Salvage Marines: Season One

:::insert clever opening line about making a long story short:::

During my second year as a civilian contractor with the Army National Guard’s eXportable Combat Training Capability (XCTC) program, a story started taking shape as I worked side by side with veterans and active duty service members, and over the next few years I wrote six novels in the NECROSPACE series that started out self-published and are now presented by Severed Press. A friend and producer Jamie Thompson took a shine to the story of Samuel Hyst and the dark future he inhabits, and in time we found ourselves working with Philippe Martinez and 365Flix to bring this project from the printed page to the screen.

Writers Rafael Jordan and B. Dave Walters worked with me to adapt the novels and create scripts for the twelve 45 minute episodes that will comprise the first season of what has been titled ‘Salvage Marines’. Director Shaun Piccinino strapped on his armor and dove straight into the deep end of the Necrospace fictional world, and with support from a team of designers, artists, and laborers he has manifested the various locations and denizens of my junkyard universe into physical reality. Outstanding cast members like Casper Van Dien (portraying Samuel Hyst) and Peter Shinkoda (portraying Ben Takeda) will be with us from start to finish, along with awesome appearances by Armand Assante (portraying the Anointed Actuary) and so many more as we fill out the expansive roster, along with a crack film crew, have joined us to inhabit this world and endure its challenges.

We have come along way from this:

My self-sublished novel

To to achieve this:

Sample of our shooting schedule.

I’ve never been happier looking at a spreadsheet.

The next few months will be a hard march towards the finish line, and I truly cannot wait for everyone to experience the eminently savage and dramatically haunting story we are all collaborating to tell.

For regular updates and images you can follow us on Facebook at Salvage Marines and Necrospace, or on Instagram by following the Director, along with some of our common hashtags like #thegrottosalutesyou #salvagemarines #thisisthejob

Now if you will excuse me, I have to hurry up and get some more books written before this show rockets away and leaves me eating space dust.

 

It Is All One System

EXCERPT FROM SIGNIFICANT CONTACT (Beautiful Resistance Book 2 of 3)

She was waiting when Cole entered MassNet, his body hooked to the same throne he’d helped repair previously for Nibiru’s extraction. It had been moved however, to a new site he’d never been to before, a cramped basement in one of the multitudes of habitation blocks in a part of the city rough enough that most people just looked the other way if anything suspiscious was going down. There were only a few people to watch over him while he worked, with only one Akiaten warrior present, and it lent a sense of urgency to his actions. If this mission went SNAFU and a hostile slinger was able to tag him, he’d be lucky to survive, as there was only the one exit. So don’t blow it Cole, he said to himself as Eight materialized on the metaphorical rooftop next to him in the digital realm.

The others, Cabal, Una, and a handful of Akiaten had piled into the back of a beat up van, and were well on their way to E-Bloc’s supply house. E-Bloc was not likely to be expecting an attack, though in this game one could never be too careful. According to the modest briefing he gotten from Cabal just before everyone split up to go their separate ways was that Union Americana had gone rather quiet in the absence of Hayden and Nibiru. Some of his warriors had spotted Laine in the streets a few days back, and they tracked her for several hours before moving in to engage, only to find the body of what they assumed to be a dead courier, Asia Prime by the looks of him, with his data drives ripped out, and no sign of the alpha augment. He imagined that most of their manpower was focused now on finding the pulse with what resources remained to them rather than wasting time harassing the resistance, as E-Bloc and Asia Prime had been doing plenty of that for them.

Lunatic 8 stood next to Hayden, or more to the point floated just off the ground next to him, her hair billowing from unseen wind and her lips drawn into a thin line without so much as a hello. He expected the same larger than life projection of her that she used to speak to him when it was just the two of them in the island’s network, tapping into the myriad of hotspots they’d set up on the island to make up for its lack of a high functioning power grid. Here, now, she was almost understated, movements barely visible, but still instrumental.

