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.
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?”
“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.”
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.
How do you get access to all this awesome art and the deleted scene? Simply purchase the ebook or the print book from Amazon, and find the SECRET LINK in the back of the book. That will take you to a page where you can download all the stuff you see below, but without the blackout bars on them.
Here’s a sneak peak of the loot…
About Tales of the Republic
What’s Tales of the Republic about? I describe it as a sci-fi action thriller. It takes place in a speculative future somewhere in Asia, in a new country called The Republic of Enshi. Here’s the blurb and the cover if you want to learn more about the story itself…
The fate of the Republic of Enshi hinges on a genetically modified miracle—and three unlikely heroes.
Kai Ming, a troubled politician, is entrusted with the country’s only hope of ending the famine that decimated the population. Po Li, a scrappy farm girl, battles to be reunited with her sister after rebel insurgents tear them apart. And Ari Klokov, a soldier, wakes in an underground prison with strange biotech in his head and no memory of the last twelve years.
Thrown together in the chaos and united by a fierce love for their country, Ming, Ari, and Po have to cross the mad riots, outsmart the hawkish Senator Khan, and overcome Felix Hull and his tenacious rebels who wage war in the streets of the blasted city.
Learning to trust each other is a start, but it won’t be enough. Their resistance pits them against ruthless leaders on both sides who harbor designs on the halls of power. Ming, Ari, and Po need to stop them to survive, but every opportunity has a cost–and this one must be paid for in bodies and blood.
And some of my favorite reviews on the complete novel that have come in from early readers…
“Vivid worldbuilding with unexpected twists, great read.” – Amazon Reviewer
“An enjoyable page turner. Character driven sci-fi with a female protagonist and interesting characters.” – Amazon Reviewer
Some history, and a big thanks
If you’ve been following me for a while, you may know that the first two episodes of Tales of the Republic came out in 2014, and 2015—about six months apart. I was dipping my toes into the indie publishing waters, and they were the first two things I ever published.
Episodes 3 – 7 were finally finished earlier this year, and the serialized publication was completed over the past few months.
Episode 7: Killer Cause completes the story, and concludes the events of the riot.
All together, I’m calling this version the “complete novel” because that’s what it is. I didn’t realize it back in 2014, but Episode 1 was really just the beginning of the journey. Now, I’ve come full circle. Tales is the first book I ever started (without knowing it), and I sense a certain pleasing symmetry in the universe knowing that it’s now, at last, complete.
Thanks to everyone who helped me along the way—I really appreciate everyone who has followed along or bought the episodes as this story came into being.
I hope you like it, and that you grab it while it’s only a buck and enjoy a whole bunch of bonus art while you’re there.
Episode 6 of my dangerous dystopian thriller, Tales of the Republic, came to life yesterday. It’s called Early Warning and it’s the second to last episode in the series.
Here’s a little teaser…
First, the print cover spread for the print-on-demand version.
Then the opening chapter of this episode…
This is one of my favorite episodes of the series for many reasons, most of which have to do with the urchin communication network that Po recruits, and the return of Noura, as she takes on a new role and helps Po on her mission because she believes in her.
The final episode to complete the series will be out in a couple more weeks. It all comes together in Episode 7: Killer Cause, on May 10th. The last stand. The final battle. Who will survive? What price must be paid to save the Republic, and who will pay it?
• • •
So what’s next?
About a month after the TOTR episodes are all out, I’ve got some fun plans for launching the complete novel that include bonus goodies like a deleted scene and some wallpapers and a chance to get a signed copy in the mail. Still trying to think of what else to give away that might be fun, maybe do a few readings on Facebook.
I’m also in the process of recruiting an army of ARC readers, people who will help me launch books by reading early and leaving honest, timely reviews. Email me or leave a comment here if that sounds interesting to you, and I’ll add you to the list personally.
I’ll be posting the good photos from my trip to Portland soon. But first I have some work to do on Translocator 2. Recently crested 40k words and I don’t want to lost that momentum.
The cover is clean, powerful, simple—everything I wanted. I'm very happy and I want to say a public thanks to Jonathan Kurten for the awesome work (and for putting up with me changing my mind about almost everything).