Friday, February 1, 2013

Excerpt from James Wymore's Theocracide

Are you guys ready to finally read the promised excerpt from James Wymore's Theocracide? I'm ready to read it again! Which is why I am going to waste very little time in getting to it. I am only going to remind you that you can win your very own copy by entering Curiosity Quills' Photo Contest for Theocracide and that you can purchase the book on Barnes & Noble and Amazon (I'll remind you of the links for purchase again at the end when I am certain you will be ready to buy your copy!).

And now, without further jibber-jabber from me, get your first taste of Theocracide.

Willing his feet to remain silent, Jason Hunt concentrated on the ground as he weaved between the outstretched claws of the trees. The lens on his computer helped him see despite the heavy blackness of night. He deliberately lifted each foot higher to avoid rocks and roots, which looked deceptively flat on the computer projection screen wrapped around his face like glasses. He controlled each breath so the tiniest sounds would not give away his position to the people hunting him.

Ahead he recognized the welcoming gesture of a large tree with wide branches. Nimbly he slipped around, quietly leaning his heavy pack against it and pressing in so it would support his weight and let him rest.

Risking his own safety for a moment, he quickly checked on each of his companions. They were all running from the foes, too. He knew he couldn’t help them now, but resting here, he just wanted some reassurance they weren’t dead yet. He ignored the desire to talk to them and hear their voices. It would be suicide to speak aloud now. The men chasing them were in the army of the Undying Emperor. They would not hesitate for an instant.

Jason winked his left eye, engaging the user interface of the computer. Then the computer tracked his eye movements as he raised the sensitivity of his microphone to maximum. The speakers inside each earpiece of his glasses began to hum as Jason strained to detect the faintest sound within thirty feet. Hearing none, he lowered the volume and then pulled the glasses off the front of his nose so they hung below his chin. Nobody ever did this; removing the computer.

He stared into the dark sky, waiting patiently for his eyes to adjust to the near total darkness. Only a tiny sliver of a moon illuminated the forest tonight. Enough brownish smog filled the air to block out any star light. The pollution filtered the crescent line of light behind many layers of brick red silk. Jason’s father always said something about the moon having turned to blood, but Jason didn’t know what that meant. Right now, he had to exploit the small advantage. His pursuer would never remove the computer.

Eventually his eyes could distinguish the dark gray trees from the black air. So he quietly peered around the edge of the trunk serving as his fortress and scanned the woods. Patiently he traced the ground and every silhouette; searching for any abnormality. His heart leaped when he spotted the steel toe of a black combat boot poking out from a tree trunk about forty feet away. The computer would never recognize it as anything more than a rock.

Jason pushed his glasses back into place, staying well hidden so the light from them would not give his position away. The projected light temporarily night blinded him. He ignored the blur from tears as he blinked up his computer screen and selected the tree. Immediately a dim red glow highlighted the tree among all those around him. Then he returned to the main program. He would be able to find this tree easily from any angle.

A predatory smile cracked Jason’s face. He loved the moment where the game turns; the hunted became the hunter. He knew his quarry—the highest-ranking R.O.T.C. cadet in the university. In another year’s time, he and his team would be fighting and most likely dying in the service of the Undying Emperor. Therefore, he took this game very serious. For him, this game amounted to more training.

For Jason, this game represented freedom. If he didn’t have a scholarship, he would have paid to play. His father had been training him all his life, but Jason never appreciated the value of the training until he started playing tag.

Whenever two undefeated teams played against each other the stress of the game escalated. Adrenaline pushed them to the breaking point. Whoever won would go on to represent the University against other teams at the state level.

Jason pitied his opponent as he silently slid a mock-grenade out of his pack. Memorizing the location of the trees and the path, he squeezed the grenade. It wouldn’t really explode, of course. It would just send out a scrambling signal which all the computers they wore would register as an explosion if they were nearby. Light and noise would fill their senses. Gauging the distance carefully, Jason tossed the grenade in a wide arc. Before it hit the ground, he jumped out and started running behind it.

He clasped his hands together with one forefinger pointing forward and the other curled as if around an imaginary trigger. The computer, recognizing the virtual gun, pulled up red crosshairs to indicate the target if Jason were to fire. In a real war, their backpacks would have large guns mounted on electrical motors, which automatically followed the crosshairs.

The enemy peaked out when he heard Jason’s footsteps. He took a wild shot before he saw the grenade and reversed to dive the other direction. Jason pulled his glasses down on his nose and peered over a small line above the top rim. As expected, white dots and rumbling noise filled the screen for a few seconds. It temporarily blinded his opponent who started shooting wildly in every direction hoping for a random hit.

Jason carefully leaned around the tree. Estimating where the cross would land he pulled an imaginary trigger. His computer showed the image of a bullet hitting exactly where the crosshairs indicated.

“No!” The young man’s voice roared in anger. His glasses flashed red; indicating his death in the game. “You would have killed yourself with that grenade, too!”

“This isn’t a war,” Jason said with his slightly higher but much more composed voice. “This is a game; different strategies.”

