A Glimpse (1)

A small look at the world of Viridis. Please consider checking more information out about my novel by clicking the “current projects” link on the right hand side!

 

Jade stood on the cusp of the battlefield. Sand danced in the air, picked up with the slight breeze over the planet of Taotar. An entire world made out of desert. And now it was bleeding red.

The two suns hid somewhere on the other side, but she could see the glimmer of red distantly, preparing to share its intense gaze with all those unfortunate enough to get caught in its light. It would be dawn soon. And when the second sun rose, anything without shelter would die beneath the heat of day.

Still, Jade could not move from where she stood. Her weapon was clenched in one hand, the super-heated blade burning off what little meat was left on its edge. She had killed so many. But she still couldn’t save her own.

Hundreds of bodies lay out in the valley before her, decapitated, limbless, gutted. And no one could tell who was who now—everyone’s eyes had shifted to hazel, rendering them officially retired from the life of a soldier. Jade grit her teeth. Was this really worth it? Was it worth murdering people who didn’t even look different from her in death? What were they even fighting for? The records had been lost centuries ago. So why? Why continue?

“Jade, come on. We need to get out of here.” Salene approached from behind Jade, the woman’s voice soft but filled with a worried edge. Goggles were strapped over her eyes and a scarf was tied around her mouth, protecting her from Taotar’s sand. She looked at Jade.

“We have to get back to base,” she said. Jade looked down at her gloved hands. Her black armor was wet with crimson. She closed her eyes.

“All right. Let’s go.”

[Closed] Call for betas!

[Closed, thank you!]

Hello! If you’ve gotten here, then you’re interested in being a beta for my novel, Viridis! I’m so honored that you’re considering doing this for me.

A little about the book, before we get down to business:

After years of fighting a war she doesn’t believe in, Jade Cavvar is being awarded for her efforts. But when an assassin makes an attempt on her life, Jade is forced down a path she never dreamed she’d walk. Stolen away from her home, she is brought to the land of the enemy where she must find her reason for living and scramble to find a way to stop the war before it ends in the death of millions.

And while she battles for freedom, her best friend, Aris Sell, must grapple with Jade’s disappearance. Her paranoia forces her to scrutinize those she’s battled alongside for years, and when she unveils a secret hidden from the masses, she triggers irreversible events that could ruin the galaxy as she knows it.

Viridis is a young adult, sci-fi novel that deals with friendship, betrayal, and what it means to be a survivor. It’s current word count is 101,722, at 48 chapters.

Now, let’s go over some quick beta rules! First, I’m going to need you to complete the chapter I send you within two weeks of the date I give it to you. If you move faster then that, perfect! You will help the process go by quicker. If you cannot keep up with this time constraint, please do not send me an email. If you fall behind several times, I will thank you for everything, but will need to let you go as a beta. I really don’t want to be put in that position, so please, keep up on the reading!

Upon completion of the reading, we will communicate via whatever preferred means and you will give me your comments and I will ask you a few questions. After which, I will send you the next bit of reading! Pretty simple.

So how do you sign up? Simply fill out the form below and email me at l@hemphillhouse . com ! It is likely that I will not accept everyone who emails me, but I appreciate your interest nonetheless! And to those who I do accept: I will contact you in a few days and we will get started.

Thank you for taking the time to read this!

 

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Preferred way of communication: (Facebook, Skype, email, Tumblr, or Deviantart)

 

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It should be a given, but by filling this out you promise not to take my writing and attempt to market off it in any way, or spoil the events in the book to anyone. Please keep this all under lock and key so I can be sure to take all your criticism and make the book that much better!

 

Amazing

Thaddeous returned with two bottles of wine and a pair of glasses in his hands. He placed his load on the side table and poured them both a cupful. He handed one to Jade before he sat on the chair next to her bed and took a sip from his. She watched him drink before she did so herself. He smiled when he noticed her watching him and she bounced her eyes.

Thaddeous returned with two bottles of wine and a pair of glasses in his hands. He placed his load on the side table and poured them both a cupful. He handed one to Jade before he sat on the chair next to her bed and took a sip from his. She watched him drink before she did so herself. He smiled when he noticed her watching him and she bounced her eyes.

