A writer once told me, that she abandoned any idea she lost interest in. That works for her. It wouldn’t for me. Instead, I am the type to sit on an idea for a long while, play with it, and tweak it’s facts and figures before I ever put it to scrivener.
Then, there are other times.
Driving into work one morning, I had been thinking about dying that week. I was coming to terms with my father’s imminent end, and it was painful. I needed something else to think about, and there was the idea, just sitting there. I asked myself, what happens in the redemption world when a soldier dies. By that night, that first scene was written.
The click clack of boots with high heels, bordering on impractical, rang out in the dark, sleek interior of the high tech mausoleum. Shining, clean walls the color and texture of black tourmaline towered around her broken only by the vidscreens scattered occasionally near contemporary white bench seating and console menus that allow the bereaved to literally contact the dead, well, almost.
The interface was quite simple, but the technology before her was cutting edge, state of the art. The woman approaching the far left corner of the otherwise empty room found it all a touch macabre. It was a side of Beezer she hadn’t known, this morbid need to memorialize life that had passed. She brushed aside the impulse to be angry at him for this weakness.
Beezer, if you haven’t read this series, is a character who dies early. He was my attempt to show the life the Lancers chose, how dangerous it was. He was my soldier sacrifice, and this book allows you to get to know him in a new way.
Readers didn’t get to actually know Beezer. He was meant to be a distant secondary character at first. This book changes that. He becomes real through this one moment. Beezer forces his lover to deal with his death and her continued existence the only way he could, after the fact.
The walls shone so much that reflected in them she saw her own face, drawn and pasty, if not for the make up she’d applied. Her red hair fell loose around her shoulders in perfectly styled tresses. He wouldn’t know her, she thought. Maybe that was why she’d done the funereal make over in the first place, to confound him one last time.
The way he’d confounded her. She leaned closer into her reflection in the wall beneath a vidscreen and console. This was the area designated Delta R5 in this big box of candy-coated death. “Briar” Rose MacClellen threw the woman in the glass an angry look, green eyes flashing. The skin tight black pants hugged the generous curves Beezer always said he “loved to drive on,” whatever the hell that meant. Her tailored white blouse dipped in an enticing V at her neckline showing off the rest of her assets in a way she never indulged. She laughed without any real humor in the sound at the idea that she’d dressed like this for a dead man.
Her lips drew in a tight line, and she stabbed at the console with her thumb. Accessing her genetic files, the computer pulled up the only mercenary in the place she couldn’t let go.
A mirthless, metallic voice chimed. “GSIF Anthony, Archibald ‘Beezer'” She breathed in deeply, bracing for the moment, and then, he was just there.
Dark midnight curls, hawkish nose, wide set eyes full of life and joy. “Rosie,” he said softly. It was an AI she reminded herself. Beezer was gone.
“You left a message for me. It said in your…” She stopped, unwilling to finish the sentence.
“In my will? My last will and testament. Yeah, I left a message.”
The affection, the gentle coaxing in his voice almost undid all the hard work she’d done steeling herself for this moment. “Look, you aren’t real. Just say what you have to say.”
Sad, dark eyes met hers before she hastily looked away again. “The message is very real, Rosie girl. I bet I never got the balls to say what I really wanted to say, did I? If I had, you’d be happier to see me.”
That last line popped onto the page as I was writing out of nowhere, and suddenly, I knew all I hadn’t known before about Beezer. He was brave with his life, but not with his heart, and Briar was his mirror. They both lived quietly and bravely, but without any real risks taken in love. Even though, they had truly loved each other.
And that was where Herc came in.
“Screw you,” she whispered. “How dare you. How dare you command me. It’s not that easy, B. It’s just not that fucking easy.” She sobbed her words now, sinking to the bench and bending forward arms wrapping around her sides as if it would protect her from the pain. The sounds of footsteps interrupting her grief making her sob more. “You have no right,” she cried.
“I have every right, Rosie,” he answered.”I’m dead, so you have to do what I say, which brings us to promise number two. Herc. You gotta take care of each other. He needs you, Briar.” With that, the AI vanished. Strong arms banded about her as she cried.
“Briar,” Herc’s deep voice growled in her ear.”Why didn’t you comm me?”
Oh, Hercules, my strong man. He’s a giant man, with enough bravery in every way to love two people, and sacrifice what he wanted for both of them. Herc was the truly brave one, and I fell in love with him, Briar’s steady rock in the sea of her grief. After this point, the novella just wrote itself.
You can find it here on the Zon for 99 cents: