Skip to content

Tag: fiction

Augmented, Super Slow-Motion Battle

Time of Faith (Book One) part 002: An epic science fiction/fantasy adventure

The tendons of Kerr’s fingers tightened. Hands tightened into fists. They felt heavy—ready to bludgeon.

His weight shifted forward. He was ready to launch forward. His legs were springs screaming for release.

The suit performed a rapid emergency system check, flashing words too quick to read on Kerr’s LENS. One by one, his muscles tensed and relaxed. Calves. Quads. Biceps. Back. Shoulders. Stomach. Chest. Each burned with potential energy.

Kerr’s nostrils constricted and his lips pressed together. Thousands of microscopic oxites tumbled into his bloodstream. Kerr no longer felt the need to breathe.

Drugs began to trickle into his brain. Endorphins began to fire. Switches began to flip. He felt good. He felt unstoppable.

Kerr’s universe exploded.

Time stopped as a flurry of activity hijacked his mind.

Everything was brighter. Crisper. Louder.

Kerr could almost taste every passing moment. It was time to move, Move, MOVE!

Braun held a frozen smile, teeth parted. He was saying something, but Kerr couldn’t wait.

His peripheral vision absorbed the position of everything around him. They surrounded him. Braun ahead. Blanc right. Neither with gun drawn.

His real problem was Murphy and Johansson. Both had their guns trained on him. Johansson almost had a look of glee on his face. He seemed eager to get off a few shots.

These were trained soldiers. His movements would bring an instant response. Even with time “stopped” he could attack one, but not both.

He could do a lot of damage wearing the suit, but he wasn’t a soldier. The suit was bulletproof, but bullets would still knock him around. How long until somebody got a headshot?

Enough thought, it was time to act.

Kerr launched toward Braun in a blur of motion. He grabbed Braun by the shoulders and spun him around to be a shield. His trained soldiers held their fire. They ran toward him in slow-motion.

Kerr’s kicked up with his knee, burying deep in Braun’s stomach.

Another message from the suit flashed on his LENS.

INCOMING...

Kerr’s eyes widened. A dark shape was coming from the right. It was Hendrikson. He rocketed toward Kerr with a combat knife in his hands. He was fast! Everyone appeared to be moving through water, but not Hendrikson.

Kerr realized with horror that he was up against an enhanced soldier.

Kerr fell sideways, repositioning Braun before Hendrikson slammed into him. The knife swung wide, trying to strike behind the colonel. Kerr continued to roll, pulling both Braun and now Hendrikson with him. As he landed, he planted both feet on Braun and kicked.

Thank you, judo lessons!

His legs fired like pistons, launching Braun and Hendrikson into the air.

Kerr planted his palms and pushed off. Twisting like a cat, he landed ready for his next maneuver.

The suit augmented his movements. That wasn’t one of his judo lessons.

Johansson rolled onto the ground, getting into a better firing position. Murphy was lifting his gun to get a lock. Major Blanc pivoting her gun.

Kerr smiled. He wouldn’t be in the same place by the time they could fire.

Braun and Hendrikson tumbled through the air. Hendrikson wasn’t wasting the motion. Using Braun, he swung around to face Kerr. His mouth curled in a dark smile. The knife was gone. A gun was in its’ place. Kerr locked eyes with him. Hendrikson winked and squeezed the trigger. The gun erupted flames.

He watched as a bullet drilled through the air.

Without realizing what was happening, he had done a small forward roll. Three bullets hit the ground where he had been moments before. He twisted, getting his legs under him.

Using the ground as a springboard, he launched himself forward in a run. He spotted his silver briefcase out of the corner of his eye. He scooped it up as he ran.

Another short burst of bullets belched behind him. Kerr risked a look back as he ran. Colonel Braun crumpled against a concrete pillar.

Hendrikson hit the pillar with both feet, bent his legs, and pushed away like a coiled snake. He hit the ground running. His gun continued to erupt fire.

Johansson and Blanc began firing their weapons but they were firing at the spot where Kerr had been. Now he was a running machine. An inferno of energy coursed through his legs.

Clouds of dust surrounded him as bullets chewed up the floor. He kept his head low. He could feel bullets impacting back and legs, but he ignored the pressure.

He dodged right, rounding a concrete pillar, and kept running. For a split second, the bullets no longer found him.

He had gained and lost the element of surprise. A team of trained soldiers were pursuing him. It was laughable to think he could escape. What was his end game?

Kerr dashed left and right. Bullets shadowed his every step.

He ducked behind another pillar but the bullets kept coming. Hendrikson was now running parallel to Kerr.

He dove into another forward roll. As he moved, he twisted his body to face the opposite direction. His feet braced, stopping his forward momentum. His hands launched him off the ground and he pulled himself forward like a monkey—feet over hands. Springing up, he was running again.

Hendrikson cursed as he stopped his sprint and changed direction, tripping and skidding.

Tears streamed from Kerr’s squinting eyes as he flew forward. His path was taking him toward the other soldiers. He ducked into a skid and shifted directions again. Ahead of him, Kerr could see a light—the light of the Portal.

He ran toward the light.

