UNEDITED – Launching May 30! In the meantime, follow the series on Facebook!
With every reason to suspect that this might be the last day of her life, Quinn adjusted her well-worn battle armor and shouldered her assault rifle, staring up at the billowing gray clouds of the early afternoon sky.
There were no rays of light, no sign from the heavens, nor any other reason to be optimistic.
Yet, somehow, she still possessed a modicum of hope, because she wasn’t just readying to fight for herself. Hers wasn’t necessarily a personal battle for survival; rather, it was a fight on behalf of humanity against an invading force of aliens that might soon sweep across the Earth, ushering in a new age of extinction. Quinn had always thought that despondency arose out of having choices, and since there was only one option—do battle against the invaders and squeeze every ounce of life from their bodies—there was little reason to lose heart.
A bemused smile danced across her lips, and she wondered how it had come to this. How a young woman from an Ohio backwater could enter the Corps as a means to support herself and her little girl and then, only a few years later, be on the front lines of what might be history’s last great stand. The battle to end all battles, the fight to save Earth from a powerful alien force that the Marines simply knew as the Syndicate.
Soon they would likely see the first sign of what might bring their impending death. Quinn and the others in her squad, the thirty-six men and women of the Global Force Marines, were ready for whatever the day might bring, even if that meant their complete and utter annihilation. read more…
Rhona followed closely behind her brother, pulling her dress up over her ankles to avoid tripping as they descended the stairs. This was foolish, she knew, but she had to admit that her curiosity was piqued. On top of that, they had the warlock locked up, so what could go wrong?
The stairs led to the servants’ hallways, many of whom were sticking their heads out in curiosity at the sound of fighting above.
“Return to your rooms,” Alastar commanded, storming past.
Rhona did her best to keep up, but her dress made it hard to move swiftly, and more, the servants weren’t listening to Alastar’s command. Instead, they crowded into the hall with questions about what was happening, hindering their progress.
At the end of the hall, stairways led to the dungeon—a result of transforming this former basement from an old Church ruins into the dungeon.
Rhona turned and shouted, “We’re under attack! Get to your rooms and lock up if you want to live!”
That got their attention, and soon the hallway was empty.
Alastar looked back at her and laughed. “Couldn’t you have done that before we walked through them all?” read more…
Alastar had just finished wiping a smudge of dirt from his gold-rimmed, pure white armor when his sister, Rhona, entered. She gave him that look he always hated—a raised eyebrow, a gaze that dared him to look away from her green eyes, and a hint of a smile at her lips. It was the look she gave him whenever she was about to knock him back down to size and remind him of their humble beginnings.
“Let me stop you right there,” he said, fastening his gold cloak over his shoulders and turning to the mirror. Damn, he looked good. Not in a conceited, sexy sort of way, but as a strong paladin who deserved every bit of honor the High Paladin, Sir Gildon, was about to bestow on him.
Making eye contact with Rhona, he attempted to match her confidence as he said, “I earned this.”
“Oh, and I had nothing to do with it?”
“You were there when I needed you, aye. But I was the one who caught the warlock. I am the paladin here, don’t forget.”
“How could I ever?” Her brow furrowed into a glare that lasted only a moment. “I’m simply looking out for you.” She stepped up beside him and reached a hand over to smooth out his cloak. “It’s just… there’ve been too many times we thought he was preparing to send you on the holy quest.”
“I have proven myself.” Alastar turned, voice rising in his excitement. “Why shouldn’t Sir Gildon send me on the next expedition?”
She shrugged. “He should, there’s no doubt. But that doesn’t mean he will. You don’t notice the way he eyes me.” read more…
Flames burst forth from the farmhouse, the same one Rhona’s brother had entered just moments before. Alastar, ever the hero, had drawn his sword and gone charging in mere seconds before, leaving her to hide far away from trouble.
Clearly, that wasn’t an option. Not when he could be in danger.
She worked her way around the farmhouse, searching for a way in. A scream sounded, then the grunt of a man, and she decided it wasn’t time to be timid. She ran for the open doors Alastar had rushed through, in spite of the black smoke that billowed forth.
The sight froze her in her tracks—her brother in his white and gold armor, his white cloak smoldering at the edges, circling a man in the black and green plaid of Clan Buchan, the fire users.
She had studied the various clans and what magic they used, at least to the extent that the paladins had been able to chronicle it in their war against the evils of magic.
Her first thought was to jump in and help her brother, but the warlock spun, hands pushing out, and a wall of flame came at Alastar that caused him to leap back and call upon the blessings of Saint Rodrick for protection.
Watching the shield of light that formed between her brother and the wall of flames, she knew this wasn’t her fight. But when a figure caught her eye, a cowering woman in the corner, she knew she could at least help her. She darted through the smoke, staying low in a crouched run, and knelt beside the woman. Her eyes were barely open, her breathing short. read more…