Hello, Freedom Flames,
Today is a special one indeed, as I’m providing a small excerpt from my debut book, Northern Knights, giving you a little bit of a taste in the book’s actual context.
Lately, I’ve described themes, messages, a few plot elements, and the book’s (along with the rest of the Lord of Columbia Series) main genre.
So, I hope you all enjoy this tiny excerpt from Chapter Two and definitely give me some feedback in the comments section as to what you thought while reading this rather action-packed scene.
Now, one thing to keep in mind is the language that I use. It is more adult-oriented, however this story is told only from Cain’s point of view, and a deeper point of view at that. Much of what you’re seeing are Cain’s thoughts as to how he’s using his own words to convey the story to the reader.
For the full excerpt including Chapter One, click here to claim the full preview.
Chapter Two: An Uprising Reborn
Micah’s latest text mentioned something called the Lionsgate Inn. “Where in Gaia’s name is this place?” Cain showed Lira the text conversation. “Looks like we’re going there after they meet us here.”
“Three Springs Exit, the one fancy part of Ironton. Blaze still coming?”
“Yeah, Micah picked him up yesterday. He texted me around eleven.”
It was eight in the morning on this arid Friday. Cain and Lira headed to the edge of the ginormous hill overlooking downtown where a black and yellow cargo van patrolled the area.
Cain nodded to the patrol van. “Looks like we got a pig alert.”
“As I suspected, curfew police are still out.” Lira’s eyes followed the van, a disgusted look on her face. “Must be working double-duty today.”
“There’s a curfew on this town?”
“There’s a ten o’clock curfew here and any town Southpoint perceives necessary to maintain a strong presence.”
Cain folded his arms while three vans trailed the first. “What if you take a windsurf joyride after ten and get caught in the act?”
“They arrest, try, and persecute you. You’re in the Outlands, so I’d be surprised if you’ve ever had a curfew, but it’s different here with a higher population density. Welcome to modern-day slavery.”
“It’s a definite culture shock. We’ll get soldiers in our area when the Service has trouble with something, but nothing more.”
“Today of all days, keep your head down when you see something. They’re going to be out in full force.”
“I think I proved to you yesterday I don’t confront unless confronted. Now, if I saw Scotty Volt doing the harassing. I’d challenge the cocky son of a bitch and all of Leistung to a duel in the streets.”
“If the two of you crossed paths down here, knock him back to Gaia before you get arrested.”
“I’m sure I’d have Micah’s and Blaze’s blessings, too. It’d be a good old-fashioned beatdown.”
“Blaze would join your cause. Where are those two, anyway? We said eight.”
Cain unlocked his phone. “Knowing Micah, he overslept and is racing over here. Hope the Service doesn’t see to him.”
“Tell him to get here already before I cut off blood supply to his brain and not care who sees.”
Cain grinned and relayed Lira’s message to Micah. “Starting to see it my way, Lira, I like it.”
Lira pulled at her chin. “You know, I wouldn’t be surprised if they were running late. The Service will stop them anyway since Micah’s license plates are out of town.”
“Will you pick a side?”
Lira opened her mouth as a black car approached.
“Ah, here he is.” Cain pointed to the car. “You happy?”
“Lucky he’s here when he said he’d be here.”
Cain jogged to the car when it parked off the main road. “I’ll give you a minute to decide.”
Micah lowered the driver’s side window, revealing his thin frame and Blaze’s compact physique in the passenger seat. “What up?”
Cain fist-bumped Micah. “Been a while.”
Micah smiled and waved to Lira when she reached the car.
Lira scowled back. “Did you have a chance to read Cain’s text? It should tell you all you need to know. For someone who borderline starves over the summer, I was being generous.”
Micah opened his phone and burst with laughter. “Yeah, we all know you’re out for blood when hypoglycemia kicks in. Too bad you can’t control hunger. Hop in, the place is flooded with Southpoint soldiers and Service vans. What’s the story?”
Cain opened the passenger-side door for Lira and climbed into the driver’s side. “Lira, you know more than me.”
“They’re conscripting. Don’t go out tonight. They’ll be raiding the town for kids appearing under twenty-six. Watch out for Loyalists today, too. They could be anyone.”
Blaze tightened his grip on the strap hanging above the window. “Sounds good to me. No way I’m defending this excuse of a government. Been wanting to grill them since birth.”
Micah swerved onto the main road. “Count me out, too. What’s the best way around this? We don’t have visas or anything.”