The ground around him came to life again. A flurry of pebbles and dust shadowed his every move. A shot struck the back of Kerr’s leg with enough force to make him miss a step. He stumbled forward, almost falling. The suit righted his steps before the final tumble, letting him race ahead once more.

The Portal was now in full sight.

There was nothing but white light through the Portal. Kerr skidded to a halt. It was no longer connected to the Time Dock. Who knew where it would lead?

The bullets behind him ceased. Hendrikson had him trapped.

“Game’s over, hero,” he chuckled. His gun smoked. It was no longer pointed at Kerr. There was no point, “There was nowhere to go, anyway. The only way you’re getting a cure for that virus is going back home. It’s either ‘join us’ or die.” He shrugged. “Your choice”

Only three steps.

That was the distance between Kerr and the Portal. Inside the opening was nothingness—swirling white lights and squirming fog. No one knew what it was like. No one had ever returned.

Kerr began running.

One foot down. One foot up.

“Stop!” yelled Henderikson.

Kerr ignored him. One foot down. One foot up. He grimaced. Last foot down. Last foot up.

Kerr plunged into the Portal and the whiteness swallowed him whole.

Professor Kerr Visits 1993

Time of Faith 001: an epic new science fiction & fantasy adventure.

The world split open.

Kerr’s gut turned. He tried holding his breath, but didn’t help. He hoped he could keep his breakfast down.

The crack in the air before him puckered and stretched like it was giving birth. Air roared from the hole. Light poured out, making Kerr squint. The LENS on his eyes adjusted by applying a brown tint.

The air in the room changed directions. Kerr felt his hair move as wind rushed into the new vacuum.

And then there was silence—no sound at all.

Kerr had read about this, but never experienced it first-hand. He was seeing an actual Portal. He realized the sides of his mouth ached from his smile. “It’s beautiful!” he whispered.

Beside him, Colonel Braun chomped on his cigar. “It’s something to see the first time, but when you’ve seen one, you’ve seen ‘em all.”

Kerr straightened his face. Across the table, Private Johansson sputtered a mocking laugh. Ignoring him, Kerr looked back to the Portal. His mind took in every detail. He wanted to remember everything.

The brightest glow was in the center of the opening. Shining beams shot out—rays of swooping flashlights. Was it coming from the Passage itself?

Kerr willed himself to stay in place. Like a siren call, the lights beckoned him forward, but he knew better. Entering the Passage now would mean being lost in a sea of time.

Now something was happening in the lights. They began to fade away. In their place was another world.

Kerr smiled. He could make out an underground structure full of concrete pillars. They stretched away into the distance. White lines marked the ground at regular intervals.

Colonel Braun cleared his throat, “Welcome to 1993. The place is New York, New York, in the grand ol’ Eyu-nited States of America.” He drawled out the last part of the sentence in an accent Kerr couldn’t place, but he understood the sarcasm. The United States of America had been a grand social experiment in its day. It was a pity it never worked out.

Kerr was about to step into history. He started to catalog all the major events he could remember from 1993. His questions tumbled out a little too quick, “Who are we meeting? What’s the exact date?”

Braun held up a finger to silence him. His eyes shifted to Private Johansson and locked before issuing a command, “Take point.”

Private Johansson nodded and readied his gun. He moved through the Portal—now wide enough for two men side by side. He bent to a crouch as he walked, still moving fast, keeping his gun raised at the ready. Nothing special happened when he crossed the threshold of the Portal—like walking through an open door.

On the other side, Johansson stopped moving. He made a slow rotation on his heels, eyes scanning in all directions. He held up two fingers and waved them forward—all clear.

“Bring it in,” said Braun. “Murphy. Hendrikson.”

Murphy moved with brisk urgency. On the other side, he looked left and right—confirming that it was clear. He squated behind Johansson, gun at the ready. He watched one way while Johansson watched the other. They were careful not to make any noise.

Private First Class Hendrikson also walked quickly, gliding through the air. His short form made no noise at all when he moved. He sliced past the other two soldiers and disappeared from view behind the concrete pillars.

Braun nodded at Major Blanc. “Ahead and hold.”

Major Blanc tucked the silver briefcase under her arm and walked through the opening. Her other hand gripped a pistol with a long silencer, barrel angled downward. Her boots clicked on the pavement with confident calm. She took up position behind the other soldiers, looking back at them.

Braun looked at Kerr. “After you, sweetheart.”

Kerr cleared his throat. Nodding, he hugged his own silver briefcase and moved toward the Portal. He stood before it and looked through. Not a big deal. What’s a hundred-year trip between friends?

He closed his eyes and stepped forward. He flinched as he tip-toed through the opening. He didn’t know what to expect.

Nothing happened. He sighed. He had been nervous for no reason. Feeling foolish, he lowered the briefcase hugged to his chest.

Johansson smiled and shook his head. “Look at this guy. Is it his first time?”

Kerr surveyed his surroundings. There were no vehicles anywhere he could see. It was a parking structure, abandoned right now. The row of lights above created circles in the pavement. It was a sea of concrete columns and white lines. It could have been any time of the day or night. There was no natural light. Since there were no cars, it was either very late or very early.

Kerr shivered and rubbed an arm. This place was a cold tomb.

