A 6’5″ starship captain flees a lost war and lands on Earth in 1600s feudal Japan. Imagine being light years from home and landing on a large island populated by war-like people almost half your size. Will they look upon him as a god from the heavens or a demon from the skies? His survival skills will be put to the test.
Targeted Age Group:: YA/Adult
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I started reading SciFi at an early age and writing at 14. It wasn’t until decades later than I published. I finally had the time to devote to serious writing and the ideas just flowed. I’m more of a free form writer, no particular structure. The most important part is getting the idea from my head onto paper (or screen). I can’t really say how the muse works, the ideas come, I write them down.
How is writing SciFi different from other genres?
SciFi is a future projection. Things that aren’t everyday occurrences you’ll find in SciFi. Most of modern technology was someone’s SciFi dream years ago. We still don’t have flying cars, but we could. This particular story is as much about strong character and honor as it is SciFi.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
I dunno, they just develop as the story takes shape. Not even the Shadow Knows the inner workings of the creative mind.
Twenty five feet into the woods from the clearing where the others were playing tug-o’-war with the mule was a stand of evenly spaced large oak trees. Doiyoko danced around them from one tree to the other fending off blows from the two katana wielding mercenaries, or bandits, whichever they were. Only by blocking a blow and spinning, running to the next tree was she able to keep them from slicing her in half. And they were only toying with her. Definitely professionals. Kendrick raced toward them but the one closest to him heard him coming and dropped to one knee deftly avoiding his clumsy sweep with the katana. As Kendrick rushed by, the blade cleaving only air, he knew he made a mistake.
As the bandit rose he twirled bringing his katana level with Kendrick’s back, arms extending as he spun. Kendrick barely had time to dive forward, his momentum aiding him, but even so the other man’s blade passed within micrometers of his back. Kendrick went down on his face rather than in a roll as he should have, knowing it was another mistake. He rolled immediately to his right over the katana and his bad arm as the other man’s blade stabbed into the ground where he was, the sharp steel missing him by inches. He tucked his legs up and threw himself over backwards coming up with the katana in both hands held vertically in front of him, a natural defensive posture. And it was that for good reason because his opponent was already swinging his blade at him.
All in a flash of thought Kendrick calmed his mind, concentrated on only one thing, his opponent, remembering all the things he learned from Gogenko and Kenshi, and even Doiyoko. He let those learned instincts take over and his muscles responded automatically. The other blade crashed into his and sent a shockwave up through his injured arm. Had he not taken that split second to set his mind the pain would have been devastating.
Kenshi worked with him so patiently for a long time instructing him in not only the physical moves, but more importantly the mental and spiritual concepts behind his brand of martial arts. A warrior was not just a man with a weapon. He was the weapon, the fine steel in his hands an extension of himself. Whether a long bladed katana, long knives, short blade, stick, rocks, or hands, feet, elbows and body, the man himself was the weapon. There was only one objective, vanquish your opponent. Think of his moves before he does. He was a body of electrical energy, Kenshi called it Ki, and the body was capable of only so many moves. Your opponent would broadcast his thoughts and you could know his moves if only you were attuned to him.
There was no joy, no pain, no try, just do. He instructed him, with Doiyoko’s welcome assistance, in the way energy flows through the body. The ‘power points’ where energy generates within the body and flows out through channels. He was subconsciously doing this to heal his injured arm and other bruises without realizing it. Now his body felt charged, his mind more alert than before.
Even so, there was an inner fear lurking somewhere in his being. Oh, granted, he vanquished his own enemies when they tracked him, the battle up at the mines. But that was different. It was the enemy he knew. Now, in front of him, was a well-trained warrior of a different sort. He knew what Kendrick knew, only better. This was the first time he faced such an opponent face to face in a life and death struggle. It was decidedly different.
In the same flash of thought he identified the fear, tore it from his thoughts, and flung it away. He saw clearly his opponents’ next move and brought his blade, still vertical, to the right and moved slightly to his left. The other blade flashed down only to meet Kendrick’s as he tilted the blade with his wrists down toward the guard hoping to catch the other man by surprise and maybe scoring a hit. It worked. The other man’s blade was thrown down and slightly to Kendrick’s right leaving him to pull his own blade back across the man’s arm above the wrist. The man was wearing wrist and forearm guards but Kendrick’s finely made blade, one of the best in the land, easily cut through the thick leather and bright red blood oozed through the band.
The mercenary, hired by the bandits, wondered who was this lazy, tall stranger in front of him with a katana? Such a weapon, and such a fine one as this, was generally given only to warriors with many years of training and in the service of someone important. A warlord, or ruler of a region, or shukido. Those trained in the ways of Bushido, the Way of the Warrior. He had never seen a man that looked like him before. Especially one so big. Despite his size he moved well, as if he, too, was trained in the ways of Bushido. Maybe that’s why he had the katana. But where could he be from?
He looked clumsy at first, rushing by the way he did with such a clumsy sweep of the blade. And the way he fell on his face. The mercenary wanted to laugh. But his training forbade him from taking an opponent too lightly. And a good thing, too, because the big stranger surprised him. The cut on his wrist was deep enough he could feel it, even through the thick leather band. And the girl! She was no simple village maiden. She handled that long knife and that finely made hunting knife like she was born to it. Who were these people? But these were questions for later. He had a foe to vanquish.
