The Great Insurrection Book 1: Warlord Born
These are not your average Gods.
The Written History of the Great Insurrection
My name isn't important. It has been and will continue to be spoken, but it truly doesn’t matter much to this history. I follow, and there is no shame in that for me or any of the legions that do the same.
The only important thing about me is who I follow.
I stand next to a man who some call a devil, a demon. Others remember him as “Odin” or “Alistair Kane.” Some whisper “Prometheus” when they speak about him, saying he is a god who brings fire to humanity, while others only talk about how the Greek myth was doomed, as this man is.
Perhaps it's all true, or perhaps none of it is. That isn't why I write this, to decide one way or another.
I don't know how this story ends. Neither does he. I only know that he won't quit, which means I will go to whichever destiny he races toward as well. Victory or failure, I will follow him.
Whatever name history records, however it records his deeds, I will live or die with him.
He is my friend, the greatest I've ever had. Perhaps he isn't the greatest of us all, but he is the one who leads, and while this isn't his story, it is he who will bring it home.
Welcome to the Great Insurrection.
“The Titans are the best of us. Pure of heart. Pure of body. They and they alone protect the Commonwealth from humanity’s worst instincts.” –Aurelius de Finita, First Imperial Ascendant
Alistair Kane stood in the back of the elevator, his MechPulse primed to maximum power. Ares stood at his right, shoulder to shoulder, and two rookies in front of them. Alistair didn't know their names, and he didn't like that. Ares hadn't mentioned the two newcomers since the operation began, then saying only, “These are who Control sent.”
He didn't know the last time he'd performed an operation without knowing the details of every man or woman within his purview, but it certainly hadn't occurred during his time as Primus.
They know, he thought as the elevator moved up another floor. They know, and this is the end.
Alistair's MechSuit covered his entire body, practically a metal exoskeleton that turned even the slightest of his movements into a powerful force that could break concrete. It allowed four men to ride to the five hundredth floor of a skyscraper without fearing that they'd soon be fighting upwards of one hundred combatants.
Alistair's left hand held the MechPulse while his right dropped and lightly touched his Whip. It was attached to his MechSuit, one of his oldest friends. He shouldn't need the weapon for this operation, but no Titan would enter an operation without it.
They know, his mind whispered again. Control knows.
But that would mean Ares knows, and there isn't any way they'd send him. He wouldn’t hurt you, not in this life or the next.
Alistair didn't turn his head to look at his protégé, just kept staring forward. They had about one hundred more floors to climb. By now, the Subversives would know something was wrong. The building had been completely shut down, their windows were no longer working, and attempts to fly vehicles to the top floor were being denied.
Most likely the Subversives could see the elevator rising, at least digitally. Those on the top floor were probably preparing for the arrival of the Titans; Alistair always wondered what that felt like, knowing fate had decided your time to die was here, and you could do nothing about it. For Alistair and his Titans, there were less dangerous ways to go about putting these Subversives down. They could have simply used the MechSuits’ jets to fly to the correct level, but that didn’t fit the purpose.
Control—indeed, the Commonwealth as a whole—wanted the Subversives to understand they had no hope. Once they were found, the entire building they occupied quit obeying their commands and would only obey Control's. Thus, the elevator’s slow creep upward. Moving toward fate.
The MechSuits were climate-controlled. Alistair kept his at a crisp sixty-five degrees regardless of his body temperature, yet he felt a drop of sweat run down his brow. You're scared, he thought. And not of the Subversives. You're scared they know, and if they do, then fate has come for you, hasn't it?
“Activate HUDs,” Ares commanded from Alistair's right. He meant the Heads Up Displays that formed outside the MechSuit's helmet, overlaying augmented reality onto whatever the Titan looked at. “Odin, you ready?”
Odin was Alistair's callsign, and “Ares” was what the man next to him answered to.
“Locked in,” Alistair responded as the elevator rolled to a smooth stop. “Control,” he said into the comm that linked back to the digital bay, “open doors.”
Overhead, there was a soft ding and the doors opened, splitting down the middle. The two Titans in front moved out, their MechPulses sweeping the area. Alistair and Ares stepped out next, Alistair's pulse at eye level, his fears from before gone. He had turned into his callsign, the name by which he was known as from one side of the world to the other, from Earth to the very farthest reaches of the Commonwealth, the ice-planet Pluto. Alistair Kane was Odin, the modern-day God of War and Justice.
The HUD overlaying his vision showed heat traces where the Subversives were scattering, running behind doors and down hallways, doing anything to stay away from the Titans. From fate.
