Hot on the release of Journey to a Dream and Subject 5691: Petri, I’ve started the rewrite of the second in the Edgeworld Chronicles – Draxton’s Destiny. Most of this story is already written, but it’ll need some revisions, some reorganizing, and some expansion if it’s to fit seamlessly into the overarching plot. It’ll also explain some things left hanging in Petri’s story. I’ve included a tentative blurb (not finalized) and an excerpt from the new first chapter. Enjoy!
As the human who helped Subject 5691 escape, Draxton’s life has been hell. If the Alliance can’t retrieve their experiment, they’ll make sure no one else disobeys orders in such a manner again. Draxton, once a distinguished Legionnaire, is sold as a pleasure slave and finds himself in the middle of political intrigue that could lead to the death of an entire planet…or a love blessed by the gods themselves.
“Where is Subject 5691?”
Draxton Larimore stared through his sweat-soaked hair and raised both middle fingers. His interrogator spun on his heel and waved a hand. The pulse whip seared across his back, reopening old wounds and creating new ones, before dumping its charge on his right kidney. Fuck! His spine locked, his breath caught, and his stomach churned as agony rolled through him. He fisted his hands against the pain, fought the nausea and spots swimming in his vision. Gods, he hated kidney shots. Hated even more that they’d heal this one so they could do it again. And again.
When the whip fell away, releasing his spasming muscles, he sucked in great, gasping breaths and focused on the puddle of sweat and spit and other bodily fluids staining the otherwise pristine floor. He hadn’t screamed, not yet, but it was getting harder to hold it in. Minor though it was, it was still a victory. It wasn’t much, but right now he’d take all he could get.
His torturer was the best the Alliance had to offer. The diminutive human female with enhanced strength modifications and an unhealthy fascination with sadistic cruelty specialized in pulse weapons: batons, whips, and nanos. Her favorite was the whip, adapted to release an almost-lethal charge, and she wielded it with the vicious joy of a child pulling the wings off a pretty butterfly. And he was the specimen pinned beneath her microscope.
The sting of another lash blurred his vision. A third tipped him over into darkness. He floated in the peace between wakfulness and oblivion. He wanted to stay there, stay where there was no pain, no memory of how his life went to utter shit. But he couldn’t. They’d never allow him that much relief. The pinch of a nano injector broke through the darkness. He frowned and jerked in his restraints, fighting to stay in the darkness, fighting to break free. There was still something he needed to do. The tingling burn of healing nanos kicked his brain into gear. Couldn’t give in. Not now, not yet. He had a mission, but what was it? Ice cold salt water poured over his head, stung his eyes, and set his lacerated back on fire.
Colonel Christopher Chesterfield IV gripped his hair and forced him to meet hard, brown eyes. The question came again. Sharper, this time. Angry.
“Where is Subject 5691?”
Right. That was his mission, self-appointed as it was. That was why he couldn’t give in. He was a soldier, a Legionnaire. He had to protect the civilian, the young male the Alliance imprisoned and treated like an unfeeling experiment.
Chesterfield released Draxton’s hair and wiped his hands on a pristine white handkerchief before bending to remove a smudge on his boot. Draxton snorted. Even in a torture—no, wait, the Alliance preferred interrogation—chamber, the colonel paid more attention to his appearance than to his performance. The grunts, and a few high-ranking officers when they thought no one could hear them, called him Colonel Clusterfuck (with silver oak leaf cluster) because there wasn’t an operation too simple for him to screw up.
Tall and gaunt, his commanding officer projected the illusion of the perfect soldier. Uniform starched and pressed until it’d break in a combat situation. Boots polished to such a brilliant shine it’d be dangerous on a mission. He looked down his nose at Draxton, back straight, feet the exact distance apart as stated in regulations. He looked good in the holostills or on the vidscreens, but all the spit and polish in the universe couldn’t make him competent.
For fifteen years brass shuffled him from one assignment to another, lateral moves which stalled his career and added to the colonel’s frustration and anger. His performance kept him from advancing in rank but it was his stellar ability to orally polish the brass’s ass that saved him from a court martial or discharge. He held the rank and file he commanded in utter contempt, considered them little more than unkempt, undisciplined savages. Useful, necessary savages. He needed them as much as he scorned them. They were supposed to elevate him to the position he deserved. He’d accept the rank of General at the very least. He wanted the presidency. Then they assigned him command of the 23rd Legion, security for Alliance Forward Station-19.
It didn’t go well, and Draxton was partly to blame.
The loss of Subject 5691 placed a nasty blotch on the colonel’s already unimpressive career. The loss of the biogeneticist was unfortunate. The deaths of the guards immaterial. But losing Subject 5691? Unforgiveable. His only hope of salvaging any shred of his tattered reputation was to reclaim the young male. Chesterfield knew Draxton helped him escape. The colonel thought he knew where the male and his edgeworlder accomplice fled. The Alliance, and especially Chesterfield, needed Draxton’s cooperation. That wasn’t going to happen.
“Where is Subject 5691?” Chesterfield repeated.
“Go,” he snarled through gritted teeth, “fuck yourself.”