Eclipse Part 6

“You!”  Valkyria shouted. “Inform the Bearer.  She must hand the Holy Namestone over to League of Nations.  At once!  As fast as possible! Immediately! That is a direct order! From The League of Nations!”  I could hear her Prussian mindset without reading her mind.  Unless something had gone very wrong, the whole world had watched me do the Maze.  Valkyria should have recognized me. 

“I am the Bearer.  If you wanted the Namestone, you should have walked the Maze first and taken it,” I answered.  I called my gifts as fast as possible, reinforcing my shields, but when you start at absolute zero this takes a while.  I confess I was getting a bit nervous that the Screaming Skull was standing there, politely not saying anything.  No, we haven’t met, but when your mother is a persona, you tend to inherit bits of her gift fine structure, enough that he’d eventually figure out whose daughter I am.  That would for sure not be good. 

“Give it to me! Now! The League has decreed: The Namestone is the property of the world,” she demanded.   

“Give it to you? You and which army?” I asked.  I yawned.  That was an act.  I should have been more polite.  In my own defense, I was thoroughly exhausted, not to mention I’d taken major body damage during the hand-to-hand combat segments.  I expected congratulations, not threats.  After all, people have been trying to thread the Lesser Maze for three thousand years, with no success.  I’d done it.  Old English proverb: Battles are events between inadequate opportunities for rest.  I wasn’t resting.  I was powering up my gifts as fast as possible.  It was even money whether I’d power up fast enough to escape, or whether I beat the Maze and lost to my welcoming committee.  Some people my age would have been terrified.  I was too busy, not to mention too tired, to be frightened. 

“This one?” She waved her fingers.  What had to be the whole League of Nations Elite Strike Force teleported in at her back.  There were several dozen of them, not that I counted them carefully.  Mind you, I don’t know who most of them are, other than really tackily dressed, not at all like my highly stylish and tasteful garb, but the Strike Force is respectably powerful.  The Strike Force began to spread, left and right.

“That’s far enough,” I announced.  They kept spreading. 

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Eclipse Part 5

Valkyria must have thought I’d be intimidated when she shouted at me.  Sorry, but I just did the Maze. Next to the solid shadows, Valkyria did not impress.  I was a bit miffed.  OK, she does have three-quarters of a foot on me, but ‘little girl’ is not the nicest imaginable greeting.  True or not, ‘Little girl’ is rude.  Valkyria should have been less threatening.  After all, I was carrying the most powerful artifact in the world.  I still needed a few minutes before I could teleport out.  I had to play for time. 

I did a crash drop, calling all the power I could find.  Crash drops into bottom levels are seriously bad for the health.  For a moment, Medico flashed blue-shading-toward-violet warning glyphs at me.  I was approaching killing myself by overloading.  I shoved all the power I could find into my shields.  I really wanted to teleport away.  Teleport is a lifesaving gift, as good a gift as flight, but teleporting far enough to avoid a chase needed a lot of power, more than I could call just yet.  Yes, I could have switched power from shields to teleport, and jumped out.  The moment I shifted the power out of my shields, they would have faded, enough that I’d surely have been toast before I could disappear. 

 “I’m twenty feet in front of you,” I answered.  After it was too late, it occurred to me to answer ‘she’s twenty feet behind me, but I have to leave before she can come up here’.  Oh, well.  I never expected that question. 

“Aren’t you … isn’t the real Bearer taller?” Valkyria asked.  She sounded confused.  I glowered.  OK, I’m not into my teen growth spurt yet, an event I don’t yet see how to avoid, though I’m looking, but it’s not as if I didn’t pass five feet last year. “I am tall,” I answered.  That’s when I ran out of patience.  Valkyria hadn’t even been civil to me.  She might at least have congratulated me on walking the Maze.  If she wanted to insult me, there’s no reason I couldn’t return the favor. “Wait!” I continued. “Who are you? Isn’t the real Valkyria a bit less pudgy? I mean, how do they manage to squeeze you into that armor?”  Her nostrils flared.  I guess she’s sensitive about her weight. 

