Excerpt From “Once A Hero, Always A Hero”

Posted by Shannon Haddock on January 25, 2017 in No More Lies, Short stories |

Like I said, not all of the suggestions for things authors should blog about were stupid.  This one, in fact, I’m surprised hadn’t occurred to me:  excerpts from your work.  So, here’s an excerpt from “Once A Hero, Always A Hero”, the first Universal Nexus short story.  This is from the revised edition.  If you read it before fall 2014, please grab a copy of the new version.  It’s much better.  And it’s free everywhere I can control the cost and Amazon!  (It was free on Amazon UK, but now isn’t.  Sorry.  I have no control over that.)

First, the cover.  I really like this one.  It took me practically no time to make, if I recall correctly, once I finally found a picture to use.

Now, the excerpt.  WARNING:  My starting point for what Dichidians did to slaves was to read about Auschwitz and then come up with stuff that the guys who ran it would call sick.  Also, this is far from my most polished work; it’s got some “first story”ness going on.  (I fixed the spelling errors referenced in my previous post here, but they aren’t yet fixed in the ebook.  They will be someday; I just have about ten million things on my to do list ahead of them.)

“Pardon? My hearing must be going because I could’ve sworn I just heard a Kavaliro suggest not doing something rash,” Viktor said, seeming legitimately confused. I supposed he had reason to be. My family history isn’t exactly full of people who lived calm, peaceful lives, minding their own business, and dying of old age in bed. Instead we’ve got generations – millenia if some tales can be believed – of guardian faeshir, elite guards, and soldiers, and many, many tales of those ancestors’ lives ending like my great-grandfather’s, one man with only a sword against over a hundred with blasters and armor. And my sister and I aren’t exactly exceptions. Ren was a fighter pilot, so of course she was insanely reckless – there is something wrong with people who enjoy getting shot at while only a tiny ship separates them from the vacuum of space. And me, well, the reason Karen and the kids had wanted me to retire so badly was because of how often my ego and bravado had outstripped my skill and gotten me hurt.

I smiled as I said, “I know it’s the last thing you ever thought you’d hear me say, but I don’t like this. A Dichidian working with Humans instead of … well, you know what they usually do with us.” I couldn’t bring myself to say it, especially in front of a man who had a mark on his arm that said “Property of Drochslem”.

“I do. Entirely too well,” Viktor answered, looking like he was about to cry. “It’s not unheard of for them to work with those they consider … cattle.” He’d had to force the last word out. “They bred the intelligence out of some species so they could help keep others in line. I never heard of them doing so with Humans, unsurprisingly considering …” He trailed off, looking away as he relit his pipe and fought for control more than I think he realized I noticed. Dichidians consider Human children a delicacy, the younger the better. I didn’t know what Vik saw during the six korvare he was Drochslem’s slave; I’m pretty sure I never want to know for sure. What I do know is that whenever he hears about bad things happening to pregnant women or infants he has to leave the room for a bit to compose himself, which tells me plenty.

After a moment he spoke again, sounding more frustrated than anything else. “It doesn’t make sense. Anyway, there are no authorities to call. The Tezarin are busy dealing with a much bigger problem on the other side of the galaxy; Zeiper is an independent world, so no one else’s military can officially help; and I’m not going to bother Darrien over one Dichidian. So, that leaves us.” A ghost of a smile appeared on his face. “Besides, thanks to you, my reputation is on the line. The Slayer of Drochselm has to be able to deal with this vitollik, or people would have to accept that he’s no hero, just an ordinary man who did something bloody stupid and got lucky.”

I felt a bit ashamed of myself for getting him into this. Before I could say anything though, he spoke again.

“Scorig said it would probably take two days for Lerexit to get here. I’m sure he’ll have more of those delightful hired thugs with him. I don’t suppose our friend,” Vik gestured to the man I’d knocked unconscious, “is waking up yet?”

I glanced over at the man, even though I was pretty sure that’d been a rhetorical question. “Nope,” I said, just in case I was wrong and Vik had wanted an answer.

Viktor nodded. “Right. Well, then, let’s work from what we already know. Between the two of us, unless you’ve got more than I know about, we have three knives, a few shuriken, and, courtesy of those vitollik, three unreliable blasters. And, of course, our hands and feet. And, as I should very much hope you’ve noticed after all these years, I only have one good leg. Did I miss anything?”

I thought. I shrugged before saying, “Any locals we can convince to fight, I guess.”

Viktor inclined his head slightly in agreement. “But we can’t count on that being any of them. They were, as Scorig said, nearly hunted to extinction by Dichidians. They were reduced from a spacefaring race to one struggling to avoid slipping into another stone age. Look around you. This is what it’s taken them twenty years to get back to. They have reasons better than mine to be terrified of Dichidians.”

I thought of the small mud hut I was standing in, the dozens of others that made up this community, the outhouses behind most of those. Then I thought of the large memorial we’d passed on our way to Scorig’s house from the landing strip that was the closest thing Zeipier had to a spaceport. I hadn’t thought about it at the time; I’d never been to a Vortonian world that didn’t have a large memorial to those who’d died at Dichidian hands during their several Human generations long war of conquest. This one though … I realized there were probably more people listed on that memorial than currently lived on this continent. I smiled, savagely. “Let’s kill this hurnith.” The Zeipierans didn’t deserve to live in fear.

And here are the links to where to download it.  Remember, it’s free!  For free, you can put up with some spelling errors (and overuse of commas, I’m pretty sure) right?

There is no physical version of this one because it would cost ridiculously much for how short it is.  It might be included in a short story collection I’m planning, however.

(And I’m totally fucking up that self-promotion thing again, aren’t I?)

Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0096IF3OA

Barnes & Noble:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/once-a-hero-always-a-hero-shannon-haddock/1112806579?type=eBook

Kobo:  https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/once-a-hero-always-a-hero

Drivethrufiction:  http://www.drivethrufiction.com/product/107326/Once-A-Hero-Always-A-Hero

Smashwords:  https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/281614

iBooks:  https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/once-a-hero-always-a-hero/id600613877?mt=11

And — as I’m honestly not sure if I’ve ever mentioned here — this story, like all Universal Nexus content, is under a Creative Commons, Attribution, Non-Commercial, Share Alike license . . . which basically means you can write, draw, or whatever you want to do with the story and its characters so long as you don’t charge for it and don’t claim to have created it, and share what you did under the same license.  In other words, Jaye and I can make money from it; no one else can, but other than that, I don’t give a damn.





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