Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Worth Fighting For, Chapter 20

Hyren brought his sword back for a sweeping strike and it clanged against Garoo’s weapon. The two locked blades, clashing and withdrawing in an intricate dance as blaster fire flew around them. Both their eyes blazed red as the two titans faced off.

The din of battle seemed to mute as Hyren poured all of his focus onto Garoo. He watched each twitch of the Blumaroo’s muscles, trying to stay a step ahead of every strike, knowing Garoo was doing the same with him. They exchanged blows and blocks at breakneck speed, their blades a blur in Hyren’s eyes. He had better swordsmanship—that and adrenaline were the only things keeping him matched with Garoo right now, considering his physical condition.

The Blumaroo twisted his blade and Hyren expected it a moment too late. The Grundo’s sword flipped out of his hand and he withdrew with a hiss, dropping to one knee.

Garoo pointed his own weapon at Hyren’s chest. “Time to finish what I started at Sakhmet,” the commander said, his face twisting into a malicious grin.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Worth Fighting For, Chapter 19

“I hope you know where you’re going,” Blynn said as they turned a corner into a larger corridor. The halls were empty—for now. As soon as someone realised Hyren had been sprung, security would be all over them.

“I’ve spent a lot of time on this ship between deployments,” Hyren said. “So I know my way around it. The closest bank of escape pods is on the next level up. Too bad I can’t fit in the ventilation ducts.”

He stopped them at a small, nondescript door. “I’m pretty sure I know where this goes,” he said. It opened into a large, unoccupied office space filled with tables and chairs, as well as a few exotic potted plants collected from various planets. “From here, I think there’s a hallway we can take to—“ Hyren’s antennae perked at the sound of heavy boots and clanking machinery. He looked up to see a large set of doors on the other wall slide open.

A squadron of armoured Virtupets troopers and robot Petpets poured in. “We’ve sighted the hostiles,” a blue Lupe soldier said into her comm. “Neutralizing.” She and her unit trained their weapons on the escapees.

“Was this part of your plan?” Blynn asked, reaching for her slingshot.

The troopers answered with a rain of blaster fire.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Worth Fighting For, Chapter 18

Hyren woke to the sensation that he had been dreaming but forgot what the dream was about. Honestly, he was surprised even to find himself awake, albeit sore all over. He blinked his eyes open and found himself standing up, his arms stretched above his head. Trying to move them met with resistance, and he looked up to see his wrists shackled to the wall. He still wore his armour, although it had seen much better days and his visor had several holes blown in it from blaster fire. Cracks spread across the clear, blank plate like Spyderwebs, making it difficult to see his surroundings.

He was in a very small room—no, a cell with dark, bare walls. Something mechanical hummed distantly below him. A few metres in front of him, a containment field sizzled red.

Looking down, the Grundo saw that his utility belt and blaster were missing. His sword was also gone, and he bowed his head in a moment of silence. Garoo had probably appropriated the weapon, and that close-minded idiot didn’t deserve it. Not to mention it reminded Hyren of all of the adventures he’d gone through with his two best friends. Space Faerie, if you’re out there, get them home safely, he thought.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Worth Fighting For, Chapter 17

Taking a deep breath, Hyren ushered them out into a long, tall hallway with windows on both sides. Mutant Grundos in full powered armour similar to his own, but painted in black, silver, and crimson, stood motionless at regular intervals, cradling blaster rifles. At the far end of the hall was a large door emblazoned with the Virtupets logo.

“Oh wow, look at that,” Terra said as they marched along. She pointed to one side of the hallway. Outside, a spiral galaxy gleamed like a pearlescent cosmic blossom wreathed in oil-dark, light-absorbing clouds. Several smaller satellite galaxies hovered nearby, suspended in their eons-long dance around their gravitational governor.

“Man, space is neat,” Blynn said.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Worth Fighting For, Chapter 16

They emerged from warp, and the first thing Hyren saw was the Triumph blotting out the stars, a gleaming behemoth of a command ship covered in lights and bristling with armament. Its hull contained wide swaths of windows, many of them lit. The Triumph carried the population of a small city—including countless test subjects in its depths. All in all, the vessel couldn’t help but command respect, Hyren thought. He wondered what Blynn’s and Terra’s reactions would have been to seeing it from the outside.

They were headed for a different view, though.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Worth Fighting For, Chapter 15

“What’s a starship doing in the Haunted Woods?” Terra asked, staring up at the forest canopy.

Blynn glared at Hyren and said, “Explain yourself.”

He took a breath and leaned forward, hooking an arm around the owner’s middle and pulling her back in. “I don’t have the time to explain,” he said. He stared hard into the girls’ eyes. “Make a break to the east. Terra, use everything I taught you to defend yourself.”

Hyren hated the idea of leaving them alone in the Woods. In spite of their weapons, the past night had taught him well why they did not relish coming here, especially this deep into the ancient forest. But he hated the thought of bringing them with him even more.

Here's some character design work that... did not need to be this complicated but I got carried away. :) It's for a Neopets fanfic that I just finished, and even though I don't think I'll ever submit it to the Neopian Times because I don't play the website anymore, I'm just too attached to the cast I created, and I was inspired with a story idea that gives them some really good closure. So even if it's the last Neopets thing I write, I think it went out on a good note. I'll put it on the blog once I'm done uploading everything else because I'm a stickler about chronological order, and this story makes much more sense if you've read the previous ones. I had a ton of fun with it because I got to throw in some characters from previous stories (Connor! Zoltan! Kass!).

