Deleted scene from The Republic: Soldiers

This is a deleted scene from my novel, The Republic. It takes place in Episode 4: High Crimes, and looks at a pivotal moment in the story, but from a new character’s perspective, a soldier who is also an APU mechanic.

SOLDIERS

by M.G. Herron

Private Rajit Kapur tossed the blackened rag to the ground and stood, arching his back against the stiffness in his muscles. He drew a dirty sleeve across his face, but sweat still skidded down his greasy brow to sting his eyes. In the distance, a lantern at the top of the Capitol building flickered, signaling that the senate was still in session. No doubt they would be going late into the night.

He looked back down at the day’s futile effort. He’d been working on the APUs since he woke up. What most people call mechs, soldiers call Armored Personnel Units—or “apes” because of their long arms and fearsome power. His gorilla of the day, number 049, was still broken as hell, but now it was less dirty. The shine had returned to the metal armor on the front. He set the cockpit’s control panels and joysticks to rights, replacing parts that had been broken or too burned to bother cleaning. Soot seemed to be permanently embedded in the fine cracks between panels, and along edge of the foglights embedded in the sternum, but at least you could tell it was a fighting machine again and not just a big hunk of scrap metal.rivate Rajit Kapur tossed the blackened rag to the ground and stood, arching his back against the stiffness in his muscles. He drew a dirty sleeve across his face, but sweat still skidded down his greasy brow to sting his eyes. In the distance, a lantern at the top of the Capitol building flickered, signaling that the senate was still in session. No doubt they would be going late into the night.

Repairing the APUs was tedious work that made his back ache, but Raj liked it better than night patrols, or marching in formation drills, or cleaning the officer’s mess hall. Come to think of it, almost anything was better than that last one.

Besides, Raj was good with machines. And it bothered him that he hadn’t been able to get a single one of these busted grease monkeys to gas up yet.

“Ey Kapur! You figger out how to turn yours on yet?”

“No luck.”

“Thank god. You had me convinced you were a mechanical genius there for a while. Glad to see a problem can stump you, too.”

Private Stanislov, a mechanic who joined the APU squadron right before they flew back from the western border to offer support in Enshi, did not share Raj’s desire to get the APUs back online.

Stanislov kicked the metal leg of the APU nearest to him with contempt. His boot failed nudge the half ton machine from its spot.

“I don’t get it,” Raj said. “I’ve already swapped out fuses in all three, rewired the diagnostic panels to two of them, run the reset operation from my tablet twice. And still no juice!”

“The longer we spend back here in the parking lot the better as far as I’m concerned.”

“Maybe the lithium batteries were damaged in the fighting.”

“That wasn’t a fight, it was a slaughter.”

Raj didn’t want to have that discussion again, so he changed the subject.

“It’ll take half a day to pop one open and scour the core for damage.”

“And what? You don’t actually think a little fall punctured the battery.”

Of course he didn’t. The mechs were designed to withstand long-range weapons, patrol a thousand miles of border, and hold their ground under artillery fire. They weren’t meant to be easy to destroy. But what else could it be?

Kapur looked at the wires running to the tablet he’d left on the pavement by the leg of 049. The face of the tablet glowed a bluish tint.

Kapur picked up the tablet and ran the core diagnostic one more time. He keyed the ignition of the mech twice to dead air.

“Fuck it, man,” Stanislov said. “It’s a lost cause.”

Kapur put his fists on his hips and stared over the prone bodies of the dead mechs. It was weird being this close to the Capitol, but it was, at the same time, heartening to be reminded what you were fighting for. Kapur only hoped the people inside knew what they were doing.

As he watched, the lantern blinked out.

A second later, rows of green LEDs that ran up the left leg of all three prone mechs flickered to life.

“What the hell?” Stanislov said.

Private Kapur disengaged himself from Stanislov’s excited grip and picked up his tablet, which was still hardwired. The screen filled with commands, like the readout you might expect to see during operation. But no one was in the pilot’s seat to issue the commands. “But I didn’t do anything.”