Major Blanc spoke up, her voice echoing, “It’s a nice, crisp February morning.” She sucked in a breath, nostrils flaring. “Smell that oil and stale air.” She smiled at Johannson and Murphy.

Kerr took a deep breath.

Concrete. Oil. Gass. Bubble gum?

The others he understood, but bubble gum?

Colonel Braun was right behind him. He had ditched his cigar in favor of a wad of gum. Kerr was embarrassed again.

He looked back at the the open Portal. He bowed his head. He could still see the rows of computer screens casting a green glow on rows of technicians. As Kerr watched, the image of the Time Dock faded to be covered by white light again—now a doorway to nowhere.

He gulped.

“Keep it moving,” growled Braun, bringing Kerr back.

Major Blanc nodded her head, blonde hair swaying forward. Murphy and Johansson stood and moved before her, guns at the ready. They moved easy, with their legs bent to absorb the sound of their steps. Kerr felt invisible eyes watching him. He imagined Hendrikson crouching like a ninja behind the next column.

Major Blanc still didn’t seem concerned about hiding herself. Each of her steps clicked on the pavement and echoed through the structure.

Colonel Braun marched behind them with strong steps. His gun was still strapped to his hip. He kept his angry gaze pointed forward, almost daring the air to attack them.

Major Blanc moved with casual grace. Seeing no immediate danger, she tucked her gun back into the holster at her. She took her silver case from under her arm. It swung while she weaved through the pillars. Murphy and Johansson kept an eye on her as they tried to keep ahead of her brisk walk.

A large, white van came into view. A red company logo on the side proclaimed it the property of Ryder.a yellow license plate was stamped “Garden State.”

Kerr spoke sideways to Braun. “I thought you said this was New York?”

He shrugged. “Aren’t they all about the same?”

Kerr began to protest, but didn’t want to be that guy and remained silent.

The van door opened, and a pair of legs swung out. The driver was short with black hair and dark complexion. He raised both hands. His blue coveralls were too big for him, bunched up on his wrists and ankles. His unshaved face looked haggard. His tired and shot eyes shifted between them.

Kerr frowned. At first glance, this man didn’t look like a proper candidate for the Gift. Kerr wondered if the man had been sleeping in his truck. Kerr’s ideal candidate for the Gift was a white-bearded scientist or crisp politician—maybe a man dressed in an expensive suit. This man looked like a delivery person from the slums.

Murphy and Johansson lowered their guns. Murphy dropped back to the nearest column. His eyes continued to scan the forest of concrete around them.

Major Blanc called to the man in a cheerful voice, “Ramzi, good to see you again, my friend!”

Ramzi gave a tired smile, nodding, “And you, my friend.” He lowered his raised hands. Kerr noticed beads of sweat on the man’s forehead. What was wrong?

Braun’s voice echoed in the empty space, “How’s your uncle?”

Ramzi played with the clasp of his coveralls, “He is good. We’re looking forward to the operation today.”

Colonel Braun gave a satisfied nod. “Don’t keep the man waiting, Major.”

Ramzi twitched as Blanc approached. Major Blanc presenting her briefcase to the man with a quick flourish.

Kerr cocked his head to one side. He turned to Braun, “Shouldn’t I be the one to give the Gift?”

Colonel Braun’s hard eyes silenced him. He chewed the wad in his mouth and considered Kerr for a moment. He glanced first to Johansson and then to Murphy. Johansson nodded. Murphy shrugged. He looked back at Kerr, seeming to make a decision.

“Here’s the deal, egghead. We aren’t giving him the Gift.”

Kerr’s mouth opened and closed his mouth. His mind drew a sudden blank. He sputtered, “W-what do you mean?”

Braun watched Major Blanc as she pressed her fingers against both latches on the silver case. The latch sprung open with a click. She displayed the contents of the briefcase to Ramzi. Kerr couldn’t see what was inside. Ramzi raised his eyebrows. His lips puckered in a silent whistle.

He turned to retrieve something from the van. Murphy and Johannson raised their weapons again. Ramzi held up both hands and slowed. He kept one hand up as he reached in the cab.

He took a brown briefcase off the driver’s seat. He showed it to the pair of privates. Both soldiers lowered their guns.

Ramzi presented and opened the briefcase. Kerr saw stacks of green and the glitter of metal and gems before the case was closed again and handed to Major Blanc.

As the case switched hands, Ramzi added, “The USB drive also contains coordinates to the other things you have ordered.”

Major Blanc met his eyes while their hands were both still on the case, “Don’t double-cross us, Ramzi. You know we can make sure this whole thing doesn’t happen.”

Ramly gave a nervous chuckle, “Of course. We are all on the same page. You give me what I need. I give you what you need.”

Satisfied, Major Blanc took the brown case.

Braun watched the exchange while still talking to Kerr, “We couldn’t discuss this at the Time Dock. There’s too many eyes and ears.”

Johansson and Murphy had shifted their positions. Both of their guns were up again, but now pointed at Kerr. His blood froze. His skin prickled. What was going on?

He placed his silver briefcase on the ground slowly. He held up both hands. He was starting to wonder if the Gift was even contained there. This was too much to take in at one time. He spoke clear and slow. “Discuss what, exactly?”