“Do you have nightmares a lot?” He asked.

“Yes.” She took a sip of her wine.

“Are they usually that bad?”

“They’re usually worse.”

“Do you ever get any sleep?”

“No.”

It was all she could do to keep her responses short. She wanted to tell him everything. Wanted to tell him about the nightmare she had, tell him the horror of turning into the one woman whom she hated and pitied. She almost did, since that calculating look behind his eyes had faded into nonexistence. Maybe she was safe with him. Perhaps he didn’t want to use her knowledge against those she loved the most.

She let her mind wander as he spoke the various jobs forced upon him by his father, doing her best to harden herself against him and throw those thoughts aside. He was the enemy. He could not be trusted. She busied herself with drinking. He matched her, laughing about how much she could tolerate. A flush hit his cheeks and did not leave.

“This has to be the best moment in my life, though,” Thaddeous said, grinning. “Spending the night drinking with the most amazing woman in the world.”

Jade froze and stared at him as he drank from his glass. He seemed unaware of what he just said. It had to be some sort of ploy. This was a calculated move—it had to be. He wanted her knowledge of the Opes and was shameless about how he got it. Right?

His blood-shot eyes did not hold malice, however. They looked at her with delighted surprise.

“I’m beating you now, Jade!” He raised his glass, snickering. “If you’re not careful, I’m going to dethrone you!”

Jade tilted her head curiously, uncaring about his challenge. “What did you just say?”

“You’re going to lose,” he cooed.

“No, before that.”

“Oh.” He grabbed the back of his neck and laughed. “That you’re the most amazing woman in the world? I meant to say galaxy, but it doesn’t roll off the tongue as well.”

“You don’t know me.”

“I do!” He insisted. “Weren’t you listening? I’m the head of the Green Research Department! And your name came up! So I read up a lot about you and, Vix, you’re amazing! The way you’ve managed to survive things that should’ve killed you, how you survived your run-in with A’doxia, how you managed to build all those robotic creatures to battle us back! It’s incredible!” He spread his hands out to emphasize his words, spilling his wine on his arm. He didn’t notice. He grinned widely at her. She couldn’t help but smile back.

“And your eyes! They make you even more special and amazing than you are now. Greens are amazing. Did you know that Vix has green eyes? At least, we think so. Why else would he create such amazing people?”

She stared at him. Amazing? Her eyes, the things she had to hide from her own people lest they hang her, were amazing? A laugh bubbled up in her throat and exploded from her mouth.

Amazing. She was…amazing.

 

Cavvar-Kid

“If we’re going to be partners, we should at least get to know each other’s strengths and weaknesses. So we can do better on the battlefield.”

“Mm-hmm.”

“I’ll start: my strengths include being able to form tactics and plans in the heat of battle and being able to predict enemy troop movements. I’m not so good with hand-to-hand combat, however.”

“Mm-hmm.”

“Your turn.”

“I’m good at everything.”

“Be serious.”

“I am being serious, fat-ass.”

“Don’t call me that. Learning each other’s strengths and weaknesses could mean the difference between life and death—”

“Blah blah blah. Listen, you can just stay in the room from now on. I don’t need you slowing me down out there. I’ll take the missions and you can sit here and, I don’t know, eat chips or something?”

“Excuse me? Listen here, Cavvar-kid—”

“Don’t call me that, fat-ass.”

“Then don’t call me fat-ass, Cavvar-kid.”

“You can use my fucking name and I will use yours when you have earned my respect.”

“Back at you, asshole.”

“Are you doing this with me right now, fatty? Because we know how this fight will go.”

“Do we? Last time I checked our fight was stopped before a victor was chosen. And what was it again? Oh, right, you had to go into suspension and were stuck at base while the rest of us got familiar with the lay of the land.”

“What’s there to be familiar with out there? It’s a fucking desert planet! I can’t imagine something as exciting as figuring out the lay of the land! Wow, did you guys play eye-spy? ‘Eye spy…sand!’ That must have been fantastic! Too bad I was stuck here, training, while your fat ass rolled down some sand dunes!”

“Stop calling me that!”

“Fucking make me!”

