As I said in my last post, I wrote Daemon in 2010, looking for something different to maybe attract an agent. I had read some steampunk that had fantasy elements in it and decided on that approach rather than the steam robots and battles of airships approach. I set the story in a world where magic had taken over for technology, and technology had stagnated for centuries in the steam era. Steamships, automobile, trains and even airships were still around as necessary components of society, but magic had taken the place of much of technology. Lighting, security systems, even labor by undead zombies, were the norm. And as in most societies, the rich had access to everything and the poor struggled to survive. Only living on the streets in this world brought other dangers, both from the negative energy Shadows and the establishment looking for life energy to power the magical grid for the use of the haves.
The name Daemon is significant in three ways within the novel. Daemon Corporation is the most powerful company on the planet, and supplies the magical energy to the grid through the execution of criminals, the slaughter of food animals (and some more unsavory killings), and some above the law acquisitions that become apparent in the novel. Lucius Daemon is the Big Boss of the Corporation, a member of the Council of Mages that runs the government, and one of the most powerful magic users on the planet. A pillar of society, he is also an evil man who will let nothing get in his way. And the creature that is after the members of Daemon Corp is a Daemon, a force of nature that comes to us from Greek Mythology. It is not really evil, not Demonic, but can be quite destructive in its actions. It is the unstoppable force that is killing people who have a connection to the corporation responsible for feeding magical energy into the grid.
The only foil to the magic using majority is The Church of God Ascendant, the one surviving religion from the days when there were hundreds of denominations on the planet. They see magic as the evil which has caused the world’s problems, and will not use it in their day to day activities, unlike the rest of society. They see their God as the only salvation. They know the end is coming to the world of magic, and that the end will not be pleasant. But they are ignored by most of society. Remember to pick up your free copy on Amazon from 12/8-12/12. Now for the excerpt:
“So,” said Jude, attempting to keep his voice from cracking, and failing. “Where are we going?”
“Someplace really dry,” said Stark with a laugh. “Someplace where you can have some peace and quiet. And rest in peace.”
Jude didn’t like the sound of either of those. He tensed his muscles and released, seeing if he could get any slack in his bonds. He worked his fingers in the ropes and couldn’t tell if that had done any good. It didn’t seem to have. Just as he was about to try a spell another man came into the compartment and took a seat on the opposite bench, looking intently at Jude. Jude gave the man a questioning look and got a smile in return.
“Don’t try anything magical,” said the newcomer. “I am a trained Mage, and I am here to watch you. And to stop you.”
Jude grunted a reply, knowing that when the time came he would risk pitting himself against the man anyway. But the time had not come, and the airship continued out over the bay, its own string of powerful lights shining to illuminate the night.
The airship forged on for hours, or so it seemed to Jude, who did not have access to a timepiece. At one point something very large flew by, a thing bigger than any natural flying creature. The airship had bucked and turned, and the thing had screeched out in the dark before moving on.
“One of your future playmates,” said Stark, looking out the window with a worried expression. “But he’s going to have to wait for a moment.”
“So you’re going to dump me in the dead lands?” asked Jude, glaring at the Magara agent, feeling a chill run up his spine. “That’s still killing me.”
“Not really,” said Stark with a nasty smile. “You’ll be in decent shape when you hit the sand. We’re not going to push you out from too high, after all. Then some Shadow will take credit for ending your life, and you’re welcome to haunt it as long as you want.”
Jude looked back at the man, his mouth falling open. That would circumvent the intention of his spell. They would not kill him, not in the strictest sense. They would take the actions that led to his death, but they would be free from any burdens his spell could lay on them.
“In fact, I think it’s time we started you on your way,” said Stark, standing up and walking to the door to the cockpit. He opened that door and leaned in, saying something to the crew. The bottom seemed to drop out as the airship moved downward.
A crewman slid open the outer door, looking out into the night. He looked back and nodded. The heavyset white tough stood up and pulled Jude to his feet, then pulled him toward the door. Jude tried to dig in his feet, but was pushed around like a child.
Now, thought Jude, saying the trigger words to a spell. The ball of force radiated out from his hands, shredding the ropes that had them confined. Jude stifled a cry as the ropes burned into his flesh as they were ripped away. The tough looked at him, a glare of anger on his face, and grabbed Jude’s right hand before the Detective could bring it up.
This was a time that Jude wished he had a repertoire of spells, like a real battlemage. He had only learned a few in his time in the military, and maybe another couple while he was learning and practicing forensics. He didn’t have much to throw. He only knew a couple, but he knew those well. He reached into himself and drew power from the airship’s system, raised his left hand, and sent the tough into the wall. The man dragged him along, maintaining a tight grip on Jude’s wrist. Jude brought his left hand into the man’s face in an open hand strike, adding a force blast at the end.
The tough’s head smacked into the wall. Blood spurted from his nose and dripped from his ears as his eyes went blank. His grip loosened on Jude’s wrist and the Detective jerked it away, turning from the stricken man and assessing the situation in the cabin.
He didn’t like the snap assessment he had made. Stark was reaching into his jacket, grabbing at something to draw out. The other Mage was mumbling some words and raising his hands in Jude’s direction. The black tough was moving toward him with outstretched hands, while a crewman was picking up a metal bar, obviously to use as a weapon.
Jude snapped a ball of force at the other Mage first, sending the man back into a wall. The Mage grunted and lost his spell, giving Jude a moment of respite from his attentions. Jude snapped his left hand and sent another ball of force into Stark, lifting the man from his feet and sending him into the cabin ceiling. Stark landed back on the floor with a huff of expelled air, and then scrambled to grab a seat frame to keep from falling from the ship. Jude reached inside for one more shot as the tough grabbed at his shirt. The ball hit the tough in the stomach and lifted him into the air, to fly with a scream from the airship and fall away.
Jude glimpsed a flash of black in the light, just before huge claws snatched the tough out of the air and into the darkness. The man’s screams faded quickly.
Jude didn’t have any more power left. He made a motion toward the crewman that made the man flinch away, then looked back over at the Mage. The man was coming to his knees and saying words of power. Jude ran toward Stark, hoping he could get to the agent and use him for cover. Just when he was about there the cabin shuddered with a thunderous roar and Jude’s muscles twitched and spasmed as electricity flooded his body. He cried in pain and stumbled, his muscles losing all their strength. Before anyone could stop him he fell through the door and into the night.