Friday, March 19, 2010


Greetings, fellow Bearers!

March madness is well underway for those who follow NCAA, but I've got my own kind of  "March madness" going on here.  The drive is on for me to finish The Summoning of Old Velt: The Second Descent into the Vein, and in that spirit I'd like to present the prologue to you in its entirety here.  This hasn't been given a thorough editing yet, so keep in mind that the finished product might look a little different than what's posted here.  Check it out and tell me what you think!

See you in the Vein!

J. Dean

The Summoning of Old Velt, Prologue

The four of them were situated at the corners of the small table, hunched forward, staring intently at it in the glow of a dingy green lamp which hung overhead, swinging precariously from a cord fastened to the apex of the tent. Three of the men were dressed in deep black battle clothing: heavy, durable shirts and pants which fitted comfortably to their bodies, overlaid with separated sections of equally black metal plating. Around their waists were wrapped utility belts, upon which were fastened various devices and tools, none of which were being employed at this time. Three pairs of mud-encrusted midnight boots on their feet completed their uniforms. Their helmets had been set in a corner of the tent, seen as little more than bulbous, spherical shapes clumsily stacked upon each other.

The fourth man did not share their choice of wardrobe. Atop his head stood a rather tall deep blue top hat, with a brim that curved upward on the sides. The shade of the hat turned out to be a precise match for his choice of dress-a uniform sporting multiple colored pins of various geometrical shapes and sizes which ran nicely in two vertical columns upon the left breast of his jacket, while the right breast sported a scarlet design that bore resemblance to an abstract interpretation of some kind of flying creature. On the top front section of his sleeves ran four gold stripes that cut diagonally away from his shoulders. Encircled around his waist was a black utility belt like those of his companions, although his carried only three encased items. Below him, his pants, a solid blue as well, flowed down to a pair of boots not unlike those of his three companions, save for the lack of a clinging mess of filth to mask any of the ebony shine.

Without a word, in a moment that seemed to hang in the air as long as the stretch of silence, they focused their attention solely on the object that had been set on the table in front of them, as if they were expecting it to perform some sort of supernatural trick before their very eyes. But the perfectly rounded, deep blue sphere did no such thing, instead blankly staring back at them with a faint hint of their own reflections. No strange movement, no strange sounds, no lights, nothing; it simply lay upon the table, as inert as it could be.

A distant double thump of thunderous impact ended the silence.

"So," spoke up the blue-dressed man, adjusting a pair of wire-rimmed spectacles which sat upon his nose. "This is it?"

"Yes, sir." Replied the the man to his left, a fellow with little hair remaining on his scalp. "As ordered by Home Command."

Blue-dressed man gave a nod, his hand leaving his spectacles and momentarily stroking the whisker covered upper lip and chin. "You said you lost twelve men in the process?"

"The enemy hit us hard, sir." Balding-man replied. "Two platoons and a Drifter escort came in fast and hard. We were forced to retreat."

"I understand." Blue-dressed man replied. His eyes looked up at the three men sitting across from him. "Never easy to lose good soldiers."

"No, sir, it's not." The icy voice came from the man directly across from him, possessing a head full of curly black hair and dark eyes, holding a chiseled scowl on his face.

"Something on your mind, soldier?"

"Permission to speak bluntly, Commander?"

Blue-dressed man nodded his head, the top hat slightly tilting forward.

Curly-haired man pressed his lips together impatiently before beginning. "Sir, I don't like the idea of losing lives over superstitious fables."

"Mind your tongue in the presence of the Commander, Footman!" snapped the third fellow, who looked a great deal older than any of the other three men, with a head capped with thick, white hair, and a craggy, creviced face.

"No, it's alright." Blue-dressed man held his hand up, gently waving off the defensive posture taken by white-hair man. "I can't say that I fully blame him for feeling that way." He looked hard at the man across from him. "You're not a religious man, are you, Footman Navar?"

"I can't say that I am, sir. Not really."