Braun waved a hand at Johansson and Murphy. They lowered their weapons, but kept them drawn. Braun put on a wide smile, “Hey, We’re talking. No need for violence.” His face hardened. “Yet.”

Kerr’s mouth was dry. He tried to swallow. Under his clothes, he felt tingling. He would have called it nerves, but he recognized it as the Jump Suit releasing some drugs into his system. He was not the type to fight, but he had come ready to fight, if the need arose.

His heart rate increased. The suit detected this and released some extra glucose. His fear subsided. It must have released something stronger. Now he felt angry. He clenched his fists. He gritted his teeth. He buzzed with energy. He shifted his weight forward on his toes.

Braun nodded to Major Blanc. She returned it with a small smile, “He’ll wait in the van until we leave, sir.”

Kerr looked from one face to the other, “We’re here to deliver the Gift, but we don’t have the Gift.”

Braun shrugged, “Oh, we have it.” He eyed the briefcase at Kerr’s feet. “I never cared much for the thing. Too much scientific jargon for my liking. Improving the Human Race, and all that. I’m more of a fighter than a thinker. I leave that to the poindexters”

He cleared his voice, “We need the Gift as an excuse to get the field. I don’t much care what happens to it after that.”

He laughed, “Some guy from the floating city of Paris wants me to deliver a package with freakin’ time travel?he shrugged. Whatever floats your boat, Pierre.”

Silence hung in the air as all eyes were on Kerr. They were waiting for his next question. Kerr couldn’t stand the silence. “So if you aren’t delivering the Gift, what are you doing out here?” He paused before adding, “And why are you telling me?“

Braun shrugged, “That’s what we call a ness-eh-ssary evil, son. As I said. I need the Gift to get out here. Then we are free to do real soldier’s work.”

Kerr’s mind raced. “You’re changing past? You’re changing the future?”

Braun laughed, “Heck, boy! We’re all changing the future. Even you with your grand ‘ol plans of making the world a better place. If you give the Gift to someone, do you think that doesn’t change the future?”

Then the cylinders which had been tumbling in Kerr’s head slammed into place. His subconscious had been going through major events of 1993. An old history lesson had been triggered.

New Jersey. Ryder. Ramzi. 1993.

Ramzi was a terrorist. The bombing of the first world trade center. It was their fault.

His heart began to race again. In response, the suit released even more drugs into his system. His smooth confidence returned.

He kept talking while he considered his options.

“And what are you getting out of this?” Kerr looked at the brown briefcase in Major Blanc’s hands.

Johansson laughed, interrupting them, “A better question: ‘What don’t we get?’

“Heck yeah!” Murphy pounded fists with his friend. “Money, girls, and power, baby!”

Major Blanc coughed into her fist, concealing a grin.

“Who do you think saved the Union?” asked Braun, locking eyes with Kerr. “The Escalation of Baker’s Point? The Baker War? You don’t remember, but that could have gone badly for all of us…”

Private Murphy interrupted, “The first time around, it was.”

Johansson agreed. “We were all there. But we got out.” He shared a look with Braun. “Thanks to the Colonel.”

Kerr remembered the Escalation. It was frightening. Both sides came close to conflict.

“There was no war,” Kerr stated, knowing how Braun was about to respond.

Braun shrugged, “As I said. We took care of it. The Prime Minister had an accident that nobody needed to know about.” He made quotes in the air. “The other guys backed down. As you remember it, there was no war. Just the first time around.”

Kerr looked from face to face, trying to find a sympathetic look. “That’s the kind of thing prohibited by the UN Charter.”

Now Major Blanc broke in. Her cheeks flushed, “In the years before the Charter, the military had its own ways of dealing with time. You want to know how bad it was for me the first time around? I don’t remember the first time, because I was dead. I died in the beginning of the conflict.”

Kerr remained silent.

Braun eyed Kerr. “Let’s change the subject, Professor. What can you tell me about the Xeno Flu.”

The sudden change of subject took Kerr off-guard. He recited as if he were reading from a text book. “It is a common virus discovered in the late 21st century. It causes flu-like symptoms before causing a cascade of organ failure. A simple cure discovered in the 22nd century saved us, but not before over tens of millions died.”

“So, how are you feeling, Professor? Any muscle pain? Sinus pressure?”

Kerr realized with horror where he was going but asked anyway. “What do you mean?”

Braun waved his hand in a casual motion. “It would be an easy thing to slip the virus into an injection. Perhaps a routine shot before going into the field. We are going back home, after all, where a cure is common. Too bad there is no cure in this time.” Braun let the words hang in the air. Kerr was speechless.

“So, are you in or are you out?” He paused, cocking his head. “If you’re in, we go back to the Dock. We give you a little injection to clear up that little cold you have. You dispose of the Gift at your discretion. You write a glowing report about how well your first mission went. Blanc can help with any of the details you’re foggy about.” Blanc nodded. “In about a month, you’ll receive your regular Air Force check. We’ll include a generous bonus from the Union Army for a job well done.” He shrugged and brushed his hands against each other, “No fuss. No muss.”

