I just got my 4th manuscript from an upcoming series back from my editor. She claims the story was ‘every bit as good as Game of Thrones’. Not the first person to say that, but I have a different opinion. This is the beauty of writing. What I think may not be represented by others. In fact, in this case, their opinions are higher than mine! Regardless of what I may think, Tomorrow’s Demise is clearly a hit. So much so that I figure I will go ahead and put book 2 up there once I am finished here.
Thanks for sticking around for the ride.
It had been years since Colonel Russell remembered feeling this exhausted. This was going to be one of those days when he felt every bit of his forty-nine years. His face was drawn and shallow from lack of sleep, and heavy bags formed under bloodshot eyes. The suns weren’t up yet, and he’d already gone through most of a pitcher of coffee. His bowels were going to pay for that later in the day. A sudden knock threw him out of his misery. In walked General Pierce without being invited.
“Good morning, Colonel,” he said with a mock smile. “I trust I haven’t disturbed anything vitally important?”
Russell sighed quietly and faced his superior. “Not at all. I was just getting ready to see my men before you leave.”
Pierce appeared genuinely shocked. “What do you mean? These are your troops who will be following me into combat. I should think the commanding officer would find it a privilege to stand beside them.”
“As it happens, I’ve been reassigned. Major Gregorson will assume full command of the garrison forces deployed. I’ll be staying behind to oversee the evacuation of casualties and incoming personnel.”
“I’m sorry to hear that, Russell,” Pierce solemnly announced. He was disgusted with the old man’s actions and could find no reason for them. They were cowardly and unfit for a senior ranking officer. If he had his way….
Artur Russell straightened to attention and saluted, sharp and crisp. Pierce held him there while he stared deep into the man’s heart to find where his loyalties lay.
“If there is nothing else, sir, I wish you luck. I need to see my troops.”
Pierce finally returned the salute and said in controlled anger, “Luck is the one thing we won’t need, Colonel. I’ve found that it’s a sentiment fools often let get in the way when they have nothing else to cling to. Destiny guides my hands.”
Outside, the drums of war began to beat a swift and steady tune.
It was one of the mightiest war machines ever assembled, formed and dressed on the parade field in full combat gear. Guide ons and battalion colors with dozens of battle streamers waved in the crisp morning wind. Buglers up and down the ranks sounded the division battle call so all could hear for miles around.
The citizens of Minion came out by the hundreds to watch this significant event, one the likes of which would never be seen again. They waved and shouted cries of luck to the thousands of Imperium troopers come to end their worries. For many, this was the first shred of hope they’d known. It was a return to the beginning for the few surviving veterans of the first Berserker war.
Pierce watched his unit through the proud eyes of a father and nodded to Gladak. The Colonel spun and barked orders to the brigade commanders who, in turn, passed them down to the lowest level companies. Units began marching off towards their places in the long columns of armored vehicles.
There was power in the air, charging the soldiers with raw emotion. Veterans and raw recruits felt it the same. It was the feeling only a soldier could know. Joneth Pierce watched his force with joy. A lesser commander would have given a long speech designed to stimulate the troops, but Pierce knew better. They fed off of him as much as he did them. He offered them all one small comment, dispatched down to every squad in the division the night before: “The books of history are open, their pages ready to record your legacy. What will you make of them? My friends, I give you the world!”
Locked within his office, Russell watched the procession from a shrouded window. His heart went out to the men and women who had no clue what they were up against. It pained him to know that Gregorson was in there somewhere. He was a good man, and the Imperium would be sore to lose him. A terrible feeling had been nagging at him since the division’s arrival, and it had only gotten worse since. There was a time when Russell would have been aching to get into the fight. Two years on Helscape had been enough to change that point of view. He sighed. Let Pierce think what he wanted.
He turned his attention to the armored snake winding out into the desert. The lead units were no more than small dust clouds on the far horizons now, giving Russell the courage to look away and finish what he needed to do. Much needed to be done. Coordination with Trusgar Spaceport and the civilian medical staff needed to be taken care of before the dust settled. Russell feared that, no matter how well they prepared, it wasn’t going to be enough.
Snake Eyes passed his pack up to a trooper already atop the APC and was helped up. Even he had to admit that he was the slightest bit afraid. The Helscape garrison knew the dangers of what they were facing, and that was the one advantage they had over the fiercely trained Imperium assault units. He was amazed at how subservient the mad General’s troops were. Pierce was a controlling man who didn’t like his commanders acting without orders. Out here, that was the only way to survive.
The crew chief clambered up through the closest hatch and asked, “Everybody on?”
Snake looked around, counting as he did. Nathan and Kane were sitting in the back discussing events to come, he imagined. Most of the others were down in the hull arranging the baggage and equipment to be the most comfortable so they could rack out. Not a bad idea.
“Yeah, let’s get this boat on the roads,” Snake Eyes answered.
The eighty-ton piece of steel and armor was going to be their home for the next few days on their trek up the desert to Black Tide, so they might as well make the most of it. Seeing the wisdom in the rest of the platoon’s actions, Snake adjusted his own pack and laid his head down, making sure to tilt his visor down to block out the suns.
“How long do you think this is going to take us, Sarge?” Klausky asked him.
Snake sighed. Didn’t this guy know when to take advantage of the moment? “Does it really matter? I wouldn’t be in such a hurry to go off and get yourself killed. Remember when we rescued that little girl? How many of us came back then?”
The younger trooper fell silent and resumed his turn at air guard. A flight of assault choppers flanked the column as the first vehicle gunned down the road. Most of the artillery and air support were already north and in position to cover the advance into the deep desert. The rest of the division would be with them in three short days. Snake Eyes’ track started to pull forward.
The tension builds. Who will come out of this alive? Waiting for the next installment.
It’s almost Monday, Mike. The battle is coming. And its a nasty one.