my #sonofapitch votes

In the end, I only had five votes. And while I hate that this process is so tough, that speaks volumes about the quality of talent you guys possess.

There’s not a specific order to this list.

The Ramblin’ Hand of Sherry Anne

This query and intro read like a lyrical honky-tonk tale and once it got under my skin, there was nothing I could do. Perhaps it’s because I am from the south or the fact that Sherry Anne was born with a rabbit’s foot on her hip or that she crossed paths with a meddlin’ cocaine addled fiddle player – I’m honestly not sure. But this one spoke to me in a voice I’d never heard.

Silver and Ice

The query sold me on the premise, but the voice of Ebraham made me want to take a front seat and hear tales of hunting silver tongues and maybe be there when he meets with the queen. Maybe – she seems a bit … intimidating. There was a sense of tension and elegance that swept me away.

 

Killer’s Day Off

This voice had detached-cleverness that I thought was exceptionally cool. I love stories where futuristic technology goes horribly wrong and people have to fight to reclaim their lives – I do, but this isn’t that. This is a genetically-enhanced android super-assassin eating a bag of Cheetos and talking to his boss about not wanting to go to work. This is one existential crisis I don’t want to miss.

The Social Season

The premise of Natalie being forced to enter a Social Season (constructed to find wives, mistresses or servants) as a punishment for being found guilty of treason as a child hooked me. To hear Nicholas not want a wife because they would just follow him around and grovel at his feet made me laugh. And the promise of romantic tension told from dual POV with distinct voices sealed the deal.

Playing God

The thought that Apollo is masquerading around in Portland, Maine as a research scientist struck me as such fun. But the voice of Apollo in the query as swearing off women of the mortal ilk and describing the way Demetria opened the bottle as if she were snapping the neck of a lab rat left me wanting more.

 

(If your baby isn’t on this list, please don’t feel like it’s a vote against you. It’s not. I’d become a #SonofaPitch shepherd and lead you all into the land of next round if I Katie would let me.)

I loved so much about all the stories I read… choosing was very tough. (not touch)

Don’t be a stranger.

Thank you all again for sharing your words.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#NewRelease FLAME by A.K.Morgen #TheRagnarokProphesies

I’m very excited to announce that the long awaited (and much anticipated!) third book of the Amazon Bestselling RAGNAROK PROPHESIES series has finally arrived! Join Arionna Jacobs and Dace Matthews as they race to stop the apocalypse in this intense and emotional series by A.K. Morgen.

Read on below for all the details, including a giveaway!

SUMMARY

Who do you trust when betrayal threatens to destroy everything you hold dear?

When Arionna Jacobs fled town in a desperate bid to save Dace Matthews, she never expected the chaos she would leave in her wake. Now her closest friend is dead, and another is missing, forcing Ari to return to face the devastating consequences of her actions and the broken boy she left behind.

Her problems are only just beginning.

Even as her bond with Dace grows stronger, Arionna finds herself weakening when Freki’s cage shatters. Fighting the wolf for control is tearing her apart piece by piece. And at every turn, she finds that those she’s put her faith in aren’t who they seem, bringing her face to face with Sköll and Hati. As the depth of their betrayal is revealed, Freki spirals out of control, and Arionna must face her greatest fear: losing herself to the fierce wolf within.

The world balances on the edge of a blade, and one wrong move will destroy it all.

With few allies she can trust and little choice left, Arionna must decide between the lives of her friends and her own future with the alpha she loves. Will she be able to stand firm for the sake of the world, or will she falter in the face of defeat? 

BOOK LINKS:
AMAZON | GOODREADS | BARNES AND NOBLE 


EXCERPT

 

“Arionna, dammit, wake up.”

 

Unseen hands gripped my upper arms, shaking me. A familiar voice called my name over and over. Furious howls ripped through the air.

 

None of those sounds made sense to me.

 

I felt different, like I’d been taken apart and put back together in the wrong order. Everything hurt. My body ached, muscles locked tight in protest. My head throbbed. Each painful pulse rattled against my skull, sending ripples down my neck and into my back.

 

I groaned and rolled onto my side.

 

The hands shaking me relaxed.

 

I fought to open my eyes, then blinked, confused. Worn brown carpet scratched against the side of my face. The bottom edge of a pale blue bed-sham fluttered inches from me. Dust bunnies and small pieces of plastic were strewn beneath the sagging bed. A table and two chairs were grouped on the other side. A crack ran up the leg of one chair, splitting the wood.