Kerr could feel a little moisture in one eye. He blinked it away. “And what if I’m not in?”

Braun shrugged, “Then you don’t go back. How does one die of the Xeno Flu? I heard it’s quite painful after your organs start to shut down.”

Major Blanc grinned, nodding with approval.

Colonel Braun coughed, “We could tell them anything. The pressure of time travel might have been a bit too much for you. You had one of those psychotic breaks. You attacked us and we returned fire. It was so strange. Tragic, really.”

Private Murphy, placed his hat over his heart. “It happened so fast.”

Kerr shook his head, “A lot of innocent people are going to die because of this.”

Braun thundered back, “This is War! Be a man! These people are already dead!”

Kerr blinked twice and realized he wasn’t going to be able to reason his way out.

“All right, all right,” said Kerr, holding up a hand in surrender. His other hand pressed against his thigh. His fingers pressed a combination against his leg. The combination sent a signal to the nano-processor controlling his Jump Suit. It was the panic signal. It opened the pipes and started the hydraulic push.

It turned on everything in the suit at once.


This is the first instalment of my first book, Time of Faith: an epic new science fiction & fantasy adventure. 

I am posting this book serial-style. Each Sunday I will post the next section. Give me feedback, it encourages me to write!

Click here to join Matt McCabe’s monthly digest.

Notes from Paradise: January 2018

Reflections on then and now

What I said then…

Piers Anthony was a great author. He used to include little snippets of his life in the back of his novels. It was kind of a blog before blogs existed. I like that tradition. I’m going to borrow it.

I’m not saying I’m at the level of Piers Anthony, but you borrow from the best.

This here is the very first of my author notes. That should be noteworthy in some mighty hall someplace. Trade them with your friends! This is the very first note from MW McCabe! Eh-hem. Let me back down a couple notches. Right now, I’m only famous in my own head. Then again, that’s all that counts.

If you’re not having fun in life, you’re doing it wrong.

And then there’s the title of this nog (that’s like a blog post at the end of a novel).

What was I talking about? Oh, yes. The title. Paradise. Is that wishful thinking? When I have a buck or two under my belt, I plan to move to an island paradise. That’s a bit of a long-term goal. Is this paradise now? I suppose that’s a state of mind. I’m doing the work I want to do. I’m sitting at a keyboard in front of a new laptop. I’m not stuck in a cubicle and nobody is telling me what to do. Yeah, that’s the stuff.

Of course, this would be a whole lot better if I was making a couple bucks. (That’s where you come in)

Since this is my first nog entry, we don’t yet have a dialog. You don’t know anything about me. If you want a one-on-one chat, I’m always available by email. I am matt@mwmccabe.com. You know you wanna.

Anyway, I am an author with exactly one book under his belt. This here is the first book in a trilogy. I have the next two books in my head with plans for a continuing series. I’m going to see how fast I can slap these babies down. No promises at this point. But, big plans are sparkling in my eyes, fair reader.

I am oooooold. That depends on how old/young you are. I have one friend in her 70’s who calls me, “kiddo.” I look very young for my age, but I am 44. I have had to restart my life twice now, so it’s a good thing I look young. I’m gonna need it.

My future looks bright (God willing) so let’s fix our eyes forward. I have met my soul mate and am in love for the first time in my life. Looking back, you can see that past loves were only crushes. I connect with my fiancé on a very deep level. I like her insides as much as the outsides. Beauty will fade as you grow older. Inner beauty only grows more profound with age.

She has SIX kids and one grandchild. I am about to become an instant father/grandfather. I’m pumped about it. Four of the kids are adults, 22 through 26. There are two seven-year-old twins. The grandchild is five. I connected in an instant with the young kids, and I have a great relationship with the older kids. I’m looking forward to raising some young ones.

That’s all that’s fit to print! See you next time, fair reader! Stan Lee signed off with Excelsior. That kind of became his catchphrase. It’s time for me to pick my own.

Peace, love, and hope!

And this is now…

I was so incredibly hopeful two years ago—dangerously so. I say dangerous because I had a massive bubble to be burst.

It is now February 2020.

I was about to launch a book that I was certain would be a blockbuster. It was not. I was going to make a ton of money. I didn’t. Writers around the world were going to be asking me for success tips. That last one amuses me down deep in my soul.

They don’t.

I have aged a lot in the last two years.

I married my wife in January of 2019. That is now a year behind me as well. We are working on the VISA process to move her to the US. She lives and works in Rome as a chef.

How long will that take? We don’t know. They specifically ask you not to make any solid plans. It could take months. It could take years. I am bracing myself.

I’ve taken a lot of hits in the last few years. I am much more humble and pessimistic. Sometimes I plan for the worst (or at least brace myself).

The other day I was thinking out loud with my roommate. I was thinking about stand-up comedians. How long do they have to struggle before they “make it?” They do stand-up for months and years before anyone takes them seriously. They have to know that the chances of being famous are next to ‘nil. They work for very little or in some cases nothing.

I remarked that you have to love something to be willing to work at it for free. You have to like your art enough that you would do it for free.