"Wanna know something? I am a religious man, a very religious one, and I fully relate to how you feel." Blue-dressed man broke into a generous smile. "I'm a disciple of Foun-Lyot. I firmly believe in Lyot and the Prophet-Scribes, but I also believe that wars are won with more than just leaps of faith. So you're not alone in feeling that way."

Navar's face broke into a humbled grin. "Thank you, sir, for letting me speak my mind. Not all of the Front Line Officers are willing to hear us like you are."

"You're quite welcome, and thank you for speaking up," smiled the Commander, leaning back in his chair with a satisfied, mustache-covered smile. "But back to the issue at hand; fable or not, H.C. wants this brought back as soon as possible, and we've got reports coming in that a North Bloc battalion-probably the same one that sent in the platoon you've engaged-is coming this way. We'll need to pull up and fall back; we don't have the soldiers or equipment to establish a serious front here-not yet, at least."

"Will we be re-locating to reinforce one of the other fronts, Sir?" Asked white-hair man.

"I don't know, Prat. More than likely, yes, but right now H.C.’s all fixated on bringing this thing back first and foremost. This little ball here is all that matters. To be frank with all of you, I almost got the impression that the rest of us were expendable." He glanced at bald-man. "You didn't happen to find instructions on how to use this thing as well, did you, Drave?"

Drave-the bald-man-gave a modest chuckle. The other two smiled. Outside, another report of thunder cracked through the air, this time accompanied by a distant glow of white.

As the other three turned to look at the illumination, the flap to the tent opened. A man dressed in the black battle armor of his fellow footmen burst in. "Commander Velt! Incoming Enemy!"

The four of them stood up, Velt's hand absent-mindedly snatching the small sphere from the table. "Troop make-up?"

"Scout report says at least three footmen platoons, with mobile blast Rovers and two Drifters."

Velt locked eyes with Drave. "Signal a defensive retreat. How many cannon mounts do you have set up."

"Two up here, and two in the valley."

An unintelligible utterance that came off in a less than pleasant tone spat from Velt's mouth. "That's not enough. Not if they've got Drifters coming in with those rovers." He looked at the others. "This won't be pretty, gentlemen."


The tent sat upon a flat clearing of hard packed dirt, which sloped gently in all directions save for one side, which abruptly dropped into a winding valley. Down in that valley, made visible by jostling portable lamps revealing shadowed movements, were the scrambling bodies of soldiers, clad in their black armor, picking up items that lay on the sandy floor of the valley, barking orders and confirmations, forming up in orderly arrangements-most, in preparation for departure, but some climbed the valley bank opposite the tent and prostrated themselves upon the ground, fidgeting with equipment in their hands. Two of the soldiers hoisted themselves into deep C-shaped seats seated atop tripod bases, above which were positioned the long, straight barrels of their heavy weapons.

Velt and the other three emerged from the tent, which sported two more of the same weapon turrets on either side. The Commander quickly reaching for one of the items upon black belt that encircled his waist: a cylindrical object. "Where are your transports?" he asked with irritation.

"Sent up the valley for a supply run." Prat replied, helmet coming down upon the woolly white cap. "We weren't sure how long we'd be here."

The Commander frowned as Drave spoke up "They've been contacted for return, sir. Should be here within the hour."

Velt pulled on the ends of the cylinder, which responded by elongating. He brought one end up to his open eye, and peered through while thumbing a small stud on the cylinder's reflective side. Through the lens, the view shifted from vague darkness into a sudden explosion of color, with various shades of blue defining distant hills, trees, and other pieces of landscape. Amidst the tranquil blue came a swarm of frantic bipedal red forms, accompanied by larger, box-shaped shapes that smoothly plodded forward. He thumbed a second stud on the telescope, which superimposed a series of green numbers at the top of the enhanced view. The numbers steadily dwindled in value.

"They're gonna be cutting it close, aren't they?" Navar asked nervously.

Velt tilted his head back, bringing the telescope skyward. "It's not the ground troops that we need to be concerned about. If they've got Drifters, we're going to have a hard time with-there!!"

The Commander's free left hand snapped his finger upward in the direction that he had been looking through the telescope, which had revealed a massive red shape in the air-an oblique spheroid of red, under which was tethered a smaller rectangular structure.

