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Chains of Loss. Hero's Chains, book 1.

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Well, I finally made the plunge and started offering my writing on Amazon. It’s the tale of a pacifistic cyborg stranded on a post-apocalyptic fantasy Earth.

It might not post well here, so if it doesn’t (loss of formats & italics, etc), the first twenty pages are on my blog at heroschains.tumblr.com – alternatively, Amazon’s listing includes a preview.

Here’s the first five pages.

October 23, 3481.

The light blinked every three point two seconds, and for some reason Derek found it riveting.

He was not in the habit of staring at blinking lights, but this one was all he cared to look at. It wasn’t until higher portions of his brain began to function that he began to wonder, what exactly is that light?

Now that the question occurred to him, he wanted an answer. The light was actually a number of lights, each in a distinct shape. No, some of them repeated.

A few more neurons jostled back into position and began to fire. Suddenly he remembered what letters were. Yes, the lights were definitely letters. This raised a new question: Why couldn’t he read?

He tried again. Critical…brain…damage. Please…stand…by.

Derek found himself unsurprised. He was damaged enough that he’d forgotten how to read.

Prompt, he thought. The light flickered in response. Status.

A basic diagram flashed into view.

Spreck. What happened? His brain was blinking between white and grey status, indicating cybernetics that were hard at work, trying to put him back together. The rest of his body was between white and yellow status.

His carefully-trained – if battered – mind went to work deducing the pattern of his injuries. He’d suffered a major concussion along with blunt force trauma to his entire body. There were no major lacerations, though, and he had suffered very little blood loss, which allowed his repair cybernetics the opportunity to work at full force. More, if his brain was being repaired, that meant that Shadow was fine and supervising the rebuilding. The AI just hadn’t realized that Derek had found his way to a form of consciousness.

Time to let him know. Shadow.

There was a moment of silence before the AI responded. [Hey. Tired of snoring while I’m pulling you back together?]

_…snoring? _Derek consulted the diagram again. His lungs were definitely too torn up for him to actually be breathing right now.

[It looks like your sense of humor died in the crash.]

Sorry. I just…nevermind. What happened and where are we? Crash?

[Yeah, crash. We went down hard.]

Hold on. What could we have hit? Derek struggled to remember where he had last been, and came to a horrifying possibility. Did we pancake into the side of Prometheus Station? If so, he would never live it down.

[No. I’m still not sure what we hit – at least, to start. But we’d better start at the beginning. What’s the last date you remember?]

Going to bed last night, in guest quarters at the station. It was Tuesday.

[Not too bad. I’ll do another run on your short-term memory; you’re only missing a few hours, but they were…eventful.]

Okay. So fill me in.

[Seneca declared a full-colony alert due to NSW – that’s some kind of technical term. Means ‘I dunno what to call it, but we’re about to get squashed.’ Our orders were to gather supplies, abandon the planet’s surface, and ride it out. Full briefing was to follow the event – that’s usually code for ‘we might call this a drill if nothing happens’.]

With you so far.

[Well, that’s the last thing I have to tell you that makes sense. Zero hour came and the entire ship went crazy. Thermal readings all over the place, an impossible gravity flux…I have no idea how it happened, but our sensors were reading twenty Kelvin when we were scorched badly enough to fuse the hull. Then we got an exit wound on our port side. We lost two gyros, but there’s no entry wound anywhere – like whatever hit us came from inside the ship. After whatever-it-was scorched us, we did a full space to ground nosedive with single-digit engine function and no maneuvering gyros. With the hull fused, we couldn’t even deploy wings.]

Derek’s mind wandered for a moment, then jumped on a fact that happened to shine through. Two hours, fourteen minutes.

[Huh?]

We were at L1. Two hours, fourteen minutes to the lunar surface. Isn’t that right? He hesitated. I’m assuming you meant that we hit the moon.

[Negative. Whatever we hit had atmosphere – and we were less than three thousand kilometers from Prometheus Station. Total time from last sensor reading to impact was fourteen minutes. We didn’t hit Artemis or Elysium.]

Derek’s brain, overtaxed by the reconstruction, ground to a complete halt. If we didn’t hit the moon or the planet, then what DID we hit?

[Still working on it – and there’s been no contact since before the scorch. And our comm gear worked until we hit the ground; we squawked out a distress call the whole way down, and we didn’t get a single response.]

Weird. Well, how’s the ship doing?

[That, at least, is something I can report on. The Nicobar got a quick refit to Leto-class for the evacuation. We’re carrying a lot more gear than normal, and while most of our systems are hosed, with a few weeks of both of us working on it, we might be able to get it space-worthy again. Most of the ship got beat to pieces, but the computer survived without a scratch. Not much we can do with it, but it’ll fix itself up in time.]

Derek stepped up his consciousness level to a low-quality simulation so that he could scratch his chin, or at least a reasonable facsimile of it. Okay. What do we know about where we are?

[Right now, about all I can tell you is that it has atmosphere and it has a gravity level of .997 g’s. That’s about .4 g’s lower than anywhere on Elysium. Anywhere in the system, even.]

…check again? For the first time, Derek felt fear creep into him. A shattered body was nothing he couldn’t handle if he had a few hours. But if he wasn’t in the system, how would he get home?

He added a basic room to the simulation. Four walls, a roof and a cozy chair that he could sit in, drawn into existence without detail to cut down on the processing required.

[Checked and confirmed. We’re nowhere in the New Athens sphere of influence. My best guess? Well, you’re not going to like it.]

Hit me.

[Well, gravity’s very, very close to 1.0 g. You know what planet has that as standard.]

Yeah. Earth. But we can’t be on Earth…it’s a few centuries’ worth of travel away!

[So’s any other planet outside of the system. And we can’t be on any planet in our home system, so we’re at a stalemate: we are quite clearly nowhere.]

Okay! Okay! You win. We might be on Earth and outside the system. How soon can I get up and look around?

[About two hours. Until then, you should probably get some sleep.]