That’s writing for me. I could be doing a minimum wage job and make far more than I do writing. Last month I made $0.40. Yes, that’s less than a dollar. I’m not complaining, I’m just giving the reality. I’m likely to make more in the future, but I’m not counting on it. I gotta do this for me. That’s the only thing that’s going to sustain me.

I’ve got the plot for this trilogy stuck in my head. It’s been stuck in my head for a good 25 years. It’s digging a hole in my mind. I gotta get it out and on to paper. Only then will I be free.

So, I got over my massive disappointment from the lackluster launch of book 1. I brushed off what I had of book 2. I started to release it in segments on Medium and on my own web site. Suddenly, I realized I didn’t know all the particulars from book 1! The major plot was still in my head, but the names were not. I decided to get my head back in the game. I am going to edit and release book 1 simultaneous to book 2. Maybe they will finish at the same time and I can grow momentum with book 3.

Releasing an edited version of what I have already written is much faster, but I will soon run out of content I have pre-written for book 2. We’ll tackle that problem later, eh?

That “new” laptop from two years ago is now a little less so. It’s gotten very slow. It’s time to take it to a shop.

I’m also looking for work. I need a side-gig to supplement my writing until I get some traction.

I hope it doesn’t take another two years to get the next one of these out. Look for my next nog at the end of book 3. Until then, courage!

Peace, love, and hope!

MW McCabe
February 1, 2020

Test of Faith: The Forgiven 003

 TWO

The hunters were the first to crest the hill. Their eyes followed a trail of twisted, broken metal. At the end of the wreckage was the blackened remains of the small ship, trailing black smoke. It looked like a ball of trash that had been crumpled up and thrown away.

The side of the ship exploded outward and a large robot emerged, cradling a small man in his arms.

The manticore slammed to the ground and Char slid down to the sand. Spells of healing flashed across his mind. He was ready now. “Is he ok?”

The robot turned his massive head to respond. His eyes were large, and the iris were rings of electronic lines. When he spoke, it was loud enough for all to hear, like from a machine. “He’s fine. His breed faints any time there is real danger.” He laughed, a harsh, metallic rumble, “That’s why he’s not a combat pilot.” He paused. “He’s not much of a combat anything.”

Char squinted at the robot. He was covered with a grey plastic that almost looked like skin. Was that sweat under his arms? “Who are you?” the next question tumbled out before he could stop himself. “What are you?”

The robot tilted his head back in an amplified laugh. “The name is Liam. I may look like a machine, but I’m still a human on the inside. I’m what you call a ‘a full-conversion cyborg.’ This here is Nicko, the cat-man.”

The other women were gathering around them. They admired the new pair with interest.

“Cat… man?” asked one.

Samia stepped forward. “I don’t know what a cyborg or a cat-man is, but we would like to know your intentions.”

Amaunet tightened her grip on a notched arrow. She kept her eyes locked on the newcomer making his way up the slope.

Liam lowered Nicko in the dirt like a delicate package and straightened again, raising both hands in peace. His gaze took in the surrounding women, ignoring the multiple arrows aimed at him. “Don’t worry about that guy. He’ll be fine. He’ll be awake shortly.

“I really wanted to thank you ladies for the assist back there. We didn’t have our escape plan completely thought out.”

Samia nodded at him, cautious, “You were escaping from a UN outpost. We are at war with the UN. Any enemy of the UN is a friend of ours.”

Liam laughed again, this time with hands on his hips. “How about that? Today started as just another boring day.”

Zahra spoke up. “These creatures have escaped from a UN outpost. They will be out to search for them. We need to hide ourselves.”

Char cleared his throat. “I have that covered.”

Closing his eyes, Char murmured a spell. Hot air shimmered in waves around them. Suddenly, green grasses and trees begin to pop out of the ground—lush and green. Behind them, a lake formed, seeming to grow out of the sand.

“That should do it,” said Char. “A little phantasmal terrain will keep them searching.”

Liam whistled.

“Looks like y’all have yourselves a little wizard. Pretty handy, that.”

He admired to lush jungle that had appeared around them. He switched his vision to infra-red. It looked real to all his sensors. That means it would look real to anybody looking for them.

He nodded. Nice.

He looked back to Samia. She was clearly in charge.

“We literally didn’t have any plans. Wanna see where this goes? Where are y’all headed? My borg abilities will come in handy.” He looked down at Nicko, “Sadly, this one has very few skills that will come in handy, but at least he’s entertaining.” He looked up at the rest of the group. It was a decent size party. “What other capabilities are we working with?”

Samia held up her hand, “You first. I don’t know what a cy-borg is. Our city had little use for technology.

Liam tapped his head. A hollow clank reverbarated. “Up here, I still have the brain of a human. Aside from my eyes, that’s all I have left. That’s the ‘full-conversion’ part. Some cyborgs are just a little robot.” He motioned up and down on his body, “I’m all heavy metal, baby!”

Maani grunted under her breath, “I don’t know if he answered the question.”

Liam looked from face to face. “No? Nothing?”

Kerr raised his hand, “Yeah, I’m tracking with you. Go on.”