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Eclipse Part 4

I kept reaching for more power levels, further and further down.  They came more and more easily.  The Sea of Grass, The Temple, The Sun, and The Matrix opened up.  Each time I reached a deeper level, my access to my higher, weaker levels broadened.  Now, with the Sky powering my force fields, I was probably bullet proof.  OK, I did not forget to call my shields.  I might have a reception committee, someone who thought it was easier to steal the Namestone from me than from the Maze.  Before I reached the top of the Stairs, I was sort of back to normal.  I could touch all the power levels I can usually reach.  I just couldn’t tap them for very much.  Not yet.  Not without taking a lot more damage.  I could go way deep into my gifts if I had to.  I hoped I didn’t. 

At the top of the Outer Stairs I had company.  Waiting for me were Valkyria, the super-heavy combatant of the League of Nations Elite Strike Team, and the Screaming Skull, himself.  Alas, they weren’t fighting each other, so I couldn’t smile once, duck twice, and flee their island paradise. 

“Where is she, little girl?  Where is the bearer of the Holy Namestone? I’m here to take it for the League!”  That was Valkyria, shouting at me.  Valkyria? Six feet tall, impervium-plated battle armor, heavy duty body field, not to mention a flaming sword that was mostly a special effect shrouding a pointblank range plasma attack.  Yes, there is also an endarium blade inside the flames.  Her explosive throwing katana remained in its scabbard, over her back where her other arm could reach it.  There is a tradition of people in plate mail being idiots.  At the moment Valkyria was living up to the tradition.  Her long blonde hair fluttered in the ocean breeze.  Bad form.  Mum always said Valkyria should wear her hair short or mound it under a helmet, failing which someone would grab it and spin her head over heels into the ground. 

I suppose I shouldn’t’ve been surprised.  For thousands of years the Namestone has been the Key to Heaven, the artifact that will transform the World into the Millennial Kingdom.  All you needed to do in order to use the Key was to get your hands on it.  That was easier said than done.  To take the Namestone, you had to solve the Maze.  Vast numbers of people have tried and failed, with fatal consequences for them.  The League of Nations has passed decree after decree claiming the Namestone for themselves, just so soon as someone else does their work for them and removes it from the Maze.  Now I had the Namestone, so they wanted it.  I’d removed it from the Maze, so they were going to give me a chance to hand it over voluntarily.  Their idea of ‘voluntary’ is a bit strained. 

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Eclipse Part 3

Eclipse — The Girl Who Saved the World is for sale at Amazon and Smashwords.

Done.  Control of my mind returned to me.  There is a way to break the mind control, if things go wrong, but everything went the way it was supposed to.  Mum had been careful about showing me exactly how to arrange that preset, because seven ways from Sunday doing mind control on yourself is dangerous.  I dropped my mind back into my body, wiggled fingers and toes, and blinked twice.  Everything worked. 

Gifts?   Just before I left Atlanticea I’d pushed my gifts way deep, much deeper than I’d expected to need them, driving my shields toward their ultimate limits.  Now I shouldn’t even consider calling any of my gifts.  Not flight.  Not teleportation.  Not any of the neat ways I can seriously wreck things.  Not force field – yes, there’s a low-level screen tacking my ribs together.  I could go way deep into my gifts right now, if I absolutely had to, but if I did, I’m going to hurt myself. 

My memories took me back to Atlanticea.  The Martyr gave me the Namestone.  I climbed the Outer Stairs, out of the Maze into the waking world.  Ahead of me, wisps of cloud were incandescent white against a cerulean sky.  I was sufficiently wrecked up that climbing those stairs was incredibly demanding.  After each step, I half-felt ready to quit.  Before I did the Maze, I had zerolined all of my gifts, flat as possible.  Under the rules, while in the Maze, any gift I called, the Maze could call at three times the power.  That was its rule.  Curiously, three times zero is zero.  I did not give the Maze any advantages. 

