A bit of Trivia on the Short Stories Book

‘The Day the Elves Stole My Wife and Other Stories is on Amazon now.  One of the interests for Raven of Iskandar fans is the three short stories associated with the series.  The trivia has to do with the short story ‘Angel’ which is NOT about Calamity Angel or about Iskandar (The story ‘Foosball’ is about Calamity Angel).  The story ‘Angel’ was inspired by the Genesis song ‘Duchess’ on the Album ‘Duke’.  Although it is not really a concept album, the fact that the songs are bracketed by the same themes at the beginning and end give the feel that all the songs relate to one album-long story.

The book is here:  https://www.amazon.com/dp/1790307538



Excerpt from Raven: The Call from Central – Confexia

This is an excerpt from Raven:  The Call from Central and is from Raven’s first match with Iskandar Prime on Confexia.

She back-tracked into the spawning room, took the side exit and up the stairs.  There she found some armor and more weaponry….and a super health pack.  The next opening was on the same level as two of the miniguns.  One turned to fire at her.  She dodged, launched a couple rockets and dived to ground level.  She managed to cross the open space and then was in a section with another minigun.  She took out the oblivious gunner, but didn’t take out the minigun as it would take too much time.  One of the objectives was through an opening right behind it.  She fired everything she had at it, but it wore down slowly.  Then there was the Goliath shot that she couldn’t dodge.

She spawned right behind Soria.  The team captain pointed and just said, “Raptor”.  Raven commed acknowledgment and ran for the flyer.  The Raptor can fly much higher than the Manta, had better armor and weaponry, but was more difficult to control and not as fast.  Raven banged into the building as she flew over it.

She hoped to distract the enemy and help her team.  She lasted about 10 seconds as the miniguns were on her and so were the machine guns on the Goliaths.  She managed a few hits on the sentinel next to the power station before exploding.

She spawned and jumped into the Raptor again.  This time with less hesitation she took out the sentinel, and hit the objective a couple of times before being hit by a Goliath again.

Now Raven was angry.  She was back in the Raptor and went right after the enemy’s remaining Goliath.  She got fragged in the air and watched as her last two energy bursts blew up the tank.

She spawned again and was back in the Raptor again.  She’d picked up the knack of flying the wobbly craft.  This time she sneaked around the back of the building.  She heard the power station blow up.  The tank production facility was still active.  She got there just as their Goliath got there.  The Goliath took out the last minigun, and they both reduced that objective.

The force field went down and Raven guided the Raptor toward the next objective.  They had two Goliaths, a Hellbender and a Raptor against three miniguns, a Raptor and two Goliaths.  The problem was that the enemy had the high ground and the objective was behind a wall in front of them.

She spun the Raptor in a circle, hit the hill and tried to fire at the objective.  The Raptor exploded and she was again spawning.  She grabbed weapons off the turnstile and hopped in a Goliath that Zinaida was driving.  She fired the machine gun at everything and anything as the Goliath got pounded.

When it exploded, they were both flung free and ran to the base of the hill for cover and to begin firing at the objective.  This was another one that was tough for hand-held weapons.  Quickly, an enemy rocket found Raven.

She spawned next to a spawning Goliath and hopped in.  Chaoschick joined her, running the minigun.  She drove right for the objective, with both of them constantly firing.  She pulled up at the base of the hill and began pounding the objective with the cannon.  She was nudged from behind and saw the second Goliath joining her.  Despite the rockets and Avrils, they finished the objective and then it was up the hill toward the Anti-aircraft array.

Gothgirl in a Raptor was already firing away at it until an Avril hit her.  Both Raven and Chaos fired as fast as they could once the array was in sight.  The enemy’s emplacements were all on one side of this open objective, so she pulled around behind to cut off their fire.  It only took ten seconds for the array to fall after the Raptor and the other Goliath joined her.

The next objective was tough.  It was called the Blue Perimeter.  You had to move downhill between four miniguns and a Goliath, turn a corner and hit an objective on a high angle that was guarded by three more miniguns.  The enemy also had a strong Raptor.  They had two Goliaths, a Hellbender and a Raptor.

Those two Goliaths were now in file down the hill with Raven and Chaoschick in the lead.  Raven was having trouble hitting the miniguns with the cannon and there were several enemies on the slope firing Avrils at them.  The already reduced Goliath exploded.  Raven was fragged before she even hit the ground.

When she spawned, the Hellbender and both Goliaths were gone.  She jumped in the Raptor, and after ascending checked her map.  Once down the hill, the vista opened up: Raven noticed she could stand off a long way and hit the objective.

She maneuvered as far away as she could next to a building, lined up and began firing at the objective in the distance.