To his mind’s eye the E-Bloc compound appeared much like it did in physical reality, a collection of warehouse buildings arranged around a courtyard filled with shipping containers, with a series of docking bays near the back for road and air shipping and receiving. Hayden had always been a slinger who experienced MassNet as being something of a proxy of the physical world. There were many other slingers who described rich and vibrant fantasy worlds, while others experienced it in such an abstract sense that it was difficult to put into words. Though he was on the more mundane end of the MassNet metaphor spectrum, Hayden’s mind was adept at presenting itself with useful illusions that described what was happening in the code.

As he looked down from his perch Hayden slid a pair of stylish sunglasses out of his jacket pocket and put them over his eyes. He tapped on them continuously, and each time his finger stroked the frames the lenses would change color. It was a spectrum.exe that allowed Hayden to sift through the cascading datastream, piecing together security programs that had been discreetly woven into both the wireless and hard systems of the compound. While he might not be able to move between MassNet and CodeSource with the level of mastery as Lunatic 8 or Sun, Hayden had used some of his time on the island to come up with a few adaptations.

Build on your strengths and partition your weakness, thought Hayden as he continued to pull lines of code from the different metaphorical light spectrums, and soon a shape began to reveal itself surrounding the compound. With some patience and a new custom exe of which Hayden was rather proud, he was able to pull information from CodeSource and combine it with the MassNet hallucination to give himself a reliable picture of the wireless and hard systems that comprised the compound’s security grid. To his eyes the grid was a shimmering dome of wire mesh that radiated a menacing heat.

Hayden looked up from the compound and watched Lunatic 8’s eyes blink, and Hayden was positive that she’d just accomplished in a moment what had taken him days to build. He looked back at the compound and saw with his adjusted spectrum what appeared to his eyes as a shimmering field of energy around the compound. It looked almost like a dome, but made of lightning, and Hayden didn’t have to stretch his skills much to confirm that the field was capable of causing tremendous damage. It appeared to function, as he further observed its cascading code, as a conventional electric fence might in the physical realm, only one that had a deep enough database to differentiate friend from foe with some degree of accuracy.

“That is some pretty intense digital security for a warehouse facility,” mused Hayden as he pulled what his imagination saw as a rubic’s cube from the folds of his jacket, “They must be expecting something like this.”

“E-Bloc thinks in linear terms, they will expect a smash and grab because it is how they would conduct such an operation,” breathed Eight as she slowly floated over to Hayden and placed one hand gently on his shoulder, causing him to flinch as where her fingers touched him he could see streams of code rippling out, as if her very digital body radiated a sort of field that warped the MassNet hallucination to her own abstract view of it. Suddenly Hayden had a flash of understanding, and began to consider the idea that Eight wasn’t so brilliant at coding so much as her own imagination overpowered MassNet around her. It was as if she was a god inside her own bubble, and since that bubble moved with her, she was never anywhere in the digital realm but her own inner universe. How a mind could handle such a perpetual information tsunami was beyond him, and the slinger looked away from his shoulder, carefully ignoring how her touch revealed his avatar for the flimsy construct that it was.

“Well isn’t that the plan? Pull down the grid and then take what we need. E-Bloc wouldn’t even bother slicing security, they’d just knock out the power grid with bolt-cutters and explosives, then storm the place,” Hayden said as he returned his focus to the rubic’s cube, his metaphor for the masterkey delivery system, a purely digital operating platform that he’d been using for years, slowly modifying and upgrading it as his career continued, “Instead, when the drones are in range we wait till they connect with the system in order to communicate passcodes.”

Hayden finished moving the sliding cubes on his device, allowing his metaphor to seem as if he’d solved the puzzle and made each side a single color. He held it up to Eight.

“I graft the masterkey to the first drone, it will slip a hook into the motherboard. When the drone and the system complete their handshake I’ve modified the masterkey to send a spike.exe through the link,” said Hayden, proud of himself for the brilliant bit of coding and yet annoyed that he felt compelled to seek approval from the fractured slinger, “It brings down security without having to kill the whole grid or blow anything up. Then our people have the run of the place.”

“That would be the Union way, an elegant combination of slicing and combat operations, but it is not our way,” breathed Eight as she gently took the masterkey from Hayden’s hand and stared at it intently as she spoke, and already the operating system was glowing from her swift re-code, “You will recall that it cost the resistance blood when Akiaten raided the Union HQ during your digital conflict. Each company has developed, through trial and error, a methodology that is best suited to its corporate culture and capabilities. So too has the resistance, even if our learning curve has been steep and costly by necessity.”

