Friday, August 10, 2012

Excerpt: Chapter One of FIGHTING GRAVITY

Sorry, folks, no #fridayflash for a few weeks. Instead, I'm revealing excerpts from Defying Gravity, Fighting Gravity, and Pull of Gravity. So, here is Chapter One of Fighting Gravity.

 

CHAPTER ONE


You can’t stop the rage within you, son.” Phoebus’s mother’s words echoed in his head. Some days he thought she was more like a daimon than Aresian.

“I will stop it.” His voice sounded soft, weak. He’d cut into his chest too deep and still couldn’t remove the daimon’s mark. Hot blood oozed around his fingers. The injury would heal, and if his daimon—his so-called spirit guide—fixed the gash, Phoebus’s injury would be repaired in an instant. But what did he care? He would die. Sooner rather than later before he’d surrender to his daimon.

I’m not that easy to destroy.

“Get out of my head.” Phoebus screamed and clutched his hair, blood smearing on the dark strands. For a supposed executioner, he couldn’t even destroy a simple daimon.

You need me more now than ever before. You shouldn’t have left Aresia. They’re coming for you.

His daimon didn’t sound as calm as normal. Was it scared? Worried he would succeed in taking his mind, his body, his very essence back? Phoebus’s people couldn’t know he’d escaped yet, since he wasn’t expected for the next execution until tomorrow. And the one after that, Phoebus didn’t even want to think about it.

The bleeding had stopped, the flesh stitching together, as if glued. The mark, a serpent wrapped around a sword, had reappeared on his chest. If Phoebus looked at it just right, the creature would appear to slither around the weapon. Perhaps it would strangle his heart in time.

Don’t be so melodramatic. I’m really not that bad.

Phoebus would’ve laughed at the voice if he could, but he was too heartsick to find the humor in this situation anymore. Daimons were bad, and yes, that was the understatement of the millennium.

“Leave me alone.” He struggled to his feet and stumbled along the metallic floors. His boots rang dully, like a clasped bell. He ignored his reflection glaring at him from the shiny walls.
A door slid open at his presence, and he entered the spaceship’s cockpit. He collapsed into the single seat. His fingertips hovered above the panels. If he pushed the right combination of buttons, could he destroy the craft with him in it? Wasn’t this a suicide mission?

His hand dropped to the chair’s arm. Despite what he’d done, what his daimon made him do, he didn’t want to die. Worse, he was a coward.

A sigh tumbled from his lips. Outside the viewing screen, stars sparkled in the distance. If he turned the ship around, he would face his home planet, the red-tinged Aresia along with its lone moon. No other planet shone in sight, but a wormhole loomed with its swirling light. If he could make it that far . . . .

But you won’t. They’re coming for us.

“Let them come.” Quiet rage bubbled within his veins. With his mind, he sensed the weapons upon his cruiser. The laser guns tugged at his heart. If he wanted, he would give into his daimon and protect himself.

A hiss rose from the vidcom, and Hara, his mother, filled the screen. Dark hair sprouted from her typically shaved head. Her cheek bones looked sharp enough to slice steel. Red eyes widened and focused upon him. Of course, they would use her. He should’ve known.

“You’re bleeding.” Her crisp voice cut across space and time.

“Not anymore. You won’t change my mind.” He folded his arms over his chest, now completely healed from his attempt to remove the daimon’s mark.

“They’re coming for your ship, Phoebus, and they’ll bring you home. What were you thinking leaving Aresia like that? You have a job to do. What does your daimon say?”

Of course, she didn’t really care about the blood, his attempts.

“It told me they’re coming.” His shoulders slumped. His escape hadn’t gone quite as unnoticed as he’d hoped. Why couldn’t his daimon be wrong? If his people were close, then he might not enter the wormhole in time. “I never asked for this.”

“Ask for it?” Her laugh burst from her lips in a harsh, high-pitched, and cold tone. “A daimon like yours is fortuitous. Only one every hundred years has the dagger and serpent.”

Lucky, sure, she’d believe that. “They have me killing Aresians.”

“Traitors to our cause and laws.” A sneer curled her lips. “You were always weak, like your father.”

His back straightened and eyes narrowed. “Dying isn’t weak.”

“His daimon rejected him.” She shot back, anger tainting her voice.

That got Mother. Always did.

A blip to his left alerted him to the monitor. Five dots, or crafts, chased him. Escape beckoned. A few more minutes and he’d enter the wormhole.

“As much as I enjoyed this chat, it’s time for me to go.” His fingers danced over the panels and summoned the force shield a mere nanosecond before the first blast.

“Just concede and return home. Don’t be like your father. He was a good-for-nothing—”

“No can do. This is good-bye.” He slammed his fist into the vidcom’s screen. It shattered and went black. Although glass embedded into his hand, he smiled. Yes, this was good-bye. He’d been waiting his entire life for this chance.

“Are you ready to get out of here,” he asked his daimon.

We don’t have to do this, his daimon said.

“Yeah, we do.”

Another explosion struck the spaceship. Phoebus engaged the back thrusters, and the ship reached maximum speed.

“Weapons armed and ready,” a quiet, mechanical voice said.

He closed his eyes and grasped the charged lasers with his mind. Heat combined with his rage and flared toward his pursuers. It wouldn’t destroy them, but it would give him enough time.
Up ahead, the wormhole shimmered.

Boom!

What the—?

“Shield disabled. Rear thrusters damaged.”

The ship rocked and slowed. Freedom was slipping through his fingers like red desert dirt. He punched the instruments, not breaking anything this time, but pain shot from his hand to his arm.

“Oh, come on! Just a little farther.”

The spacecrafts hit him from behind and shoved the ship forward. The gravity sucked him in, and the wormhole swallowed the craft whole. The sensors showed no one following him. Would they? He didn’t know where this wormhole would lead, but it didn’t matter.

He was free.

So you think, his daimon reminded him.

If you've enjoyed what you've read, you can purchase and continue reading the rest of Fighting Gravity at these retailers:  iTunes  Kobo  Nook  Amazon  Amazon UK  Amazon DE  Amazon FR  Amazon IT  Amazon ES  Smashwords


Next Friday, we'll meet Marissa in Chapter Two of Fighting Gravity.

3 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Very tense! Didn't think he would make it to the wormhole.

Michael Offutt, Tebow Cult Initiate said...

There are several things that I find masterful about your prose.

1) You stay in active tense throughout. As you know, I sometimes have trouble with this and reading your work reminds me of how active voice is so much better.

2) I like how you don't describe Phoebus. I know he has hair long enough to clutch and that there's blood in it.

3) By the second line, you have established that a) rage is a part of this race and reinforce that as "bubbling in the veins" and b) there are two alien races (daimon and Aresian). Although I'm not certain why one is capitalized and the other isn't.

A great slice of science-fiction here. I will be reading the Gravity books. I just need to finish beta-reading Patrick's book and then I have J.L. Campbell's book to read before I put up her post on the 31st of this month as part of her blog tour. I wish I read as fast as you!

Christine Rains said...

Excellent excerpt!