Thursday, April 5, 2018

Collision The Battle for Darracia Michael Phillip Cash - Chapter 1 Excerpt

The Battle for Darracia

Michael Phillip Cash 
Book 2
Chapter 1 Excerpt
Available on Bargain Booksy April 6, 2018:

Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, 24 Symbols, Angus & Robertson - Link:

Chapter 1

     The shores of Fon Reni were fine black sand dotted with purple sea glass that littered the barren beach. Stars lettered the velvet sky, here and there a shooting cosmic spray spread across the inky darkness, illuminating the still night. It was quiet here, the distant planet devoid of life, save the lonely inhabitants who lived on the beach, footprints washed away by the icy seas.
     He had constructed a crude hut for his guest using the fronds on the leafy trees that populated the jungles. Zayden slept under the night stars, enjoying the peaceful freedom of the beach. Living on what he hunted, he reveled in the quiet of Fon Reni, knowing it was far from Darracia, his troubles, and the memories. He was tired, exhausted by grief, angry with his lack of solution.
     Staf Nuen had disappeared. It was as though he had never existed. Zayden had spent almost a year
tracking him, coming up with nothing but dead ends. He had traveled from one end of the solar system to the other, living by his wits, surviving hand to mouth, always just missing him. He must have gotten close, because he was jumped outside a graphen den on the planet Venturian. He woke up, disoriented, shamefaced, with his newfound friend, Denita, and with a colorful tattoo on his biceps. He watched the ripples rise from the dark sand, the heat sucking the air from his lungs. It was as hot as a furnace. He wore just his trousers, naked from the waist up, so he could see the stupid tattoo taking up most of his shoulder. The bruises on his torso had faded a bit, but his face still looked as battered as an old suitcase. Sweat evaporated as soon as it appeared, and he let the hot air roast him. He heard the foliage rustle behind him, made a face, then laughed softly at the curse he heard muttered behind the screen of the dense brush.
     There were fourteen planets in his solar system, Darracia being his native one. He had left it in search of his uncle Staf Nuen, who had killed his father, King Drakko, leaving his legitimate half brother Vsair the reigning king. Vsair pleaded with him to stay as his advisor, Zayden remembered, rubbing the still raw scar that bisected his once handsome face. The new king had appointed him grand mestor, Zayden thought with chagrin. Imagine that, the bastard of King Drakko was offered the highest position in the land.
     He drew aimlessly in the dark sand with a broken stick. He didnt want it. He didnt want any part of it until he could bring Staf Nuen to justice. It was because of his uncles overthrow that his beloved Hilde was slain, killed by her psychotic brother when she protected Zayden from a death blow of a Fireblade. Clenching his hands into useless fists, he relived the last moments of her life.
     The empty socket where his amber eye used to be throbbed as though a thousand pickaxes were stabbing it. Pressing deeply with his palms, he covered his eyes, trying to blot out the images imprinted on his brain.
     Blood, blood, and more blood, coupled with Hildes dying gasp as she collapsed into his arms, a sword robbing him of his future with the only woman he ever felt he could love.
He glanced at his discarded Fireblade, thrown negligently on the sandy ground. He hadnt used it since that day, preferring the heavy pistol strapped to the side of his leg. Darracians disdained guns.
     Swords were for warriors, guns for cowards, he had been taught. His people valued the skill one developed with a blade, never respecting those beings who just aimed and fired. Guns were illegal at home, the punishment fierce if one was caught with such a firearm. His father had taught him it was dishonorable; if a warrior fought in combat, he must be engaged with his opponent, feel the heat of battle. Guns made warfare impersonal; there was no honor to kill without knowing the skill of your enemy. It showed lack of respect for the ideals of battle. That was why only a small part of the population knew how to fight with the Firebladeit kept violence at a
minimum. Darracian warriors were taught to uphold justice, never kill for personal gain, and until his uncle had tried to overthrow the government, Darracia had been a relatively mild place to live. He had picked up the gun on the lawless space station, Pagil 7, far from the rules of Darracia.
     After Vsair had rocked the foundation of the beliefs about the Fireblade, Zayden didnt want it anymore. It seemed that Darracians had gotten it all wrong. Chanters from all over his former home were meeting, trying to make sense out of the Sradda Doctrines. There were forums and debates; all the schools were rereading and trying to find new ways to interpret the messages of the Elements.
     Well, he didnt give a crap about all that religious stuff. His faith died when Hilde perished. He didnt know why he hadnt jettisoned the Fireblade from his portal as he traveled through deep space.
     He shrugged his broad shoulders, thinking perhaps because it was presented to him by his late father when he achieved his highest honors, and he was a sentimental fool,
after all. He felt naked without it. He eyed his sword with resentment. Denita should never have taken it from the thug who tried to kill him. She should have left both him and the Fireblade to rot on the filthy streets of Venturian. Zayden sighed gustily. So here he sat, on the desolate beach of Fon Reni, reliving his nightmare and waiting for a sign. A signal for him to find Staf Nuen and kill him with his bare hands.