 

None of the room looked familiar.

 

Where am I?

 

The voice calling my name stopped mid-shout and sighed.


Oh, thank god, he said.

 

For what? I wondered, marveling that the words came from inside my mind, but didn’t belong to me. How was that possible?

 

I couldn’t place the soft, silky tones either, but they made my stomach flip and my heart flutter. I knew the speaker. At least I thought I did. Before I could ask him who he was or how he spoke in my head, someone blew out a sharp breath. This time, the sound didn’t come from inside.


“Finally,” that second voice said.

 

Nope. Definitely not coming from my mind.

 

I rolled my eyes toward the relieved sound, and then frowned at the guy leaning over me. Long, dark hair hung in his face. His eyes were black, and full of concern. His features were sharp, severe, but handsome.

 

This time I was certain; I knew this guy.

 

“Ronan,” I said. His name was Ronan LaCrosse, and mine was… Arionna. Yes, Arionna Jacobs. Memory began to slowly trickle back in. We were at a motel in Illinois, looking for someone. And the howls were coming from Fuki, the little wolf we’d brought with us, though I couldn’t see him.

 

Where was he?

 

I tried to figure out why I was on the floor, but came up with a big blank.

 

“What happened?” I asked, looking up at Ronan.

 

He held out a hand for me, then pulled me into a sitting position.

 

The room tilted before straightening again. I clutched my head in my hands, groaning. When the initial wave of nausea passed, I tilted my head up slowly so I could see Ronan. “Did I hit my head?” I asked, trying to blink away the dark spots floating in my peripheral.

 

“You don’t remember?” He narrowed his eyes, tilting his head to the side like a raven assessing me.

 

I scooted back against the edge of the bed, frowning.

 

What was I supposed to remember?
 

 

GIVEAWAY

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

A.K. Morgen is the Amazon Bestselling author of the Ragnarök
Prophesies series. She lives in the heart of Arkansas with her childhood
sweetheart/husband of thirteen years, and their six furry minions. When not
writing, she spends her time hiking, reading, volunteering, causing mischief,
and building a Spork army. Ayden graduated summa
cum laude
with her Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice and
Forensic Psychology in 2009 before going on to complete her graduate degree in CJ and Law. She currently puts her education to use in the social services and
CJ field. 

Ayden also writes New Adult and contemporary romance under the penname Ayden K. Morgen.
 
You can find her on 
Twitter, Facebook, or via her website at http://akmorgen.com.

#SonofaPitch – Round 2 – My thoughts

b36ce-soap-finalAhem, I don’t really blog as much as I used to. Mostly because it takes time. And often, I just don’t have that much to say. But the lack of sleep and an overindulgence in words have left me in a sentimental sort of mood. So, here I am, wanting to get a few things off my chest.

 

Returning to Son of a Pitch for the third time, triggered familiar issues. Twitter and WordPress wondered if my accounts had been hacked based on the influx of activity, I had a sleepless night due to all the fabulous phrasings, premises and plots floating around my brain, Blogger refused to allow me posting rights, and I was once again overcome with a deep gratitude and reverence for the writing community.

 

As in previous turns, I want to say how blown away I am by the wisdom, the wit, the talent, and the kindness of the authors on the SOAP team and our esteemed leader Katie. Being amongst their ranks for the week flatters me greatly. (I try to avoid their critiques during the round so I feel less influenced and intimidated– which is why sometimes my comments are totally unaligned 🙂 But I love reading through their thoughts near the end.)

 

The entries swept me off my feet this year… again. The creativity and passion that comes through in your words astounds me. Whether your writing career is counted in hours, years or tears, I’m honored and thankful you chose to share your words. Please don’t stop.

 

And never forget, this is your baby. Raise it how you want. You are in complete control of how you finish your work. The ideas/thoughts/suggestions and opinions put forth were all humbly offered. But they are yours to use or ignore. You are the master of your manuscript and it is better for that.

 

If you were helped a little or a lot this week, pay it forward. Be a CP or beta to a beginner, intermediate, or advanced writer. Your time is a gift and always appreciated. We all have a need to have our words heard at some time or another.

 

There are 51 entries and only twenty will advance. But all fifty-one walk away with feedback on their words. Winners every one. And each judge gets to cast five votes. Yeah, this go round, I promised Katie I wouldn’t whine about only having five. And I intend to honor that. It’s hard for me to narrow down the list because while all aren’t ready yet, a heck of a lot more than five are.

