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Cast Down World
In the summer of 2257, the asteroid Wormwood was closing in to strike Earth a glancing blow. Even a glancing blow would be catastrophic. Earth's governments and militaries united to try to shift Wormwood's path. Earth launched every nuclear missile she had and succeeded in changing its path, just enough to miss her surface. In doing so, shards from the asteroid, caused by the nuclear blasts, struck the Earth. In those shards were spores that caused a change in all forms of life. Wormwood also changed Earth's magnetic field, affecting weather patterns and causing earthquakes and tidal waves.
The devastation caused society's collapse. Only the strongest survived the Great Dying. In the years that followed, mutations began to appear in animals and people. It was a time of lawlessness, where the only law was the one you could enforce. Cities and larger towns became walled city-forts. Some chose to outside the city-forts as ranchers, farmers, and scavengers. They enforced the law with violence, and the law of the old west returned. Out of this came the Peacekeepers, modeled after the legendary Texas Rangers. They were empowered by the city-forts to be judge, jury, and executioner. They were a group of hard men: hated, feared, and respected.
This is the story of Price - a human mutation, raised in the frontier wilderness - who became a PK Scout.
Scraps, a gutter child, is sitting in his hiding place in a back alley, waiting for the cold thunderstorm to pass. Suddenly, lightning strikes in front of him, and then a second time. The two lightning bolts become men—two wizards—one from the Red Order, the other from the Blue.
The Red Wizard, chanting his curses, throws lightning bolts and fireballs. The Blue Wizard, singing his spells, throws lightning bolts and ice shards. So intense is their fighting, they become lightning rods. It seemed as if God Himself cast His lightning bolt, striking the ground between them and consuming both wizards in its white blaze. Scraps watched as the lightning bolt gouged its way across the alley, striking him.
Rain on his face awakens Scraps. The only thing left of the fighting wizards is a smoking crater and their scattered artifacts. He feels compelled to gather their possessions and hide them and himself. The dispersed items glowed red or blue, and he notices that he now has a magenta aura. Magenta, a combination of both red and blue, but more powerful than either.
Scraps then does what he has done all his life to survive. He hides. And unknowingly, he has become the catalyst for change in the Kingdom.
Mage Throne Prophecy
A routine physical shows Captain Ross Mitchell has a flesh-eating virus that specifically targets the brain. Prognosis says he'll be a vegetable by week's end. Having survived numerous incursions in combat around the world, he decides he's not going out like that. He drives a rented corvette into a cliff face at over 200 MPH. The fiery impact catapults him toward the afterlife.
Instead of finding the afterlife, he finds himself in a different body with an old man stabbing him in his chest. He fights free, killing the old man before passing out. He wakes to find he's now in the body of Prince Aaron, the 15-year-old second son of the King.
In this medieval world, the Royals are Mages. The old man who was trying to kill him was a Mage "Vampire". Instead of blood, the old Mage was trying to steal Ross/Aaron's power, knowledge, and in this case his body. When Ross/Aaron killed the old Mage, his vampire power was transferred to him. He now has the memories, knowledge, and powers of the old Mage.
Ross/Aaron must navigate this new environment of court intrigue with care. His older brother, the Crown Prince, hates him. His older sister has no use for him. The King sees him as an asset to be used, agreeing to marry him to a neighboring Kingdom for an alliance. Before the marriage takes place, the castle is attacked. Someone is trying to kill him but is finding it most difficult. Where Mages fight with Magic, Ross/Aaron fights with magic and steel. It's hard to cast a spell with a knife through your skull, or your throat cut.
As Ross/Aaron travels with his fiancée toward her home for the marriage to take place, they are attacked at every turn. Someone doesn't want this wedding to happen. Ross/Aaron has had enough of people trying to kill him. With Aaron's knowledge, and Ross' training, they take the offensive. The Kingdom will never be the same.
Hand Made Mage
Ghost, a young Criminal Guild thief, is ordered to rob an ancient crypt of a long-dead Duke. He is caught grave robbing by an undead, insane Mage, with a twisted sense of humor. The Mage burns a set of rune engraved rings into Ghost's hand, and fingers. Unknown to Ghost these rings allow him to manipulate the four elements.
Returning to the Guild to report his failure, everyone thinks he has riches from the crypt, and they want it. While being held captive by the Criminal Guild, Ghost meets Prince Kade, the fourth son of the King, who has troubles of his own. Ghost uses his newfound powers to escape from the Guild saving the Prince in the process.
Spies from a foreign kingdom are trying to kill Prince Kade, and Ghost must keep them both alive while helping Prince Kade raise an army to stop an invasion. Ghost finds out trust to soon given, is unwise and dangerous. He is learning people will do anything for gold and power. As Ghost's power grows, his enemies learn he is a far more deadly enemy than anything they have ever faced.
