Walton Terry sat staring at the small button in his hand. The light hadn’t come on yet, but inevitably it would, and when it did, he would push it. He tried not to think about what it meant and what might come from it. He was doing a job and there was nothing more to it than that.
Somewhere several kilometers across the dome, three of his people were hooking up wireless connections and hiding micro-charges in the superstructure of one of the oldest buildings on Mars. Once they had finished and circuits were live, the light would turn green and it would be time. His orders had changed in the last few minutes, and now instead of waiting to give his people a chance to escape, his orders were to push the button immediately.
It was essential that no one would survive to tell what happened.
Walton was smart enough to know that included him. Somewhere, hidden where he could not see, he knew there would be a sniper waiting and watching over him. Once he’d done the deed, they would erase him along with those who served with him. It was the price of dedication to a cause greater than the value of a life.
Or even four.
Walton leaned back on the bench, trying not to look nervous. In fact, he was trying not to think about anything except the button. In reality, it didn’t matter what the target was, he was simply to do the job and trust that those who had sent him on this mission understood why it was so important.
Across the concourse, a small park filled in one of the cracks between buildings of the immense dome of the Robinson Colony. It had been the third dome built on Mars after humanity had begun to escape the collapsing biosphere of Earth. Over 200 years old, it was the sanctuary that kept humanity alive on Mars during the Burroughs Outbreak of the early days.
Now filled to capacity, the dome was home to over twenty million people. Walton watched a family playing in the small open space. A mother supervising her three children as they threw a flying disc back and forth. It was a normal life, of a normal family, on a normal day, that was about to be shattered.
The actuator in his hand vibrated as the first of his people logged that they had completed their task. He glanced around drinking in what he knew would be the last moments of normalcy. Another few moments and the reality of life in Robinson would forever change.
A second hum, followed by the third, and the time had finally come. He hesitated, looking around and scanning the tops of the nearby buildings for some sign of the one that would take him down. Seeing no one didn’t surprise him, but it did leave him wondering whether he would be lucky and walk away.
Taking a deep breath, he slid his thumb forward over the button and clenched his hand closed.
Distant thunder rolled through the dome, shaking the ground beneath his feet. Growing up on Earth he knew what thunder was, but the Martians living in this dome had never heard it. The children stopped playing, looking around in fear. The mother bounced up and stared at the artificial sky above. Somewhere in the distance someone screamed.
Walton stood up, turning once more and watching for any sign of the coming bullet.
He didn’t have long to contemplate his fate. A stabbing pain tore through his chest and he dropped to his knees, releasing the button from his hand. Watching it tumble to the ground as he collapsed into darkness, he fell as surely as the hospital building and the abominations incubating inside.
Wings of Earth:Season One is now available on preorder as a box set.
A Bite of… Eric Michael Craig
How much of you is in your hero/villain?
The problem with this question is that I have MANY heroes in each book. Who is the hero in Stormhaven Rising? I think it’s Sylvia Hutton or Dave Randall, or even Mica, but most people think it’s Colton Taylor. While a lot of me shows up in the personality and background of Colton, he is in my thinking a tool of the story and not the hero. He is more a part of the setting embodied, and not really a hero in any sense of the word.
Who was the hero in STL? Again, to me there were several. Even those who were at odds with my main characters were heroic. So, I have to say that one also is hard to nail down.
Although my Wings of Earth stories are focused more around the character of Ethan Walker, I generally write ensemble cast stories, more than I write heroic arc tales.
This really tends to make the hero in my books part of a team.
When the whole team is the hero, then the answer has to be that ALL of me is in there.
But I’m hiding in several bodies.
Why do you write? Money is an acceptable answer.
Okay. I write for MONEY. Actually, I enjoy writing, although I discipline myself to do it not recreationally or as a hobby, but with the goal of becoming stinking rich. I say this not because I am particularly avaricious by nature. In fact I have a reason to want a solid bankroll and anyone who knows what Stormhaven embodies and where my personal backstory parallels Colton Taylor’s will understand what that is.
I’ve got a long way to go yet, but eventually I plan to make it most of the way there. Hopefully I will get far enough.
Have you ever written somebody you dislike into a book, just so you could make them suffer?
Yes, but no. Honestly, I will admit that there is a person that I have written into my books to make them suffer, but to me even as I wrote it, that felt kind of petty. I don’t want to describe the character or how I made them suffer because they would probably recognize themselves, and they might actually read my books. Admitting that was my intent, might give them legs to make things difficult for me, and that just isn’t something I want to deal with.
In truth, I have put aspects of this person into several characters, but I chose not to make them suffer too badly. It’s a foolishly stupid therapy technique, and forgiveness is far more effective at a personal level, than vicarious vengeance anyway.
I have seen this done far too often in other people’s work, and to me it ruins the story telling. Maybe I’m an optimist, but even a character who is despicable is worthy of redemption. Figuring out how to understand what it is that made them the way they are is a far more interesting use of people I don’t like (And a lot more therapeutic too).
Chocolate cake or coffee cake?
Coffee cake, because… coffee. Duh!
Eric Michael Craig is a “harder-edged” Science Fiction writer living in the Manzano Mountains of New Mexico. He is the former Director of Research for a private consulting laboratory in Phoenix, where he experimented with inertial propulsion and power generation technologies.
Eric is a founding member of the SciFi Roundtable. The SFRT is an active online group dedicated to supporting indie and traditional authors by networking them with other writers and professional resources.
When not writing, Eric is active in Intentional Community Design, plays guitar and bass, occasionally dabbles in art of various forms. He also owns way too many dogs. You can keep up with him on his own website, sign up for his newsletter or follow him on Facebook and Twitter.