Saturday, December 23, 2006

Perspective Part II

Five Years Later

“I just want to drop the scum off and be rid of them,” Captain Priestly said to his executive officer. “I don’t like their kind—damn blood suckers—vampires in the military—what’s next!” He paced the bridge nervously as if by doing so his actions could somehow make the vampires go away.

The XO, Commander Keefe, wholeheartedly agreed with the Captain. He wanted to mention the operation which resulted in the destruction of the Excalibur years earlier, but it had been classified and the story altered, attributing the loss of the ship to enemy fire—it was better for morale.

Captain Priestly sighed deeply and continued pacing, ensuring that each footstep echoed loudly off of the steel deck plates. Keefe recognized the Captain's mood and knew it was best to stay out of his way. The Captain could be explosive when he was not in complete control—the standard type “A” personality. This was one of those moments when the bridge of the ship, the United Planets Ship Lexington, seemed extremely small.

Keefe gazed up at the chronometer to check the arrival time at the target; the display indicated less than two hours remained. The information regarding the mission was unknown to both him and the CO. The ship's computer had received the pre-programmed coordinates from the Joint Chiefs so they were truly flying blind on this one.

He looked at the Captain and shrugged his shoulders. “Who knows?” he said. “But the fact that we won’t have to send any of our men down to the planet has its benefits. It must be pretty messy if they are sending them in first.”

“I suppose,” Priestly agreed reluctantly. “But I still don’t like this. I feel like I’m carrying the black plague or something. And what if these creatures should get loose on my ship? I don’t like this—none of this. What the hell are the JCS thinking about this whole concept of starving them for the op?”

Keefe could understand Priestly’s concern all too well. The memory of these creatures relying on the blood of living beings, and the friends he had on the Excalibur mixed together like oil and water.

“In theory,” Priestly began, “well…in military theory that is, it’s probably a good concept to have them operate at peak performance, but from the rumors I’ve heard, the problem is that their hunger is not specifically predictable or controllable. If pushed too far, too fast, the creatures will attack anyone, including us.”

Keefe looked at him curiously. He wondered how much the CO actually knew in regard to these vampires. “What else have you heard?”

“The scuttlebutt is that this breaking point, controlling their hunger, has some problems. Supposedly, they once managed to escape their captivity and they slaughtered the crew on the ship that was transporting them.”

“Wonderful,” Keefe muttered and then said to himself, If only you knew it wasn’t a rumor but the truth.

“After that event, the control over the creatures was made supposedly foolproof,” Priestly continued. “Nevertheless, even with all these risks, the end result of the effectiveness of the vampire units warrants their continuance in service. They have brought a tumultuous peace to the galaxy.”

“Based upon fear,” Keefe added his voice full of sarcasm.

“True,” Priestly said nodding his head. . “I say send them all out of the airlock, jettison the whole bunch. If they aren’t human, then they shouldn’t be allowed to live.”

“As much as I might agree, skipper, I don’t think the Joint Chiefs would,” Keefe said. “I just think I would feel better—safer—if they were somewhere else.”

“Me too. But, the platoon is under extremely tight precautions with redundant security measures and perimeters maintained. Their commander assures us he has positive control of them.”

“I still don’t like it.” Keefe scoffed. “Taking risks with the crew and ship. If something should go wrong…it could get messy.”

“Well, they have been used successfully the past few years,” Priestly said, “and apparently with much success as a fighting force.”

“Yeah,” Keefe agreed. “What’s the buzz statement? A self-sustaining unit, as long as there is a warm-blooded enemy available. They’re good-to-go under any conditions, minus the few exceptions of daylight, being blown apart, or being staked through the heart.”

“And positive control,” Priestly added, “the human-vampire hybrid controller. More of an abomination—blending species—such bullshit. You know what they are trying to do—create the ultimate killing machine. Abominations, I say—playing with creationism is a dangerous game.”

The door to the bridge opened and a Navy Commander wearing black fatigues stepped onto the bridge.

“Speak of the devil,” Captain Priestly said. “Here’s their esteemed leader.”


We Have A Cover!

Well here it is, the cover to the revamped Team of Darkness novel. I'm quite impressed with it. Advance orders can be placed at Dragon Moon Press. Also I am planning on running a special promotion from my webpage in the next few days. Officially the release date will be early January.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Perspective Part I


“Why do you think they call them coffins?” Lieutenant Keefe couldn’t help smirking as the statement flowed across his lips to the new ensign who just joined the ship.

“But it’s not in the literal sense of the word…is it?” The ensign asked in an unsure voice.

“Of course it is,” Keefe said and then chuckled. “Well not exactly,” he admitted. “These coffin-shaped canisters are an older version of an ordnance carrier converted to transport the vampire to target, hence the new name of coffin.”

“Oh I get it,” the ensign chuckled hesitantly. “But sir, don’t you ever get nervous about…well having them around?”

“The vampires? Nah. They’re loaded into the containers in the safe area. Once inside the container it’s locked, then we shove them in the torpedo launch bay and shoot them out. Think of it like loading a cartridge or bullet into the breach of a weapon and then firing it."

The ensign appeared to struggle with the analogy but Keefe went on. “The container doesn’t open until it reaches the surface of the planet—hopefully intact—I hate to lose these containers they're such a pain in the ass to refit.”

“But how do they get back here to the ship?”

“When their mission is done—or when the sun comes up—whichever comes first, they have to return to the coffin.

“Why don’t they just escape?” asked the ensign.

“Ah…good question, Keefe said. “You see, each vampire has a little cylinder imbedded in their bodies. The cylinder contains a tracking device and a small amount of liquid which is poison to them. If they don’t follow orders, such as returning to their coffin, a signal is sent and releases the poison.”

“So they follow orders…or else.”