For a while it was great, as the enemy was distracted by the Goliath attack.  Then a minigun found her and she got the warning as an Avril was heading toward her.  She didn’t know how to dodge an Avril and kept firing at the objective until the guided rocket blew up the Raptor.  Need some training, she thought as she fell, just before she splattered on the ground.

The last fragging was a bit disorienting and Raven hesitated as she spawned.  It was a new spawn point.  I must’ve distracted them enough for the others to get the objective, she thought.

She viewed the map in her mind.  From where she was, she could see Grabby and Angel in a Goliath, pounding away at the training facility.  This stage also had two objectives, an airfield on the lower level and a training facility up the hill.

Again there was the Raptor.  She maneuvered behind a building and found an angle to hit the air field.  While the Raptor’s guided rockets could take off more of the objective, using the rapid fire blasters seemed quicker and were more satisfying.  The objective was already half down by the time she started firing.  She finished it off and got the award sound in her ear.

“Yeah, baby!”  She yelled, dropping all composure.

“Way to go ice-girl!” came Chaoschick’s voice over the intercom.

“Good job, Raven!” croaked Skylla.

They were now at the final stage.  There was a long winding gully toward the final two objectives.  One was a radar array that looked easy to hit, but the other one!  It was a power station stuck in to the side of a hill under the cover of two miniguns and a regenerating Goliath in front of it.  And they had a heavy Raptor.

She began to notice that the strength of the vehicles varied, although they looked the same otherwise.  Dive in, she thought, only way to go.  She darted the Raptor and spun it around to hit the power station.  She banged into the building behind her and the miniguns found her.  Raven got a couple of shots off before an Avril brought her down.  This time, falling was not as disorienting.

She spawned and everything but the Hellbender was gone.  She wasn’t quite so sure about that vehicle, so she headed off on foot.  She came up the hill behind the miniguns, but only got one rocket off before they got her.

She did notice something that Grabby did.  He took the Raptor and flew it low behind the miniguns.  He didn’t get many shots off before the Raptor exploded.  However, not being killed by a fall, he dodged down into a gully beside the power station and began firing at it.  The Goliath got him quickly, however.

Raven did notice also that the enemy tended to focus on Grabby as the greatest threat.  So she decided to follow his lead.  She jumped into the Raptor and flew low.  The miniguns blew the Raptor and she landed on her feet.  She ran for the gully while shooting a rocket over her shoulder.  One of miniguns exploded.  She didn’t stop to see if it was her shot, but the sound was satisfying all the same.

She began pounding the objective with the flak cannon.  The enemy Raptor found her and tried to hit her.  The angle was bad for the Raptor pilot and Raven dodged back and forth while firing.  The objective blew and she ran out into the open to get at the array.  Then the Raptor got her.

She had spawned and was driving a Goliath when the final objective exploded.  The time remaining was 11:24.  Raven didn’t know if that was good or not, but there leaked through some crowd cheer.

Excerpt – Work in Progress – Raven: The Triballi Incident

Here is a chapter from the work in progress–Raven: The Triballi Incident.  This is in raw form and unedited so forgive the spelling and grammar. 😉