“It’d be safer to stay the night at my place with Cain instead of wasting money on a hotel room. Mom will be thrilled. Three friends over in two nights. New personal best for me.”
Micah turned and descended the hill. “Why a new personal best?”
Lira sighed and rested her head against the window. “I live in a wrecked house.”
“For the love of Gaia, Lira, it’s not bad,” Cain said.
“Cain, stop it, it’s crumbling. My family makes next to nothing, my dad has never reentered my life, and my older brother’s worthless.”
“You make it work.”
Micah peered into the rearview. “Besides, we don’t care what you live in. We like you.”
“Thanks, guys, I appreciate having all of you in my life, even if I harp on you from time to time.”
Cain side-hugged Lira. “Ah, we love you, Lira.”
“Lots of love, you’re our number one girl,” Blaze said.
Downtown occupation doubled overnight. Cain whistled as the Service—pigs—directed traffic and pedestrians, while twice as many soldiers—also pigs—blocked off street corners. “At least the pigs haven’t shut the streets down.”
Lira glared at shabby workers pulling pieces off flat-bed trucks. “Yeah, but they aren’t messing around. We need to be quick when we’re uptown and get back to my place before they secure checkpoints. They’re going to be carding everyone beforehand. Guys, you shouldn’t risk staying at the hotel tonight.”
Blaze turned to Cain and Lira. “What’re they conscripting for this time, anyway?”
Lira shuffled to the middle of the backseat. “To invade the West Oceanics, from what we’ve heard.”
Micah glanced into the rearview. “When should we lay low?”
“They said evening over the loudspeakers yesterday but knowing Southpoint, I wouldn’t be surprised if they set checkpoints when everything is set up downtown.”
Adrenaline jolted through Cain and his face burned. “Wait, so they have a license to change anything at will?”
Lira nodded. “Soldiers and Service can do whatever they want. It’s terrible, and it’s like this in every large town. You’re all lucky to live in the Outlands.”
Resentment boiled within Cain. “Crazy. Who the hell in Gaia makes these decisions?”
“It starts with King Rooney and trickles down to the Supreme Commanders over each colony. Adam Syndari, the man I mentioned to you who’d betrayed Columbia, is far too happy to be Rooney’s golden boy. I guarantee you he’s ordered conscription from all eighty-seven universities in South Columbia and every major city.”
Blaze shook his head. “Such an excuse of a regime. I’d love to just go down there and do something tonight.”
Lira reclined and set her eyes on the ceiling. “Yeah and get thrown into a work camp.”
Blaze shrugged. “It’d be time well spent.”
Five minutes later, Micah pulled into the parking lot of a marble-brick building, the Lionsgate. A stark contrast from downtown Ironton, those uptown dressed in clean clothing, where many conversed with pigs lining the street corners. In fact, many directed each other toward the Lionsgate and other buildings lining the street.
Lira shuffled to the opposite end of the backseat and rapped the window. “Loyalists.”
Cain slid over to the middle. “What do you think they’re talking about?”
“If I had to guess, they’re plants. Keep an eye out for them.”
Micah parked and hopped out of the car. “You two ready?”
Lira nodded and pushed open the car door.
Cain led the crew into a magnificent lobby. “Mother Gaia, this place rocks.”
Lira’s blue eyes glistened. “I told you, the hottest place in Ironton.”
They passed mahogany tables, chairs, immense chandeliers, and at least two fountains on their way to the lounge.
Cain bolted for the breakfast buffet. “I’m taking the house if it’s nutritious. We got the Intra-Complex Playoff in just over two weeks.”
Micah retrieved a plate and filled it with random items. “Haven’t eaten since two o’clock yesterday. I could care less if it were the worst thing on the menu at this point.”
They spent the next half-hour conversing with their heads together about the hearing in Ironton. The more Lira described the pigs, guilt shot through Cain’s stomach for his ignorance.
After breakfast, Cain and Lira took a seat in the lobby while a hotel employee led Micah and Blaze upstairs.
Boom! Down went the door and fifteen pigs stormed inside. Two manned the doors, barring exit. A third strode to the center, Sword drawn, followed by a dozen more, staring down younger patrons scattered about.
“Oh, Mother Gaia, I knew it,” Lira mouthed, clutching Cain’s arm, “I left my visa and you guys are exposed.”
Cain drew a breath and grasped Lira’s hand with both of his as she buried her head into his shoulder. Son of a bitch. How the hell was he supposed to get her out of this? Micah and Blaze would be back any minute and they’d run smackdab into a damn pig raid.