“Exactly. Later we send a pickup vehicle which magnetically latches on to them from several miles out. By using a strong magnetic field they are able to catapult the ships from the surface and back to the ship.”

“What if something happens and you can’t get them?” the ensign asked.

“Then they just sit there and wait. If they have to, they can go into an extended hibernation period until we can get to them. As long as their coffins stay sealed from the sunlight, they’re okay.”

“Must be one hell of a ride.”

“You bet. The G’s would cause sever damage to the body of a normal man, but the vampire body has amazing recuperative powers, plus the fact that the majority of the organs are no longer used anyway which makes them perfect. So any injury to organs still functioning, mainly the heart, repairs itself by the time they are back on board the main assault craft.”

“What about surface fire?”

“What about it?”

“It still might hit the pickup vehicle or some of the coffins on the way back.”

“Yeah—it might. But so what? The pickup vehicle is unmanned and it’s not like the vampires are alive or anything. They are just tools—another weapon, nothing more.”

The young ensign remained silent as he appeared to contemplate what he had just heard.

Keefe pointed and said, “The status board is completely green. That means that all the torpedo tubes are loaded. That’s 150 coffins ready to go. Call the bridge and report that we’re ready.”

The ensign did as instructed. A few moments later the order came to launch the coffins. Lieutenant Keefe pressed one button and the green indicators for each coffin went from green to black, indicating a successful launch. “Well that’s all for now,” Keefe said, “nothing left to do but wait for the pickup order.”

“Is that all of the vampires?”

“From this ship it is every single one. But don’t forget we have several transports in orbit, all carrying their own contingent of vampires—must be a big mission to send them all at once. Maybe even a complete annihilation of the planet populace.”

“Can they do that?”

“The brass can do anything they want.”

“No, I mean the vampires—can they kill an entire population?”

“I don’t want to know if they do,” Keefe quipped back. “I don’t want to dirty my hands that much. Whoever’s down there on the planet is the enemy anyway. Besides—”

Lieutenant Keefe was cut off by the communication system as an announcement began. “Attention all hands, this is the Captain speaking. There has been an…event on the United Planet Ship Excalibur. The cargo of vampires they are carrying have somehow managed to break free of their confinement area and have taken over the ship. It appears that either the crew was unable to activate the poison cylinders or there was some form of malfunction. It is our understanding that the majority of the human crew has been killed in the process. Our orders are to destroy the Excalibur before the vampires try and escape. I know that many of you have friends and shipmates on the Excalibur. I just want to assure you that if they are alive—killing them now will be for the best. I know if I was there, that is what I would want. Stand by all batteries.”

“Kill the bastards,” Lieutenant Keefe growled as he readied the batteries to fire. “I know many of the officers on the Excalibur.” Keefe switched on a video monitor which displayed the exterior view of space. He played with the controls until the image of the Excalibur filled the screen.

The Captain’s voice came over the announcing system, “Standby. Standby. FIRE!”

Lieutenant Keefe pressed the fire button and held it down as if the additional pressure would result in a more intensive burst of energy. On the screen, the fire from multiple ships came to bear on the Excalibur—in a few moments the ship was engulfed by the rays and exploded.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

A Note of Thanks

Before the year ends and I forget, I just wanted to say thanks to everyone who followed my blog and took the time to drop by and read and even post. On a side note for those who followed the convention story, the plan is still to use it in the upcoming volume 2 of the Writers for Relief Anthology which I am excited about. I felt as if it was a shared project with many of you and I have to admit I had a lot of fun with it.

As I end the year, I have decided to post some excerpts of another short story called "Perspective, that I submitted for an anthology titled: "Into the Breach," so I hope you enjoy them over the nest few weeks.

Finally, to say the least, it has been an interesting year with many joyous and painful twists and turns. They say that sadness and joy make us who we times one must wonder about that. Anyway, no matter how things work out--I hope to see many of you during 2007.

Thanks to all and to all--Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

The Half Century Report

As I approach the good/bad half century number I suppose that I should feel a certain way. Yet, I find that I am slightly torn between the I don't know if I should be retrospective of the past or optimistic of the future--or maybe both. Well, now that I am seriously thinking about it, I think I kind of like the both idea. I surely cannot forget what I have done, what I am about to do now and what I plan to do in the future. I have never been one to not plan something for the future. So there it is...goals.

Goals are important. We all need things to strive for and simply saying that ones goal is to be happy...well I don't feel that is good enough because you have to figure out whatmakes you happy first. For some this could be the basic physical needs while for others they can be much more complicated. So you see that this can sometimes not be that easy of a task but it is something that I think we all must do in order to really understand what we want and what we need to do to get them.

One of the goals I had was that by the time I reached the half decade mark, I wanted to be published with a large publishing house and I would probably stop going to conventions. Well I didn't make the first one--ended up with a smaller publishing house instead--no complaints--just a statement of fact. As to the second one, the issue of going to conventions was primarily an age issue on the surface, let's face it, the median age is probably 25-35 or so for the average congoer. And I have to admit at times I kind of feel out of place. But that's part of the problem...saying what is the norm or accepted average can be a bad habit to begin because as soon as we do that, we start coming up with these magical lines that cannot be crossed and we stop doing things because of those lines. One must determine if lines are needed at all and if so, how thick they should be. Now the old philosophy of Occrams Razor: that when faced with two similar answers that the simplest one most often is the correct answer, hey why not go with the flow. However, this came about before the development of the disposable razors so even that is in question...okay I'm just goofing here...but I can do that because I am starting to refuse to draw lines...okay I guess I made my point.

Anyway when the question of lines (insert your own here)comes up maybe the best answer is:

Never Give Up...Never Surrender! (I can't believe I went there--don't ask-don't tell policy in effect)