 “As far as abilities, most of my senses are enhanced. If I had my weapons mounted, I’d be set up for battle. As it is, they only equipped me for hauling boxes. Unfortunately, what you see is what you get.” He tapped his chest. The metal twanged. “My hull can take a lot of damage. Your arrows there can’t penetrate me.”

Amaunet murmured. Her arrow flashed in light. “How about an arrow of light?”

Liam chuckled. “Like a laser? Wouldn’t even tickle. Go ahead, try it.”

The words were barely out of his mouth before Amaunet let fly with her arrow. The women collectively sucked in a breath.

The bolt of light crushed into the metal of his chest. He didn’t even flinch. The arrow crumbled and tumbled to the ground, a smoking pile of ash.

Kerr was curious. “Energy absorption?”

Liamed turned his focus to the scientist. “Most forms of energy. Kinetic energy can penetrate my armor with sufficient force.”

Kerr nodded. “Interesting.”

Samia raised an eyebrow. “Impressive. Now what did you mean by ‘inhassed sinces?’”

Liam shrugged his massive shoulders. “I can hear things a normal person cannot. For instance, I can hear the woman who is approaching us through the desert. You should probably take up defensive positions.”

Samia’s eyes widened for a split second, but she was quick to mask her surprise. She motioned at her archers with two fingers and then waved them in a circle above her head. Take defensive positions.

The hunters complied, quick and silent. They arranged themselves in a protective arc in the front. Each had her bow raised and pointed toward the jungle behind them.

Now they could all hear the noise. A panting and crashing. Whoever it was, she was making no attempt to mask her approach.

A woman emerged from the underbrush, gasping for air. Her face was red and a large, leather-bound tome was clutched to her chest.

Isis brightened, “Yaasmin!”

Test of Faith: The Forgiven 002

As the group continued to wade through the desert, High Priestess Isis increased her pace. She pulled up beside Samia. They walked in silence for a moment. Isis waited for the Hunt Leader to acknowledge her, but she never did. Isis was the first to speak.

“I said nothing before in front of the others, but how long do you want to continue this? We both know who is really in charge.”

Samia grunted, “I wasn’t kidding. I lead this Hunt, and will continue until our city is retaken.”

The High Priestess paused in her step but quickly recovered. She tried another tactic. “So what are we hunting?”

Samia stopped walking and looked hard at her. “Not ‘what’ but ‘who.’ This Hunt will continue until we see Lilith’s head on a pike for what she’s done.”

Maani was beside them now, sensing that her sister needed backup. “Well, said, sister. We will see Lilith’s head on a pike.”

High Priestess Isis lowered her head. The words of Bast echoed in her mind. A true leader knows how to follow.

Isis nodded and moved back to walk with the others.

Behind the group Zahra raised her voice. “We should angle north. We are near a Union outpost.”

Amaunet laughed. “After facing the army that attacked our city, what is a small Union outpost? They stay behind their shield, anyway.”

The group of hunters murmured their agreement. Isis counted them off. There were seventeen hunters, including Samia and Maani. The battle priestess, Meri, rode atop the manticore along with Char. She shivered as she thought of their perverted bond.

It was sad that Amaunet was the only Raven to remain. She was walking and talking with Kerr. He had saved her life in the battle. Strange, that. A man saving a woman. It sounded like the opening of a joke.

The Cheetah had fared a bit better. Two of them had survived. Zahra and Thoeris walked together, apart from the others. She was honored to have their two best fighters guarding their flank.

They were such a small group. How would they retake the city with such a tiny army?

Up ahead was the Union outpost and its’ glowing green energy shield. From this close, she could see that the shield was made up of interlocking green grids, each in the shape of a giant hexagon. Nothing could get through. Her women had tried in the past. It was like a giant turtle sitting out in the desert wasteland. She found it better to ignore them. They kept to themselves.


Nicko flashed his white fangs, “Strap in, big guy. We’re about to do this. Countdown commence! TEN!”

Liam growled, throwing himself into the captain’s chair. It protested under his considerable weight. Nicko was strapped into the navigation chair, but both legs were hanging over the arms. He looked like he was lounging even when he was tied down. “Hold on, little buddy! I need a couple second…”

“There’s no time! We need to launch before the next guards come on duty. EIGHT!”

Liam clicked the belt down around him and squinted through the windshield. The massive docking bay doors were rumbling open. Beyond, the green energy shield glimmered. His brain calculated the mass of the ship and the force that would be required to punch through the shield.

“Uh, Nicko?”

Nicko was flipping switches and punching buttons. All the while, he was continuing his maniacal countdown.

“SIX! What’s up, Liam? FIVE!”

Liam nodded his head toward the bay opening. “What was your plan to get through the energy shield?”

“THREE! I don’t know. TWO! I thought you ONE! would think of something!” He screamed, “LIFTOFF!”

The acceleration pushed Liam back into his seat.

“WHAT?!”


Zahra trotted around them to scout ahead. She took a couple steps and then froze, staring at the Union outpost.

Behind her, the other women followed her gaze one by one.

“Huh,” said Shukura, standing beside her. “What are they doing?”

A small ship launched from the outpost. It was quickly approaching the energy shield.

“Shouldn’t the shield be opening to let it out?” One of the hunters asked the question they all thought.

