Today I wanted to try something new. Maybe I’ll do this occasionally if it goes well.
I decided to write a little piece on my WIP, Mirage of Shards, for y’all. This will not make it into the book. 🙂 So you get some special material. It’s based on a prompt from one of the beloved Ydubbers. ❤ Thanks, Ryanna!
It’s also just for fun because I realized that you guys have never witnessed my writing skills!! *gasp* You were only running on trust! How sad!
I can fix that though. 🙂
This piece is a short one, but it introduces you to the main characters and the plot.
A cold beam of glaring light shone suddenly through Jaxen’s closed eyelids. The fluorescent lights had flickered their harsh “good morning”, now it was time to respond. With a heavy sigh, he flinched and tried to block it out with his hands. It was always like this every morning. Through blurry vision, he glanced at the clock that resided at the end of his cot. It was nearly 5:30. If he didn’t get up now, he’d miss breakfast.
Scrambling blindly out of bed, he ignored his burning eyes and wandered around until he tripped over his boots.
“Coran,” Jaxen mumbled, trying to be as friendly as one possibly could be at this hour and tie his shoes at the same time, “get up or you’ll miss the food. We’ve got combat training in less than ten minutes. Hurry up.”
As Coran bemoaned the light of day, another sigh escaped his lips. This wasn’t what he wanted in life, but at least he was being fed. As a scavenger, this would never have happened. Food wasn’t something people gave freely. Then again, Jaxen thought with a grim smile, the training for a war against a bloodthirsty nation of mutants wouldn’t have happened either. You had to exchange that unpleasant thought for the promise of three meals a day.
A final shove was directed at his roommate before he took off running down the hallway towards the mess hall. As he sprinted, Jaxen caught sight of himself in the one-way mirrors that paneled the halls. With a cringe, he noted that his hair was a mess. He stopped. Attempting to straighten the once bed-crazed waves of his chestnut hair, he noted that neither Artemis or Zarah, the only girls in his squad, cared about him or his appearance. But he wanted to look presentable.
True — he’d never cared about how he looked before, being as sloppy of a scavenger as they came. But now, he was in a new set of clothes. Things were different when he wore the Regime’s leather jacket, with the crest embroidered on the right upper arm. Things were different when you belonged somewhere.
After grabbing a couple protein sticks from the mess hall, Jaxen passed through the sliding doors back into the passageway. He had only a few minutes before he was late for the training.
Panting and out of breath, a few moments later, he slid into the training wing of the X Gov. Regime Center. To his great astonishment, he had actually been beaten by Coran… somehow… Confused but just glad he was on time, Jaxen trudged his way over to the others. The “others” were only Kai, a teenager not much older than himself, and Artemis, the alpha female of the Regime. Both of them were constantly battling the other for the top spot in the squad. When Jaxen came along and showed potential, it made them try harder than ever to reach the top. Nevertheless, Jaxen wasn’t as well liked as he wished he was.
“So,” Kai snarled jokingly. “Are you ready to lose in the scrimmage today, eh Jason?”
“It’s Jaxen,” he spat back, “Get it right, Karl.”
Kai raised an eyebrow at this petty little remark. Jaxen supposed he was concocting another stinging remark but he was cut short.
“Listen, Jaxen-” Artemis said, not looking up from the device she held in her hand, “-just stay out of the way today, okay?”
Jaxen shrugged and eyed them both for a second. He’d learned that staying longer than people anticipate can give you some high ground on occasion. It seemed to be working on Kai, for he shifted uncomfortably, but Artemis just made eye contact back. Her eyebrow raised slightly.
“Need something, pretty boy?”
“You wish. Nah, I just wanted to see if you’d make me leave. Apparently not.”
Artemis cocked her head.
“Was that what you wanted? Because if so…” she paused and gripped Jaxen’s shoulder with her slim fingers. “I can very well make it happen.”
Jaxen grimaced. Sometimes she really, truly scared him. He’d never dream of admitting it, but he knew that she had been given the nickname Artemis for very good reasons. No one knew her real name, but no one really cared. Artemis was good enough for her, so it was good enough for them.