While I climbed the stairs, I desperately tried to re-open my power levels.  I could barely touch The Sky.  After a moment of terror, The Sky opened.  With The Sky powering my gifts, my force field would stop a determined punch.  I could fly somewhat faster than I could walk.  With an effort that left me dizzy and gasping for breath I managed to reach down to The Breaking Wave.  With The Breaking Wave powering my gifts, I could fly faster than most sports cars.  I am not embarrassed to say that the first gift that I called was mind control, to suppress pain.  Just before I sliced the last fellow open from guggle to zatch, he gut-punched me.  Hard.  After my next step I managed to find life support.  With broken ribs, it hurt to breathe.  Once I didn’t need to breathe, I could focus.  I remembered to summon the Medico rules engine.  It would have been truly stupid to bleed to death after I got my hands on the Namestone.  Medico reported that I was not dying, not even close.  Mayhaps the Namestone would have protected me until I finished climbing the Outer Stairs.  I didn’t count on it. 

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Eclipse Part 2

No matter how tired I felt, I called very slightly on my gifts.  The null links to my pets were quiet.  Two ponies slumbered in their barn.  Two cats cuddled together dreamily in the loft above.  Anything else was very small, or very far away.  Perception? The only thing I worried about was the Namestone.  There it was in my den, almost impossible for me to find behind its quarter inch of impervium shielding.  And I knew exactly where to look.  No one else would ever find it.  The Namestone.  I have it.  Not the League of Nations.  Not the Lords of Eternity.  Me.  Eclipse!  I have the Namestone.  In my home! It’s mine, all mine!

The healing matrix was fixing me, but…oh right, healing matrix.  I should have remembered that already.  I said I’m a bit dazed, didn’t I? I summoned the glyph for Medico, its associated rules engine.  Nothing in violet.  Nothing was killing me despite the matrix.  Of course, the matrix is supposed to drag me conscious if I am dying, and it hadn’t.  Nothing blue, long-term near-death threat.  Red warnings? Let’s see.  Three broken ribs, stitched by telekinesis.  That’s why I was on my back, the lousy sleeping position Medico told me to use.  My right shoulder? Nothing broken, but bits of force field are holding things where they belong while the matrix forces repairs.  Internal bleeding from high-impact collisions?  Cured.  Gold – a black eye, a few bone bruises, but I’ve been here before, just not so many ways at the same time.  Green – slices, scrapes, abrasions — my skin is being returned to perfection as I lie here.  My face was cleaned up by the Namestone before I faced the Martyr, but the rest of me was my problem.  My healing matrix is fixing everything, way faster than I’d heal naturally.  I still need a couple weeks to recover. 

Home! That’s the keyword.  I’m home and safe.  I dropped my mind out-of-body.  Astral projection is decidedly not my strongest gift, but I can pull it off.  If I am very careful.  Actually, the preset didn’t give me any choice.  Some time back I did mind control on myself, so that whenever I was in a serious fight, escaped, and got back home safe, I would go out-of-body, whether I wanted to or not.  If someone planted mind controls on me, I probably break them when I leave my body behind.  I stepped out from my body.  The preset grabbed my gifts and ran a scan, fast as thought, to see what trojans might be lurking in my mind-space.  Yes, the scan runs at the speed of thought, but it has a lot of mind to scan.  Meanwhile, I hovered above my body, looking into my momentarily sightless silver-gray eyes and platinum-white eyelashes, listening to me breathe, ever so slowly.

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Snippets

Eclipse — the Girl Who Saved the World

Opening snippets

Flashforward

The Invisible Fortress

Evening

I woke up at half past dark.  To put it mildly, I hurt.  If there were any places where I didn’t hurt, I couldn’t find them.  Most girls of my twelve years, hurting this much, would have laid there crying for their mommies.  For me, of course, crying for help where anyone could hear me would be worse than useless.  It would get me killed.  Yes, I was doing mind control on myself.  My pain nerves screamed their agony, but thanks to mind control I only heard them as distant murmurs.  Mind control meant I could sleep.  I still knew I hurt.  A lot.  ‘Hurt a lot’ was still infinitely better than the alternative, which involved being seriously dead. 

