Still chugging along on my Nano – got good feelings about this one; will probably take it to second draft, editing and submissions in the New Year.
Here’s the first wee excerpt from my Nano Page – tell me, how could I *not* keep going?
Excerpt: Blaze of Glory
I knew there was a problem when I saw Ace spit out a mouthful of blood and teeth.
"What’s going on?" Mike walked out from the bathroom, a towel wrapped around his middle and barely doing the job. I didn’t take my eyes off the television screen, despite the obvious distraction.
"Ace is getting his ass kicked and he’s losing." I sucked in my breath through my front teeth. "Didn’t see this on the schedule."
"It’s not." The tall African-American sat down beside me, grabbing the remote from the table. I caught the edge of a frown out of the corner of my eye. "There’s nothing scheduled today."
"Well, someone’s kicking the crap out of him." The air between us began to shimmer just slightly. I closed my eyes and tried to focus; take it down a notch. I’d gotten pretty good at turning it off when I needed to actually see something but stress tended to put the edge back on. And Mike sounded stressed and that wasn’t a good thing and I knew that we were about thirty seconds away from going live or from having a rip-roaring argument about something.
The sound tones told me he was dialing a phone, probably his direct line to the Agency. I hadn’t ever asked for the number; never wanted it. Not that I would have gotten it, anyway.
"What the fuck is going on?" He roared into the phone. "I said…" The anger died down as the siren went off from where it was mounted in the corner of the living room, turning off the television set and all external lights other than the spiraling red light and the most annoying noise I knew.
"Mount up." I opened my eyes to see him standing in front of me, the towel in danger of agreeing with gravity. His eyes were steel, cold blue steel. "We’re going out."
I didn’t really have much to do, not compared to Mike. While I went into my bedroom and put on my outfit he walked into the far room, out past the kitchen where the technicians had assembled; ready to strap him into a walking tank. A few minutes later I walked in to join him.
"What’s wrong?" I tugged on my gloves. "We’re not supposed to be on for another few days. Rematch with Danny Digger."
"There’s an alien ship hovering over New York City. Looks like a giant fat green avocado."He climbed up the stepladder and into the harness and lay back, letting the techs go to work slapping on the metal plates that would turn him into Metal Mike, my "sidekick".
"Yeah, I saw that on CNN." The warped metal gave me a nice view of myself. Thank god I had convinced the Agency to go with black jean material instead of leather; I really didn’t need a sexy nickname like Dominatrix. Who, for the record, kicks ass when she gets sober and in gear. Instead I looked like a middle-aged woman out for a nice stroll in a jean jacket and jeans instead of a superhero. "Figured it was part of the show."
"It’s not. It isn’t." Mike’s voice boomed out as the helmet slammed home over his head. "You ready to go?"
I smiled, levitating up to stare at him eye-to-eye. "Always."
"Then grab the back and hang on – we’re going supersonic as soon as we can. No time to show off for the kids."
Usually I didn’t ride shotgun, it really didn’t cultivate the best image to have you seen riding into battle on the back of a giant robot in some weird piggyback game. But right now I didn’t know what the hell was going on and from the nervous sweat trickling down Mike’s face I knew it couldn’t be good.
It took a few minutes for us to get to the roof; the freight elevator groaning under the weight of Mike’s suit as usual. The techs had disappeared back into the woodwork and back down to the floor beneath our condominium where they’d be working the stats and the computers and telling Mike anything he needed to know.
Mike. Not me. I didn’t need to know.
The ceiling opened up in the elevator as we hit the roof; cool night air racing in. The over-sized boots began to warm up, spouting out grey smoke that rolled out over our feet like some sort of ghostly fog. Mike looked up at the sky. "Going to be sunset by the time we hit New York."
"Yeah." I swallowed past the lump in my throat. "What’s going on?" I moved around him to grab the steel bar on his back, wrapping my fingers hard around it.
"Something no one planned for." The voice rolled around me. "Locked in?"
The shimmering waves around me settled into a nice placid blue; intermingling with those coming from Metal Mike. Gently I wove them together where my hands were, securing the link.
"Five for five." I whispered, knowing he’d hear me.
We lifted off into a clear blue sky that was getting darker by the second.
"So what’s up?" The cool air rushed by us as he gained altitude, ripping through the clouds like paper. There was no use in trying to shout; they had installed a sweet little microphone in my face to allow me to communicate with Mike without trying to scream. Not with my permission, of course, but that was beside the point. So all I had do was mouth the words and he’d hear them.
"Agency’s freaking. Big time." There was a note of fear in his voice, something I’d never heard before. Not in five years of playing superhero and sidekick; of taking on bad guys like Duke Krasher and Maniac Maestro.
