An excerpt from Sanctum, Blood Brothers by Nos Jondi. Get your Backer copy on Kickstarter today!
“Please tell me you haven’t screwed your sword, Darius,” Chikondi said. The others in the room laughed.
“Very funny,” Darius said, replacing his sword in the sheath attached to his back. ‘This is going to be all blood and guts, you heard Mavurama. Ruvuma has brought enough bodies to this little get together to start her own little republic.”
“I guess she’s feeling the pressure just as bad as we are,” Chikondi said, still checking her weapons. Her Lance-V handgun, the Vamps preferred weapon of choice, tried and tested. It packed a nasty punch, able to knock a grown man right off his feet. Check. As Mavurama spoke, she sensed the urgency in his voice. She saw the anxiety in his eyes. He was very much aware of what they stood to lose during that mission.
She checked the clips in her assault rifle, the MX-II. It was set to non-lethal, loaded with stun charges. Check. All their current weapons were upgrades from what they used during the Belt Wars. Under no circumstances were they allowed to inflict fatalities. Mavurama said that would only embolden the Imperial Government and justify their repression.
“Ok, everyone gather round,” Darius clapped his hands to get his team's attention.
“When the planet is within launching range, we are going to air-drop down to the surface. Remember: five sets of jumps before you get to the ground and you should impact the surface without too much of a bump. We have our quota of bodies, let’s make sure we meet it.”
They put on their helmets, running last minute systems diagnostics checks on their on-person computer software, proceeding down to the loading dock. Chikondi’s heart beat like a jackhammer, its intensity vibrating her chest, the blood pulsating just as furiously in her veins. She remembered this feeling only too well, in the days from the war. Her senses heightened as her adrenal glands dumped adrenaline into her bloodstream. She looked around and knew that everyone else experienced what she was going through at that very moment. This was what they were created for, the scientist had told her. To him, she had been no more than a weapon, to be used as the Emperor saw fit. She felt no sadness as she recalled that memory. Neither a machine nor a tool, but so much more. The reason she left the Belt with Mavurama, was because he convinced her along with hundreds of others, that they all had choices. They could chose the life they wanted. Yes, the war was over, but their meaning in life transcended that. They would make their own destiny among the stars and all the cosmos would bear testimony to that.
“Excited?” Darius asked, his visor retracted, his eyes a bright orange-red.
“I would be crazy not to be,” she said.
“A lot of the regular troops said we were,” he laughed, throwing his head back and letting out a loud whoop.
Chikondi laughed and watched as the docking bay doors opened. The bright red and blue-green planet of Basongo loomed up, like a giant glass marble of swirling colours and textures, tattered clouds drifting through its atmosphere. Chikondi thought how beautiful it was and wondered if anything at that moment could compare to its splendour. She sent a command to her helmet and her visor snapped into place. The other members of her fire-team stood behind her, readying themselves. She took a step forward, her toes just behind the redline and looked up at the signal lights, shining above the open doors. They were all on amber; when they changed to green, it would be time to take the exhilarating plunge downwards.
“Alright people get ready, here it comes! Tir gova!” The second Darius finished his sentence, the light above made a loud mechanical beeping sound and the amber disappeared into green. Chikondi rushed and threw herself forward with complete abandon, like she had done a hundred times before.
The planet shot up in high definition, her helmet toning down the sound and force of the wind that tore past as she free fell gracefully through the air.
“Alright, everyone synchronize for the first jump!” Darius said. “On my mark, three, two, one, jump!” She closed her eyes and willed herself to some other place. Based on their calculations, they gauged how many jumps they needed to complete in order to cover the distance between the main ship and the planet surface without landing in a splatter. Teleporting in freefall was not easy as compared to being stationary. It required a great deal of focus and concentration, things she had in spades.
She teleported in, a cloud of azure smoke peeling away, the planet much closer than it had been earlier. Darius’ voice came loud and clear over the intercom a second time and they jumped out again. Three jumps later found them standing on the hard ground, surrounded by dense trees and bush. The prisons stone facade towered tall over the forest in the distance, powerful searchlights conducting continuous sweeps of the immediate vicinity.
“Ration up, all that jumping took plenty out of us. Sixty seconds and we move on. Mailer, radio to the other fire-teams that we‘ve made planet surface and are heading out. Don’t give them our position, the Imperial Army is probably monitoring our frequencies,” Darius said. Chikondi sent a command to her suit to dump a litre of blood into her bloodstream through a patch in her left upper arm. It did and she felt rejuvenated a few seconds later. The ideal quota after any jump as intense as the one they’d just completed was five litres. With the Impies in constant pursuit, they were now down to one per every five jumps. Their bodies adapted but a more would have helped.
“Ok, let’s go, I don’t need to remind everyone to stick to the shadows,” Darius said. They moved quickly and silently through the dark undergrowth. The moon was out and cast deformed shadows all throughout the forest. They avoided the patches of light that cut through the trees, making sure they kept close to the ground. These missions were simple compared to the ones she had run during the Old War. Being spotted during those meant getting lit up by a salvo of missiles and automatic fire. She had lost friends who perished in forest fires, the thick smoke making it difficult to teleport once the infernos started. Captain Ruvuma was fortunately, not adopting the same tactics.
“We’re approaching the prison now,” Darius said. “Get your handguns and blades ready. Mailer, give us eyes on the surrounding area.”
Mailer craned his neck forward, his body bent over, almost like he was praying.
“There are approximately a hundred mobile light units scattered through the no – man’s land that runs right round the prison. Drone planes are patrolling the skies, as well as Pyro-ships directly above the forest and a thousand troops on the inside of the security fence. The no-man’s land is booby trapped with land mines,” he said.
“They aren’t taking any chances this time. Fifty metres through a mined area is a mindless thing to do and we don’t have the luxury of dying today,” Darius said. “Time for a little weather making guys.”
Sanctum: Blood Brothers is currently raising funds on Kickstarter! It's already 33% funded. Support Silver Empire and Nos today by picking up a copy of the book during our campaign. The funds go to help finish paying for book covers and advertising, as well as a portion going to Nos to help support his wife and newborn twins.
By NOS Jondi
Blood and flesh required.
Rising Star Captain Janet Ruvuma doesn’t know failure.
Except in capturing Mavurama, the leader of a group of rogue, genetically engineered ex-marines. Every time she springs the trap, he slips through her fingers. Five years of pursuit and still he eludes her. The Emperor is out of patience. Ruvuma has to catch him, dead or alive, or she will taste defeat for the first time.
Mavurama desires only peace and quiet. The Emperor made him and his men what they are. He fought for the Emperor. He won the war for the Emperor. Now he wants to retire. But the Empire won’t allow it, and Mavurama will do whatever it takes to claim his peace. Even escape beyond the edge of the known galaxy.
Ruvuma and Mavurama play a cat and mouse game that stretches across the universe. But Mavurama can’t hide forever. He needs blood, and lots of it, to take with him on his trip into the unknown. Ruvuma can’t let him go. She’ll bring the fury of the empire to bear on him and his soldiers before she lets him disappear.
African Author Nos Jondi bursts onto the speculative fiction scene with his tale of mythic creatures in space, full of colorful characters and wild distant worlds that occupy the furthest reaches of space.
Will Ruvuma conquer her greatest enemy? Or will Mavurama manage to take the suicidal leap into the Dead Space of the universe first? Read BLOOD BROTHERS today to find out!