 

So – thank you all for throwing your hats in the ring and participating. You are courageous and talented and it has been my pleasure to read your words.

 

And lastly, I’d love to have all your books on my shelf and am certain that one day I will.

SonofaPitch Entry 10: TOSOM Freshman #TeamDroids

b36ce-soap-finalTitle: TOSOM: Freshman
Category and Genre: YA Fiction
Word Count: 60,000

Query:

Amarea is a brat. You may love her, but be honest, she’s a brat. She thinks the world owes her something because she is sick. I guess the world does need to be nice to her, but doesn’t she need to be nice to the world?

She wants to control Joey. I mean she can communicate with him telepathically, so doesn’t that make him hers? Joey just wants to be Joey. I guess Amarea wants some sort of control in her world, really she has none. Cancer did that to her. Stripped her of everything she can control.

She wants friends, but doesn’t know how to be a friend. She wants to be liked, but doesn’t really like anyone.

She’s the hero of this book, because, well, you don’t know any better.


First 250 Words:

Amarea walked between her parents. Maybe that would make her less obvious. She noticed him across the courtyard, big brown eyes and messy brown hair. She blushed when she looked at him. She knew even the top of her skull would be pale pink; that’s the trouble with being a bald freak.

I’m not a bald freak, Amarea thought.

The boy searched the crowd. He found her eyes and stared at her.

Stop looking at me, she thought. The boy looked away.

After a stimulating twenty minutes of welcomes from the principal and assistant principals, students were corralled into their homerooms, girls on one side of the hallway, boys on the other. No one said anything to Amarea. She sat by herself in the corner. She could see people glancing back at her, whispering about her.

I’m not a freak, she thought as a girl carefully placed a piece of paper on Amarea’s desk. The paper contained her schedule and locker combination.

Amarea had trouble opening her locker. The boy had come to her rescue. The lock opened easily with his skillful touch.

“Thank you,” Amarea said. What a cutie, she thought.

“You’re welcome,” the boy said blushing. “Do you need help finding your classes?” 

“That would be great,” she replied. She wondered if he was always this nice.

“Yes, I am,” he admitted.

“Are what?” Amarea asked.

“Always this nice,” he replied.

“Oh,” Amarea said. I wonder if I said that out loud, she thought.

“Yes, you did,” he said.

#SonofaPitch Entry 9: On the Road to Marty McFly #TeamDroids

b36ce-soap-finalTitle: ON THE ROAD TO MARTY MCFLY
Category and Genre: YA Contemporary
Word Count: 66,000 words

Query:
When fourteen-year-old Zinnia and her younger brother uncover an old Back to the Future lunchbox in their attic, the siblings aren’t prepared for what’s inside: their mom’s high school diary.

 

Desperate to find out who their real dad is, Zinnia begs her brother to keep the find a secret while she investigates. That’s easy for him but not so for Zinnia whose anxiety and need for order rules her world. Besides, she can’t expect her mom to tell her the truth about her dad if she’s secretly reading her diary. Her brother’s less interested in discovering their deadbeat dad and more curious about the recent strange connections to the movie: the BTTF lunchbox, his sister’s Marty McFly vest, their neighbor’s fancy new DeLorean, and the cute boy named Martin. Ultimately, they team up, but it will take more than the two of them to uncover the truth, and time’s running out. Their town’s planning a yard sale to raise money for Parkinson’s, and Zinnia’s mom wants to clean out the attic for donations. She’s especially interested in the lunchbox.

 

If Mom finds out Zinnia has her diary, she might never speak to her again. If Zinnia doesn’t confront her mom soon, she might never meet her dad. All she wants is to be brave like Marty McFly and fix her broken family. Instead, she’s doing a bang up job breaking it apart.

