All, thank you for the support. Things have been progressing well... here is chapter 2.
And apologies for previous email the ’r’ on my keyboard was stuck! Written not witten!
6 MONTHS EARLIER
Freyne Evening News
The Boys are Back!
The Court Stewart confirmed today that King Teodor of Freyne is on his way back to the Imperial Court. And he’s only 3 months late! Was Teodor a prisoner on Zarac? Was he mistreated? Brainwashed? Who knows? All we know is that Teodor is not returning to court alone and for those of you ladies who have yet to make up your mind, here is the Freyne Evening News cut out and keep guide to Teodor and his three companions.
Boy King: Teo’, Teodor of Freyne.
Age: 15. Hair: Brown with gold flecks. Eyes: Blue with silver flecks.
King of six planets, inherited wealth in ore and gas, transport and trade, Teodor (Teo’ to his closest friends, est. wealth $100 billion) might be a great catch for some lucky princess or baroness, but the Freyne Evening News notes he shows more interest in his racing cats than the stable girls who care for them; and despite him being next in line to the Imperial throne, all we see is a plump little choir boy, who just happens to have his own army.
Verdict: Power and money: 7/10
Boy Killer: Guy Erma, Prince of Recrimea
Age: 15. Hair: Black with curls. Eyes: Black with steel.
Ex-orphan, ex-model, Guy grabbed Teodor from the clutches of crazy old Chart Segat and his rogue Battle Borgs when Teo’ was kidnapped last spring and as a reward got himself a title and a princely estate on Recrimea (recent valuation $390k). But we think the only title he needs is the one he earnt with his spinning blades. Guy Erma is also the Dome Elite Junior Blades Champion.
Verdict: Sex appeal and a killer: 9/10
Handsome Boy: Seb’. Sebastian Riffaut
Age: 18. Hair Brown with Gold Flecks. Eyes, Blue with blue flecks.
We all know and love Seb! He is are all time favourite superstar look-a-like model from Fashion and Jewellery giant mega-company The Riffaut. He too had a hand in helping Teodor escape kidnap last year and was offered the prestigious post as the personal butler to the King. His father, The Riffaut (37, single), has no other recognised children, so gorgeous Seb stands to inherit the entire fashion fortune worth an estimated £100million. He told our reporter he was looking to catching up with some girlfriends and boyfriends too no doubt, hey naughty boy Seb? And rumour has it, this season he has a brand new look! So here at the Freyne Evening News, we can’t wait to see him. We love you Seb!
Verdict: Looks and Money: 10/10
Quiet Boy: Des Parks
Age: 18. Hair: Black. Eyes: Black
Des Parks is a captain of the Dome Elite but otherwise a dark-eyed, dark-haired man of mystery and King Teodor’s bodyguard. Not much is known about Des except he has won the title Dome Elite Senior blades champion for the past three years. Rumour has it he is a favourite of the ladies from Old Mill Lane, but it is only a rumour. Our readers can be sure the Freyne Evening News will be closely following Des to bring you some verifiable gossip and preferably a video.
Verdict: Mystery man in Uniform: 8/10
.BTW Guy Erma and the Son of Empire - the first book in this series is free this weekend - download it here:
All, thank you for the support. Things have been progressing well... I have rewitten the first two opening chapters.
Please take a look:
1. First Contact
Sas Darona, Fifty miles from Masalbarde, Equatorial zone.
“I can see…” he paused as he checked, then finished relieved: “Only three of them.”
Captain Guy Erma stood on the roof of the black and gold military truck to get a better view over the uneven grassland that stretched to the distant dark wood. He had orders to take three troops to scout ahead, but not this far ahead. I knew I shouldn’t have come this far. Now I’m facing a semi-mythical tribe and the main body of Dome Elite is, at least, three hours behind. If this encounter did not go well, it will be all my fault.
“Are they really coming in that fast?”
“That’s what the scanners show,” Des Parks was standing next to a 3D light projection of their position and the incoming advance of mounted tribesmen, with vectors showing their speed and forecasting First Contact. Des was also a captain, but he was not in command, Tilson had sent him along to ‘keep the rookies led by the wildcat out of trouble.’ Guy had heard him say so and knew by wildcat they meant himself and two of his three squads were mere Juniors not fully fledged Dome Elite. What would happen to Des when the commander heard about this?