“I’m okay, thanks.” He gently removed her hand. “I’ll go hang with Coran and Zarah.”
Kai snorted and Artemis shook her head mockingly.
“Zarah’s a good one, but I don’t see what you find in Coran…”
But Jaxen walked away. They were a difficult group. Not only did they not like him, Kai tried to end him and Artemis really had no problem with that. She’d be the cheerleader at my murder scene, thought Jaxen. As long as she got to be on top, she would encourage anybody who would help her. It was a frightening, bone-chilling thought, but at least she wouldn’t be the one to do the killing.
But Coran, God bless him, as good of a person as he was, Jaxen had to admit he was not the brightest. Loyal to end, but pretty much the definition of a child. But at least he did try to be wise, Jaxen did have to give him that. As he drew closer to where Coran and Zarah stood, he began hearing snippets of conversation. What he heard didn’t necessarily surprise him; they always chose rather unconventional topics, but the phrases he did hear confused him a fair bit.
“If we’re talking about strange events in our lives, I got pulled over on my roller-skates before.”
“Really? You think that compares with me accidentally lighting my brother and the stolen urn he was holding on fire? I don’t know about that, Zar… How in the world do you even get pulled over in roller-skates?”
“No idea, but it happened… so… yeah.”
Jaxen was now close enough to properly ridicule the insane topic of discussion.
“Well hi, you two… couldn’t help but overhear… but what the heck,” he barely got it out before bursting into laughter.
“I was trying-” Coran fake-glared at Zarah. “-to convince this lady that I’ve had weirder things to me than she has.”
“Was that what that was about? Because if so, you win, no contest. But why do you always have to one-up me?”
Coran leaned in obnoxiously close to her face and grinned.
“Oh come on now, like you don’t know why.”
Zarah barely batted an eye before pushing his face away from hers. Not one flush or sign of nervousness. Just annoyance.
“I have no clue, idiot. And get your face out of my space. I could kill you, I am trained in lethal arts.”
With a large sigh and an eye roll, Coran backed up. Jaxen grinned. It was fun watching his friend get rejected.
“Why do you always tell me that. It’s not like I don’t know. You tell me-” he paused for effect. “-all the time.”
Now, Zarah was small for a sixteen-year-old, but what she lacked in height she made up for in death threats. Around her, you had to make sure you didn’t get too fooled by her sugary looking exterior. If you were on her good side, she’d kill for you. If you were on her bad side… let’s just say, she’d cut out the middleman and just kill you.
That was what Jaxen was learning about the people here at the facilities. Don’t let the outside fool you. There is something inside of everyone and you just have to be there for them to see it.
“I tell you constantly, Coran because you need to be reminded. Constantly.”
“Alrighty fine. Chill there, little murderess.”
Coran seemed relatively unaffected unless you looked into his eyes and saw the fairly small sliver of fear tucked in them. Sometimes it took a little while for Coran to fully grasp something, but he understood this one. Zarah was a deadly spitfire. Mess with her? You better say a prayer.
Jaxen had always admired her for that but wanted to understand why she was like it. Who knows, someday if he just kept being there for her, she might eventually open up.
“So if you two are done with your debates and bickering, I believe we have combat practice once Leharr gets here.”
Coran nodded. He struck a pose, (like one of those old karate movies from back in the day, thought Jaxen.) and Zarah snickered.
“Once Leharr gets here, I’m going to demonstrate what I’ve been practicing,” Coran boasted cheerfully.
“Which would be…?”
“Oh come on, Jax, don’t tell me you didn’t see that beautifully crafted pose?”
“Well I saw a pose, but I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Zarah started laughing and Coran just grinned. Jaxen smiled.
“Come on, you two. Let’s go get warmed up before he gets here.”
And putting his arms around both of their shoulders, Jaxen, the self-appointed older brother of the squad, guarded the two until they reached the battlefields. And it always would be so.
❤ ❤ ❤