to enter. The High Lord rushed over to his son and clutched him tight. “Thank goodness.” He sighed. “Boys.” He nodded to Charlie and Magnus. Come, we need to get to the shelter.”
“The shelter?” Wren asked, concerned. Charlie frowned, looking around at the faces of the others. Something was very wrong. “What’s happening?”
“There’s a pirate attack.” Wren’s father explained, practically dragging him from the room.
“What?” Magnus asked, fear creeping into his voice.
“How did they get here?” Wren complained. “What about the sensors? The defences?”
What about Dylan? Charlie thought, following behind and trying to keep up.
“Long range sensors registered them as trade ships, a convoy we’d been expecting for the last couple of days.” His father explained.
“What about Dylan?” Charlie said, perhaps too quietly.
“We let them in. Our defences are rebooting, until they’re done we need to get into the Shelter.” Wren’s father explained.
Charlie frowned and said a little louder. “What about Dylan?” But nobody listened. His frown deepened and he stopped. “What about Dylan?” He all but shouted. Everyone stopped and turned to look at him. “What about all the commuters? What about people in their homes? What about all the people out playing football?” He paused, looking between the people. “What about Dylan? He was on his way home.”
Wren’s father let go of his son and walked over to Charlie “He’ll be okay.” the Lord promised him, holding the shoulders of his adolescent son’s best friend. Charlie was a little taller than Wren’s father, but he still looked down on him with an air of authority. “We’ve put all the hyper-lanes into shelter mode, all of the foot traffic have been directed to shelters and all of the speeders have been locked into auto-travel and taken to the nearest shelter.”
Charlie opened his mouth to argue. What if he fell off his speeder? what if the pirates got to him first? What if he hadn’t been anywhere that would hear the shelter call?
But how could they do anything now? They didn’t know where he was to help him. They just had to hope he’d be okay. Charlie nodded. He was sure it’d be fine. Nothing bad ever happened to the people you knew, it was always other people, abstract people on the news and holo-net.
He took a breath and nodded again. “Okay, sorry.” He said as a loud explosion sounded outside the building, rattling the floor.
“Sir.” One of the guards said. “We need to get to-” the room rattled with another explosion. “Need to get to the shelter.”
“Agreed.” Mister Lian-Cheng said, motioning for everyone to go ahead of him.
There was another, teeth rattling explosion. It was so close that his ears rang. It boomed louder and louder and-
Everything went black.

I hope you enjoyed that! Look out for more updates on Hero, hopefully coming to Kindle before the end of the year.

Honest-Tubage - and another
- James

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