"The Drifters?" Prat asked.

"One of them, at least. Get those cannons prepped; the transports will need cover fire."

Navar and Drave did so, hopping into their seats, their hands activating monitors located dead center on their control panels.

"Sir," called Navar. "It's out of range. Our cannons can't hit it."

Before Velt could speak, Prat answered for him. "I believe the Commander is more interested in using the cannons for countermeasures than he is for knocking the Drifters out of commission." He turned to his top-hat wearing superior. "Am I right, sir?"

"Quite right, Lead Footman. Com those two turrets down in the valley for firing coordination. Your primary concern is nullifying the firepower from that Drifter."

"What about Lobbers from the Rovers?"

"We've still got a little time before they get in range. A Drifter's Corkscrew can do a whole lot more damage to us than half a dozen Lobbers. Contact your heavy gunners down there. Have them set up their blasters for suppression fire. When it becomes absolutely necessary, we'll redirect the cannons to add support."

The cannon mounts came to life with movement, both by the tent and in the valley, as the machines obeyed the console commands of their operators. The turrets adjusted accordingly, swiveling freely in vertical and horizontal arcs. Near the valley cannon tripods, several dark figures could be seen maneuvering long-barreled weapons into position.

"Still a negative visual on the second Drifter, Commander." Drave called out. "Scout report could be wrong on that."

"I doubt it, Footman. Drifters rarely travel alone. That second one is out here somewhere; might be out of range, or still on the ground, but you can bet that it'll turn up soon. Keep an eye out for it."

Through the tar-draped sky, a point of white light punctured through the black, briefly illuminating the silhouette of the Drifter behind it in a lightning-like flash, followed by a sweeping rumble that rolled past the soldiers. Velt could feel the rattle of his back teeth, tingling his mouth. Drave filled the air with the words which had already come to the Commander's mind.

"Incoming! Corkscrew!"

The light in the sky grew rapidly in size, its appearance indicating a spiraling motion as it decreased the distance and altitude between it and the targeted evacuators below.

"Burn it, gentlemen." Velt ordered sharply.

"Open fire!" Prat called out.

The cannons let loose, hurling elongated pulses of bright red energy toward the approaching projectile, the initial shots falling far short of the target, exploding in bright orange and crimson spheres. More pulses were hurled, more misses. The Corkscrew continued its path, now within range, and passing through the blasts which defiantly continued to fly upward, cutting through the night air. Velt could hear the cannon operators speaking to each other, picking up the distorted voices of the operators in the valley which came through the modest-sized speakers, and saw the big guns which effortlessly adjusted their positions, all the while repeatedly releasing their molten energy projectiles into the air with an audible throom! that accompanied each shot.

Two of the shots-from the valley cannons, Velt guessed, although he wasn't completely sure on that-found their mark, colliding with the menacing white weapon. The result was a sudden flash of white, a brief glimpse of an expanding, blinding ball, radiating from where contact had come. The light cast upon the terrain below projected a brief daylight-like image upon the back of Velt's eye, followed by an annoying ocean of blurred green, occluding his vision with a blotch which was slow and reluctant to recede.

Somebody in one of the cannon mounts let out a triumphant whoop. Velt couldn't help but smile at that.

From a distant point on the ground ahead, a green bolt left the earth, leaving behind it a faint, glowing contrail which traced its path.

"What are they doing?" Prat asked. "They're not close enough to hit us with the Lobbers yet."

The Commander continued to watch the green bolt, following its arc with his eyes, watching as it slowed in the air, then fell, increasing in its size and brightness. The Lobber crashed into the ground with a thunderous explosion, spitting flame and smoke from the point of impact.

"I don't think it was meant primarily as a targeted attack." Drave remarked, "They're clearing a path for their foot soldiers."

"I think you're right." Velt added. "Contact the heavy gunners. Let 'em burn."

"Heavy Squad Two!" Prat barked into his console. "Lay down suppression fire at will!"

The gunners obeyed. White hot bubbles launched from half a dozen weapons, not nearly as impressive in size or power as the cannons, but effective in their own way, dashing through the air just above ground level, and finishing their flight in a deadly flash.