The craft was drawing closer and closer to the energy shield. There were murmurs among the onlookers. Would it crash?

At the last moment, the ship banked to the side, and the women saw guns flash and missiles fire. Both exploded against the shield. There was no apparent effect.

“They are trying to escape!”

Amaunet raised her bow, “Any enemy of the Union is a friend of mine! Ladies, focus your fire on the same part of the shield. Maybe we can weaken it.”

Kerr chuckled. “With bows and arrows?”

Amaunet turned her head to glare at him. Her voice sounded like she was lecturing a child. She had to be patient and remember that he was just a man. “When I pray, God, my god, gives light to my arrow. It is no longer a weapon made by humans. It is a weapon of pure light from the almighty. It flies as light. It penetrates as light.”

“So… you can fire lasers.”

Amaunet grunted, not acknowledging the silly word.

Around her, women raised their bows. As whispers of prayer filled the air, arrows shimmered with light.

She whispered her own prayer, and her arrow hummed. Angry light hummed. She released the arrow of light and it whistled away.

The LENS in Kerr’s eye magnified his vision. He watched the arrow as it flashed and struck the shield in a blink of an eye. The energy shield crackled where the arrow hit. A red color overlayed his vision, and words scrolled across his vision.

SHIELD INTEGRITY: 99%

Kerr firmed his lip. “I stand corrected,”

“Fire there! Where the tiles of the shield come together, the shield is weak.” Around them, all of the other women let fly with their arrows. The air was filled with the flashes of light.

SHIELD INTEGRITY: 87%

This might work.


“We’re sitting ducks here!” Liam was screaming. He was terrified. He hated flying. He hated being shot down even more. “Our weapons don’t do anything to that shield!”

Nicko was busy picking lint off his uniform. He glanced up. “Why don’t you concentrate your fire where those other explosions are coming from?”

Was he insane? “What other explosions?! Are we on the same ship? I don’t see any other…”

Liam’s voice trailed off. There were other explosions, coming from outside the shield. Liam didn’t question his luck. He banked hard toward the new explosions and opened fire with all of his guns.


“Keep it up, ladies!” Amaunet was a battle leader again. Her voice carried loud over the group, “Fire! FIRE!”

Energy arrows filled the air with a symphony of whistles.

Kerr smiled as the readout on his vision continued to drop.

SHIELD INTEGRITY: 46%

Inside the shield, Kerr could see the ship turn and fire at the same spot. Now the number on his eye was dropping faster.

SHIELD INTEGRITY: 32%

Another light flashed in the air. Kerr turned to see Char had begun to project energy from his hands, as well. That boy seems to have some serious control over energy.

SHIELD INTEGRITY: 26%

The getaway ship was barreling toward the energy shield, lasers firing. Kerr bit his bottom lip. Would it be enough?

The manticore let out a screech and took to the air. In three flaps of his wings, he was hovering near the energy shield. It opened its’ mouth wide, and a stream of green, bubbling liquid hit the shield in a torrent.

SHIELD INTEGRITY: 12%

Now Kerr could see a crack beginning to form. It wasn’t visible to the naked eye, but he could see it. The shield was weakening.

SHIELD INTEGRITY: 5%

Was it enough? The energy shield started to flicker. Kerr could see a crack in the energy shield, like a broken pane of glass.

With a crunch of metal, the ship struck the energy shield. Kerr winced. It sounded and felt like he was watching an automobile accident. There was a fireball explosion. The craft shot from the flames.

Kerr realized he had been clenching his fists.

The ship was pointed down. It was no longer flying, it was falling.


“We’re going down!” shouted the Borg. “Better brace for impact!”

Liam pulled hard on the controls of the ship, but to little effect. They were, indeed, going to crash. Liam slowed the feed of his video down. It was a trick he had learned when he needed to process extra information.

The desert under him slowed to a crawl. Would it soften their crash? They were passing over a hill. He tried to match the downward angle. It was the best he could do.


The cheers of the women turned to murmurs as they watched the ship disappear from view. A sickening sound of twisting metal reached their ears.

They broke into a run.


Writers Note:

It’s been many MANY years, but I am writing again. I feel good. It feels right. I am writing out on Medium, too. I will eventually make money, but I’m under no illusion that it will be quick. I’ve heard it takes nearly a year to start getting traction. Until then, it’s all about consistency. I need to get into a daily habit.

I was so pumped when book one launched, and then it was crickets. I was sooo disappointed. I hung up my typewriter for awhile. It all just seemed like a waste. I have since learned that it is common for a first book to fail.

I’m normal, y’all.

And, looking back, the writing of my first book is not that great. When I finish book two and start to accumulate a following, I will re-edit book one so that the “voice” matches. Then I will write book three online.

Here’s my big master plan: Have a big following online and THEN publish the trilogy on Amazon. I should have done it that way first, but I’m learning, here. I should create a course on all this… assuming it’s a hit.

At the end of book one, I wrote a long writer’s note. I told everybody (all three of you) that I was engaged. I have since gotten married. That was January of 2019. She is still working in Rome while I process her VISA application so she can come here. Anyway, sign up for my mailing list to get announcements of the next instalments!

Did you miss the last instalment? Here ya go!