“Four minutes, Guy,” Des said pointing to the ground at their feet and spoke in abbreviated battle speech for emphasis: “Here! They’ll be here in three minutes fifty. Plan? We need a plan.”
Guy hesitated. What next? He had to decide. All eighteen lives depended on his next command.
“We could run for it.” Des counselled. “Stay ahead of them, choke them on our dust.”
“You forget,” Guy said calmly. “This is what we are looking for. The mythical YunGard of the Sas Darona.”
“Spider Riders.” Des replied with mock trepidation, but there was a catch in his voice. In the distance, they were looking at three of the largest spiders imaginable and a single rider sat high above where the spider’s head met its abdomen. They were figures of legend, for how could men tame and ride such blood sucking monsters?
“The only question is whether he’s with them,” Guy said, but in his heart, he was thinking. The only question actually is whether we survive this. Commander Tilson knew the tribe was not that distant, he had warned Guy against any heroics. What was I thinking? Now I face unknown tribal warriors with a handful of boy fighters.
The young men and women of the Dome Elite quickly passed out the light-weight shields, with their bikes and trucks were parked as per regulation in a semi-circle, the shield wall closing them into a small fortress. As the shields snapped into place, so individuals ran to grab personal protection, securing helmets and test comms, all of which they had discarded in the heat. Their helmets became a line of black globes along the top of the steel protection.
“Steady,” Guy said then over the comms channel. “Steady everyone! Remember, this is what we have been looking for.”
“Blades up?” Des suggested.
Guy shut the visor of his helmet, switched on his comms and clipped his protective clothing closed. “I want two snipers on top of the trucks and two bike guns prepped and ready. Everyone else hunker down, keep your eyes open - but hold steady. These are not our enemies. Yet.”
Stood at the centre, Guy and Des no longer needed binoculars to watch as the three spider riders kept on coming. “Blades up. Wait on my command!”
“In range.” A voice called out. Mysteriously, the riders seemed to have come to the same conclusion. The lead black spider now circled round the two others and the rider waved them back a short distance. As Guy took bearings with his helmet target finder, he realised they were at the very limit of what was considered an accurate shot. Still if he gave the order, the Dome Elite bikes would let loose a line of fire so dense so fast, neither riders nor spiders would survive even at this distance. Yet as with all Dome Elite Guy loathed projectile munitions, if it came to a kill he preferred a bright sharp blade and a single fast throw. So why had the Spider Riders stopped? Did the Spiders Riders know the range of Dome Elite weapons? Well perhaps. If HE was with them, he would know. Of course, he would. Guy felt his breath accelerate as the excitement took hold. It might be him - after all this time - He might be just there, within view of their targeting sights, within hailing distance even.
“Let’s just look, I want to see you,” he said softly to himself.
With his binoculars, he had a clear view. The three giant spiders each had a single rider. Each rider was clad from head to toe in lightweight cream linens, with boots buckled up their legs and gloves strapped up their arms. They wore vast cloaks over veiled and masked faces these were the many layers of protection required by a tribe who survived in the plague infested equatorial zone. Across their backs, they wore holsters for weapons: bows, spears and blades. But were they hunters or warriors? Guy wondered. This tribe was unknown even to the Zaracans who made the few maps of Sas Darona. This was a genuine first contact. How would it end?
Guy took a breath and focused on the spiders. They had long rough yet silky fur that covered their head, abdomen and legs. Each spider had five front facing eyes above broad jaws and the blade-sharp stingers with its poisons. Guy had spoken to biologists who had studied the carcases of these beasts - they estimated the spiders could concoct, at least, five different poisons from the drowsy to the lethal but no-one knew for sure whether the spiders hunted men. No live spider had ever been captured, yet these tribesmen rode them like they were beasts of burden: ‘No, that was not right,’ Guy corrected himself: ‘These spiders were not mere stock animals they were fine stallion racers and they knew it.’ The bounce in their step, the arrogant shake of their heads and front claws. These guys knew they were gorgeous as well as fearsome.
