Finally got off my ass (arse for those of you in the Commonwealth) and signed a contract with Labelschmeide for all three cover of the American Imperium trilogy. She has done fantastic work for me before and I highly recommend her.
The mixed news is that the first, “Princess’ Crusade,” will not be out on Halloween. Sometimes, irrational deadlines are just that: irrational. I’ve the copyedited version of it and book two (with thanks to SZ Services), but as I just said, the cover is still under development. And, I’ll need to add an extended stemma of Faustina’s family as well as non-copyrighted maps to aid in understanding her campaign against Savannah. A delay, but not a long delay.
I also had an idea last week, after being at a standstill for five days, as I mentioned. That idea blossomed into the two chapters I wrote over the weekend; having two main characters now is a great amount of work for me to keep track of things. Nonetheless, the Battle of Opelika is nearly over. With a chapter to mop up, it will take 1-2 chapters to evacuate the feral population of Atlanta. Or kill them.
Below the fold is General Hartmann getting back into the fight after nearly dying from the 105mm artillery.
First, it seemed as if she was at the bottom of a dry well. Echoes of voices and some occasional lights. Later, more as if she was just under the water, looking up at the dappled surface. She made a few attempts to swim up but nothing came of it. What was the point?
Her mind wandered. The surface suddenly seemed closer; the light was brighter. Voices?
Someone’s name? Wait! My name!
Faustina Hartmann opened her eyes to the canvas ceiling of the field hospital some distance over her head. In the same view were two masked and gowned men looking back at her.
“Thank God! Any more meds might have killed you again!” the one on her right said. She recalled his voice: Doctor Green, chief medical centurion.
“I admit dying is becoming a bad habit of mine,” she barely managed with her voice. “What is my condition?”
“Shock, blood loss, I pulled enough metal out of your back and legs to make a cutlery set,” Green said coolly. Not liking doctors besides her brother, she had liked Green and lobbied hard to get him into the legions. Never expected he’d be the one to save me, she thought. Obviously was meant to happen.
“Can I move about?” She doubted it from his short description.
“Surprisingly, yes, General,” the doctor said, his tone curious. “Tell me: did you or some of the machines also work on you while I was?”
“Not that I recall… give me a minute. And water, too, if allowed.”
While a corpsman carefully leveraged water from a canteen into her mouth, Faustina remembered monitoring the battle, the incoming artillery, making a deal with Reina, getting hit… Reina reaching for her head… And nothing more. Had the first among equals of tribe Mendro done something to her?
“I don’t think so, Doctor,” she said, shaking her head a little at the water. “Can you help me sit up?”
Green carefully lifted her shoulders while someone pushed on her back. Once upright she rotated her head left and right to check for dizziness or nausea, of which she felt neither. An IV from a nearly empty bag of Ringer’s led into her left arm, so she pivoted that way and swung her legs down to the ground.
“It’s nothing short of a miracle, General,” Green announced. “I don’t disbelieve in miracles but as a doctor, I’d sure like to know what happened here.”
“When I know, you will. Can someone get this out of my arm?”
With that being done, Faustina reached out with her lines. My deal with Reina should still be in effect, so I’ll be safe. I need to get a closer look into the enemy systems and –
In the Void with neither her godmother’s fireflies nor her cousin’s defensive double-helix, she bounced from node to node, closer to the Fort Benning cluster. It looked as it did when Faustina had first perceived it: no great, dangerous egg of a quantum computer. Just a few nodes that now carried some of the tactical and logistics information of the battle at hand.
Where is everyone? She could not get a read or signal from Reina at all. Moving one more node toward the Benning cluster, she, at last, beheld the egg. Rather than its insane bands of Mandelbrot sets, it now radiated a cold turquoise. Like my eyes?
Back in the field hospital, Faustina removed the thin blanket which had covered her and looked at her new scars. “You are quite correct, Doctor Green: I look like hell and should be out for at least a week…”
Free of the IV, she stood.
“Yet here I am. I need a uniform. Someone tell the communications team I will be coming to them first. Can I do anything else here?” General Hartmann asked naked. Green replied with a request for her to make a brief visit to the wounded, once dressed, of course. She smiled.
An hour later, having first gleaned what she could from her own comm team, Hartmann set out southeast to find her legate Owens. Able to receive telemetry from her aerial drones, she ‘saw’ his CP near the Wacoochee Valley crossroads. It was nearly dark when she and her staff were challenged by a patrol. Determining who they were, a runner sprinted south to tell his legate who was coming.
“General Hartmann,” Owens nodded at her ten minutes later; too many loose POWs for a salute, “you look fucking awful. Shouldn’t you be in hospital?”