Eight handed the cube back to Hayden and then looked at him expectantly. The slinger turned from her piercing gaze and investigated the cube. He knew she’d changed it, but from her expression he got the distinct impression that she wanted him to tell her what she’d done. It was a test, even if her demeanor insisted that it was a friendly, and Hayden found himself struggling to keep his ego from being bruised by the sudden role reversal of teacher and student. He’d been rapping knuckles and assigning homework to lesser slingers, and cursed himself for apparently having gotten overly comfortable being i the dominant position.

Hayden peered into the cube, which was now a jumble of colors, the single color sides arranged in a pattern that he struggled to comprehend.

“Look past the metaphor,” whispered Eight as she knelt beside him, “See the code.”

“The metaphor is what allows us to process the sheer volume of code,” snapped Hayden, perhaps more petulantly than he’d intended, though Eight seemed not to mind, and he added, “That’s the whole point of MassNet. If our minds could handle it we’d just stick with CodeSource.”

“The physical brain does not differentiate between waking consciousness and the realm of dreams. CodeSource is the body Hayden Cole, and MassNet is that body’s dream. When you let go of the metaphor, when you focus on the code alone, it doesn’t matter whether your are dreaming or if you are awake,” whispered Eight in a sing song voice that gave Hayden the same sort of feeling he’d have if Laine 2.0 was suddenly behind him, a predator in its chosen hunting ground, “It is all one system.”

Mad Max and the White Whale

It is no small secret that I am a post-apocalyptic genre fiend, and I’d even go so far as to call myself a wastelander, given that I do engage in the occasional cosplay gathering, have more survival gear than the average bear, and regularly day dream about owning a fleet of battle cars and war rigs. Hell I wrote the book.

Generally we think of the wasteland as a great big desert, and that’s mostly thanks to George Miller, the creative mind that gave us Mad Max and Happy Feet. He filmed the original Mad Max films in the Australian outback, and then Fury Road in the deserts of South Africa. All the knock offs and genre offerings that have been coming out since the 80’s are generally set in dusty Italian backcountry or the scrub deserts near Los Angeles. It makes sense, of course, to create such stories in desolate places, and it makes sense from a post-nuke and post-famine perspective, as all the green goes away and leaves a blighted and empty place behind.

This is part of what made Waterworld such a strange genre offering that was tough for audiences to get behind. Sure everyone was over Kevin Costner at that time, and the movie does shift in tone at the midpoint, going from badass open ocean survival movie to comedy adventure, but I loved it. The idea of a water desert, essentially, really stuck with me, and as we are bombarded daily with media about melting ice caps and global warming, I kept circling back around to considering a post-melt kind of apocalyptic setting.

Combine this wasteland obsession with my son’s undying love of sharks (turns out it was not just a phase) as well as my own sustained interest in sea stories (age of the sail, creature features, offshore rigs, etc) and you get The Dystopian Sea. I wanted to capture all of the classic elements of the wasteland, from the mohawk wearing marauders to the ramshackle survivor settlements, while creating a straight forward sea adventure along the lines of Moby Dick.

The trilogy is finished, with the first two books available on Amazon, and the third set to hit digital shelves in the next few months. Let’s go hunt some sharks!

 click to buy

Warrior crews in rusted ships hunt mutated whales and battle toxic sharks in the aquatic wasteland the world has become.
It has been eighty years since The Melt, and now the world is a place ruled by naught but the crashing waves of the sea and the survival instincts of folk made hard by the deadly waters. The scraps of dry land that remain are ruins inhabited by cannibalistic raiders and desperate scavengers, forcing most survivors and their kin to make a life upon the treacherous open ocean.
Bard, a harpooner and a teller of tales, is the lone survivor of a Megalodon attack upon the whaleship Osiris. He is forced to survive being lost at sea, overcoming incredible challenges along the way, until he is rescued by another ship. Bard must then earn his place amongst the crew of the Penny Dreadful, proving himself to the sailors and shark fighters that he is worthy. Adventure awaits and carnage spreads in this post-apocalyptic story of sea monsters and the brave souls who hunt them.