     He watched the progress of the silver crabs as they clawed their way up the dark sand of the beach. The tiny feet worked in unison, scrabbling through dense patches of seaweed. There were hundreds of them. He tapped his stick thoughtfully. Well, he wouldnt have to work very hard for their dinner tonight. Pushing himself onto his feet, he stretched widely, feeling his cramped muscles expand and his bones crack. His head still ached where hed been beaten, and his ribs reminded him they werent all that healed after all. He grabbed a rush basket and then began to pluck the crabs from the ground until his container was a swirling mass of nervous creatures trying to escape. He placed them over the fire he had built earlier in an old helmet he used as a pot. Soon, he heard the crackle and hiss of their bursting shells, their color changing to an appetizing light green. He thought to call out that dinner was ready, but shrugged instead, plopping down on the sand to eat alone. Thats how he wanted to eat, by himself. His guest was nothing more than an encumbrance. He sneered at the dense forest behind him. Carefully, he pulled a cooked crab out of his makeshift pot, singeing his fingers, catching the green juice of the dripping crustacean with his tongue.
     The fire warmed him against the stiff ocean breeze, and memories of camping trips with his father and Vsair came rushing back like a tidal wave. They had stayed here, the three of them, on this very beach. Vsair was so young, his royal braid barely touching his shoulder. No servants were allowed, and though his fathers elite guards hovered in the sky above, they spent a sun-filled week on Fon  Reni that became a yearly ritual. They returned Vsair, to his mothers horror, a lovely shade of brown, his light- tannish blue skin burned and toughened by the strong rays of both suns. It was a special spot for Zayden. Here he was just Drakkos son and Vsairs older brother, not the illegitimate offspring of the king and his laundress.
     He had loved his father, as well as his royal younger brother, despite the differences in their stations, even though it appeared that he was the only one troubled by it. He was older by a good fifteen years, and he didnt begrudge his younger sibling his inheritance; however, sometimes he admitted to himself that he felt invisible. It was funny, he mused, Vsair envied Zaydens Darracian strength, and he valued what Vsair took most for granted, his assured place in Darracian hierarchy. Oh, Vsair always treated him with respect, had offered him the position of grand mestor, but Zayden knew what the others felt. He was seen as an interloper, barely tolerated despite the fact that he was one of the armys fiercest warriors.
     He constantly pushed himself to be faster with his Fireblade, the hardest rider when it came to his stallius, as well as the best jolter in the tournaments. He lived by his warriors creed, happy to make his father proud. He enjoyed showing them all his royal placement was earned with dedication and hard work. But somehow the dynamics of the Fireblade had changed now. It was not about brute strength and chivalry, so where did it leave him? He reached over to grab his sword and heard it hum to life, great red streaks lighting with energy. He knew now it was the wrong color. It was the shade of anger, not strength. Once, it had been the true blue of justice and a force to be reckoned with. His had always been the blue of a pure heart, even though he never realized what it meant. Now it blazed red, like his enemys. The Fireblade was about something else now, and he didnt have the patience to try and understand. He was too tired. Angry and tired.
     He threw the shells of his crab onto a neat pile, sucking the meat from the tiny claws. He should eat all of them, he thought with a mean chuckle. She missed the crabs nightly progress; Denita never learned. He eyed the last few crabs and groaned. Last time she had walked in the shallow waters she had cut her foot. No, it wasnt worth ithed have to nurse her again, and hear her complaints. She could be an ornery pain in the ass. Better leave her enough to satisfy her hunger. He tried to remember Hildes soft laughter, and Denitas velvet voice smothered the ladylike sound. Instead he pulled a frayed, black ribbon from a pouch and held it to his nose. Her scent was gone. Just like Hilde. Gone, forever. None of that mattered now, anyway. The one he wanted more than life was taken from him this last year, killed by the hand of her brother, Pacuto. Zayden could not rest until he brought her traitorous father to justice.
     The four moons lit the beach, bathing him in their glow. He watched phosphorus mengles dance under the waves, their multicolored poison glowing iridescently under the swirling sea. Swimming was out of the question. One sting from their tails and he would sink to the bottom of the water never to be seen again. He drank deeply from a flask, swallowing the burn of the liquor, his eye never leaving the horizon of the endless ocean. Then what would his guest do, he thought contemptuously. He needed this complication the way one needed a headache. She would do nothing but slow him down, and although they had a common hatred for Staf Nuen, Zayden parked himself here hoping shed lose interest. Denita had howled with outrage when he landed, screaming for him to proceed to Planta and find his uncle. He didnt need her or anyone else. He didnt want her or anyone else, for that matter.
     He eyed the circular mark on his upper bicep. It didnt hurt anymore, and he supposed Reminda would know someone who could get rid of it. As much as he hated it, he thought hed keep it now. It was just another scar, like his ruined face, marked on this journey for revenge. Taking a faded patch from his pocket, he covered the empty place where his eye used to be. A comet streaked across the sky. He searched his memory for its name and came up with nothing. Due to his flight patterns, he knew every celestial event in the sky. Hearing about this one must have escaped him. He watched its progress, its feathered tail stretched out for miles, curving toward the west. Comets always meant something. Emmicus, his old tutor, always said that. Something was going to happen, he thought, wiping the back of his hand against his mouth. The salt and sand burned against his lips. Yes, he scanned the stygian sky, something was coming, he just wasnt sure of when or what. 

Available on Bargain Booksy April 6, 2018:

Amazon - Link:

Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, 24 Symbols, Angus & Robertson - Link:

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