Black and yellow-clad soldiers drew their weapons while others barricaded the doorways.
The center pig drew a Sword and conjured a fire-blast, setting the chandelier ablaze. “Freeze! Anyone attempting to leave the premises will be shot immediately. We have order from King Rooney to round up anyone appearing under age twenty-six. Turn yourselves in now, or we’ll use force.”
Twenty young people filed out of the lobby, some retrieving identification. Lira motioned to stand, but Cain tightened his grip on her hand and pulled her back into the seat.
“What’re you doing?” she said.
Cain kept a firm grip on Lira’s hand. “There’s only one way out of this. Time to play a new ballgame.”
“You can’t be serious.”
“I’m not letting them take you.”
The lead pig looked about the lobby. “This is your last chance to turn yourselves in.”
Cain locked his hands around Lira’s shoulders. “Are you going to live your whole life this way?”
“It wouldn’t mean we’d be drafted.”
“You told me yesterday how it is here—”
Gunshots rang throughout the lobby. Those not yet apprehended screamed and ran for cover.
Three pigs headed for Cain and Lira, pointing guns at their chests. “Get on the ground!”
“It’s party time.” Cain leaped off his seat, windsurfed, as if an imaginary surfboard were under his boots, in front of Lira, and thrust his arms forward, conjuring a wind gust.
The pigs’ fingers found their triggers, but Cain’s whirlwind sent them crashing into the buffet.
The lead pig directed his Sword toward Cain. “Kill him, he’s using abilities!”
Two pigs behind the lead aimed their guns at Cain as he cast another gust and sent them headfirst into the wall, bidding time for others in the lobby to escape the budding chaos.
Others acted, including Lira, sending an array of fire, earth, water, wind, and other elements.
A returning Micah and Blaze blasted two pigs off their feet with a wind gust, while others fought with and distracted the remaining pigs in the lobby.
A band of pigs reentered, guns drawn.
Cain drew a fist and thrust his arms forward again, blasting the pigs into the opposite wall to join their collapsed comrades. “Let’s get out of here!” Cain windsurfed and assisted those continuing their struggle with the remaining pigs, some in hand-to-hand combat, others revealing abilities.
Cain led Micah and Blaze across the lobby as Lira transformed into a smoke vapor.
Micah caught up to Cain in a windsurf. “Where to?”
Cain burst through the double doors. “Anywhere but here.” He led the raid into the parking lot where two-dozen pigs stood guard, facing the hotel. It seemed this godforsaken Empire sought every young soul they could get their damn hands on and release them if their excuse for being in Ironton was good enough, but a powerful vibe accompanying a chill down his spine stated this wasn’t the case.
When the pigs raised their weapons, Cain, Micah, and Blaze kicked the ground together and sent a sonic boom.
Lira vanished and reappeared behind two pigs, where they collapsed within seconds.
Blaze dashed to the nearest van and pried the lock. “Lira, your metal control.”
Lira vanished and molded the metal lock on the first cargo van in her smoke form until Blaze wrenched the doors open.
While those in the first van hurried to their vehicles, Lira unlocked the second and third vans as Cain and Micah ripped the locks.
Cain tore open the hatch, where three-dozen souls his age scrambled to their feet, ripping off their handcuffs. “Get out of here, now.” He hopped back as the freed kids dashed out of sight.
Micah tossed his car keys to a reappearing Lira. “Get to the car and pick us up.”
Lira vanished and resurfaced behind the wheel.
“Take shotgun, Cain,” Micah said, when Lira reached the trio.
Cain slid over the hood and hopped into the passenger seat while the other two hurled into the back, Blaze’s curly locks awry.
Lira floored the throttle and raced to the main road.
Micah leaned in between the driver’s and passenger’s seats as Lira wove in and out of traffic. “Lira, press the button on the dash with a number one on it.”
Lira obliged, and the hood morphed from black to royal blue.
“Sick!” Cain said.
“Had it installed last week.”
“Yeah, I thought the same when he showed up at my place with the thing decked out in lime-green and a black stripe running down the middle,” Blaze said.
Cain ran his finger down the series of gadgets on the dash. “How do you get a stripe?”
Micah nodded to the dash. “Try button number two.”
Lira veered onto the highway. “Guys, this is all good to know since it’ll keep us out of the hands of the Service, but, Cain, what in Gaia were you thinking?”
Cain shrugged. “What?”
“You could’ve gotten us all killed or at the very least on the way to a work camp.”