"Keep those gun cycle rates under forty percent." Velt added, raising his telescope. "Dead charge packs don't help our cause." Prat forwarded the order.

"Commander," Navar spoke "We're not hitting anything."

"We don't have to, son. We're not trying to win a battle; just buy time for evacuation. All we want to do is keep them off our backs until we can get clear."

"Visual on the transports." came a warbled voice over the com system.

Velt turned his head toward his right. A pair of bobbing yellowish lights could be seen heading in their direction. Ahead, two more green Lobbers began their ascent into the air. Another Corkscrew lit up the sky. The cannons hastily sent out their crimson pulses to meet it.

"Get those troops moving to meet the transports! Adjust the suppression zone to a crescent-twenty formation!"

Prat relayed Velt's words. Below, the gunners no longer fired directly ahead in unison; the footmen on the ends had adjusted their line of fire outward ten degrees on either side. widening their field of effectiveness. Another bright blast filled the sky as the second Corkscrew detonated prematurely, being struck by the defensive blasts of the cannons.

"That Drifter's staying out of range!" Drave called out.

"We've kept it from getting a Corkscrew in here. That's all that matters!" Prat answered.

Velt gave an unconscious nod. But where is that other Drifter?

The Lobbers collided with earth, this time much closer to the camp.

"Enemy soldiers are in range of the gunners now." Drave said.

"Divert those valley cannons to supporting the gunners." Velt ordered. "But be ready to redirect quickly in case that Drifter lets loose again."

"Yes, sir."

Three more Lobbers launched, now accompanied by a series of silver needles that stabbed through the air. "Looks like we're in their rifle range as well." Navar scowled.

"Troops are loading up on the transports now." came a voice on the com.

"Redirect all cannon fire to suppression. Order the heavy gunners to get out of here."

"Heavy Squad Two, defensive evacuation to transports! Repeat: defensive evacuation to transports!"

The white bubbles decreased in firing frequency, changing in their points of origin. The dark forms of the burly men who had been working those weapons rapidly stood, picking up their massive guns and starting down the valley, toward the four pairs of now stationary headlights, returning fire as they went. Velt watched them go, still amazed at the size and strength of the men in that unit: easily moving and carrying a heavy rifle that probably weighed more than half as much as Velt himself weighed. These fellows could move them, toss them, throw them over their shoulders as if there was nothing to it. Intimidating to watch, but comforting to know that these same men were on his side in a fight-and they were as accurate with their aim as they were strong with their arms.

The Lobbers landed in range of the camp. Pandemonium landed with them.


It was the third Lobber that caused the most damage. The first two had dropped early-still close enough to be wary of, but not inflicting any serious damage, sending a mildly concussive wave through the air that thumped angrily against Velt's chest, making him stumble a bit, but leaving him otherwise unharmed. But the third one found its mark, planting itself squarely between the valley cannons, knocking both over, and leaving behind dead machines and their equally lifeless operators. The heavy gun squad dropped to the valley floor in disarray, the men feebly attempting to get themselves back up in order to continue their retreat. They had moved away far enough to avoid lethal damage from the Lobber, but the force of the explosion had been enough to knock them off their feet.

It had been enough to do the same to Old Velt as well. On his hands and knees, he looked upward, seeing the shadowy forms of the advancing enemy crawl across the land, still letting loose with their weapons, sending silver streaks of death in his direction.

Over the com, the generic footman's voice came again. "Transports one and two are fully loaded and away."

The Commander looked at the three footmen who had remained with him. "Get to the transports! Get moving when you're aboard, with or without me!"


"I said with or without me, no exceptions! Get moving! Now!"

Prat, Drave, and Navar did as they were told. Velt ran back to the tent, now having to move more erratically-the small arms fire was now cutting through the air around him, and a well placed shot would end up killing him. He snatched up a rifle laying in the corner of the tent; then, after taking a brief and frantic look around to make sure nothing vital remained, pushed through the tent opening, patting the sphere in his pocket for reassurance that it had not been left behind.