First 250 Words:
If Life’s about straightening every visible imperfection, then I’m definitely on the right road. While my therapist scribbles on her notepad, I’m occupied with the tangled fringe of her office rug. Mom’s brilliant idea to sign me up for therapy after the last six months of my life turned into a television reality show for closet organizers.
“How does that make you feel, Zinnia? The rug. Better? Is the…sizzling in your chest gone?” Lisa the Scribbler flips through pages then sets the pad down and folds her hands in her lap.
This is our fourth session in two months.
I shrug. “I guess.” Staring at the rug’s other side of fringe, I resist the urge to kneel again and comb through crooked threads. Snakelike electrical impulses crawl across my chest.
“Like I said, if something eases your nerves, and no one’s getting hurt…especially you…go for it.” Lisa tucks a purple streak of hair behind her ear. She could be in one of my classes. Looks-wise.
My palms rest on my thighs, and I make a mental note to trim my nails after dinner. Then I ask the question I’ve been chewing on for two months: “Is it true anxiety’s passed down? I mean, my mom is the least organized person I know.”
“What’s your dad like?”
The million dollar question. I swallow. “Never met him.”
“Oh.” Lisa lifts her pad and scribbles. “Is he alive?”
God, I never even thought of that. Thanks, Lisa.

#SonofaPitch Entry 8: Wacky Wednesday #TeamDroids

b36ce-soap-finalTitle: Wacky Wednesday

Category and Genre: YA Magical Realism
Word Count: 80000
 
Query:
Switching gender’s with her best friend’s crush was not how Andy planned to spend the last few weeks leading up to prom. Andy has crushed on Taylor all year, and has every intention of asking him to the upcoming prom. The only problem is, it turns out, he’s crushing on her best friend. So she hides to sulk, which is where Kokopelli appears and casts a spell on her.
The next day, she wakes up as guy-Andy. With new and strange body parts, Andy freaks out. She’s never been a dude before! Except, her mom treats her like nothing has changed, and when she goes to school, she’s suddenly Taylor’s best friend. But Taylor already has a best friend, Hayden, and when Hayden appears with long locks and curves, Andy loses it with laughter. 
Together they have to figure out why they are switching and solve Kokopelli’s riddle for them. They grow closer, and although Andy’s best friend is crushing on Hayden, Andy’s feelings switch to him as well. Jealousy flares, and Andy’s insecurities hold her back, making the spell linger. But if Hayden and Andy don’t solve the riddle, they will be stuck switching places every Wednesday.
 
First 250:

The back of Taylor’s head has me mesmerized. Yeah, his face is way better, but since he’s sitting right in front of me, the back of his head works just fine. Those thick, chocolate brown locks, practically screaming for me to run my hand through, his ears poking out ever so slightly, that strong neck, the short, shaved hairs from his recent trim begging to be stroked, those solid shoulders in that grey-blue t-shirt—

Smack!

I glare at my best friend, Hannah, beside me. She grins like an idiot and shakes her head. “You zoned out there.”

“Yeah.” I avert my gaze as Taylor turns to face us.

“What are you guys doing after school?” he asks.

“It’s Tuesday,” Hannah says, tapping her chin, “so, homework? Why? You have something awesome planned?”

He shrugs. “Dunno. Just thinking we could all hang out at the park or something.”

Yes! I give Hannah a look that I hope says it all. Because moments like this around Taylor get me all tongue tied. It’s not that I can’t talk to him, because we talk, usually about sports, but we can hold a conversation. It’s just these, Hey, let’s spontaneously hang out moments that get me all wound up.

Hannah’s sparkle in her eyes tells me she grasped my message. “Sure. We can meet you there at four.”

He winks at us and taps the snare drum. “Awesome.”

As he turns back around, I meet Hannah’s gaze and fan my face. She silently giggles at me.

After school, Hannah and I meet and head to my car. She wraps her arm around mine as she practically skips. “Do you think Taylor will invite Hayden?” She bounces on her toes. “I hope so.”

#SonofaPitch Entry 7: Flying Close to the Ground #TeamDroids

b36ce-soap-finalTitle: Flying Close to the Ground

Category or Genre: Young Adult – Coming of Age
Word Count: 62,00
 
Query:

For 17 year-old Jessie Reilly, life moves very fast – in perfect ovals. She’s an apprentice jockey at the local racetrack. To Jessie, nothing beats the feeling of tearing around the track on a fiery horse, an experience she describes as “flying, only very close to the ground”. 

But, as any pilot will tell you, flying close to the ground is a dangerous business. You have no margin for error and little chance of recovering if you make a mistake. And Jessie’s certainly under a lot of pressure. Her rivalry with an aggressive fellow apprentice, her efforts to maintain the sport’s low weight requirements, and the dangerous nature of horse racing challenge her at the track. Away from the track, Jessie dodges the concerns of her friends and family, tries to establish a relationship with her distant father, and struggles to balance school and racing.