“Sure.”

The mech to which Private Kapur’s tablet was connected bent its knees and torso and used the gyroscope in its core to rotate itself to its feet. It twisted right, and then left, as if surveying its surroundings. Then it cocked back one arm, the multiple turrets embedded in its forearm clicking as they rotated.

“Stanislov, watch out!”

Stanlislov swiveled back just in time, and that’s why he was able to turn his body a few inches and dodge the missile that blasted out of the APU’s leveled arm.

The projectile exploded at the foot of the rot iron fence bordering the lawn in front of the Capitol building. Shards of metal flew into the air, smoke rising in a column through the boughs of the trees that shaded a garden where a certain senator and a certain magistrate had sat to rest earlier that day and watched Raj and Stanislov pull the mech off a truck.

The tablet jerked out of Private Kapur’s hands and skidded across the pavement as the mech ran toward the smoldering hole in the fence.

Hydraulic pistons and the heavy metal thud of mech feet sounded to Raj’s left. The other two mechs were waking up and looked as if they wanted to follow the first one.

Stanislov had scooped his tablet off the ground and called in a code black. A single, long, wailing siren sounded in the air across the whole army camp.

Raj sprinted to the nearest operational APU and dove into the pilot’s seat. He jammed the yolk forward and took off in the direction of the rogue mechs. At least a dozen soldiers who had been patrolling the perimeter when the mechs broke through were close on his ape’s heels.

Fast drafting mindset on Day 1 of NaNoWriMo

Today is day 1 of NaNoWriMo.

Which means thousands and thousands of people are setting out on the crazy journey to write a 50,000 word novel in one month.

That’s 1667 words a day.

Which is awesome. Crazy awesome.

Good luck to all the writers. You got this. Buckle in and get to work.

I didn’t plan on doing NaNo this year, partly because I’m 25k into a novel already and partly because I’m juggling a lot of projects right now and didn’t know if I could handle that time commitment.

I was only thinking 30k :p

But I was on my game this morning so I did a nano wordcount before work, to cheer on those who are doing it.

I got 1830 words. It took me five sprints of twenty five minutes a piece, writing with focus, to get there.

You can see it unfold on twitter.

That’s about 2.5 hours, and most of it done in the morning.

A Nano Mindset

For those if you reading and thinking “1700 words a day is insane, matt, I could never do that!”

I hear you.

It does seem scary. Part of the magic of NaNoWriMo is how it teaches you to face that fear.

What practicing novelists learn early on is that half of doing your words every day comes down to mindset.

Everyone has their own take on mindset, but essentially it comes down to this:

  • Keep going
  • It’s good enough
  • You can fix it later

I have a theory that every writer reaches this point in their mindset at some point in the writing of a long project.

The key to winning nano is getting there faster than everyone else.

On day 1, if possible. Abandon perfectionism and just focus on putting one word after the other.

The key to finishing a book at all is just getting to the end of the rough draft. In November every year, that’s what nano is all about.

NaNo provides both community and the structure of a fixed deadline to help you get there.

Take advantage of it if you can!

And as always, fail forward. If you don’t win nano, you still have half a novel in your lap.

Finish it.

Then do it again!

Keep going

Don’t stop here. Let me be your gateway drug.

Here’s some more good advice from writers I admire. Read the threads!

A Halloween Story for Video Game Lovers

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Halloween GIFs - Find & Share on GIPHY

If you’re looking for a delightful little Halloween treat, check out my urban fantasy story, Magick Mirror. Originally written for a Halloween anthology and inspired by Super Nintendo RPGs, it takes place in high school, where our hero’s unusual attire on the the school bus on Halloween morning is mistaken for a costume.

And he can’t tell anyone, because the game his life has become now has consequences.

Maybe reading that will help keep your hand out of the candy jar—at least for a little while.

Here’s a little more about the story…

 

Magick Mirror

When was the last time a character in a video game stepped out of your TV?

