My name is Russell Newquist. I am a software engineer, a martial artist, an author, an editor, a businessman and a blogger. I have a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy and a Master of Science degree in Computer Science, but I'm technically a high school dropout. I also think that everything in this paragraph is pretty close to meaningless. I work for a really great small company in Huntsville, Alabama building really cool software. I'm the owner and head instructor of Madison Martial Arts Academy, which I opened in 2013 less to make money and more because I just really enjoy a good martial arts workout with friends. I'm the editor in chief of Silver Empire and also one of the published authors there. And, of course, there is this blog - and all of its predecessors. There's no particular reason you should trust anything I say any more than any other source. So read it, read other stuff, and think for your damn self - if our society hasn't yet over-educated you to the point that you've forgotten how.
There are no men like me. There is only me.
Declan Finn is the author of the Pius Man Trilogy as well as the Dragon Award nominated Honor at Stake. He graciously agreed to enter this Author Gladiatorial Challenge to earn your vote for the Dragon Awards (hurry! tonight’s the last night to get your ballot). Below is his entry for round one. I hope you find it as entertaining as I did. Brian’s entry will run later this evening, with judging to come tomorrow.
Amanda Colt walked into the arena, and all she could think was What the hell am I doing here?
Her eyes narrowed as she looked over the battlefield, and cataloged what she could – piece of sword, piece of armor, piece of lance, piece of … person.
When I am done here, I need to eat someone. Preferably whoever’s in charge. Can’t kill the author. He has to finish writing the book. Stupid Dragon Award…
On the other side of the arena came the hell beast, and did a quick inventory: four knives, holy water, enough phials to make things interesting, two calf holsters, and a sword. She knew her opening move, since the creature had only four areas of attack. She could see three, and adjust. But there were two obvious opening moves for the creature in front of her.
The creature broke lose. At the speed of an eye blink, Amanda drew her sword, thrusting it behind her, into thin air. When the barbed devil teleported behind her, it materialized around the sword.
The displaced air made a sound like bampf, and Amanda threw herself forward, pulling the sword out as she leaped.
“Ha!” she cried as she spun to face the seven foot demon. “I dated Gary Gygax … in … the … oh darn.”
The devil looked like a gamma-irradiated porcupine; and while she concluded correctly that its teleportation ability would bring it behind her (or above, that was an option), she probably just pissed it off.
The devil threw itself after Amanda with full blitzkrieg speed, as she backpedaled just as fast. Her sword flicked out, trying to discourage it from engaging with her, but she knew that if she got close enough to hurt it, her day was going to really suck.
She reached behind her, grabbing the first of the phials, and grimaced. This thing was fast enough to dodge most of what she threw at it. This was going to hurt.
Amanda thrust forward with the sword, and the devil knocked it aside with one claw, and grabbed Amanda’s sword arm with the other. The demonic barbs ribbed into muscle and bone, and she cried out. She went limp as the demon hoisted her by the arm, and grinned down at her.
She decided she was high enough as the devil poised its claws to eviscerate her. Then she smashed the 100 ml phial of holy water into its maw.
The glass shattered, splashing the devil. At the speed she threw it, shattered glass made little cuts in the skin, which didn’t react well to the holy water on the open wounds. There was a sizzling, crackling sound, and she expected to smell something like sulfur, but she didn’t get a chance. The devil roared in pain, but didn’t let go of Amanda’s arm, throwing her around like a rag doll. It slammed her against the ground once or twice, and she expected it to say “Puny vampire.”
Amanda started to turn to mist, starting with the captured arm. The sleeve tore, and she lost her sword, but she was free.
She was hurled a hundred feet across the arena, but she was free.
She groaned as she pushed herself to her feet. She had bounced over several broken weapons, including several spears that had left splinters in her back. But she had bigger problems. It was starting to shake off the last attack like it was just annoyed.
Amanda reached and slit the sides of her jeans with her fingernails. She needed quick access to her calf holsters. Given how far away it was, it had two options. She dropped to one knee, feeling the ground while keeping an eye on the devil. She found a piece of old armor, and the hilt of a sword.
It turned and glared at her, and she was certain it wasn’t going to transport again.
She leaped to one side and hurled both the ancient weapon and armor, just a split second before the scorching ray lashed out and laid waste to the area she’d been. The armor piece hit like a discus and the broken blade jabbed it in the arm, but that just made it blink. Less a matter of pain, and more like “Where did this come from?”
She hurled any discarded detritus on the ground – partial spear, a ribcage. The devil just lashed out again. She dove out of the way, but it still caught her on the side. It blasted her across the field, and she deliberately rolled to put out the blaze before she made an ash out of herself.
Amanda grabbed the H&K-PDW in her left calf holster, yanking it out, and spraying it right at the devil. It flinched, like multiple bees were stabbing into it.
She didn’t empty the magazine before she reloaded. She reached down, grabbed the next PDW. Knowing it had to close with her, she leaped straight up into the air, 20 feet off the ground, before it bampfed.
The beast bampfed right underneath her, only six feet off the ground, attempting to attack her above her previous position. She pointed her left gun straight down, blasting down into devil’s skull. She landed on it, feet first, plowing it into the ground.
It bounced back. It’s right hand burst into flame. She dropped her empty left gun and grabbed its wrist. The tail lashed out and wrapped around her waist, slowly crushing and cutting into her. The left hand slashed down, overhanded. Amanda blocked it with her right forearm.
The devil looked at her, and tried to burrow into her mind.
She glared. “I … am … vampire!”
She rotated her arm, making the attack slide down her right side. She jammed the PDW into the devil’s mouth, and held down the trigger. Thirty rounds of armor piercing bullets punched through the back of the devil’s mouth, and out its head.
The devil’s fire went out, and the muscles relaxed as it fell over. Amanda dropped to her knees, exhausted. “I need more blood if I do this again.”
The nominees have been announced for the first annual Dragon Awards! You can hop over to the page and see the full list for yourself, but I’d like to call out my friends John C. Wright, Declan Finn, and Brian Niemeier on their nominations!
However, this does lead me to a serious conundrum. My friends Declan and Brian received nominations in the same category! Whom to vote for?
There is only one solution – an author gladiator contest!
Here’s how it works:
Each author picks a character of his choice from his nominated work. That character enters the arena, prepared to do battle with whatever creature I (as the GM) throw at them. Each character will face the same creatures. The author must write out his character’s response in 1000 words or less. The submission must show the final exchange of blows – but it must also leave off the results of that exchange. That is for the GM to decide. There is no time limit, except that if the authors wish to encourage fans to vote for them for the Dragon Awards… well, they only have until voting closes for that.
I will announce the creature here for each round. Each author will then e-mail me their submission (at their own pace), and it will face the judgment of the GM. I will judge entries based on creativity, over-the-topness (a plus, not a negative!), plausibility (only a minor part of the total score), and sheer awesomeness. We shall go best two out of three – so if there is a clear winner after round two, we won’t have a third. But I, for one, will be awfully disappointed if we have a clear winner after two rounds.
The authors shall own all rights to the submitted works except for granting me the right to post them here on this blog.
Let the games begin!