Will Jessie be able to find her stride and stay in balance or will she lose control?

 
First 250 Words:
What’s the secret to being a good jockey? It’s control – both of the horse and of yourself. Even though you’re racing around at 40 miles an hour, you want your body to be the picture of serenity. You want to be completely still, back flat and steady enough to carry a wine glass. You want a good rhythm, your hands moving with the motion of the horse’s head. Most of all, you want perfect balance, your center of gravity holding you in place as you fly around the track. 
We get through a mile of cantering and then I goad Miz into a gallop. She doesn’t need a lot of urging. I feel her gait change from a 3-beat to a 4-beat. I saw a photograph once that showed a racing horse at that split-second when all four of its feet are off the ground. It confirmed my belief that what we do is flying, just very close to the ground.
The galloping goes by quickly and then I pull out the crop and ask her for all she’s got for the last stretch. It doesn’t feel appreciably different to me. When we finish, I pull her back to a trot and we have a cool-down lap. Patch didn’t ask for this, but I’ve been working with him long enough to know that he always wants one cool-down and that he might want another. When I’ve completed one, I look at him and when he doesn’t nod, I bring 

#SonofaPitch Entry 6: On The Edge #TeamDroids

b36ce-soap-finalTitle: On The Edge
Category and Genre: NA Romance
Word Count: 80000

Query:

Collegiate champion, figure skater, Trace Hayward, is convinced there’s something wrong with her V-dar when she finds out she has fallen madly in love with the wrong man of her dreams. She thought the feelings of blissful love were mutual, until she walks in on him in bed with someone else—one of the running backs from his football team. Her heart is shattered into a million pieces. 

After one night of binge drinking, transferring to another university is the only way Trace can escape the choice she made that night; the night that changed her life.

A new start free from destructive relationships is her plan—until she crashes into a hot-as-the-sun-hockey player while skating. Smoldering sparks heat every inch of her body when she takes one look at him, but Trace has no intention of opening her heart to another cocky a**hole athlete. And she has no problem expressing her explicit annoyance for him and his rude ice etiquette.

 

Captain of the hockey team, Dakota Andersen, gets everything he wants. He never has to work too hard for women, admiration, grades…women. But he wasn’t always such a player. He had the woman he thought he was going to love forever, until he loses her in a tragic accident. Dak can’t get past his responsibility for her death and he can’t forget his lost love—but he’s trying with every puck bunny 

that comes his way. One-night stands of lust-filled sex keep his mind off the past and his heart protected. But when a feisty spitfire collides with him at the rink, the ice around his heart begins to crack.  

 

Maybe Dak and Trace can help each other find a way to let go of their crushing pasts and open their hearts again. That is, if they don’t strangle each other first!

FIRST 250

         I am never going to fall in love again. It’s too…destructive, too fatal. That’s the most important thing I’ve learned in the past god-awful year of my life. It’s time to focus on my future sans sticky relationships that do nothing but screw you over—and not in a good way.

 Close your eyes and imagine in your mind what you want your future to look like. I hear the voice of my therapist, Gail, encouraging me just as she has done a thousand times in the past. Huh, my therapist. Who would’ve thought at twenty-three I’d be saying those words! But my parents insisted I see her, so I reluctantly agreed. In the end I was glad I did.

I don’t see Gail anymore now that I’m at Bernard. But all the support I got from her and my family, in the past year, has gotten me to the point where I’m strong enough to stand on my own; figure things out for myself. Still, the thought of the warmth of Gail’s office and soothing scents of eucalyptus are comforting memories that cross my mind as I open my eyes and stare mindlessly across the shimmering expanse of  ice.

       Shivering, I focus on the mist of my breath as I blow out a big puff of air. This rink is cold—colder. Maybe it’s just my newfound, uncharacteristic fear making it seem like it is. The tons of championship hockey and figure skating banners that decorate the perimeter walls of the rink stand out in the glaring overhead lights. 

#SonofaPitch Entry 5: Virtual Space #TeamDroids

b36ce-soap-finalTitle: Virtual Space
Category and Genre: YA Science Fiction
Word Count: 45,000

Query: At 14.2 years old, Kade Walker has never heard of death. Literally. But neither has anyone else he knows. Kade is one of hundreds of teens living across the solar system through the use of robotic avatars while their real bodies sleep in pods on Earth. Nothing can hurt him this way; the adults all said so. They just never said how to survive high school when only one person on the planet will talk to him.

