The Great Insurrection Book 1: Warlord Born
Every time Alistar opens his eyes his situation gets worse. What happens next is unimaginable.
Alistair opened his eyes slowly, blinking multiple times but not really thinking. His brain was dragging from the double dose of morphoids. All he really knew was that he was awake.
He moved his head to the right, taking in his surroundings, and then slowly brought it to the left. A man was sitting on a metal bench. He had a red beard that extended a few inches from his face. His head was bald and his body thick. He had hands that looked like they might be able to bend metal. The eyes that stared back at Alistair were bright red, which sent a chill over Alistair's entire body.
It was an almost iridescent red, something that shouldn't be possible but clearly was. It was outlawed across the entire solar system. Alistair had only seen someone of this kind once, but the man had been Clipped and unable to hurt anyone.
Alistair opened his mouth; his tongue felt heavy and sticky. “You're a mutant?”
The man raised an eyebrow but didn't respond. Alistair blinked again, then figuring the mutant wasn't going to say anything, looked down at his lower body. Everything was covered with another blanket, a different-colored one than when he'd been wheeled through Immigration.
He didn't hurt anymore. It dawned on him that he'd had another dose of drugs, or maybe more than one.
He turned his head back to the mutant. “Where are we? How long have I been under?”
The red-eyed man rubbed his beard gruffly, looking angry. “You're who they say you are, huh?” he asked, tucking his bottom lip under the top and nodding in very slight movements. “You're Odin, the first god. And now you can't even stand up.”
Alistair wanted to say something, to respond in some quick-witted way—which was never his forte—but his mind was in such a haze. The only things he could think to say were the questions he'd just asked. “Where are we? How long have I been under?”
The thickly muscled man stood up. “We're on a ship that's heading to a world of ice. You've been under two days, and we're still orbiting Earth. Your little escape has made quite a stir. The Imperial Ascendant actually called for the complete cessation of travel.”
Alexander de Finita. It was the first coherent thought not about his whereabouts that Alistair had formed. He thought the name again: Alexander de Finita. “He stopped travel?”
The big man's back was to Alistair now, but he nodded. “It seems your death was more important than anyone thought. Certainly more than I thought. Maybe the AllMother knew, or maybe She simply wanted to pay the debt. I don't know.” He turned around, his red eyes bright. If anyone boarded this ship and saw those eyes, he’d be put down immediately. Not Clipped, but killed. Even the mutant Alistair had once seen, she'd had her head turned into powder with a close-range MechPulse while wearing the Clip.
The mutant put his hands on his hips. “My name is Theos. My red eyes probably tell you that I have no family, nothing so grand as Finita.” He whispered the word in mock awe. “But as a Titan, you also have no family name as prestigious. And now, you no longer even have the title of Titan. Odin is dead. Your family name, Kane, is dead.” He took a step toward the gurney. “My eyes are red and you call me mutant, but where we're going, you have a choice to make. You will either become like me, a mutant, or fall apart before you ever have a chance to see the ice world.”
Alistair closed his eyes tight. He couldn’t fully grasp what was being asked. Him, a Pure Born…they wanted to turn him into a mutant? The lineage of Kane may not be anything as prestigious as Finita or Barasam, but he was being asked to throw it all away. Everything, for…
“What…” He opened and closed his mouth a couple of times, trying to get full use of his tongue. “What are you talking about?”
The big man chuckled, though there was no joy in it. “We're going into the fifth dimension with this jump. Your body, as is, won't be able to survive that, but there's no way we're risking traveling in the third or even the fourth. The only way you’ll survive what's coming is if you become like me.”
The ice world.
Alistair lay back on the gurney. Tears floated over his eyes, though he willed them to not overflow to his cheeks. How was this possible? How had he gotten here? A week ago, he'd been at home with Luna, awaiting another assignment, but not worried about anything. He'd sat on their porch, sipping whiskey, her at his side. Their lawn had been green, and their dog had been lounging in the grass.
The ice world. Pluto.
All because months ago he'd heard something he shouldn't. He'd done something he shouldn't.
Theos walked over to the gurney. Alistair didn't look at him but kept his eyes on the ceiling above. The tears still hadn’t fallen.
“You'll get no sympathy from me, Titan. What the AllMother does is beyond my mind. She operates in ways that none of us can understand because she sees the future. I trust her ability to steer us to the future that is necessary, so I do my part, but you…” He shook his head, clearly disgusted at what and who he was looking at. “You are perhaps one of the worst creatures I've ever laid eyes on.”
He turned away from the gurney and walked to the door. He raised his hand to a chip reader, and the door opened by sliding into the wall. “We're making the jump in three standard days. I'll need every second of those three days to even have a chance of keeping you alive. I'll be back in a standard hour. Have your decision ready.”
Alistair again shut his eyes hard.
The mutant spoke once more. “The drugs I've been giving you will wear off soon. The AllMother doesn't want you making this choice drugged up. Deal with the pain, Titan, and decide once more if you want to die or keep going forward.”
When he stepped out of the room, the door whooshed closed, locking Alistair in alone.
The mutant hadn't lied. The pain was back, and Alistair did everything he mentally could to moderate it. His training in pain management was extensive, and when the door opened, Alistair's eyes were closed, and his breathing was a tight twenty reps per minute.
Even so, sweat dripped from his forehead, and his fingers were curling on the metal beneath him, wanting to grab anything.
The door closed behind the mutant, but Alistair didn't open his eyes or turn his head. He couldn't, not if he wanted to keep the pain at bay. The moment he relented, it would flood him like the ocean’s tides.
“Have you made your choice, Titan?”
The mutant had been right. He did want to make this choice with a clear head, or as clear as he could get. If he went this route, he was forfeiting the Commonwealth's Contract. He was casting away everything he'd been brought up to believe. Everything his parents taught him as a little boy and everything he and Luna had planned on teaching their children.
Alistair had five more years left with the Titans, then he’d planned on having children of his own.
And he was going to throw it all away. For what? That was the question he'd asked himself in the last hour. Why would he do it? Had he no honor? No sense of duty? Perhaps the Commonwealth had decided he should die, but how many times had he been the enforcer of such a decision?
“Titan,” the mutant said, “you know I'm modified. I can tell you're alive, despite your low breathing rate. What's it going to be? There isn't time for games.”
Alistair wasn't sure of his answer. Even after an hour, he hadn't been able to get behind it fully, but the thing that kept coming back to him was simple. If he died here, he would never see Luna again. He didn't care how small the chance was that he might get back to her; it was still a chance, and death took it away.
With closed eyes and pain racking his body, he whispered, “Modify me.”
So it would be.
This third and final snippet has only made the wait for this book more difficult. What good can come of this decision Alistar has to make. If nothing else to see his love again. Who is the Allmother? Is she the worst of the worst or is there more to her story than we know? Find out all this and more by pre-ordering The Great Insurrection Book 1: Warlord Born. Available for all readers on February 16th, 2021.