Context Statement: This is the Prologue to the sci-fi/fantasy novel I’ve worked on for several years. It is an example of my fiction writing

ABSTRACT: The fierce Continental war that has ravaged the world of Gaia has ended in armistice. The aggressive Cantaran Confederacy has been driven back by the tentatively allied forces of the Kemejian Republic and the Kingdom of Cosimer, but only with the aid of the rag-tag militias from the Colonial City-States. Among the ruins of the war, rumors of ancient monsters awakening and strange powers manifesting have begun to spread like wild-fire. A Cantaran task-force has been sent to capture one of these rumors, a mysterious outlaw.


No survivors.

Morris, an old Cantaran veteran, thought the order was a bit extreme, as it seemed unlikely the whole town had known about the fugitive. A moan from one of the many bodies on the ground interrupted his train of thought. It took him a minute to find the source. Orders are orders, he reminded himself, as he silenced it. Identical cracks pealing sporadically throughout the city were the only sounds that broke the crackle of flames.

As he lit a cigarette to take the edge off the rising stench, he took a look around the town, trying to picture what it looked like before the fires, before the blood. It was near sundown, with rain clouds closing in on the town. Stucco houses, thatched roofs, the occasional tree. Certainly not the picture of prosperity, but he imagined it had been quite peaceful. It was surrounded by nothing but farmland, broken only by the Snowborn mountains far to the north. Real shame; it would’ve been a nice place to retire. While the veteran would never claim to be an expert on the fugitive, he could certainly see the attraction the place had had for their quarry. The pretty daughter of the apothecary probably hadn’t hurt either. Probably why the boy got careless and stayed too long.

The outlaw certainly wasn’t known for mistakes, as he had lasted nearly five years with the National Intelligence Service hounding his heels across all three continents, with the body count to accompany it. While all the major governments were hunting the outlaw for one reason or another, the veteran wondered what had made him return to the land of his fiercest pursuers. A freak encounter with a squad of soldiers near Stonebridge, the largest city in the region, had left the outlaw severely wounded. Well at least that’s what was suspected; there were no survivors among the members of the patrol.

Until he had been assigned to the task force, Morris had thought their quarry was an urban myth; some villain to blame the disaster at Mount Cara on; something to unify the people after the armistice that was decidedly against their favor. That was before he saw what was left of the patrol. According to the enterprising individual who informed the task force, the apothecary’s daughter was out gathering ingredients when she found him mostly dead. She had brought him home and nursed him back to health. Good-enough health to slip through their fingers. Again. The veteran doubted the informer would collect the three million mark reward.

The village’s current state reminded him of the trenches during the war, where he first saw wanted posters for the outlaw, known to most common folk as “The Renegade.” While NIS kept his real name need-to-know (that is, if they knew it themselves), the old soldier had thought the alias the newspapers latched on to suited the fugitive. The more reliable reports described him as moderate height and weight, with raven-colored hair and cold eyes. Beyond that, as far as the veteran was concerned, the reports fell into rumor and here-say, fairy-tale if you would. He even had seen one article in the newspaper claim Renegade was involved in the assassination of the Cosmirian Vice-Chancellor. The article also claimed the outlaw could shoot lighting bolts or some other nonsense out of his hands, so he doubted its validity.

Rumor or not, NIS did not take the danger Renegade represented lightly. The taskforce was probably forty strong, made up of both regular soldiers and NIS agents. Morris stamped out the stub of his smoke and checked on the private standing guard with him. The kid was green, both in experience and palor. He grasped his gun tightly to his chest, looking nervously around. It seemed he took the rumors about Renegade more seriously. A piercing scream came from the apothecary shop behind them. The private turned a deeper shade of green and the veteran grimaced. The lieutenant had told them he would take his time interrogating the apothecary’s daughter; he was not a man for exaggeration. The veteran had seen many commanders like him: cruel, ambitious, and worst of all, fanatic. When he learned Renegade had escaped, he proclaimed that the whole town were traitors and sentenced to death. An unpleasant task for the soldiers, but disobedience would only earn a place among the townsfolk. So they went to work.

 As the veteran searched his pocket for another smoke, he wondered who this carnage was for: to disincline other towns from helping the outlaw, to prove the lieutenant’s mettle to his superiors, or perhaps to punish the outlaw for escaping again. What’s done is done he thought and took a long draft. The sound of occasional gun shots had dried up; a slow drizzle began to fall as the smoke from the fires intertwined with the thunder clouds.

The private suddenly gasped and pointed frantically at the horizon. “Did you see that?”

“It’s just whimsey, lad. Probably Malorn and Revin on perimeter patrol. Relax. You want a puff?”

“What if…what if he kn-n-nows? What if… he comes back?”

“He’s no fool, son. I’m sure he’s far away from here by now. Even if he wasn’t, what can one man do against forty-odd? It’s just the nerves after today’s work. It’ll pass.”

While the private did not look particularly comforted, he remained silent. As the sun set and the town darkened, a crash of thunder rolled through the crackling houses. Then a second. After the third, the veteran noticed a strange lack of lightning accompanying the thunder. He turned to comment on this strange weather phenomena to his companion, whose face had suddenly changed from sickly green to deathly white. Morris swiftly followed his gaze to a lone, cloaked figure in front of them. It knelt at the contorted body of the apothecary.

“Oi! Hands up! Be lively now!” Morris shouted.

The figure ignored them. A hand appeared from it to close the dead man’s eyes. The rain had begun to pour in droves, hissing at the flames throughout the town.

“I said, hands up!”

The figure slowly rose, its hands clenched at its sides. The dark, tattered cloak it wore began to be whipped around by the wind of the storm. The ground trembled. the air rippled, and the rain seemed to dance around the cloaked apparition. A man’s weary voice came from the figure.

“Death always seems to follow me.”

The veteran did not hear the fourth clash of thunder, just the crack of his shoulder blade as he was blasted into the wall behind him. As he tried to get to his feet, the earth gave way as everything began to heave and shake. Buildings began to crumble. The task force fell into the street with chaos and confusion amid the fire and debris. Several managed to fire at the figure but the bullets seemed to evaporate before they even touched him. As the figure approached, the veteran’s bones began to rattle in his skin as if they would burst out at any moment. The private tried to fumble to his gun, but with a flick of the figure’s wrist, became nothing but dust.

Some charged, some fled. None succeeded.

As the figure delt with those trying to run, the lieutenant, who up until that point had been cowering in the ruins, attacked with his officer’s sword. The figure deftly grabbed his hand mid-swing. Strange energy rippled through the lieutenant and he was reduced to dust as well, his anguished scream cut short.. There were none left but the old soldier, paralyzed on the ground.

The figured turned towards him. It raised its hand.

The old soldier knew this was his last battlefield. He closed his eyes.


It was a weak voice behind him, from the ruined place of healing.


The figure brushed past him. The veteran felt the rain against his face, and knew no more.