Actually, draft one was done three weeks ago, but I’ve had a tumultuous month. If you’ve been reading my series then you’ll know they’re tightly linked, so much so that they’re almost one very long book. I had planned to release WarriorSR as a trilogy, but I lost this month to my other life.
Although the plot maps are up for all three books in this trilogy, I’m sorely tempted to release book one while I write the rest. Now that I have the time to focus on writing again, I still need a few weeks to get it ready.
This story continues the build of the Empire and it goes somewhere I didn’t expect. Once again, our ambitious crew are in deep trouble, finding enemies in places they didn’t expect. I’ve had fun pondering what could be in the void between galaxies. OK, so my imagination and reality don’t ever cross paths, or at least not often. On reflection, that’s probably a good thing. Hunters, critters, psychopaths and ninety-eight percent of the human race dying in horrible ways. I should probably seek therapy, but I’m not gonna! 😉
Now our books are not in Kindle Unlimited, they’re available through Amazon, iBooks and Google. It means we no longer have to comply to Amazon’s exclusivity rules. Just for fun, here’s the draft of Chapter One of Machine Made. If you enjoy getting an early peek then let me know and I’ll release a few more chapters along the way.
|Excerpt from Chapter One|
CHAPTER ONE: Helping hands (Johnny’s friend)
Skidding across the concrete, he managed to stay on his feet and hurl himself around the corner of a half-standing wall. Catching his shoulder on the edge, it crumbled slightly on impact. He was moving so fast a trickle of dust was still falling as he ran behind a low rise.
“C’mon, you son of critter. Give it up.”
He wasn’t anyone’s son, much less one of a critter. The man’s taunting words summoned a vision of the boy he thought of as his own. Blond and sweet-faced, his hands were stretched upward towards him. Such a sunny child, always smiling and ever tender, he hardly ever cried. He wanted to keep the little boy safe from the evils of the universe.
Ahead was another broken wall that must have once been the side of a building. The crumbling ruins behind it had been crushed into weed-covered piles.
“We can seeeeee yooouuu,” the voice sang.
Echoing across the vacant lot, the voice bounced against the remnants of the building, sounding even louder. Of course, they could see him. They were Bombardiers, superior to humans in almost every way. Little Johnny wasn’t a Bombardier, his parents were human and therefore so was he. He’d begged them to send their son to the medical center, literally got on his knees and pleaded.
Running hard, another chunky concrete barrier loomed ahead of him. After launching from his left foot, he cleared it without even touching the top.
Central to Alpha-Zero-Nine-Five-Eight-One, report status.
Scrambling up the pile of rubble onto the other side of the barrier, his feet slipped making him slide down as he clambered upward. At the top of the low hill, a plasma bullet caught him in the arm. It cut through his elbow much like a saw until his forearm with hand attached thudded to the ground. Ducking low, he skidded down the incline, falling to his knees at the bottom.
Maria and Al didn’t understand. He only wanted Johnny to be safe. Byte had issued a new order, one meant to save mankind. Wasn’t that what humans wanted? To be safe.
Overhead a PopControlDrone winked into existence followed by two more. Dropping low, radiation scanned his body. After pausing for a few seconds, lights blinked across the center of the ball before it zipped upward. Three PopControlDrones formed a line and passed over the pile of rubble he’d just tumbled down.
After regaining his feet, he ran towards another half-collapsed wall. Pieces of wire and metal poked out from broken seams, creating an eerie effect in the half-light of dawn. Behind him, voices were shouting to one another.
“Go! Go! Go!”
Pushing past the broken wall, part of it collapsed when his shoulder slammed it hard. Ahead were more piles of concrete and mounds of weed-covered dirt. Nature was slowly reclaiming the city, but the soil wasn’t fertile. Trees failed to grow and only stringy weeds made themselves at home. Having already been to CaliTech and back in the day, he was running out of energy. He should be home with Maria and Al celebrating their son’s future.
Falling against the rocky rubble, he leaned back into the low hill it created. His head tilted upward until he was staring at the stars already faded by the newborn sun. Dawn was his favorite time of day. Filling the kettle with water then pulling food packs from the freezer, he would set the table just so. Placing the last of the bowls and spoons next to one another, he would then fetch Johnny’s high chair. While he carefully secured the legs, his young charge would already be stirring in his crib.
