Books, Books and More Books!!

Books, Books and More Books!!
Publications from Taki Drake

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

UnFamiliar Pathways Snippet 04

Here is the other Sunday Snippet that I forgot to post! Sorry about that, but was very busy writing. This snippet is from the next book in the Familiar Magic series, UnFamiliar Pathways. I plan on publishing this book sometime in the next few weeks, but I wanted to give you some idea of how it was shaping up!

Remember that this is unedited!
----------------------FAMM UFP Snippet 04 ----------------------------
Numbly, the men wandered around the pitted streets, unable to take in the enormity of the disaster that had occurred. Blackened timbers and crushed walls defaced every building that was even partially standing. The smell of old smoke clogged their nostrils and made them choke on the contaminated air they were forced to breathe.

At one point, a plume of ash had risen in the air, and the entire group of men had charged over in the hope that someone or something was still alive. Smashing their way through the debris that had fallen over the doorway, they arrived wide-eyed and adrenaline-powered only to find that a weakened beam had finally collapsed, raising a small cloud of the fine ash that filled the room.

One of the men had tripped, catching himself against the carcass of what had been a cabinet. Looking down to see what he had stepped on, the man collapsed to his knees sobbing as he tried to gather the bones of the small skeleton that he had disturbed. Two of his teammates helped him to rise, their own faces riven with grief.

The three of them carried their tiny burden out into the shattered square with the contaminated fountain. There the mercenaries laid the remains of another one of their friends and family at the end of the heartbreaking line of corpses and skeletons.

Motioning the men to join him by one of the vehicles they had used to return home, Peotr Tesorov rubbed his face fiercely, as if he could scrub his own tear tracks from not only his skin but his soul. Looking around at the twenty shocked and grieving faces of his men, the Mercenary Witch Commander said, “There is no sign of conventional weapons being used in the destruction of Brasilov. As far as we can tell, the carnage here was done with magic.”

“At least your father, Mayor Nikolai, fought back. The half-melted grenade launcher was fused to his bones. Most of the others were helpless,” growled Boris, Peotr’s second-in-command.

“Rolan and I found this close by the group of skeletons in the desecrated church,” offered Kasimir in an angry, deadened tone. His hand noticeably shaking, the ordinarily phlegmatic mercenary handed Peotr an object wrapped in shielding cloth. The commander raised his eyebrows at the atypical treatment but trusting his men, he laid the bundled item down and carefully unwrapped it, using the tip of his dagger.

As the last layer of concealment slid off the item, Peotr drew back suddenly with a horrified expression on his face and his gasp ripping a biting line through his chest. Staring as if he could not believe what he was seeing, the man cried out, “Blood Mages! No wonder the village had no protection, no way to fight back. My father may have deliberately fought so that they had to kill him. At least, they did not get to torture him to death.”

Boris crowded in and covered the malevolent-looking amulet once again. His eyes met Peotr’s and their gaze clung for a moment as a conversation only possible between old friends occurred. Taking a deep breath, the commander turned to his men and said, “It is possible that moving the amulet has notified the Blood Mages that we are here. We need to do what we can for the remains of our loved ones. Unfortunately, we also need to leave as soon as possible. There is no point in adding to the power that they derived from the pain and suffering the Blood Mages caused here.”
------------------End FAMM UFP Snippet 04 -------------------------

Monday, February 24, 2020

Social Combat Snippet 02!

Here is another snippet from the next book in the Unfettered Mage series, Social Combat. Remember that this is unedited!!

The book is coming along well and we expect to publish next week!

----------------------------TUFM SC Snippet 02 ---------------------------------

Twisting and turning, the stingship attempted to cut through the trough among the buildings of the city, using the civilian infrastructure as a shield as it fled to the North. Undeterred, one of the assault shuttles peeled off in pursuit while the other one slid over on the far side of the two armored vehicles that were preventing forward movement along the street.

The remaining shuttle dropped down to less than a hundred feet above the ground, maintaining a position a hundred yards to the east of the hostile armored cars. The people in the room with Ruth were cheering as long slender ropes or cables slipped down from both sides of the shuttle, and the figures of AMF Marines in full battle armor slid rapidly down to the ground.

Quickly forming up into fire teams, a Marine with a broad portable barricade shield was walking point while behind him came two other Marines. One of each of the pairs held a heavy mobile energy weapon, while the other carried one of the new projectile weapons that Ruth had purchased for her forces.