‘There are only three of them,’ Guy reminded himself and eighteen of us. ‘Just now there are only three, where were the rest?’ He paused to look carefully. The lead rider rode a huge jet-black spider. All at once he leapt up our of the saddle to stand, one foot wedged between the horns that crowned the back of the spiders head. His balance looked precarious, for the spider was still moving, yet he was standing with one leg pointing skywards, with one arm low to balance and high above his head at the end of an outstretched arm, he brandished a spear. A gasp rippled through the line of Dome Elite as they recognised an elite fighter now they saw him.
“Guy? Plan?” Des prompted. Des could be right, thought Guy, the spear might be a threat.
“Send out the drones!” Even as he spoke a cloud of mini-drones was aloft. Finished in black enamel and gold, the drones were modelled on stinging insects, only larger. One might sit comfortably in the palm of your hand and yet you would not want to touch it least you interfere with one of many cameras or scanners it carried. “Can we get some identification?”
Within moments the drones closed the distance, the 3D display showed multiple shots of the hooded and seemingly veiled riders. Guy watched impatiently as the drones swarmed around. The riders angrily batted the small machines aside. ‘Don’t do that he thought angrily,’ he needed a clear image.
“Identification impossible.” The robotic voice was generated by the military display. “Incoming men unknown. Providing further physical characteristics. The lead spider is 4.2 metres long and 3.7m high, or, at least, that’s where the rider is.”
“That is one huge spider,” Des said quietly.
“Teodor used to ride Gorans that were four metres long,” Guy said firmly. “Those giant cats look scary, but they were actually quite tame.” Des nodded but said nothing. The black spider was cautiously moving forward again.
The display showed shots of the tribesmen’s weapons while with a robotic voice continued to recite the details: “Lead rider, three spears monazite tipped, forty-two arrows also monazite, long bow, double blades gold and steel, ruby and pearl detail.” ‘Rubies and pearl!’ Guy gasped. ‘It had to be!’ “Bow and spear are usable weapons.”
“Define: Usable weapons.” Guy queried.
“At recent United Races South Systems first round elimination games, spears were thrown on average 332m.” The voice from the display said. “Enemy riders are 300m away.”
“United Races what? Those were highly trained athletes,” Guy muttered and looked again and saw something had changed; the spear the lead rider was waving had a white cloth attached to it. He pulled down his visor to magnify the view. Surrender? Parley? Was the white flag known to these tribesmen? Or could it be? A Freyne prince and king would know the significance of a white flag. In want of anything else - would he use such a simple signal?
Guy froze. The tribesman had leapt atop his spider and using its abdomen as a launching pad, had run three steps before letting loose the spear with the rag attached to it. The small flag acted as a drag sending the spear into an erratic spiral as it sped towards them.
“Second squad! Duck!” Guy yelled.
Even as he spoke, the spear cleared the protection wall. Instantly the six squad members disappeared from sight, but then they leapt up, three looking out, three looking back to where the spear had landed a short distance from Guy.
“You have to give the command to open fire!” Des hissed exasperated.
“No look!” Guy replied in desperation. “It’s a sign!”
“Stay back, Guy!” Des warned.
Guy shook his head. With a quick glance to see the rider was back in his seat, Guy strode to the spear and stretched out the white cloth across his fingers. It had an embroidered edge of red and silver thread which frayed at one corner where there were overlapping embossed initials.
Guy thoughtfully rubbed the embroidered letters between finger and thumb T F. He turned to Des and said:
“Call back to the main body. Tell them we have found him. Tell them he is alive.”
All, thank you for the support. Things have been progressing well...
Check it out - the third draft of Spider Riders printed out today!
This is me! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fqDStj7tGeU
I am spending the weekend, polishing off my mss... This is a gorgeous retreat... Any guesses where I am.
Just a quick update, I am on a writer’s retreat this weekend. Will keep you posted with pictures. Anyone like to guess where I am?
All, thank you for the support. Things have been progressing well...
I am often asked where I get my inspiration... well here goes.
Here’s one of my favourite pictures of jumping spiders, who can jump 40 times higher than they are wide.
And here are some pictures of spiders webs the size of two football pitches;
Please buy a copy of Spiders Riders to find out more, and recommend to your friends.
All, thank you for the support. Things have been progressing well...Please pre-order Spider Riders!