Anders is just an ordinary high school teenager suffering from a painful breakup and trying to drown his sorrows in video games. But when a rare Super Nintendo RPG he bought at the flea market comes to life, he is sent on an extraordinary quest.

A wizard grants him the power of the Magick Mirror. But is that enough? Does Anders have the heart of a true hero?

One of those days…

Well shit, today was just one of those days where it seemed like everything was going against me.

Got locked out of a password tool this morning due to a stupid auto-fill by the OTHER password tool. Lost 30 minutes there trying to get back in. No luck.

Then something in my standing desk electronics got messed up, so the desk will only move down now. *sigh* Lost 15 minutes trying to fix that and then gave up. Still need to look into it.

And tonight the overhead interior light in my Jeep Wrangler got stuck on. As in, won’t turn off when I’m driving. Instead of going to write (like I was trying to do), I spent an hour trouble shooting that before just pulling the damn fuse for the overhead light. Guess I’ll be taking the jeep into the shop in the morning.

And on top of it all I only did like 250 words this morning because I had to finish up the section of fence we started, rip out the rest of the chainlink fence around that side of the house, and then do as much client work as I could fit in.

Even though I did get some stuff done, it feels like a wasted day when the world’s against you like that.

I’ve still got to finish a writing workshop tonight. Only 100 words on that so far and I need 300 minimum. I can manage 200 words. Then I’ll troubleshoot the desk for fifteen minutes before I call it.

Tomorrow’s another day, thank the gods.

Quick note

Just a quick note to hold the streak. I spent the whole day building a fence and am more physically exhausted than I’ve been in months. No new words today but I will get back on track tomorrow. The fence is looking awesome though. Photos when it’s done!

Busy Saturday

Spent the first part of today reading and writing. Doing sprints online with a writer friend, I managed 1200 words on Translocator 3 and even got to the gym before 1pm.

Then, after lunch, I did some marketing for my books—setting up new advertising and making images to use in some of the ads. Here’s one of them, as an example (these are for BookBub ads).

The Auriga Project ad

And lastly, my dad and I are replacing the chainlink fence at my house with a wooden fence. So he came over, we ripped out some of the chainlink, and then went to Home Depot and got supplies to start building the new fence tomorrow. Metal posts, cedar planks, quick-dry cement, screws and fasteners.

I’ve never built a fence before, so this is going to be an adventure 😀 Fortunately my dad is good with construction projects and he has a plan.

So plenty of work ahead of me in the next couple days. On the bright side, I’m at a great place with Translocator 3 so the words are coming fast and easy and I should have no problem maintaining this pace. At this rate, (knock on wood) I should be done the first draft by mid-December and be able to send it to my editor before the end of the year.

And the fence much sooner than that!

Reading: Half a King

Why on Earth did it take me so long to crack open a Joe Abercrombie novel?

I burned through Half a King in two days, reeling and obsessed.

A “fast-paced tale of betrayal and revenge,” as George R.R. Martin puts it on the cover, this fantasy novel is swift, dark, subtle, cunning, and brutal.

Half a King tells the story of Yarvi, second son of the king of Gettland, who was born with a crippled left hand. With half a hand and the scorn of his family, he feels like half a man, and is stunned when the murder of his father and older brother shift him unexpectedly onto the throne.

If half a man can’t even stand up to his peers or hold his own in a fight, how can he expect to rule a kingdom?

Yarvi resents the position his kin’s untimely death has put him in. No one around him seems to think him remotely capable of doing the job, least of all himself. But that’s just the start of his journey. When a quest for vengeance takes an unexpected turn, Yarvi must first prove himself worthy before he can claim his birthright.

I highly recommend this one if you like medieval fantasy, or stories of vikings, or reading about ruthless cultures steeped in war. Read this one if you’re a student of human nature, because the characterization is spectacular.

I don’t know why it took me so long to read a Joe Abercrombie novel, but I’ll definitely be returning to his world soon.


Like my reading recommendations? Buy Half a King on Amazon and support this blog and Joe’s books at the same time (through Amazon’s affiliate program).