The crew of the Penny Dreadful have had a good season, and their hold is filled with oil and meat from the mighty leviathans they hunt on the open ocean. They soon discover a trading post under siege by a swarm of sharks and gangs of murderous raiders known as the Panzer Fish. The shark cult has escalated its campaign of terror across the sea, and next on their hit list is the whaleship’s home port of Seattle.

Captain Drucilla, now filling her father’s boots as the whaleship’s master, must lead her hardened crew of sailors and shark fighters in an all out war against the cult and their swarms. Adventure awaits and carnage spreads in this post-apocalyptic story of sea monsters and the brave souls who hunt them.

Audible Carnage

That should be a band name… somebody get on it!

Speaking of Audible, the newest deep space noir stylings of Persephone Rose are available now in the form of Hard Cargo, the 6th book in the Necrospace series.

For those of you with an Audible subscription it is right there for you, or those without can either sign up and get some Amazon freebies or pick the book up a la carte.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

Hard Cargo

The most wanted salvage marine in the universe thought he was done fighting. He was wrong.

For Samuel Hyst the nightmare was over, left behind upon dead worlds and within the derelict ships drifting through space, he and his family having fled to the edges of the frontier to begin a new life of peace. In the aftermath of a violent raid by slave traders, the long suffering marine discovers that a relic of the ancient machine civilization has been left at the doorstep of his pristine forest homestead. He feels the menace radiating from it, and knows that the various powers and factions that rule necrospace will soon come for all of them. Samuel cuts a deal with Captain Dar of the freelance prospecting ship Rig Halo, who years ago saved Samuel’s wife and son from the trade war. Tension is high aboard the ship, as the Hyst family adjusts to being in the rough company of the Halo and a life on the run. As it turns out, the Rig is also a ship full of mercenaries, and once more Samuel finds himself with rifle in hand and squeezing the trigger just to stay alive.

The hunt has already begun and Grotto predators are closing in.

Available now on Amazon!

Altered Carbon Aftermath

Like many, I have been enjoying the new Netflix series ‘Altered Carbon’ and like many authors I have been daydreaming about what my own cyberpunk epic might look like on screen. The filmmakers did a fantastic job with AC and I encourage any and all of my readers to check out the show. When I see something like that I am encouraged to continue, at least on occasion, to create cyberpunk fiction. As a genre cyberpunk has a significant ebb and flow in its popularity (thus sales) unlike the more stable military scifi and creature feature genres, and so I only plug into those wires when the story is burning through my spirit for release onto the page. Seeing the Takeshi Kovacs series of novels (Altered Carbon being the first) make their way to the screen and to witness a resurgence in the popularity of the novels is extremely heartening.

For those of you who are into my military science fiction series ‘Necrospace‘ or the ‘Extinction Fleet‘ trilogy, I encourage you to give ‘Beautiful Resistance‘ a chance.

High-tech mercenaries find themselves pitted against freerunning revolutionaries as global corporate warfare becomes centered around a struggling island nation and the freedom fighters defending their home.

*a character profile I commissioned

Check out Defiance Pattern (Book 1) and Opposition Shift (Book 2)

The second novel in the series has arrived, with the third having been submitted to the publisher and added to their line up.

The corporate slinger Hayden Cole finds himself seeing a different side of the clandestine war over the mysterious island energy source, learns that the some of the warriors have a dark secret, and are anything but human. The legendary slinger Lunatic 8 wages a one woman cyberwar for the resistance, matching the hackers of her corporate rivals program for program in the virtual dreamworld of Massnet, while Hirohito, the deadly cyborg, is unleashed. Hayden and his engineer partner Nibiru begin to question their loyalties as they witness the freedom fighters struggling to stay one step ahead of mercenary death squads.

The streets of the city are full of gun smoke and the wires of cyberspace hum with digital violence as opposing forces struggle over wealth, freedom, and the very soul of the islands in this grim futuristic thriller.