Out he stepped, beginning to plod after the others, who had begun the descent down the side of the hill. A dropping flash of green, followed by a large explosion, stopped him. The Lobber had created a crater of considerable size in the ground, cutting Velt off from the others, who had been shaken, but had also advanced far enough away to avoid becoming serious casualties. They picked themselves up from the forced fall, and slipped into the valley, toward the lone remaining transport. Velt rose shakily from the earth and let out a curse, immediately backing away from the immense hole, unconsciously retrieving his top hat, which had come off during his fall.

A white pinwheel appeared in the sky above him. A Corkscrew.

The second Drifter.

It had plotted a wide circle around them, and had come up from behind. Now it was almost on top of them, and let loose its deadly weapon.

"Clever move," Velt softly said aloud to nobody. Even now, as the weapon came bearing down upon him, and any chance of escape was essentially nonexistent, he had to internally tip his hat to the strategic planning of his enemy. How long had they planned to sneak attack with this Drifter? A day before they moved in? Two days? Drifters were slow vehicles, which was why they were used primarily at night. During the day, they would make for easy, large targets. But at night, they could quietly sweep in, under cover of darkness, and easily position themselves within range of their devastatingly powerful payload, and launch their Corkscrews, easily decimating targets as large as a modest size city-or as small as a temporary platoon camp.

Just like this one did. And it had begun its course long before Velt's intelligence scouts had reported that an attack was coming, which meant that this Drifter above him-this one which would kill him-had taken an extremely out-of-the-way path in order to get here. A risky thing to do, especially in this area, which wasn't that far away from the front lines of the war. But it paid off for them.

Like I said, clever move.

The ground below him glowed from the brilliance of the approaching projectile. He took a fast look at the transports-They were leaving. Good-and then stared bravely into the face of the thing plunging through the air, dropping straight toward him. This would be it. His career, his life-all over in a few seconds. Strangely, he did not seem to be afraid. Perhaps it was because he knew that something like this might happen to him one day. Or maybe it was because he was too mentally preoccupied with the safety of his men that the idea of fright for himself didn't have an opportunity to cross his mind. In either case, the finality of all of this did not alarm him; he had been good in following the Path of Discipline given by Lyot. He had suffered, as Lyot had suffered. He had been charitable, as Lyot had been charitable. He had let go of self, as Lyot had let go of self. And now he would be One with All, as Lyot had become one upon his deathbed.

It was probably better this way. No wife or children to leave behind, no feeling of regret at not being able to say goodbye to them for the last time, or to anyone else for that matter. Mother and Father had died at the outset of this war, while Old Velt had still been young and innocent. As for Jolly Cohle, he'd be fine. Velt's uncle who had reared him was safe and secure, back in the heart of the South Bloc. It was just as well; Jolly Uncle Cohle was too old to be of any use to the war now, and even in his youth, his service amounted to little more than functioning as a cook during his five years of enlistment, back before the war had become as volatile as it was at present. He had done his job shaping the young Velt into the mature Talusibat he was now, and had functioned as a good substitute for his parents, albeit one who could be very distant at times, both emotionally and physically. When Velt had become old enough to go out on his own, choosing military service, Jolly Uncle Cohl gave him a handshake, a credit slip worth a thousand parrs, and a brisk "Take care, Velt." That had been it: not an unfriendly gesture, but not exactly the warmest expression that could have been given, either.

And not the worst of turnouts; after all, it had been Velt's experience with his uncle that in part had spurred him on to find out about Foun-Lyot. He had his uncle to thank for that.

Unconsciously, his hand reached once more into the pocket, wrapping itself around the strange sphere they had found. Velt chided himself slightly; he should have made sure that one of the others had taken the sphere in order to get it back to H.C. No matter now; they wouldn't get it. But then again, neither would the North Bloc. That brought a little comfort to him.

Lyot bless me...

He shut his eyes, squeezing the hard object as the Corkscrew smashed furiously into the camp...