Kade will admit, his obsession with numbers might deter 35.7% of people from hanging out with him. But the bigger issue is his best friend — Princess Tamika of Venus. So her mom almost let a crazed hacker take over everyone’s bodies twelve years ago. The queen is locked away, and Tamika herself is really nice. Kade needs to give her reputation a serious reboot. He starts off simple: an interstellar tour using an old teleportation machine he’s reconstructed. But the machine’s not rigged for current use, so when Kade fires it up, he unwittingly kills a major security wall and unleashes the same hacker from twelve years ago. Panic rating: ten times infinity. The hacker shuts off all communications with the adults and begins to take control of the royal avatars. If Kade doesn’t want to see his best friend used as a puppet, he needs to stop the hacker fast — even if that means waking up on Earth to fight with a body he never realized could be hurt.


First 250 Words:
It wasn’t the first time Kade had hacked the Venusian maintenance system, but it was one of the best. If he had to put a number on it (and there was very little he didn’t put a number on), he’d give it a 9.7. The 9.8 and 9.9 scores were reserved for something epic he hadn’t thought of yet, and 10.0 was for the day he would finally reprogram how his robotic body looked.

Still, assuming he didn’t get caught, his skills today would land him on a totally different planet. Maybe that deserved the 9.8 slot after all. If Tamika would hurry and get here, he could ask for her opinion.

Kade straightened against a metal door embedded in a burnt orange mountainside and flicked his left wing. A line of glowing text scrolled across his view: 5:03:34pm. He’d checked the time fifty-three seconds ago, but whenever he wasn’t reading data, he felt lost. The adults called it unhealthy. Healthy people could watch a sunset without calculating its luminosity every thirty seconds, but healthy people sounded boring. Besides, the numbers comforted him. Nobody got weirded out by seeing their own hands all the time, did they? His numbers were just that — an extra set of hands. Or wings. Or whatever.

Kade froze. His sensors detected a deep clunking sound that echoed across Venus’s stone-hard surface. Low volume, maybe twenty to thirty decibels. His first thought was that it was a patrol robot, but it was coming too fast.

#SonofaPitch Entry 4: Designs of Euphoria #TeamDroids

b36ce-soap-finalTitle: Designs of Euphoria
Category and Genre: YA Science Fiction
Word Count: 68,000
 
Query
Seventeen-year-old Lottie might have accepted that her first love is a genetically modified warrior loyal to an emerging AI. At least until she discovers that the machine is systemically stamping out all dissent and diversity on its quest to build a perfectly just city—modeled after the three-tiered society of Plato’s Republic.
 
When the lives of her family get caught in its path, Lottie realizes the fight to save them is much bigger than herself. Pockets of impoverished provincials and groups of vengeful exiled warriors have launched a counteroffensive. But the uprising captures her father, thinking he works for the AI.
 
Now with her love and family on one side and a ragtag cabal that she believes in on the other, Lottie has to decide what—and whom—she’s willing to sacrifice to stop the encroaching army of warriors and exobots.
 
First 250 Words:
The second to last time Dad lay buried between the sacks, every part of me hoped he’d stay there. I had no idea that the next time, I’d be a sobbing mess, begging him to get up.
 
Grains of sand whipped around us, scattering as we neared West Gate. Our transport cruised along with the low hum of autopilot, running a methodical scan over the deserted terrain. I’d stopped paying attention hours ago. Now sitting hunched over, I flipped through page after page of the tattered book. A slow ache rippled through my shoulder blades. Everything hurt, everything always hurt, by the time we got to the gate.
 
The transparent display ignited a faint orange glow, signaling an alert. The following ding said it all: they’d identified us. Cursing myself for not moving sooner, I slammed the book closed and jumped up. A hollow slip ran between the interior wall and flat deck. Two quick bangs and the rusty casing opened enough for me to hide the gift inside. A good kick and it closed. Once settled, I switched the transport to semi-manual mode and queued a couple controls. We floated forward at a slow pace.
 
Up ahead, warriors stood erect with their backs against chiseled stone, looking as greyed and weathered as the wall they guarded, but also as proud. As we neared, the darkened silhouettes shifted, drawing electrified braided spears outward. Black synthetic leathers ran smoothly over their bodies, concealing the source of their inhuman strength: exogear.
 
Either the automatic alert or my scurry woke Dad.