Nobody Gets Away Clean

Writing can be a costly thing for the person hitting the keys, and for me there is no price more steep than to venture into Necrospace. I can only write in that world for a short time before I must pull back, because I can only stand in that hard light for so long before my soul grows too heavy to continue.

I have been writing for over a decade, everything from screenplays to comic books, with many a novel in between, and nothing demands so much from me as a Necrospace story. I grew up in the Boy Scout of America, working summer camps as a living history staffer, and reading the poetry of Robert Service. Such things gave me much in the way of a framework of mythology, which I carried into my college years as a Theology student. We are nothing if not stories, and the ones that always resonated with me were those of the common men, those born to toil and die unsung in such epic tales as the Iliad and Beowulf, or in the lesser known moments of the Industrial Revolution, when much of humanity worked to justify itself upon the gears and levers of the new machines that would replace the labor of their hands and minds all too soon.

I have always been fascinated by the faceless men and women of history to whom we owe the greatest of debts. Those who wielded the iron of plow and of sword, the hardy folk who swung hammer and pick in mines of coal, the mighty among us who endure the 38 hours of no-benefit service industry labor, and the seniors who did not even get the golden watch at the end of a lifetime’s tenure at the desk or on the assembly line. The soldier who fights for minimum wage and comes back broken to a world that knows nothing of his long journey. The mother who knows her newborn child’s fate is already wed to the grind.

Carrion Duty (Book 5) took a king’s ransom from me, costing me nearly a year to write and nearly a year to recover. My own life has been a troubled one since that novel’s release, and I have had precious little to give to the scrapyard universe. I took to the road at the top of the year, and have been chewing up the miles since then (today is the 17th) with at least a week or more till I stop moving, and it has been a healing balm to do so. Out here on the blacktop I feel that I have found the energy to carry on, the surge to return to my old friend Samuel Hyst and his tragically epic life has found me again, and though I know it will hurt I am ready to return to the darkest place I’ve known.

Hard Cargo (Book 6) will be an ugly thing, and yet beautiful in its own way. I want it to hurt you to read it as much as I know it will hurt me to write it, and in the doing perhaps we both will find some measure of peace. Some kind of hope that will empower us to soldier on.

May we be so lucky.

This is the job.

Welcome to the Red List

Excerpt from Necrospace Book 5 – CARRION DUTY 

Never was there a battle so pure as the one waged for survival. As a Red List community, their freedom was a desperate sort, fueled by theft and piracy in an unending struggle to last just one more cycle. Fiat Lux had been living lean for nearly six months as their rangers had been scouring necrospace for a worthwhile target. There were mouths to feed, with prescious little time to make a good kill and harvest a fresh bounty.

“Eight flak batteries and four turbo-lasers on the compound, looks like they weren’t expecting anything heavier than conventional air support, and the frigate is a solid three minutes out,” reported Lelani. The mech squad could hear the voice of Morgan growling from inside Night Witch as Lelani added, “Swarm barges away. Planetfall in twenty seconds. War machines, fangs out!”

“I am the Hammer that strikes Unrelenting!” shouted Gregory Schnect from the cockpit of Swift Hammer, a Titan class mech that stood several meters taller than Sokol in his machine, making the Coyote class machine look more like an exoskeleton than a mech by comparison, as he chambered and primed high velocity thud rounds in the cannons mounted on both his arms and shoulders.

“I am the Beast that stalks the Fields!” answered Sokol before he revved his ripsaw and squared his shoulders, the beat of his heart and the grind of his mech combining to breach the barrier in his psyche between man and machine while he braced for eject.

“I am the Storm that shatters the Walls!” bellowed Angron from within Thunder Walks, the re-furbished Titan class mech that had seen combat in a dozen wars before the Fiat Lux reavers had stolen it, though any who witnessed the mech in action would swear that the man named Angron had been born in its metal womb.

“I am the Darkness that destroys all Hope,” whispered Morgan, while the Night Witch, with its twin plasma lances, stood perfectly still as the pilot deftly adjusted the mech’s stance in time with the impacts and shifts in the ship’s course.

“Good hunting,” intoned Lelani as she keyed the quick release hatch and activated an ejection sequence that hurled the four mechs forward even as the ship’s hard banking maneuver dumped them out right above the complex.