As soon its mobile units were dropped, the shuttle rose up higher in the air and brought its forward weapons into play.

Someone in the crowd yelled, “Those idiots do not even know that anyone is there! Apparently, their pilot does not know how to use a radio.”

Ruth looked at the display, trying to see what they were talking about and finally realized that the enemies that had been advancing from either side of the street toward her trapped men had no warning of what was about to happen. A vicious snarl appeared on the Mage’s face as she hoped the next few moments would show some payback.

Just then, the AMF assault shuttle fired its forward weapons. To Ruth’s surprise, the shuttle pilot targeted the center of the jointed transport that was blocking the rear Borachland vehicle. Dazzling in intense colors of gold and red, the hungry beams lashed out, carving huge holes in the massive armored conveyance that the hijackers had brought to bear. Fires surged up in reflective fury, as the armor fractured and melted.

The splash of the energy incinerated the closest attackers. These had been repeatedly firing into the rear of the pinned transport. The speed of their disappearance was almost more than Ruth could comprehend. One second there were eight men firing weapons that were chewing through the back of the Borachland vehicle, and the next, there were only ashes blowing in the wind.

------------------------End TUFM SC Snippet 02 ---------------------------------

Sunday, February 16, 2020

The Next Book in the Familiar Magic Series is Unfamiliar Pathways !

Snippet Sunday!
The book is coming along, with TT and Jack on a mission. Here is a snippet to remind you of the story! Please remember that this is unedited!

--------------- FAMM Snippet 03 -----------------------
“I worry too,” said Zhanna to her grandmother, “I know that you have tried to see how those we had to leave behind are doing. Have you had any success? Do you know anything that has happened?”

“Nothing yet. My scrying into that world is getting better, but it’s still very fragmented. I’m afraid that part of my difficulty is the terror that I have in my heart for our old world.”

“I wish there were something I could do, but Star Child Grace was very clear. I cannot go back.”

Zhanna’s Baba reached a comforting hand over to clasp her granddaughter’s wrist. Opening her mouth to say something, a sudden flash of light changed the color of the Seer’s eyes and her expression altered.

The voice that emerged from the old woman’s mouth was different than the smooth and warm tones that Zhanna loved. Instead, a harder, harsher sound came out, “Beware the changes. They are coming for the good and the evil. Sadness rides their coattails while destruction becomes protection. Love and sacrifice fuel their energy, fearful in its power. You will see arrivals and departures in the days ahead. Take each as if it were your loved ones’ last moment, for they tread an unfamiliar pathway. One that you cannot travel with them.”

Zhanna gasped in shock, the words hitting her like blows. A split second later, the light disappeared from Baba’s eyes, and the old woman’s unconscious form pitched forward toward the table. Shedding her chair with a force that sent it clattering to the ground behind her, Zhanna caught her grandmother in her arms.
Instantly, Dascha and several of the Hidden Folk were in the room, providing extra support and asking excited questions. Dascha pushed the hardest, demanding across their bond, << What happened? Who was talking? >>

<< Baba had a vision and a Power spoke through her. >>

<< Oh, that doesn’t sound good. >>

<< Later. We need to talk about it later. >>

After a very short time, Zhanna’s Baba roused enough for her granddaughter and the other helpers to get her into bed. The exhausted Seer was so tired that she fell asleep before Zhanna could even kiss her goodnight. Worried, Zhanna looked down at the woman she loved more than any other person in the world and noticed how frail she was.

“Don’t worry, we will stay with Baba,” said Noma.

“Thank you. Please let me know if you need anything or if something more happens!”

Feeling a fog of concerns and worries following her like a starving dog, Zhanna left her grandmother tucked in the bed, watched by Noma and another one of the Hidden Folk. Guilt and a desire to help fought with the knowledge that she didn’t have to do everything herself.

In this case, knowledge won, but Zhanna was unable to shrug off the feeling of impending disaster. Joining her, Dascha remarked, << I am very worried about that prophecy and TT. It has all the stink of someone interfering in our lives. >>

<< Again. >>

<< Yes, again. >>
----------------------- end Snippet 01 FAMM ----------------------

The Next Book in the Unfettered Mage is Social Combat!

Snippet Sunday! 

Here is a snippet from it! Remember, it is unedited and may be different when the story is published!
-------------- TUFM Snippet 01 SC -----------------------
The ForceX Bar was having its own Founders’ Day celebration. There were so many people that the building was unable to hold all of them, and tables had been set up outside in the street along the entire block. As was traditional, this day was one when had many roadways in Arkken Port were entirely or partially closed off, and almost every tavern and bar in the entire port took advantage of that.