Interestingly, the seed of the plot was actually something I came up with all the way back in high school, during my earliest writing forays for the Times, and originally would have had Hyren as the main character having nightmares. Because back in those days, Hyren was the only one of my Neopets who ever did anything interesting. I remembered the idea down through the years, and finally realized it would actually work a lot better and make more sense with Pharazon as the main character instead. It just goes to show that sometimes, when you keep old story concepts, they'll end up fitting better into something in the future, often something you never even conceived of back when you first got the idea!

As for this character, he's appeared in a previous story, but not in this form. That's all I'll say for now, but I'll also mention that the earth magic might give him away. :)

Friday, October 18, 2019

Worth Fighting For, Chapter 14

“Funny, I didn’t invite you to the party,” the Werelupe King said as he stepped out in front of the monster, ignoring its thrashing to narrow his eyes at Hyren. At his side, he held a blade infused with fangs and jagged bits of bone. “Tell me, what makes you think you can invade my domain and steal my rightful tribute?” he asked.

“I’m sure you’ve done worse,” Hyren said, moving to take a swing at him. The king brought up his sword and parried the blow. The commander swept the blade around again, and the Werelupe twisted aside.

“Don’t think you’ll get the honor of dueling with me this morning, trespasser,” the king said. “No, I have a better fate for you.” He grinned as he backed away. “Gnarfas here doesn’t get a chance to come out and play very often. I think it’s about time he had some fun.” Glancing over at the Werelupes holding the beast back, the king gave a nod, and they released the chains.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Worth Fighting For, Chapter 13

Hyren flattened himself against the wall, using his arm to sweep Blynn up against the stone. “Don’t. Move,” he breathed.

The two Neopets silently looked up to see a long, fanged snout poke out above them, sniffing the air. Hyren held his breath, hoping the wind and rain had already dispersed their scents—and that the Werelupe wouldn’t think to glance down.

After a few agonizing seconds the muzzle withdrew. “Ain’t nothin’,” came the retreating reply. “Cursed wind makin’ noise, is all.”

Hyren exhaled, placing a hand on his chest. “That way,” he said, prompting Blynn to sidle off of the crates in the direction of the cliff edge, which was hidden by a labyrinth of terraces and roofs. Craning his neck upward, he could see the sole spot of green in this red-infested hole, high above them to the northeast. A crimson dot was now descending—he probably didn’t want to miss the festivities.

The Grundo and the Zafara picked their way around the castle’s exterior, scaling broken-down walls and veering around patches of rooftop that appeared particularly unstable. Nearly all of the Werelupes seemed to be gathered in the great hall, but one stationary, unflagged neutral-orange biosignal lingered far below Hyren’s feet. Most likely another prisoner, Hyren guessed. And all the while, the rain and wind were picking up.

Thunder Girl is out (digitally)!

If you're at all interested in steampunk fantasy westerns with a nerdy paleontological twist, give it a read! I had a ton of fun working on it!

The print version is coming soon; that one takes a little longer because I have to re-format the manuscript for print, order a proof copy, and wait for it to arrive so I can approve it before they make the print version live. But if you have any device that supports Kindle (smartphone, tablet, PC, actual Kindle, etc.), you can download it right now!

I am also pleased with the fact that this is probably one of only about three books in existence with mosasaurs on the front cover. #NerdLife

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Worth Fighting For, Chapter 12

The moon sunk deep beneath clouds, cold rains came and went, and Hyren and Blynn rushed on through thick woodland and tumultuous terrain. The mutant Grundo was willing to keep his pace for days more. And Blynn continued to run just ahead of him, with astonishing endurance for her small size.

Finally, chilled and soaked to the bone, the two burst out of a thicket and stopped. Tattered, rain-torn clouds near the horizon allowed silver moonlight to illuminate the landscape. The forest petered out around them, and to either side the land, too, dropped off, sheer and jagged, into a black nothingness. Only straight ahead did it extend as a peninsula into a sea of mist. On that outcropping of stone sat an enormous castle, built of thick-hewn blocks of dark granite, brooding silently over the deep.

The castle had seen better days – one of its corner towers had collapsed, and the walls were crowded with thorny vines – but firelight flickered in a few of the windows. From the rampart hung a torn crimson banner, sporting the crudely-painted symbol of a white crescent moon above a large pawprint.

Hyren had scarcely enough time to take the scene in when a throaty howl echoed from the castle, joined by several others rising in unison. Blynn caught her breath and then began to dart out into the open, but Hyren grabbed her pack and held her back. “Hold on,” he grunted, watching his HUD’s biosensor. “That place is swarming with life forms.” He tagged her as an allied unit, making her presence register as a green glow in the corner of his visor. The biomass in the castle still glowed orange-neutral—for now.

The cover art for Thunder Girl is done!

You can see why it took me so long! I had fun with the lightning effects. :)

Now I'm working on the ebook formatting!

Friday, October 11, 2019

See, I am working on the cover art! :) (Dark border is not part of the final illustration, just left over from the background of Corel Painter when I screencapped it.) As you can see, I've got the bulk of the background done. The going's been kind of slow because I've been a little busy with other things (including but not limited to the MLB postseason), but it's going, so that's something!

Also, I have not forgotten about posting the rest of Worth Fighting For, but like I said, I've been kind of busy, and getting this book out is my topmost priority.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Worth Fighting For, Chapter 11

The Grundo dropped the Zafara and the two made a mad dash back through the woods.

“Why did you leave her by herself?!” Hyren asked.

“Me?! You’re one to talk!” Blynn said as she raced beside him on all fours. “I told you I’d be watching you!”

They found the camp in disarray, the fire smothered, and Terra nowhere in sight. “No…” Blynn breathed, covering her mouth with her paw like she was going to be ill. She trudged toward Terra’s disheveled pack and bedroll, smoothing down the sleeping bag as though trying to find her owner in it. “She—she’s gone…”