The promised short story I was going to post has been delayed. Why, you ask? Technical difficulties. I wanted to be able to split posts into multiple pages for easier reading, but after inserting the proper codex, it merely cut off my entry after what was supposed to be page one. After doing some research, I discovered that my WordPress theme doesn’t support pagination. I tried to add a code that would make it possible, but it still doesn’t work.
My few seconds of exhilaration ended when my Avatar warmech met the ground. My legs felt like they were being smashed together at the knees, illusionary pain ripping through me. The cerebral interface in the back of my head ached as if a bee with a lightning rod for a stinger had stung me. I think I lose at least a hundred brain cells every time that happens.
I hate landings.
I stood, the Avatar—whose name I had yet to learn—mimicking me. I looked up through its visor-like window and saw the Beowulf beginning its ascent into the rusty sulfuric sky. Only then did it dawn on me that the interior of the Avatar felt like a sauna. The fiery glow of lava geysers flashed in the distance. Ripples of heat distorted my vision, making me wonder if I was sober.
“The deepest bowels of Hell may be reserved for traitors, but planet Hell is reserved for Plugs like me,” I said.
“Actually, Retro,” chimed a computerized, seemingly British voice, “this is Helios, an arid, volcanic planet with a—“
“I know what the freakin’ planet’s name is, Bill Nye,” I injected.
“Why do you refer to me by the name of a twentieth century television science teacher?”
“They call me ‘Retro’ for a reason.”
“Regardless, my designation is not ‘Bill Nye.’ It is Achilles.”
“What?” I blurted. “My last training mission, and what Avatar do they give me? The greenest, most annoying one we have. Why not Osiris? I’d even take Hrothgar for that matter!”
“Hrothgar’s jump jets are malfunctioning, and Osiris has been assigned to—“
“It was a rhetorical question,” I interrupted. What’d they give me? Napoleon in a box or a computerized know-it-all?
“I will have you know that I have been programmed with over ten zettabytes of military strategy,” said Achilles indignantly.
I grunted, muffling a curse. “Do me a favor Achilles, and stay outta my head!” Four years of training, and I still wasn’t used to sharing my thoughts with an A.I.
“It is not my fault that—“
Suddenly our verbal calisthenics were interrupted.
“Cadet, respond!” ordered a familiar bulldoggish voice in my headset.
Stifling a gasp, I snapped to attention, though he wasn’t there. It’s a habit one develops in the Cyber Brigade, especially under Gen. Cleese. “Yessir.”
“Your objective is simple,” said Cleese. “Navigate this volcanic valley. All you have to do is survive; no assistance, no retreat, no rescue. The Beowulf will be waiting to retrieve you at valley’s edge.”
Reassuring, I thought sarcastically, knowing full well that Achilles was recording my thoughts.
“Baptism in Hell. Only the best pass. The rest”—he paused—“still burn there. Good luck, cadet.”
I need a tagline for the site. But despite my best efforts, I can’t think of a good one. That’s where you all come in, readers! I’ve decided to have a contest to see which of you can come up with the best tagline. Go to my Facebook page to enter.
Here are the rules: 1) Check out the site to see what it is like. 2) Submit a one-line tagline on this status. 3) Submissions must be made between now and Sunday night at midnight. 4) Only one entry per person. 5) I will read them all and select a winner Monday.
The winner will have his tagline used on my website and receive a free autographed copy of my first novel, Pandora’s Box, when it is published in the next few months. (Send me your mailing address in case I don’t know you).
EDIT: THE CONTEST HAS BEEN EXTENDED UNTIL FRIDAY, JULY 16, AT MIDNIGHT!
Greetings, readers, and welcome to The Worlds of Nathan Marchand! Don’t know who I am? Read my biography.
After a week of construction, my site is worthy of unveiling. Below this entry you will find three of my poems. If you’d like to read some of my short stories, click here. I don’t have many works posted right now, so please be patient.
I hope to have a synopsis of my upcoming novel, Pandora’s Box, posted soon, as well as its first chapter. Once I coordinate things with the publisher, that all should fall into place.
I will also use this site to announce any appearances I plan to make, book signings I hold, writers’ conferences I attend, and/or other news. So, be sure to check back often to see what’s up and what’s going down!
I intend to keep working on the site, so I would love to hear what you think of it. Any suggestions on how to improve the site would be much appreciated.
Though burning arrows pierce my chest,
Poisoned swords cut my side,
And traitors’ knives stab my back.
Yet will my Valor’s Heart,
a gift of my King,
Hold the line! Hold the line!
Let not the Enemy advance
To steal, kill, and destroy!
I hold back the black torrent
As red rain pelts my face.
He shall not pass so long
As my Valor’s Heart beats.
I fall! I fall!
To my knees, sword in hand,
Stained with my crimson life-blood
Mingled with my Foe’s black blood.
My strength is spent, my time has come
To exit this stormy stage.
The Enemy laughs as his
black sword plunges into my chest
But though he slays me
My Valor’s Heart still boom-boom-booms
Like a war drum drowning the battle’s thunder,
Summoning my King’s warriors to the line,
the Enemy of my Soul shuttering at their battlecry.
Rest now, rest.
I return to my King
But Death has lost his victory,
His sting is dull.
And my Valor’s Heart,
a gift of my King,
Still rallies His warriors
’round its thunder.
I lie upon a deathbed,
My life-thread pulled taut against
The edge of the Fates’ knife.
Scorned by the hellcats and scoundrels
Who beat me and left me to die,
I cling to life thanks only to
The brave and persecuted few
Who still love me.
I am Chivalry,
And I am not dead, but asleep.
Hello, readers! My name is Nathan Marchand, a young up-and-coming writer. I just started this “author’s website, ” so it’s still under construction. Please bear with me as I learn how to use WordPress and create the site.
A Man from Another Time Exploring Another Universe