He went supersonic and the world blurred around me as we shot out over Lake Ontario. I increased my grip on the bar even though I knew that, in theory, I’d be able to surf the waves safely back to dry land if for some reason Mike broke down or I had to let go. In theory.
The metallic voice rolled into my ears. "Okay, first – this is between thee and me and if you love me you’ll take this seriously the first time."
I nodded. He could see me on the external cameras.
"The Agency is freaking because there was no fight scheduled for today. The Ace was supposed to be standing down; he had a brawl three days ago with DominAce and he was still pretty sore."
"I caught it on the delayed feed. One helluva fight." I couldn’t help smiling. "He took her downtown and then back up again."
Mike gave a rough chuckle. "Yeah, it was a good one. She really bitched about taking a few shots to the face; she likes staying pretty. Even with being invulnerable and all."
"It’s a girl thang. We don’t like slapped around."
He grunted in response. "Anyway, he was on downtime until the call came in that an alien ship had suddenly appeared over New York City; hovering over the Hudson. Straight local news feed; no official Agency alert."
I frowned. "So someone else was assigned to take out the big, bad alien invaders. I remember when they did that two years ago."
"You were still in training." Mike’s metal body jerked a bit, leveling out quickly. "Sorry ’bout that."
"I watched it in the lounge. Sorry I missed it." In my mind’s eye I was back at the Agency trying to figure out what the hell had happened to me and what was going to happen to me if I fucked up the training. Already we’d had a few rookies disappear out of the dorm and rumor had it that they’d just been "removed". I’d never tried to find out if they’d been shoved into the super villains program or if they’d just had their Plugs tapped. Didn’t pay to ask too many questions then or now.
Mike’s voice brought me back to the present as we cut over the edge of New York State. "Guy comes out of the ship yelling something about taking on our greatest warriors. Says it in English, of all things."
"English?" My body bumped against the metal shell as we changed altitude. "So it was fixed?"
"Not by anyone we know. The Agency got on the horn with Russia, Mexico, the EU – anyone who has a program. No one had any sort of exchange arrangement set up. Besides, been years since the last one and Venezuela is still claiming that they won."
The fields below us began to grow larger; the roads less like loose hairs spread out across a brown and green canvas. I could see the cars on the highway jockeying for position on their way somewhere that I’d had once. A home.
"So it’s a rogue?" The waves around my face were getting cooler, the shield protecting me from freezing to death wearing thin. "Can you get a bit lower? I’m losing a bit of integrity here…"
"Sorry." Metal Mike dipped down suddenly, almost causing me to lose my grip. "Better?"
The waves around his body and mine began to shift again; melding together with a warming that took the edge off of my chilled body. "Much. Thanks."
I could hear the smile in his words. "I forget that you’re not invulnerable."
"Only in my mind."
"Anyway, the Agency put out a call for any Supers in the area who could respond, to respond. Ace’s Guardian, Dan Fremont, asked Ace if he was up to it."
The setting sun was in my eyes now; blinding me as we circled around and staying clear of the air traffic in the area. "And Ace wanted another notch in his gunbelt."
"Something like that. I never knew you were the jealous type."
"Jealous of a guy with super strength and able to withstand having a tank tossed at him? Pshaw!" The metal back shifted a bit and I knew he was laughing inside. It was a welcome change from the serious stuff we were discussing.
"So Ace answers the call of duty and gets his game on." I continued. "And who else?"
"Well, we’re not sure." Mike admitted. "Because as soon as Ace showed up all hell broke loose withthis guy slamming him into the ground and smacking him silly."
"I believe that’s where we came in." The tall spires of New York City weren’t that far ahead of us, the jagged mountain range suddenly alit with not only the evening lights of a city that never sleeps but also random gunfire and more than a few city blocks ablaze. "Holy…"
"Yeah." Mike swallowed. "It’s a bad one."
"How bad?" My hands were suddenly very cold, despite the gloves.
"Ace has just been confirmed dead. Along with three other A-listers." A pause, a heavy sigh. "And we’re going in next."
I’d seen buildings on fire; we all had. There wasn’t much to do other than try to stay clear of the flames and hope the firefighters could do their job while we fought around them. But so many of them and so many people in the streets…
"Focus, Jo." Mike barked into my ear as we circled the scene. "Focus and start charging up."
Taking a deep breath I spotted the waves around us and started to pull them into myself; booting up what I had been taught to think of as a capacitor deep inside myself. It was a hell of a long way away from working in a bookstore.
"We’ve got reinforcements as well. Tan and Black; Davie Lyon." Mike ground his teeth, sending something like static down the line. "Lost Aviator and Jane Doe already."
The pounding in my ears increased. "Two Alphas? What the hell are we going to do?"
"What we always do, girlfriend." The rolling joke didn’t lighten the weight on my heart. "We save the world."
onwards and upwards!