Debunking myths on genetics and DNA

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Sunday Snippet: a new project




From AKAELA (the Mayake Chronicles Book 1), Prologue:
The most dangerous parts of a droid are its hands. That’s the first thing Athel and I learned. They’re also the most precious components, with state-of-the-art microchips and the fastest nanobots ever made.

Like human hands, they can flex, grab and hold. Unlike human hands, they can be fired off their body as explosive projectiles. The scavenger M3 we’ve been tracking down the gorge has three-millimeter caliber rifles embedded over its knuckles. So long as its hands are busy collecting samples from the ground, we’re fine. But once those hands point at us, we stand little chance against its bullets.

Luckily, Kael, our trained falcon, has no problem dodging fast-flying bullets from scavenger droids. As I climb higher along the wall of the gorge, I raise my head and watch the falcon circle the sky, his black feathers shimmering against the harsh sun.

“So, here’s the plan,” Athel messages me through our Wi-Fi connection, his words forming on the right corner of my eye. “Once you reach the top, you signal Kael to attack the droid. The M3 will fire first. They usually deploy their rocket hands as a last resort.”

“We’ll make sure it doesn’t have a choice,” I send back.

“It won’t, once it exhausts the magazines. As soon as the M3 fires its missile hands, you jump. Make sure the droid follows you and not me.”
I swallow. Right. Easy peasy. Sometimes I wonder why I even listen to my brother’s crazy ideas.

My left foot loses its grip and skids, sending pebbles tumbling down the wall of the gorge. At the bottom of the ravine, the M3 freezes. It elongates its neck with a subtle whir and slowly pivots its triangular head in a full circle.

Good thing it didn’t look up.

Athel waits with our two mares just outside the gorge. He sends me a new message, his anger flashing in capital letters on my retina. “Do not screw up!”

I bite my lip, find a new handhold in the rock and climb farther up, careful not to make any noise this time.

The droid’s lenses zoom out of their sockets, examine the length of the gorge, then retract back into its head.

“It smelled the horses,” I reply to Athel, the words forming on the right corner of my retina. “Keep Maha and Taeh away!”

“Let me handle it,” Athel shoots right back at me. The message flashes a few seconds longer then fades away. A gust of wind travels down the gorge, making my skin tingle.

Twenty feet below, the M3 seems unaware of our presence. Its treads scrape the ground and roll over the rugged terrain, adjusting to its uneven contour.

Athel’s words careen on the corner of my eye. “I can see you now. Twenty-five feet from the ground. Five more to the top.”

He can measure how high I’ve climbed thanks to his built-in inclinometer. Five more feet and I’ll reach the top of the mesa from the bottom of the gorge. My bare fingers brush against gravel. A glaring sun peeks down from above, the sky a pale blue hazed by the smoke of the Gaijins’ fires. I stretch one arm up and grope for a new handhold until I reach the top of the ridge and climb over the edge. Up here, the M3 scavenger droid can no longer spot me. It will keep scraping the rocks in search for titanium-rich sediments and other metals, robbing our volcanic land of its richness.

Robbing us.

I scan the horizon. Kael hovers above me, his shadow drawing black circles over the solar panel fields. Beyond the fields, the forest brims with tension, naked trees retracing the snaking path of the Kawa River. I raise a hand and feel the ridge lift—the wind hitting the cliff side of the mesa—blowing up.

Time to set our trap.

“Now!” I message Athel. Kael catches my signal and swerves down into the gorge. The M3 droid spots it immediately, its thermal imaging sensors built to detect the slightest rise in temperature within a radius of five hundred yards. Its lenses zoom out of their sockets, trained on the falcon diving down between the high walls of the gorge.

The droid lifts its right hand and balls its metallic fist. Its decisional algorithm has deemed the threat worth shooting. I crouch over the edge and watch, grinding my teeth. The first rounds zip through the air. Just as fast, Kael dodges them, his cyborg reflexes fueled by nanoelectric impulses traveling down his brain. He swoops over the droid and then lifts up again, the M3’s bullets trained on his movements yet failing to catch him. Three more clicks and then the gunfire ends. Kael makes another dive, and this time he gets so close his talons claw at the droid’s head. The M3 zooms both lenses, rotates one hand and points it, its reflexes slow compared to Kael’s.
Come on. Fire the darn thing!