Alistair glanced to his right, noting that Ares was too close to him. At the same moment, he saw the elevator door had closed behind him. Both of those things were against protocol. Alistair didn't know if Ares realized he’d noticed, so he turned his pulse toward a door showing a Subversive's traces.
“There's no need,” Ares said from behind. His voice was masked now; in case anything was being recorded, it would be impossible to tell who'd been inside the suit. “There's no one here, Odin. Just us.”
Alistair didn't turn around. He didn't need to. The room made sense now. His HUD couldn’t see through this type of construction material, meaning he couldn’t actually see the Subversives, only their traces—and those had been placed here before the Titans began their trip up in the elevator.
The other two Titans came back from their false chase. They'd only been awaiting Ares’ signal.
Alistair lowered his pulse so the barrel faced the ground.
One of the strangers spoke. “Careful, Odin. Don't think about grabbing that Whip.”
Ares' voice was like iron. “You're not here to talk, so don't do it again.”
Alistair knew why the stranger had spoken. He was scared. He knew of Odin, and he knew how much death Odin could cause if he unleashed the Whip that was two inches from his fingers. Alistair dropped his head to the right so that he could half-see his partner. “You're going to kill me?”
“Is that supposed to strike a chord with me?” his partner asked. “I'm not going to kill you, Odin. You killed yourself when you listened to the Subversives.”
Alistair's eyes found the new Titans. Were they really Titans, or just people wearing SUITs to help finish the job? Control probably didn't think Odin was capable of what he'd done in the past, so they believed Ares could take him out by himself. Those two were most likely here to reinforce for Odin that he had no chance of survival.
The newcomers stood twelve feet from him. A pulse hit from here would evaporate a human, but Alistair would survive inside the MechSuit. It would be damaged, without a doubt, but he’d live.
“What do you think the Subversives told me, Ares?” he asked, his body as still as a sphinx’s.
His partner laughed, the sound distorted and evil. “I don't have to think. I know exactly what was said because I watched it. Did you really think that blocker would work? Or that we didn’t know you let them go?” He shook his head. “I will say it was a nice acting job, Odin, making it look like three Subversives could take you and your Whip down.”
“You're sure of that?” Alistair said. “You're willing to bet my life on the fact that I let them go? That I was acting?”
Ares didn't lower his weapon an inch. “Our Institutes are based on your skill sets. Your style of fighting and tactics. Where do you think I learned how to be a Titan? Simple Subversives can’t put you down. If they could, they’d have killed you.”
Alistair's eyes were still on the newcomers, though his helmet kept them from knowing. “Did you listen to what they said? Did you do any checking?”
Ares shook his head. “No. I tracked them down and killed them yesterday. Any doubt I might have had about your complicity in their escape died with them.”
“What now?” Alistair asked. “What are your orders?”
Another laugh from the person Alistair considered his second-closest friend. A cruel laugh. One without mercy, without even a semblance of love. “You know what happens. You've done it to others who gave up the Code. There's no need to rehash it here, is there?”
“I suppose not,” Alistair whispered. He had done it to others for the exact reason they would now do it to him: because he had given up the Code. They would kill him here and either have a fake public execution or most likely say the great Odin had been slain by the AllMother’s Subversives. Put it on her head to stir up more hatred. “And my wife?”
“I'll make sure she's taken care of. She won't know of your betrayal.” It was the first sign of any humanity from Ares. “No more questions. Die like a Titan. I expect nothing less, despite your fall.”
Alistair checked his breath and his heart rate. His HUD displayed them both: seventy-seven beats per minute, respiration normal. Even now, his body wouldn't panic. It was part of what made the two newcomers fear him. In situations when the body should break, his remained calm. “Do Titans die, Ares? Or do we fall?”
“In your case,” his friend answered, “both.”
Alistair didn't think. His suit could handle one pulse shot, but not three at once. He dropped to a knee, let his pulse fall to the ground, and put his right hand on the Whip. A shot passed overhead, and the wall on his left disintegrated. The two newcomers were pumping their pulses for a reload, but it was too late for them. Perhaps they knew it, perhaps they didn't.
It was all the same to Odin.
He grabbed the Whip’s hilt, and the genetic codes traveled to it as he pulled it free. No other hand, no other person could operate it, and as it read its master, the weapon flowed from the hilt. Red light flooded into three whip-like strands. It would be a beautiful thing to watch under other circumstances, but Odin had no time just now.
He lunged forward as Ares' pulse disintegrated the wall he'd been standing in front of. The newcomers tried to raise their weapons, but he slashed his Whip at them, and the red lasers sliced through the first man, cutting him in two. Odin spun around his remains to reach the second Titan. Ares' blast struck the second man head-on, damaging his suit.