Jason Hunt pocketed the used grenade and quickly stalked away from his victim. He heard cries of cheating fade as he carefully blended back into to the wood. Jason smiled because the noise covered the sound of him quickly climbing two limbs up into a great ash tree.

Time for another tactic nobody else ever used. His father taught him to do the unexpected. Exploit the expectation of common actions in those who never do anything extraordinary. People didn’t climb trees any more. Most people didn’t leave their houses for months on end. Fewer had the physical strength or manual dexterity required to climb a tree.

Jason leaned back into a perfect saddle and clasped his hands again to pull up the crosshairs. The defeated cadet still ranted. Predictably, his temper tantrum drew two of his team members. In the deep night, the faint glow of the computer glasses they viewed the world through made an easy target. The glow radiated like a tiny lighthouse beacon. The fourth member of their team must have been defeated already. Jason grinned as he lined the shot up on the furthest enemy and fired. One second later, his glasses showed two people flashing red.

“What?” The newest camouflage clad arrival said in confusion. “I’m dead!”

The last young man in the clearing tried to jump for cover. The moment his body hit the ground, his glasses began flashing red, too.

Jason jumped down from the tree quickly. He wanted to preserve as many of his tactics from becoming public knowledge as possible. Even though his night vision glasses flashed a green boarder around the forest scene, indicating victory, he moved back into the woods and started making his way around the grouping of defeated foes.

Having accepted defeat, they began searching the forest for their enemies. Jason froze and pretended to be hiding on a rock behind a cluster of quaking aspens. He celebrated choosing this park when he randomly won the right to select the battlefield. Most of the people in the game had not set foot in a real forest before. Therefore, it gave them a big advantage.

One of the opponents spotted him and pointed him out to the others. Jason waved, but he didn’t move closer. A flashing black arrow on the screen he viewed the world through indicated the direction everybody should go so both teams could meet before starting another game or ending the session. Jason waited. He didn’t want to be alone with the three opponents. In a few minutes, the rest of his team emerged. Then he stepped out and walked over to meet the group.

“That shouldn’t count as a win,” the opposing captain barked. “That would never happen in a real war.”

Jason’s team ignored the indignant grunt. They had each scanned the stats for the game and saw Jason scored three hits. Once again, he was the hero.

“So awesome!” said the shortest member of the team. Despite his clumsiness, they kept him on the team for his contagious enthusiasm. The only member of Jason’s team “killed” today, he first took one of their enemies out. An exceptional personal victory like that made him cheer. “The snow cats are undefeated!”

“It’s not a win,” the cadet persisted. His team stood in line behind him now, refusing to concede. Obviously, they all wore the same military uniform and enormous egos would not let them admit defeat. “You can’t run up on your own grenade without dying.”

Jason put his hand out to stop his short comrade before he said something to turn this into a fight. Like Jason, his team dressed from head to foot in black. Jason said, “Dead men don’t call out to their team, revealing the position of their enemies either.”

“That’s not…” the cadet stopped short. His team would not hesitate to back his hypocrisy, but the realization of it took some of the fire from his heart.

“We’ll play again if you want,” Jason said. “But if we beat you next time, you have to concede two wins.”

“And we get to be the team who puts Regiment 21 out of the varsity championships,” added another of Jason’s group. It would mean a great deal more humiliation than losing once to an undefeated team.

“No deal,” the cadet said. Since he did all the talking, Jason assumed he was a higher rank than the rest of his team. The others hung on his words, as if waiting for the signal to attack.

The last member of Jason’s team took a turn. “Then we have no choice but to submit the video to the judges and let them decide if your claim is valid.”

Jason winked his left eye. He quickly called up a video feed of the cadet raving about unfairness while he accidentally lured his out to become easy targets. He used his hand to touch imaginary controls in space. He cut the segment and pasted it into a file. Then he sent it out so all the players in the gathering could watch it simultaneously.

The cadet’s posture slumped. He finally realized he had brought about the demise of his entire team. Without a word he winked his controls up and touched the imaginary concede button in the air. “This is not over,” he growled. “One way or another, it’s not over.”

Jason’s team cheered and laughed while the neo-military group turned and marched away. Jason regretted making an enemy. In his heart, he hoped this would teach the cadets no strategy good enough to keep you alive in war. Signing up to serve in the military of the Undying Emperor amounted to suicide. Something told him these cadets had gone too far to question it now.

“We’re going to state!” crowed the smallest team member. They all clapped each other on the back and began talking at once.

Suddenly the reverie quieted with the return of the opposing captain. His hands, posed as a gun, pointed straight at Jason’s heart. His manic face snarled beneath a real swivel mounted machine gun.

One of the snow cats tried to step forward and speak, but the wild-eyed soldier quickly shifted his aim. Instantly the electric servomotors repositioned the gun so it pointed straight at his heart. Then he snapped his hand and the gun above him back toward Jason. Jason’s team, hands in the air, stepped back instinctively from the insane captor.

He said evenly, “It’s not just a game.”

Keep reading…



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