From the window of the last departing transport, Navar, Prat, and Drave, along with several other black-clad soldiers, watched through the window as the camp area became devoured by the Corkscrew's detonation. A mushroom of cloud and energy erupted, engulfing the hill, sending a visible wave outward. The wave crashed into the transport, rattling the vehicle and its passengers, and for a terrifying moment, Drave thought that the force would be enough to kill all of them. But the shock subsided. They looked back out the rear window, and saw nothing but a cloud of ash and smoke where the hill and camp had been. The hill no longer existed.

Drave looked sadly at the others, who could see each other only by hints of small green light panels in the otherwise dim troop compartment of the transport. Prat shook his head, then maneuvered himself toward the front, where a driver and passenger were seated, making calculations and communicating with the other drivers.

"Open a channel to H.C." Prat murmured. "Send this message: Acquired object destroyed during engagement with North Bloc battalion. At this time, a full casualty assessment is incomplete. But... Commander Velt is presumed dead."

The driver and passenger looked at each other. The passenger gave a solemn bob of his head.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A new short story and a disclaimer to go along with it....

Greetings, Bearers!

Once again, I come to you with some good news:  I have finished and published another short story on Smashwords, entitled "Nick."  Considering that I've gotten over sixty hits on it in about two days, and all of that with very little advertising, I'm pretty happy!  Makes me feel pretty important-either that, or people are pretty desperate to read something free ;)  (I'm kidding... I appreciate those of you who like my free stuff as well.  It's fun to write, although it's not my main focus).

Now, I need to put up a disclaimer about "Nick," because of how it's categorized. When I set up the settings for the story on Smashwords, I clicked on the option "My book contains adult content."  But this is NOT-I repeat, NOT-because this story is erotica.  It does have reference to an affair, but I set this up so that it would be done tastefully and still convey the understanding of what the protagonist did in the story.  Just to let you know up front, I don't like writing erotica-at all.  Call me a prude or whatever, but I prefer implied reference over explicit explanation.  Erotica to me distracts from the story, and as far as I'm concerned, cheapens it.  I realize that not everybody shares my opinion on this matter, nor am I demanding it of anybody else, but it's a point I'm not changing my mind on.

Why I DID categorize it as having adult content is because the story has an element of gruesomeness to it that's not found in my other stories.  Overall I'm not too fond of gory elements.  If you give me a choice between a story that emphasizes scary vs. a story that emphasizes splatter effect, I'll take the scary movie anytime.  However, I will use gore if it fits the story, and there's a bit of it in "Nick", enough to describe what's going on, so if you're a super-squeamish person, this one might not be for you.

So enjoy the short story, and I'll be back tomorrow with a little bit of a treat for you.

See you in the Vein!

J. Dean   

Monday, March 8, 2010

Special offer this week only!!!!

Greetings, fellow Bearers!

Actually, this particular blog is addressed more toward those of you who have not yet purchased The Summoning of Clade Josso, but rather have come across my site through one of my short stories or poems.

In taking advantage of the promotion to read an Ebook this week, The Summoning of Clade Josso will be offered this week only for 50 cents if you use the promo code below. Check it out, and if you like it, pass it on!!
Promo code: RAE50

A young man arrives in a place forgotten by history on a quest to save his family, and learns that his mission is part of something bigger than he had ever imagined. Aided by mysterious strangers, and pursued by monsters and malevolent enemies, he must acquire his goal-a treasure sought by Seven Beings from Seven different Worlds, but can only be used by One.

“Good characters, good plot, very entertaining. I can't wait for the next the one! My only complaint is that the second book isn't out yet!!
“I'm not real big on fantasy/sci-fi, but thought I'd give this book a try. …VERY well written and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it! J. Dean does an awesome job of describing the action, environment, and beings in the book... Can't wait for the next one!”
“Clade Josso is not my type of book. I generally am not a huge fan of fantasy books but I gave this one a try after the author posted here. For whatever reason, the book has grabbed me and I plowed through the first half yesterday. Imaginative action and interesting commentary on politics and religion are tucked into the writing. FAR better writing than I expect from a first time indie author.”

So again, check it out, and enjoy!  Old Velt is nearly done, and will be soon edited and placed onsite for you to enjoy!

See you in the Vein!

J. Dean