And then comes the blast. The droid’s right hand shoots out of its metallic arm and arcs up in the air.

“I’ve got it!” Athel types on my retina. I hear the horses jump out of their hiding spot, but there’s no time to watch them gallop away to catch the missile hand before it explodes. I run to the edge of the mesa and dive off the cliff, wind whipping against my face.

That moment when time stops, suspended in the breeze. That brief moment when I could crash down and die and yet I know I won’t.

That moment when I’m as alive as any creature could ever be because I feel.
And yet I’m not human. And I’m not robot.
I’m both.
The above is my Sunday snippet submission for the Weekend writer Warriors (you can find the Snippet Sunday group on Facebook, too). Make sure you check out all Weekend writer Warriors participants, it's a fun way to find forthcoming books -- all genres welcome, there's something for everyone's tastes.

Thanks for stopping by!

43 comments:

  1. Love the cover. Looks like you are off to a great start. :)

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    1. thanks Jennifer, 20K into the story... we'll see, whenever I get stuck I look at the cover! ;-)

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  2. Nice--unique, strong contrast between beauty and machine and an intriguing snippet to go with the cover.

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    1. thanks Gem! I'm going to try and post the whole first chapter through the snippets so I can get feedback from you guys... would love to know what you think, I really appreciate your feedback!

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  3. Ooh! Nothing like a scary slip to get things started. What will she slide into next?
    Looks like a fascinating story. I find it cool that you're interested in genetics. I have a cursory interest, but once they start with the amino acid chains, they lose me.
    Thanks for visiting me at amodernvampire.blogspot.com

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    1. oh, amino acids are easy: they are building blocks of proteins... and proteins are what keep you alive.
      if you ever have questions come post them here, I love to answer them. :-)

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  4. Pulled me in right away. Great snippet

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    1. thanks so much Aletia! exciting and a bit daunting, that's how I feel every time I start something new. :-)

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  6. Great start and interesting cover!

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  7. Exciting opening! Wonder how she got herself into that one?

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  8. The image is amazing, Elena, and the opening is terrific! :)

    Will the story proceed from here, or will her life to this point be flashing in front of her eyes?

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    1. thanks, Sarah! it's moving forward from here, I wanted a suspenseful beginning that would give me a chance to present their world... I'll keep posting the rest of the chapter in next snippet Sundays, I'd love to hear what you guys think!

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  9. Very fun! I need more! :-)

    On a side note, I never set out to write YA. NA perhaps, but not YA, and yet somehow a lot of my stuff comes out that way. You just never know, I suppose. The story sometimes defines its audience for you.

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    1. Thanks, Amalie. My kids were so excited when my last book came and yet I had to tell them that it wasn't quite for them. So now I really want to write something for them. Of course their enthusiasm is lukewarm so far... heh, kids.

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  10. Exciting start. Love the book cover! (Tweeted)

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    1. thanks, Karen! I'm now following ! :-)

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  11. Oh, what a start. I'd be freaking our more, but the whole scene is so exciting. :D

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  12. Already in peril! I love that you start in the middle of the action. Very nice!

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  13. Very good. Lots of great sensory images.

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  14. Wow, danger from the beginning.Nice excerpt.

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    1. I'm evil to my characters! ;-) thanks, Elaine!

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  15. That beginning leaves me with all kinds of questions and very worried about your character so well done! Great 8!

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    1. thanks Veronica, she'll be fine, I promise! ;-)

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  16. Dangerous place to be at. Better be careful. I'm just wondering, is she riding a horse or is she leading it on foot?

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    1. thanks Linda, the horses are at the bottom of the cliff, waiting ... :-)

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  17. I'm a climber, and could fully relate to that scene. Nice job : )

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    1. oooh, Millie, please come back next week too, I'd love to hear your feedback. I want the scene to sound realistic to a real climber! (I'm not, LOL)

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  18. I do love the random ways in which inspiration strikes! Great snippet.

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  19. Good opening lines, Elena. I was immediately invested in her character, wondering what the predicament is and how she'll get out of it. Nicely done!

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    1. Thanks so much Teresa, you know you'll get this one too, right? ;-) ((((hugs))))

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  20. I'm so intrigued! Can't wait for more!

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