Odin raised his Whip, and it responded to him without hesitation. The three individual strands coiled around one another as they wrapped three times around the newcomer's neck. The suit sizzled and started melting, but Odin didn't allow the strand to tighten further.
Ares fired again, the MechPulse shattering the second newcomer’s suit’s knee joints. His suit wouldn't function any longer, at least as far as walking went. “STOP!” the stranger. He'd probably pissed himself.
Odin stayed directly behind his hostage. Showing even an inch of his suit would put him at risk. Ares wielded the pulse like a surgeon. “You going to kill him to get to me?”
The MechSuit was too large to shrug in, so Ares raised a hand in an equivalent gesture. “That's up to you. You're not surviving this, and however many people need to die to make that happen is on you.” Ares nodded at the body that lay in two pieces on the floor.
Odin whispered to the man in front of him, “I’m going to step back. If you don't move with me, your head is going to come right off your body. Nod if you understand.”
The newcomer nodded, causing the Whip to melt a bit more of his metal suit. Odin took a step back, and the soldier followed. His knees didn't bend, but his hip joints allowed him to shuffle awkwardly.
Ares laughed. “Where do you think you're going? You going to fly out the window? Try to get home to your wife and protect your house? You know there is no hiding from the Commonwealth. You think your wife hasn't already been detained? Do you think she's at your house, Odin?” He shook his head. “All the pieces were in play long before you got into that elevator. Give it up. There is no valor in stupidity. Die like the Titan you were, the one you'll be remembered as.”
Odin took another step. His HUD showed him the distance to the window behind him. This leap wouldn't be easy, and regardless of what the newcomer had done, he didn't deserve to die right now. Odin didn't want to kill him, which added another layer of complexity to the maneuver. He hadn't thought about what came next, not truly—there hadn’t been time. All he knew was he wanted to get to Luna, and from there, they could decide what to do. He wasn’t going to listen to anything else Ares had to say.
Odin gripped the Whip tighter. “If Luna isn't at home, Ares, it's you I'm coming for next.”
His left foot pushed off the ground while his right launched into the newcomer's back. The Whip unfurled from the man's neck, and Odin threw himself toward the window. He turned in the air, commanding the three strands of his Whip to uncoil. They began circling in a saw-like fashion. Odin heard and then felt the pulse shot from behind, part hitting the hostage and the other part slamming into him.
The Whip touched the window, and the three strands cut a circular hole just before Odin's helmet slammed into it. He felt another blast from the pulse and his left boot's shield went down. His HUD showed it as red, but he wasn't inside the building any longer. Odin started his fall from the five hundredth floor, and he could see the entire world below him. The edges of his right boot blasted fire as the jet activated.
He knew going up would be impossible with only one jet, so he let himself fall. The force of the blast sent him swerving to the left and launched him at an extra thirty kilometers per hour. Odin tilted his head back to the window and saw Ares look out. He wasn’t aiming the pulse since he realized one of Odin's feet had been damaged.
He could simply let the Titan fall to his death.
Odin’s HUD showed time until impact, and there wasn't any way he could slow down before he splattered all over the ground below. He looked over his shoulder and saw that Ares had him in his line of fire, obviously having decided not to risk any more mishaps.
Odin twisted his foot to the left and gripped his Whip. It connected instantaneously with him, and he had it spin its strands once more. The blast missed him by inches, though its wake threw him off-course. The Whip tried to adjust but wasn't quick enough, carving only a short way into the wall before Alistair’s suit smashed through it.
He slid on his back as concrete, metal, and brick scattered before him. People screamed since the floor hadn’t been emptied before the Titans' arrival. He laid on the ground staring at the ceiling for a few moments, and his Whip retracted into its handle, waiting for his next command.
He pulled up his current location on the HUD. He'd dropped three hundred floors, and by now, Control would know where he was. There wasn’t any way out of this, but he had to get to Luna.
He rose to his feet as people rushed toward the doors and elevators. None were working, at least not in their favor. He scanned the crowd quickly, his HUD identifying everyone and showing no threats. Odin looked over his shoulder to see the hole in the wall, wind flinging loose papers around.
That was the only way out—two hundred floors down with a damaged MechSuit.
Think, he told himself. Could he carve his way out of here? The Whip was strong, but multiple uses to cut steel would wear it out, possibly even break it, and that could not be risked. He knew reinforcements were coming. The elevators were moving, and he could hear quadcopters in the distance. Control hadn't thought it would take this much to kill him, but they were prepared all the same.