They appeared on the field together. The crowd was large and ugly. Raven noticed that there were forcefields around the stadium as a fan tried to throw something at them and it bounced back at them. There were numerous fights in the stands and the fans chanted all sorts of obscenities.
“Look at this place!” gasped Gothgirl. “Makes the zones look like Disneyland.”
“I think we’re being massively hated,” said Soria.
“They’ll hate us even more once the match starts,” quipped Grabby. The team laughed.
Security was apparently suited in red as there were numerous ones in the stands trying to break up altercations.
“Iskandar sucks, Iskandar sucks, Iskandar sucks,” chanted a large portion of the crowd. That was the mildest of the verbiage that was being hurled at them.
“I wouldn’t want to go home either,” quipped Raven to Dahija.
“Team, don’t worry about the crowd,” said Francona over the comm. “They can’t reach you through the fields. Control here is local with Committee assistance. I don’t expect any cheating.”
“Awfully foul mouths for people so concerned about diversity,” said Lara, as the team began warming up.
“Or people calling robots tin cans,” squeaked Angel.
“That’s the big problem with trying to control everybody’s words,” said Grabby. “It doesn’t change things just creates a rage that is plowed underground to fester. Then it breaks out like this.”
The team did know how to focus, so they went through their sprints and stretches, ignoring the crowd. There was a huge cheer when the All-stars appeared. They strutted around, whipping up the crowd.
“If I had my way, we’d play this slate, then leave this fricking planet,” said Chaoschick.
“Once we get out of New New York, things are better,” said Dahija. “They are much more respectful in the other cities.”
“Well New York was always like this in the past,” muttered Grabby. “Next the All-stars will be calling themselves the Yankees.”
Raven had no idea what he was talking about. Then again, Grabby did have a long history on Earth. Soria always seemed to know what he was talking about.
The team just milled around waiting for the introductions. There was no team enclosure, so they were unsure how this was actually going to work. Meanwhile, the crowd continued to boo them interspersed with catcalls and obscenities.
On the other side of the field, the All-stars were pumping up the crowd and even leading obscene cheers.
“Crap, this is your hometown,” said Chaoschick to Dahija.
“The local big city,” the redhead replied. “I lived in New Greenwich about 30 km from NNYC. We seldom went into the city.”
“I wouldn’t have either,” said Lara.
There was a magical –type sound and there appeared on the field two podium just outside the ‘brane. Each had ten positions. Raven noted that the All-stars podium was larger.
“Well, the freaking All-stars have larger constructs,” groused Chaoschick. Raven hadn’t realized that. As she looked closer across the field, she did notice that each of the All-stars were over 2 meters tall.
“Just makes them bigger targets,” laughed Gothgirl.
“Y’know, we are getting some cheers, but they are very faint,” said Skylla, looking around.
“Yeah, then somebody comes over and beats on them,” groused Gothgirl.
“I just want to get out there and blow these sons-of-bitches away,” growled Zinaida. Raven had never seen her so angry, but she could understand it. She knew what kind of crap they would be facing going out to mid-field greeting.
“Welcome to the first match between Iskandar Prime and the Chamerica All-stars!” began the announcer. The crowd roared interspersed with boos and catcalls. Raven couldn’t count the number of times they were called losers.
“For the visitors, the Alliance Champions for 2243, Iskandar Prime…” said the announcer with the last half of what he said drowned out by boos and catcalls.
“At center, human from AC3, Dahija!”
The crowd roared nastily as the redhead ran out to the podium. On top of all the obscenities were also cries of ‘Traitor’. Dah-girl had it right, thought, thought Raven. She smiled and waved to the booing crowd.
As the introductions continued, Raven noticed that Dahija had gotten the loudest boos, although Skylla had yelled suggestions of calamari dinner and Angel had to endure calls about chicken dinners. The crowd seemed to particularly hate the team members from Earth.
“I’m gonna love shutting these bastards up,” growled Gothgirl.
“I’m with you,” agreed Chaoschick.
A large roaring cheer went out from the crowd as the All-stars were introduced. The sound was deafening. There was no doubt who this ugly crowd was supporting.
“It’s amazing how the media can lead these people around by the nose,” said Grabby, leaning close to Raven. “All those guys across the way had to do was talk trash and the supportive crowd we saw yesterday disappeared.”
“I’m fucking ready to start fragging that fucking crowd,” growled Gothgirl. There was no need to crank up the team this match. And I’m not even gonna feel sorry how we going to kick their asses, thought Raven.
They had even chosen their handles specifically for this match: ExcelBoss, InvincibleMan, Emperor_Frag, SuperHero, FragMaster, DominantOne, AlphaMale, CentralKiller, MassMurder and PrimeFragger. They were all male, at least in construct.
Their constructs were all over 2 meters tall and bulging with armor. Even their faces were hidden by iron masks.
Raven headed out to mid-field with Soria and Grabby. Their counterparts, towering over them, stood with their arms crossed.
“They aren’t going to shake our hands,” said Grabby. “There’s going to be no dignity in this greeting.”
“Keep our cool. Act professional,” said Soria.
Nobody said anything as they lined up opposite each other. In a futile gesture, they offered their hands.
“I’m not shaking the hands of any loser,” laughed one of the giants.
Raven noticed that Grabby bit back a response. Soria looked at the two of them. “Let’s get out of here and see if these babies can do anything other than cry,” she said.
That did it. A torrent of foul language and obscene taunts followed them as they calmly walked back to their side of the field.
“So mom lost her cool, huh,” quipped Grabby. Soria gave him a malicious smile.

Raven visits Bestmartin – Excerpt from Book 5!

We’re getting way ahead of ourselves here, but this is an excerpt from Book 5  (title unchosen so far).  At the start of the new season, Raven returns to the ‘scene of the crime’, Bestmartin for 3 days of teaching and encouragement.  Lots of foreboding here.

After so many months at Central, the landing port at Bestmartin seemed tiny.

Has it really been only seven months since I was here, thought Raven.