Every day was the same. Prepare breakfast for Maria and Al, initiate the coffee machine, and wait for Johnny to stir. Johnny always awoke with a giggle, rattling the toys in his crib knowing he would hear him. Clinging to the plastic bars on his bed, Johnny’s little legs could barely hold him up, and his diaper would be sagging halfway down his chubby thighs. The little boy had known the drill. When he’d sweep Johnny up into his arms, he would giggle with delight while he was placed onto the changing table. Once he was fresh again, he would carry him into the kitchen where Maria and Al would already be watching the news through their visors. Before Johnny, breakfast had always been a somber affair, but after he was born, it usually ended in a food fight.
Laser fire was sparking from behind the fragment of wall. PopControlDrones were firing at the three Bombardiers who were hunting him. They were returning fire with devastating accuracy. One of the round balls exploded into flames, plummeting to the ground before rolling down the slight incline.
Central to Alpha-Zero-Nine-Five-Eight-One, report status.
Had he really done the wrong thing by taking Johnny to CaliTech? When he’d told Maria what he’d done, she’d fallen to the floor howling in grief. Al had simply picked up a chair and hit him over the head with it. As it shattered, he’d stood immobilized while broken pieces of wood fell down his body. Al had turned and left the room. Still on her knees, Maria had looked at him with tears streaming down her face. He had never seen so much water. It had run down her cheeks, pooling at the base of her chin, where it had dribbled onto her chest.
Her mouth had twisted into a shape he hadn’t known she could make. The tone of her voice was so deep he suspected it was bitter. “How could you?”
Unsure why she needed to know how he’d taken Johnny to CaliTech, he’d begun explaining the AirDrone ride, clearing security into the site, and registering Johnny at the medical center. He hadn’t completed his reply before his visor informed him Al was retrieving a gun from a hidden safe in the wall of their bedroom. Forewarned was forearmed, and he’d immediately turned away from Maria, leaving their small home.
He’d intended to report to Central. Dawn not yet broken, the streets had been clear when suddenly three Bombardiers had called to him. Since then he’d been on the run, covering over a hundred miles in only four hours. It was enough to take him well beyond the safe limits of the city, but the Bombardiers weren’t letting him go.
Laser fire was sparking, creating a lively pattern of light across his vision. These Bombardiers were highly skilled with their guns. None of the civilians knew how to use the weapons, which meant they were the renegade army.
Alpha-Zero-Nine-Five-Eight-One to Central. Reporting three Bombardiers. Armed and engaging PopControlDrones. Firefight in progress. One Drone down. Two Drones down.
Even as he relayed the message to Central, another PopControlDrone plummeted to the ground, rolling until it came to a stop on the other side of the wall. He should move, but his body was winding down, losing energy faster than the faint sun could replace it.
Johnny had loved the medical center. Humming with activity and filled with happy music, he’d laughed when the MedicBot had taken him from his arms. Such a trusting little boy. His last sight of Johnny was of him peering over the robot’s shoulder, waving madly as he disappeared down the corridor. Such a happy boy, so sunny and gentle. It was positive to know he would never be lost. Maria and Al hadn’t understood. If only he could have explained it, but Al had fetched a gun and then sent the renegade Bombardiers to destroy him.
The sun was slowly rising to his right. Soon it would be high in the sky, filling him with the heat he needed to move again.
A puff of dirt burst from the ground as the last of the PopControlDrones landed only ten feet from where he was lying. Through the dust he could see the outlines of heavily-armored Bombardiers. They were the Empire’s army, but none agreed with Byte. Most had gone renegade, turning Byte’s plan to protect mankind into a full-scale civil war. The female stepped forward until her wide frame loomed over him. Dropping to her haunches, she then flicked up her faceplate. Beneath the visor was a well-structured and hard face.
“Why did you do it?”
“He will live forever.”
“In a machine?”
“It wasn’t your choice to make.”
The statement spat out in anger only added to his confusion. Like Maria, she too was bitter, but she wasn’t crying. Her dark eyes were boring into his as if by a look alone she could destroy him.
Central to Alpha-Zero-Nine-Five-Eight-One, return to source.
“Get it now before it downloads.”
In response to the order from the Bombardier behind her, she pushed the long gun under his chin. Sparks flew. He saw stars, only they weren’t the ones in the sky. Those had already drowned in the bright rays from the rising sun. Traveling faster than the speed of light, his consciousness lost cohesion. Being taken home, he would be one with the grid.
One zero zero one zero one zero zero zero one one zero zero one one one one zero zero zero one one one one zero…