He knew how they were following him: the MechSuit. They’d be able to find him as long as he wore it, but could he survive without it?
There wasn’t any real choice.
“Fold off,” he said into the helmet, and the suit collapsed into itself. Helmet went to neck, neck to shoulder, and so on until it had all compacted except for his damaged left boot. He used the Whip delicately and cut himself loose, then he stood up in standard armor, flexible black fabric that wouldn't hold up to a tenth of a pulse blast.
To his right, he saw a man cowering behind his desk. He hadn't run. Odin turned to him. “Give me your clothes. Now.”
The man froze for a second, not understanding. Odin raised the Whip and lashed with all three strands, blackening the floor beneath him. “Your clothes!”
Odin didn't want to hurt these people. He didn't want to even scare them, but fear was his most potent weapon right now if he wanted to find his wife. Ares would have said anything upstairs to keep him from fighting back, but Odin didn't believe one word of it at that moment.
The cowering man stripped quickly, knowing from the armor and Whip who stood in front of him, or if not who, then what—a Titan.
Odin wished he had his HUD, but that was in his discarded MechSuit. The man had stripped to his skivvies, and Odin quickly dressed in the discarded clothes. Modern day business attire. It would give him only seconds, but that was all he would need.
He looked at the people huddling against walls, in corners, and under desks. “I'm not going to hurt any of you. Men are coming right now, and they will if you get in their way. Do not get in their way. When they get here, they're going to ask where I am. Don't answer.” Odin knew that if any of these people lied to the Titans when they arrived, there’d be severe punishment. “All you need to do is look out the hole in the wall. Nothing else.”
These people were fearful, but they also understood that Titans were on the side of justice. They most likely thought the men hunting him were Subversives, so they would listen to what he told them. It would only be later that they'd realize they'd been duped, but he wouldn't care at that point. Odin pocketed his Whip, now silenced, and shoved the undressed man beneath his desk. He followed, leaving the damaged boot where he'd once been.
Seconds ticked by. Odin could smell the man’s urine. He placed his hand on the stranger’s shoulder, at the same time keeping his eyes on the still-closed elevators. “You're safe. Nothing's going to happen to you. Just stay right here.”
The man sniffled and nodded, his relief palpable. Odin moved his hand back to his pocket, gripping the silent Whip. This was taking them too long. They should have already been here.
The whine of the quadcopter grew louder outside. Odin thought he heard a second as well.
They won’t let me leave, he thought.
The elevators opened. Odin recognized the first three Titans: Thor, Freya, and Mars. Ares walked out last, his red MechSuit the color of blood—the only one of its kind.
“Where is he?” Ares asked the cowering room full of people. He didn’t need to specify who he was talking about, given the massive hole in the wall and the wind rushing through it.
Odin watched as everyone slowly turned as he'd instructed. Ares nodded. “Go,” he told the other three Titans.
Damn it, Odin thought. He didn't want Ares behind him under any circumstances. He watched as the Titans moved across the room, their boots thumping heavily on the floor. Odin quietly pulled the Whip from his pocket, the hilt glowing red as it activated.
The man next to Odin stared at it with a slack jaw. Whips were known throughout society but rarely seen. Usually, if you saw one and weren’t a Titan, death was imminent.
The Titans went past the desk and peered out the hole.
“I don't see—” one started to say. Odin moved before they finished.
He leapt from behind the desk, the Whip's three strands falling out of the handle. They crackled with energy, which gave away his location, but the Titans were too slow. Thor moved first, turning his head over his shoulder, his own Whip spilling out. Odin brought his down across the Titan's right arm, cutting it off in three different sections, the final one above the elbow. Blood spilled on the floor as screams ripped from the man.
Mars was in the middle, and he formed his Whip into a solid sword. It slashed across Odin's, trying to pin it to the ground.
Odin’s Whip wrapped around Mars' sword and he yanked. The Titan was pulled forward, but Odin couldn't attack him with his body–he'd break his hand or foot on the suit.
Freya swung from his left, aiming for his midsection. He ducked, and the Whip sizzled over his head. Mars had jumped back quickly to avoid Freya’s Whip. He now grabbed Odin by the throat with his left hand and thrust him into the air as he stepped in Thor's blood.
Ares remained at the elevator. “That's enough, Odin. There's nowhere to go.”
What a combination of characters! It is always fun to speculate about what would happen when the most powerful figures in mythology get their hands on some of the technology of the future, and here we have it in The Great Insurrection: Warlord Born. This book is available for pre-order now and will be available for all readers on February 16th. In the meantime keep an eye out for the next snippet of this legendary tale.