I wondered confusedly what had happened.  I was lying in bed, not in my normal sleeping position.  The room was dark.  For minutes I was too dazed to think clearly.  I peered over my bedsheet and quilt …I was in my own bedroom.  Beyond the glass wall separating me from my balcony, the silent stars glittered in a cloudless night sky.  If I waited long enough, I’d see the stars sink one by one into the pitch-black hills of the coastal range.  The shadows on the wall were my collection of Captain Infinity Atomic Soaker pistols, ultrasoakers, except the one pistol that very definitely did not project water.

Suddenly I remembered.  Atlanticea.  It was the most wonderful memory in the world…or would have been if I didn’t hurt so much.  I’d threaded the Maze, the Maze that defeated Julius Caesar and Jackie Fisher and Spearthrower Owl and the French Imperial Guard.  I’d reached the Tomb and matched wits with the Martyr himself.  He’d given me that palm-size sphere of crystalline sky, the Namestone, the Key to the Earthly Paradise.  No one else in history had ever come close to capturing it.  I’d done it! The Namestone was the birthday present I’d given to myself, a couple months late for my twelfth birthday.  It was almost as good a birthday present as my two ponies.  Snapdragon and Daffodil are better.  I gave them to me, too. 

On the bright side, when I grabbed the Namestone my chances of living another six hours moved up from zero.  Death…That’s the penalty for not solving the Maze.  On the less bright side, when I grabbed the Namestone my reward was a big list of people who want to kill me. 

Thanks to the Maze, I am seriously wrecked up.  Credit for some wrecking up goes to the League of Nations, and to a Lord of Eternity.  They’d both made a maximum effort to kill me, just to get their hands on the Namestone.  They almost succeeded.  Almost, not quite, but ‘almost’ only counts in horseshoes, and with hand grenades. 


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National Read an Ebook Week

the e-book of Eclipse, the Girl Who Saved the Word is on sale at Smashwords and on Amazon.

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/914837

Eclipse – The Girl Who Saved the World

Eclipse —
World’s Greatest Tween Superhero
World’s Most Terrifying Tween Supervillain
Opinions differ.
She’s caring, daring, deadly
…and out to save her world
whether they like it or not.

Meet Eclipse. She’s twelve. She’s hardworking, bright, self-reliant, good with tools, vigorously physically fit, tough as nails, still young enough to disguise herself as a boy. She’s also a persona: She flies, reads minds, and is not afraid of necessary violence. She had a bit of a problem with her mom. Her mom threw her out of the house. Then Mom blew up the house and disappeared. Now she’s procured the Holy Namestone, the Key to Paradise. And everyone in the world will be happy to kill her to get their hands on it.

Meet Trisha. She’s not quite a year older than Eclipse. She’s friendly, considerate, really good in school, athletic, does more than her share around the house. She’s also a persona. She has superspeed…an hour of housework in a minute. She flies, including from here to the next galaxy in an hour. She also has a bit of a problem with her parents. They always treat her with complete contempt, totally grounded her, and won’t say why.

Her brother and sister are personas, too. Year-younger sister Janie is a budding world chess and go champion. She also reads minds, sees distant events, and can kill with a glance. Her twin brother Brian is incredibly good with tools, builds fantastic models from scratch, has a nearly unbreakable force field, and summons plasma beams that cut battleships in half.

Available ebook formats: epub mobi pdf lrf pdb txt html

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Practical Exercise

A very rough draft is complete, so I ill not post more snippets.