Your Wires Are Showing

“The future is already here — It’s just not evenly distributed.” – William Gibson

It was so much easier to write cyberpunk fiction in the days before laptops, iphones, and bluetooth. Or maybe easy isn’t quite the right word, since the authors of the 80’s & 90’s were making up the technology as they went, imagining it freshly in their minds as they forged the motherboard of a genre that was just as much about style as it was substance.

High Tech Low Life

It was glorious. I cannot say enough about how shaped I have been by the works of William Gibson, specifically Neuromancer, the Shadowrun and Netrunner pen & paper role playing games, the anime Ghost in the Shell, and of course our man Philip K. Dick with stories and resulting film adaptations like Minority Report and Blade Runner. I love the movie Johnny Mnemonic, and no gushing about cybepunk from decades past would be complete without mention of The Matrix.

To write cyberpunk now, in the year 2017, is a different endeavor. So much of the technological advancements that get imagined in the above works are now commonplace. The sorts of “oh wow” moments that used to hit hard in cyberpunk works just don’t hit quite the way they used to, at least for most of us. I know there are still some basic cable shows that try to present hacking as people typing Really Fast and Looking Stressed at cascading lines of gibberish while they say “someone is hacking our network”, and while that isn’t remotely what real hacking looks like (and no amount of fast edits and soundtrack could make it exciting to watch), those shows and their presentation illustrate the line we creators have to walk between real life and dynamic fiction.

For “Beautiful Resistance” we did our best to imagine a near future that moved along a similar path of technological advancement as we are now. We created our fictional “CodeSource” to be the more conventional ‘system’ that is what we basic users experience today, even if amped up for dramatic purposes, so that it would ring true to a contemporary audience. We created our fictional “MassNet” as our ‘full immersion’ system, the computer dream world of our story, which functions much like the simulations in The Matrix films, or the Neuromancer and Snowcrash novels. Throughout the story we work to present an engaging story with near-future technology that feels legitimate given where we are, as a contemporary society, today. We knew that we had to give you just enough tech-speak to make sense of everything happening, but we did not go so deep into it that A) readers poke holes in our science and B) the story doesn’t get slowed down. Though the hacker parts of the story were the most difficult, there was also the ‘combat operative’ element, where we had to present cyborg warriors who had upgrades and implants that felt realistic enough for a near future setting, but were still exciting to read about.

We also had to look at implications of near future technologies, and what they might do to the political, environmental, and economic landscape. For this we imagined a post-WWIII world, where the great superpowers finally went for blood, and our story picks up some years later. In our imagined near future corporations have taken the place of most world superpower governments (that’s a theme with me I know) and the inequality of the world has become more dramatically pronounced. In our story the mega-cities of the first world country are the neon spectacles one might see in films like Blade Runner and Ghost in the Shell, while much of the rest of the world has experienced very little growth compared to where they are in our contemporary real world. Much of the setting, in fact the story itself, is based on the above William Gibson quote. While we don’t get preachy at all (we’re writers, not politicians, economists, or activists) we do address some of the unavoidable elements of setting a story about high powered agents pursuing first world agendas in the boardrooms and back alleys of what we call in our story ‘low grade regions’. In this way we were invited to present a rather poignant illustration of High Tech Low Life in a way that may conjure up images of Neil Blomkamp’s work from films such as Chappie, Elysium, and District 9.

As for the street shaman and the jungle island vampires, well, that’s another post all together.

This has been a project that I have wanted to create for some time, and am happy to finally be able to present it. Our goals are to give you a reading experience that feels less like science fantasy and more like science future, while still delivering on the style & substance promised by dubbing it a work of cyberpunk.

Naturally it is for you to decide if we accomplished any of this, and we are excited to get your feedback!

Art Scavenger

I have a facebook page for Necrospace (HERE) where I occasionally post scavenged and modified digital art. Most all of this stuff is either stock art that I’ve got laying around in my junk pile or uncredited and random pics that I’ve found online. I take these and give them some text and a few color & texture tweaks, then get the out there. I thought it would be fun to collect all of these into a single blog post. Enjoy!