This was the most popular of the planet-wide celebrations. Typically, the weather was good, and everyone could wander in and out of the buildings without being concerned about too much heat or the dangers of snow and ice. This day was no exception to that expectation.

To celebrate the freedom that the weather had most graciously granted them, the bar’s doors were all propped open so that people in a convivial mood could swirl in and out, talking to different groups of friends without having to juggle their drinking glasses and door handles.

According to Luka, the head bartender, they had planned for double the number of usual customers. The bouncers pegged it roughly closer to ten times the number of people stopping in to chat with each other and staying to drink and eat. Ruth and Pawlik had wondered about the press of people, but when Pawlik pointed out that there were a large number of demobbed Space Force people in the crowd, Ruth understood immediately.

Luckily, Luka had laid on far more food and drink than they currently had customers, although some of the Mage’s security team had noticed that no less than three fast supply runs had already been made.

Bending over to make a comment to Ruth, Margot murmured, “I know that word of the shooting competition has gotten around. It is very seldom that a competition of this sort can be held where everybody can see. Considering how many mercenaries and former Navy spacers we have in the crowd, let alone talking about all the Marines, there are a lot of people here that want to evaluate some of the announced contestants.”

Ruth laughed, murmuring back, “I assume you are talking about how many people want to see you shoot!”

“No, there is such an interesting mix of people that have entered the competition that I have heard that there are even people coming from off-planet to watch. We have noblemen, mercenaries, former Marines, and even people that design weapons for a living.”

“I do not think Pawlik has heard about all the unexpected attendees. I wonder what he would say if he knew?” mused Ruth in a thoughtful voice. Suddenly smiling a gleeful, broad grin, she added, “I do not believe we should tell him. It can be a surprise.”

Exchanging glances, the Mage and the cohead of her personal security detail both wore gloating expressions. Margot fought back laughter as she added, “After all, you are sponsoring a very unusual take on a shooting competition. Not only are you providing a winning purse for the top three ranked people, but anyone entered into the contest will have a chance to fire some of the newest guns from Victin’s company.”

“It is the least we could do, after all the help that Victin has given us. Besides which, I want to make sure that his company gets all the good press that it can.”

Margot quirked her right eyebrow at her liege Lady, saying severely, “You are not fooling anyone. Otherwise, you would not also be demonstrating some of the latest toys that Hiroko Mishi has built for us. That is just going to make some of the people die of envy.”

Ruth smiled transformed into something a lot sadder and somehow harder before she said, “That was the best way I have of warning people in general that they should not be attacking us. Between the weapons and armor, I am hoping that the message gets passed around.”
Suddenly thoughtful, the two women went back to observing the crowd in silence.

A whirring sound and the parting of the crowd heralded the advance of Alan Culhane, the man that Ruth and Pawlik had picked to head up their nascent intelligence and military strategy group. Although paralyzed from the waist down, the vigorous looking man was a real force to be reckoned with and every Marine that Arkken had respected the man tremendously.

“Hi, Alan, have you decided if you are going to enter the contest or not?” asked Ruth.

“I am having problems deciding. Typically, officers do not engage in competition with the troops. It is not a good thing either way. On one side, you could win and make the people who are on the sharp end every day look bad. The other way, someone beats you, and you look less capable. It does not seem to me that there is any way that entering the competition could be beneficial for me to show off my shooting skills.”

Ruth’s voice was a little sharp as she answered, “I do not agree with you. Showing that you are competent will communicate that you have reasonable expectations when you send your troops into something where they have to fire a weapon. If you are less then perfect, it teaches them a valuable lesson that no matter how much experience you have or how good you think you are, there is always somebody who might be better.”

Alan stared at the Mage wordlessly for a few seconds. Ruth was not sure what he was looking for, but his intense stare into her eyes felt like he was trying to pull information out of the depths of her soul. Sliding into an internal calm space, the Mage waited for his response.

“My Lady Mage,” Alan said formally, “I believe that you are right.”

The hover chair pivoted as sharply as the Marine commander that Alan used to be had ever done, before moving toward the sign-up table outside.

Ruth and Margot looked at each other as identical grins grew and broadened on their faces.
-------------- End TUFM Snippet 01 SC -----------------------