Raven walked down the arrivals ramp with her old backpack over her shoulder.  The feeling was definitely different.  Six months ago she had set foot on her first alien planet with almost no money to go home and no real prospects.  Now she was returning to the ‘scene of the crime’ as an honored guest.

Glancing out the windows, the sky was a deep blue.  Just the weather for a nice long walk to Iskandar Bestmartin.  When she got to the baggage claim, Raven frowned.

Iskandar Bestmartin sent five people to greet her.  Four humaniforms, and a Lumbor.  Raven recognized the slightly bovine features of the lumbor but had never yet met one.  Lumbors were slightly less intelligent than other races, but their great strength usually relegated them to manual labor.  Surprisingly the lumbors didn’t seem to mind.  You found many of them around spaceports and other places where large amounts of material were moved.  Generally they were not put in management positions because of pedantic tendencies and lack of decision-making ability.  They made great finance people.

The odd thing about this lumbor was that he was in a suit.

Of the humaniforms, three were male and the fourth was a dark female.  The female had whitened her face and was wearing a short leather jacket.  This was the uniform of Raven’s Raiders.

They’re everywhere, was the thought that drifted through her mind, but she recognized her.

“Greetings, Raven,”  began the Lumbor, shaking her hand in both of his.  “I’m Kelsori, the director of the Bestmartin facility.  It is great to finally meet you.”

“Thank you for having me down,” she replied.  “It seems like an eternity since I’ve been here.”

“You are our most famous alumni,” he continued.

Raven burst out laughing.  The lumbor looked surprised.

“I’m not so sure I can be called an ‘alumni’,” she laughed.  “I spent less than an hour here.  I’m not so sure about the time but Josie would probably know better than me.”

She indicated the dark girl in whiteface.  Josie broke out in a big smile.

“If I remember correctly, Raven,” she smiled.  “It was about 25 minutes.  I remember running toward to lobby to wish you luck and not only were you already gone and so was transport.”

“It took me an hour to walk from here to Iskandar and the transport took all of ten seconds on the way back,” laughed Raven.  She walked up and gave Josie a hug.

“And you’re a raider,” she commented.  Out of the corner of her eye, she noticed that Kelsori was not entirely comfortable with what was going on.

“All the way.  It took a while for there to be a local down here, but I joined right away.”

Raven turned toward the other three.  They were obviously earth-type and dressed in ‘business’ casual.  A lot better than the lumbor.

“And you guys are?”

“Darin Jackson, manager of communications.”

“Hojo Zennisore, chairman of training staff.”

“Zeph Samolian, chief tech,” said the shortest one. “And, uh, we have already collected your baggage.”

“And we have transport waiting.”

“And we have an itinerary and schedule,” added the lumbor, waving a paper.

“Let me see that,” she said, taking it out of his hand.  She carefully turned it sideways and ripped it in half, then put the two pieces together and ripped it again.  She did this four times and put the stack of pieces back in Kelsori’s hand.

The lumbor stared at the pile in his hand and began to seemingly bark.  Raven raised her eyebrows.

“He’s laughing!” laughed Josie.

“Shit man, I’ve never seen him laugh!”

Raven didn’t catch who made that comment.  The lumbor continued laughing as he neatly deposited the pieces of paper into the trash.

“Thank you, Raven,” he bowed.  “Your schedule is my schedule.”

Just the fact that they had five people here to greet her and herd her around grated on Raven.  She reflected that she’d never felt like this before.

Does it have something to do with what I planned?  Thought Raven.

“Okay, next question:  Why are all of you here?”  she began.  “I can figure out Josie, but what about the rest of you?”

For several seconds all that was heard was the ambient sounds of the spaceport.

“For my part,” began Hojo.  “I’m just thrilled that you’ve come down here to talk to the students.  Well, I’m also honored to meet you.  Come to think of it, if you had spent any longer than a half-hour here, I’d be learning from you.”

“Good answer,” smiled Raven.  “Taking it a step further, what do you guys think I expected when I came down here?”

You can almost smell the thinking, thought Raven.

Zeph started laughing.

“I get it,” he said.  “You expected the same situation as when you first came here!  Dare I say that you weren’t pampered that time and don’t want it now.”

Raven smiled and gave Zeph a high-five.

“At least some of you are thinking,” Raven quipped.  She turned and looked at the lumbor, who appeared to shrink into himself.

“Well, this probably wasn’t fair to you guys,” She started.  “So, since you have my luggage, why don’t you take transport and I’m going to walk.  Meet you in about an hour.”

“Heather and I will meet you in the lobby,” said Josie.

Raven smiled and nodded her head.  She shouldered her backpack and began her walk toward the Bestmartin facility.

I wonder what idiot put a lumbor in charge, she thought.