It’s been a hot minute since I posted anything about novel-writing (which is usually what I do around here). I took Ye Stars That Shudder, my post-alien-apocalypse retelling of King Arthur, back to the beginning and re-started it, as pieces had come together and the tone had shifted into ore of a finalized form. So, since I have almost three chapters completed in the new version, I thought I would post some pieces and re-introduce you!
Note: I get asked about the who’s-who re: casting choices and so the dramatis persona in these snippets include –
Arthur: Cole Sprouse
Hec: Jon Bernthal
Kay: Jai Courtney
Gareth: Charlie Hunnam
Archer: Garrett Hedlund
Kay jogged down the stairs, his boots heavy on the bare wood. “Jackpot.” A dozen orange pill-bottles nestled in the crook of his arm, and he dumped them into the canvas bag on top of the gold necklaces.
“Guess it wasn’t a total loss,” said Hec, hitching his gun over his shoulder by the strap.
“Except they don’t have anything in there for crazy,” said Kay.
Hec gave him a questioning glance, but it was already fading into a knowing expression as Kay added, “Sorry, man; maybe next time we’ll find something to help you.”
After a few more seconds the door opened the rest of the way. The woman in the doorway was younger than Arthur expected; early twenties, his age. She was dressed in boots, jeans, and an oversized plaid shirt, like she had raided her father’s closet, but her hands holding the gun looked steady.
“Leave your weapons outside,” she said. “But you can come in.”
Kay got out of the van and walked up behind Arthur.
“Sorry,” said Arthur. “She said we had to leave you outside.”
Kay shoved his head forward in response.
“You hanging in there?”
“You bet I am. Don’t worry about me, kid, I’ve had a lot worse. You know that.”
“I know, you’re a badass,” said Arthur, with an extravagant roll of his eyes. “But you’re bleeding all over that girl’s couch, so I figure it’s an okay time to ask about your welfare.”
“You weren’t always sarcastic,” Hec remarked, a faint grin playing on his face. “Kay’s being a crap influence on you.”
“Oh, I don’t think we can blame Kay for that,” Arthur retorted.
“Heh.” Hec grinned wider, without looking up at Arthur. “Yeah, that’s all me. Do me proud, kid.”
“My name is Gwen.” She took a pair of scissors from her back pocket and began to cut at the shirt, pulling it away from the quills puncturing Hec’s side. “What about you two?”
“Your mothers were very original.” Gwen picked up the tweezers as soon as she had the blood-stained fabric out of the way.
Arthur pointed down at Hec. “Hector Vance, but he doesn’t really look like a Hector so nobody bothers.” He pointed at Kay. “Kay Sawyer. Don’t call him Sawyer.”
“He’s right,” said Gwen, looking briefly at Hec. “You don’t look like a Hector.”
“’Preciate it,” he replied.
Arthur obliged, backing up a few steps, lifting his hands in surrender for the second time that day. This woman wasn’t much older than Gwen, but she looked a lot more likely to do damage.
He didn’t need to turn around to sense Kay had appeared behind him. “Lower that thing before I shove it in your eye.”
The woman raised an eyebrow. Instead of lowering the arrow, she only shifted it again, pointing it at Kay this time. “Gwen, who’s the guy with the attitude?”
“I don’t know,” Gwen called from the other room, “I think they all have attitude. That one’s Kay. He’s my least favorite.”
‘Control’ was the Vees’ name for the large, square building that took up a half-mile of Seattle. The building was five years old – one of the Vees’ impressive overnight additions to various skylines. It was nothing fancy to look at, but the inside was a different story. The first time Gareth had walked in, he’d felt like a comic book character, suddenly transported into superhero headquarters.
Yeah, that feeling had faded pretty quick.
“All Metroids are armed,” said the Vee flatly. “He is Zi-Class. He is, of course, deadly.”
“Right on, right on. Anything I need to know?”
“He stole a piece of our technology when he left. We require both the technology and the Metroid fully intact.”
Well, that made things more fun. “Understood. Any chance you’re gonna tell me what the tech is?”
“A sword,” said the Vee.
Gareth blinked again, but this time it wasn’t to clear his vision. “Right,” he drawled. “Robot with a sword.”
“Zi-Class Metroid.” The Vee sounded almost indignant, which amused Gareth. Of course calling a Metroid a robot was like calling a megalodon a goldfish, but as far as he was concerned, a robot was a robot.
The rogue Metroid’s designation was printed at the top of the page: MR-1-LN. “That’s a mouthful,” Gareth muttered, his eyes drifting down the page. It didn’t list the Metroid’s strength, everyone knew it was that of five or six men, if not more. They could use guns – any weapon they wanted, probably – but they came equipped with a weapon unlike anything Gareth had ever seen.
He had seen a Metroid corner a civilian before; the robot had clenched its right fist and pulled its hand back. The civilian’s body had gone from standing and alive to dead on the ground in less time than it took Gareth to draw in a breath – no visible weapon fired, no nothing.