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Practical Exercise

“Do you have any idea why he’s so upset?” I asked.  Jackson shook his head.  I suppose I could ask Brennan what his problem was, but after he threatened me I had no interest in speaking with him again.  Then I saw the obvious.  “But I paid for a standard academic load,” I said.  “I’m entitled to another course.  Can I register late?”

“Yes.  With permission of whoever is teaching it.”  He held up a hand.  “Today is eight-day, late in the day.  You’ll need to ask the Faculty member on four-day, meaning you have a three days to prepare. Except you need my signature, and I will not be back until five-day. What do you want to take?”

I frowned. The needed memory took a while longer to surface.  “Ethics was the same time as Schools of Magical Thought, which I wanted to take and couldn’t, because Ethics was in the way.”  Ethics was a requirement, by reputation a challenging course, so like any sensible person I chose to get the difficult requirements out of the way as fast as possible.

“Let me check the Index,” Jackson said.  I politely told him the course number.  He leafed through a battered copy of the course listings.  “Right time.  No prerequisites.  Instructor permission required.  Instructor is Serene Elder Master Darius Reading.  My note to myself says ‘permission not trivial to get’.  OK.” 

He reached into a drawer and pulled out a form.  Amazing, I thought.  His desk drawers were in as good order as the tool crib in our House machine shop.  I’d learned something else from him. He filled in a few lines and handed it to me.  “Word to the wise: Find his reserve shelves; this weekend, do a lot of reading.  As a final practical matter, unless you are entranced by a particular course, in which case we might talk, I suggest avoiding the History and Ethics people.  Word of your expulsion will surely have traveled around his Program, and that crew tends to stick together.  We are History, but we do not teach undergraduate courses.  If you decide you are interested in some historical issue, after this I can get you a pass to our library.”

A library pass to the History Tower was a big deal, or so Dad had told me.  “Thank you,” I managed.  “That’s very kind of you.  Does this turn into a feud, or is this a clean break?” I asked.

Jackson looked very surprised.  “Feud?  No.  Just avoid him.  Not hard; stay out of his building.  Then it’s a clean break.  Contact me if anything arises.  That’s why I’m here.”

“Thank you again,” I said as I stood.  Brennan had done me a favor and didn’t realize it.

Enter Larry White

I returned home to find someone moving into the suite at the far end of my row of townhouses.

I waved hello.  “Hi,” I called.  “Welcome to Dorrance Academy!  I’m Adara, Adara Triskittenion.”

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Practical Exercise

“Letter?” I asked, my brows wrinkling.  “Was there a letter?  I haven’t seen it.”

“Should have been in your morning mail,” he said.

“Student townhouses get evening mail,” I answered. 

“I get morning mail.”  He looked surprised.

“Justly earned rank deservedly enjoys its privileges,” I answered, quoting the aphorism.  “Is there a copy I could see?”

“It should be right here,” he said.  His desk was covered with stacks of paper neatly crissed and crossed.  He stopped.  “Wait.  You mean you walked into his class this afternoon, with no idea that anything was wrong?”

“Yes, sir,” I answered. “Professor Brennan handed back papers, finally reached mine, and started screaming.  Then he threw me out of his classroom, and threatened to summon lictors to beat me if I didn’t move fast enough.”  Jackson rolled his eyes.

“Here’s the letter,” he announced.  He waved a single sheet of paper.   “You’d better read it first.  Please note that I’m only the messenger.”

“Understood.” For the first time since fleeing Brennan I broke into a smile.  The letter, neatly printed by a voice-to-text spell, was three paragraphs of vitriol, and a final paragraph of school rules being invoked.  The school rulebook was ten volumes, that before you got to the precedents; I certainly had not read them. 

“He seems to be upset about something,” I observed.  “He never says what.  He claims that the Pass grade doesn’t affect my grade average, means that I satisfied the ethics requirement, and means that I don’t get charged for taking the course.”

“Correct,” Jackson answered.  “And I have the copy of the Recorder of Grades form, filed with the Records Office, confirming his claim.”

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