From Mist and Steam
Searching the battlefield after a major battle Sgt. Eli finds a dead Union Army messenger. In the messenger's bag is a message saying the South had surrendered, the war was over. Along with the Union Messenger was a dead Union Captain carrying his discharge papers and eight thousand dollars.
Sgt. Eli decides now is a good time to seek other opportunities, away from the stink of war. While buying supplies from his friend the quartermaster, he is advised to go to St. Louis. Those opportunities may lie there and a crowd to get lost in. Sgt. Eli becomes Capt. Myers, a discharged Union Cavalry Officer, and strikes out for St. Louis.
The war has caused hard times and there are those who will kill you for the shirt you are wearing. Capt. Myers plans on keeping his shirt, and four years of hard fighting has given him the tools to do so. Realizing he must look the part of a well-to-do gentleman, he buys gentleman clothes, and acts the part. People ask fewer questions of a gentleman.
What he isn't prepared for is meeting an intelligent Lady, Miss Abigail Campbell. Her father has died, leaving the family-owned shipping business, with generation steam-powered riverboats. They have dreams of building steam-powered airships, but because she is a woman, there are those who stand against them. Capt. Myers' fighting is not over, it seems business is war. They decide to become partners, and with his war-fighting experience, and her brains the world is not as intimidating as it once seemed.
Duty Calls continues the story of Nic, Mal, Jazz, and Jade as they fight to hold what belongs to them. The Corporations are becoming more aggressive in their effort to steal their inventions. Our four friends are matching the corporate's aggression blow for blow. The fight has already turned deadly, and the Corporation has shown they aren't afraid to spill blood. Nic has shown restraint, but the gloves are about to come off. They've gone after his family and that's the one thing he will not tolerate.
The Blaring klaxon jolted me out of a sound sleep. I threw my covers off and was halfway to my Vac-suit locker before I was fully awake. It felt like I had just fallen to sleep having just finished a long EVA shift. It would be just like Dad to have an emergency drill after an EVA shift to see if I had recharged my suit. I had, I always did, both Mom and Dad were hard taskmasters when it came to ship, and personal safety. Vac-suit recharging was top of the personal safety list. If you can't breathe, you die, easy to remember.
Donning a Vac-suit was second nature for me, after 16 years of drills and practice exercises. Having literally been doing this all my life, but I loved life on our Rock-Tug. I was reaching for the comms when I felt the ship shutter. "That can't be good,” I said to myself.
Mom's voice came over ship-wide, "This is not a drill, this is not a drill, meteor strike, hull breach in Engineering". Mom's voice was just as calm as if she was asking, what's for lunch. This was a way of life for us, we trained and practiced so that when the reality of working in "The Belt" happened you didn't panic, you just did your job. You didn't have to think, you knew what you needed to do, and you did it.
I keyed my comms, "Roger, hull breach in Engineering, where do you need me, Mom?" "Get to Engineering and help your Father, I'm on the Bridge trying to get us in the shadow of a bigger rock for some protection." Mom answered. My adrenaline was spiking but Mom's calm voice helped to keep me calm.
I sealed my helmet and left my cabin heading for Engineering. The klaxon had faded into the background, my breathing was louder than it was. I kept telling myself "Stay calm, just do your job, stay calm."
I had just reached Engineering when the Tug was rocked by a succession of impacts each one harder than the last. The hatch to Engineering was closed and the indicator light was flashing red, telling me there was a hard vacuum on the other side. I switched my comms to voice-activated, "Dad? I'm at the hatch to Engineering it's in lockdown, I can't override it from here." "Dad? Dad?, Dad responds!
"Mom, Dad is not answering, and Engineering is sealed, you are going to have to evac the air from the rest of the ship, so I can open the hatch." Mom's steady voice replied, "Understood, emergency air evac in 10 seconds."
Those were the longest 10 seconds of my short life. The hatch indicator light finally turned green and the hatch door opened. The Engineering compartment was clear. No smoke, no fire, some sparks and lots of blinking red lights. I looked over to the Engineering station console, there sat Dad. He had not had his Vac-suit on when the hull was breached.
Hard Vacuum does terrible things to the human body. I suddenly realized that I had not heard Dad on comms the whole time, just Mom. She probably knew what had happened but was sending help in the hope that Dad was all right and that maybe the comms were down.
I heard Mom in the background declaring an emergency and calling on the radio for help. Her voice still calm somehow, "Mayday, mayday, this is the Rock Tug Taurus, Mayday, we have taken multiple meteor strikes, have multiple hull breaches, please respond."
"Come on Nic, think! What do I need to do?" I asked myself. I closed the hatch to Engineering, to seal the vacuum from the rest of the ship. I turned and started back toward the bridge. There was an impact, a light flared, and sparks; time seemed to slow, there was no sound, we were still in a vacuum, just shuttering vibrations and sparks. Holes seemed to appear in the overhead and then the deck, it was so surreal.
The meteors were punching holes through our ship like a machine punching holes on an assembly line. "Meteor storm"