But that would prove to be a more difficult task than anticipated. Kendrick swung high causing his opponent to block high as his left arm swung low with the long knife, which only a second before was safely tucked away. The leather covered greaves at the man’s shins were metal inside causing the blade to glance off and causing no serious damage. But the man reacted anyway jumping back. Kendrick used that opportunity to dash for a tree closer to where he last saw Doiyoko. His opponent stood tall, checked the damage to his shin, looked at the cut on his wrist, and followed.
There, three trees over, Doiyoko came around and fell to a knee. Kendrick started to cry out but realized she hadn’t stumbled, it was intentional. Right behind her was the other mercenary, katana raised high. Before he could stop his forward rush, or even bring the blade down into play, she lept at him from a crouched position driving the heavy bladed hunting knife up underneath his metal breastplate, the full weight of her body behind the blow, and spun around him, left arm still holding the knife, buried up to the hilt. With the long knife in her right hand she slapped the shiny blade against the back of his neck between his leather jerkin and helmet and pulled down on the blade hard, the momentum of her body still slowly spinning, severing the cords in his neck and severely damaging the spinal cord.
The swift movement brought the hunting knife, held with an iron grip, down and across slicing through the thick leather armor and out. The smaller blade wasn’t long enough to penetrate all the way up into his heart, but it did slice up a lung and anything else in its path. The muscular warrior’s head lolled forward as he stumbled, his shoulder crashing into another tree before he fell to the ground, blood and froth spewing from his mouth.
Checking her spin but still moving Doiyoko quickly searched for her other pursuer. She spotted Kendrick rushing toward her, the other mercenary following cautiously behind him by only a few, short feet. She called out to him. He turned his head and saw the other man within striking distance. He dropped to one knee, the katana held protectively up horizontally. From this position he could fend off a blow or even attack. But the other man, seeing his real challenge as being the big man and not ‘a woman’ did the classic, prideful warrior’s blunder. He underestimated his opponents, plural.
As Kendrick dropped to one knee awaiting the mercenary’s attack the charging bandit dropped his quick glance from Doiyoko to the big man in front of him and a prideful grin spread upon his lips. That quickly changed to one of complete surprise when the long knife suddenly appeared in his throat and burst out the back of his neck severing his spinal cord. His downward blow with his big blade halted in mid-swing, a look of incredulity spread across his face. In that same instant the big man rose up in full swing knocking the katana from his hands and cleanly sliced off the front of his face at an angle, the edge of the thick skull being no obstacle to the fine, sharply honed blade and powerful swing, injured arm notwithstanding.
The entire encounter took less than two minutes, but now there were shouts from the direction of the clearing. Kendrick looked her over quickly and asked, “Are you alright?”
She felt her stomach, thighs, the backs of her legs and butt quickly and nodded her head and said “Yes, You?”
He smiled as he nodded his head and said breathlessly, “Yeah, I think so.” He grabbed her hand and pulled her along as he ran a circular route back to where they dropped their packs. Rushing by them he scooped up her pack with his good left arm, tossed it to her and slung his own heavy pack halfway across his back without ever breaking stride. But they were headed back in the direction they came. She realized it at the same moment he did and pulled against him as he stopped. The bumped into each other with a solid ‘oopmh!’
He gingerly slid the injured right arm through the other pack strap as he looked forward and to their left where the ground started a gradual slope upward. He knew that would get much steeper in only a few yards. He thought maybe that would slow down any pursuers, but quickly discarded that idea. It would slow them down as much if not more. Ahead of them was the clearing where the stubborn mule and the rest of the bandit gang were, only by now most of them were thirty feet into the woods and discovered their downed companions.
He smiled at the thought the bandit gang hired the mercenaries because they were tough guys, well trained warriors, to protect them, and there they were on the ground, not much use to anyone. Whoever did that wasn’t to be taken lightly so maybe they wouldn’t be in such a hurry to pursue them. Doiyoko tugged him back to the present.
She said, “We must go. The bandits!”
He thought, “Right! Bandits. What was I thinking?”
About the Author:
R.L. Kiser started writing science fiction when he was 14 but didn’t publish until decades later. He has four fantasy and two western/detective novels as well as a scifi adventure, which received a five star review and made the first cut of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award in 2013.
Born in Idaho, raised in Arizona, grew up in Los Angeles, he’s a Vietnam Veteran, been a musician, a Hollywood taxi driver, a computer programmer, a single parent, ran his own Internet marketing business, and is an avid (novice) bicyclist. He does his own bicycle maintenance and repair. He holds an associate’s degree in computer science. He currently resides in Sparks, Nevada with three computers, for bicycles, and an 12 year old Mercedes SUV (no, that does not stand for Small Ugly Vehicle). He’s currently hiding from the ATF, CIA, DEA, DMV, DOD, DOT, ICE, IRS, HLS, HUD, ONI, and FBI, but the NSA knows where he is.
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