“Why in the name of Vix did I get paired with someone as bull-headed as you?”

“Oh, woe is you, right? To be paired with the only person on this Vix-forsaken planet that can hold her own! You’re the one who has it bad, aren’t you? Want to make some tea and cry about it together, partner?

“‘Hold her own’? You? I’m sorry, what happened last time the army ran into the Thrax? Wasn’t that…wasn’t that you who got surrounded because you’re a moron?”

“Who got her head bashed in the first day of training? Oh, right, that was you, because some idiot let a ball of dough into the army without teaching her how to fight!”

“It’s not like beggars can be choosers, Cavvar-kid! Look at you! You’re supposed to be the daughter of Jen Cavvar, some ‘great war hero’, and you’re running around bashing in the heads of your own people! You’re fighting more with me than you are with the actual enemy!”

“Don’t compare me to my mother! That old woman has nothing on me!”

“Doesn’t she? She would’ve had her team of three formed already, would’ve already scouted the playing field, and would be working in tangent with her fellow warriors instead of against them! You’re standing here accusing me of being some idiot who doesn’t know how to fight when you’re the one with mommy-issues and is taking them out on everyone else! Don’t laugh at me, Cavvar-kid!”

“Oh, I will do whatever I please, fat-ass. And you? Why don’t you stay the fuck away from me, okay? We’re not friends. And we won’t ever be friends. So don’t get your hopes up.”

“I wasn’t going to.”

“Good. I’m going to train.”

“I won’t miss you.”

“Don’t stay up.”

“I won’t.”

Consumption

Shadows consumed the alley hidden from civilization, the area where death took the form of a child knocking on a door. The smell of meat left out in the sun for days clung to the air and sought to pull her into its ever-loving grasp of decay. She stopped at a cross-road, where people talked loudly into their phones and laughed with their neighbors. Light battled the darkness of the alley and stopped by her feet. Cinnamon from a nearby stall fought off the foul scent that clung to the alley. People rushed by, unbothered by the teenager in clothes much too large for her.

She stared silently. She lingered by the light, her stomach spinning into itself, growling madly for what people had and she didn’t. She could step out into the light. She could enter the crowd, lose herself in its fruitless drama and fill her belly with scraps of unsoiled food. Her gaze shifted to her feet, where her toes sat dangerously close to where the darkness ended. She reached out her hand, feeling the warmth of the sun on her fingers. She stepped forward, just enough to allow the light to hit the rest of her body, but close enough to the shadows to flee.

The light tore into her immediately, scrutinizing her clothes and questioning the blood stains. It was blinding, and she shaded her eyes with one hand. The light did not stop. It eyed her with judging curiosity, burning every inch of flesh upon her body, tearing out what would not be acceptable for others to see. She felt her heart shudder, every vein shivering in turn. The light was going to burn everything off, she realized. It wouldn’t stop until she was gone completely. She threw herself back into the shadows, stumbling into a wall, gasping for breath as her eyes adjusted to the shadows. They welcomed her with twisted love, soothing her burns with another layer of darkness to wrap around her body. After a moment, she collected herself and straightened. Then she turned and took the path hidden from view.

Here, the light never touched the stone path. Bugs crawled underfoot and bodies long forgotten contributed to the wretched smell she had come to accept. It was better here. It had to be.

She walked through a puddle of something wet, which stuck to her shoes. It was where she lived. She slipped and caught herself with her hands against the stones. It was where her sister lived. She got to her feet and wiped her hands on her shirt. It was all they could do to live here. She continued forward. It had to be good enough for them. They couldn’t go anywhere else. They couldn’t find food anywhere else. Their own mother would not accept them into her home. There was nowhere for them to go.

She was doing her best.

She noticed a burning sensation and found herself mindlessly in the street. She blinked, returning to her own body, and noticed eyes from every angle staring in horror. She looked at herself. Blood was smeared across her shirt and drying on her hands. A trail of blood was left behind her in a form of footprints. A gasp escaped her lips and she scrambled back to the shadows, throwing off hands that touched her shoulders, diving into the security of the murk, and feeling its claws pull her closer. She kept running, escaping those eyes. Escaping the light.

I’m doing my best.