With some difficulty, Erid tore his eyes away from the dying man and rose, setting his shoulders and forcing himself upright. He schooled his features to an impassive, unconcerned expression, casting his gaze down the line of heavily-armed brigands. He took a deliberate step away from Jesseen’s body, allowing it to collapse to the ground with a heavy, lifeless thud. The bandit lay unmoving in the dirt. For a long, long moment, no one spoke. No one moved. Not even a breeze dared disturb the frozen tableau. Then, one by one, the silent brigands bowed their heads in surrender, hands falling away from their weapons, and knelt before him.
Nationforger tells the tale of ambition and dueling wills in the fantasy world of Helade. Hundreds of years after the collapse of the Empire of Karos, former imperial provinces war with independent city-states and barbarian tribes for influence. Despite the chaotic conflicts, the status quo is largely maintained - but when the merchant houses of wealthy Merenis come to blows, one of them looks to outside help to break the stalemate - and a mercenary names Erid who has ambitions far beyond his station. But if this would-be king is to truly forge his own nation and his own destiny, he will need every ounce of courage and cunning he possesses, for opposition can come from any quarter...
"People of the Mentres!" Mirta's voice rang out over the plaza, silencing the murmured discussions and drawing all eyes to her fire-lit figure. "Warriors of the Badlands!" The crowd came to attention, enrapt. "For five years I have sat on the throne of our great pact and guided our people to the future. A future of shared prosperity, of peace and honor. A future that we could all be proud to have built, and proud for our children to inherit in turn." She spread her arms to encompass the whole of the Badlands. "And we have succeeded! Our tribes have grown strong together. Famine, rebellion, banditry... these are things of our past, crushed by our power and silenced by our grace! But..." She let the last word ring out for effect, then lowered her hands. "But our work is not yet done! Tonight I am visited by an angel of the great Sehaline herself. The Mereni, crass and honorless that they are, are jealous of our success. They see our wealth and imagine that we have grown venial; they see our fertile lands and imagine us fat for the slaughter; they see our peace and imagine we are unready for war. But ready we are! You, battle-hardened brothers and sisters of the Great Pact, you will not shirk from your duty! "We must wage war and drive them from our lands!" The crowd roared, stamping their feet and shouting assent. "Warriors of the Mentres! Honored of every Tribe! Your queen decrees - let us crush the Eridians beneath our talons!"
The sequel to Nationforger, Queenslayer is set in a time of great upheaval for the young nation of Eridia. From their capital of Merenis, they have conquered much of the city-state's old holdings, securing vassals and soldiers under their three-bladed flag. But to the west lies a much greater prize: the Halloran Badlands, three hundred thousand square miles of wilderness under the nominal control of the Dread Lady Mirta sa'Kita. The wealth of the land and loyalty of its inhabitants would make Eridia a world power overnight - if they can unseat the sa'Kita's entrenched Mentrese armies. Lord Erid and his cunning wife have a plan to take the Badlands by storm. But if victory means sacrificing thousands of soldiers in a cold-hearted ploy, can Erid go through with it - and what will it mean for his nation if he does?
The shuttle pulled up to the edge of the landing pad, hatch sliding open at the same instant. Small-arms fire immediately sprang up from a handful of Cerberus infantry scattered around the pad. "Move!" Gray shouted, leaping onto the building as bullets skipped off her kinetic barriers. Nahir fired a burst over her shoulder before following her across. The turian landed hard on the pad, getting his bearings and running to join Gray in the cover of a stack of supply crates. Then it was Cobb's turn. The troopers' fire found the engineer a second before he jumped, spoiling his timing. He half-leapt, half-stumbled out of the shuttle and his foot caught on the guardrail, leaving him facedown on the concrete. He lifted a hand into the air, dazed. "I'm okay!" Jesia cleared the gap and landed on her feet, grabbing Cobb's hand and hauling the human upright. Even as she did, she was firing one-handed at the assault troops running down the ramp towards them. One doubled over, clutching at his stomach where a half-dozen ragged shards of metal had lodged in his flesh. The other tried to dodge and her shot shredded his leg instead, sending him to the ground. His gun tracked towards the squad, but Jesia picked him up with a biotic pulse that flung him over the edge of the structure. Cobb dispatched the injured man with a quick burst, and a snap shot from Gray likewise saw to the last of their foes. Gray took a quick look around, taking stock of the area and trying to match it to the map they'd been given in the mission brief. The landing pad, she saw at once, was virtually indefensible. Two ramps linked it to the rest of the building on its north and east facings, but they were broad enough to assault easily. Combined with the far superior cover ringing the street and it would be suicide to get in another gunfight on the pad. "Split by pairs and scope out those courtyards," she said, dashing up the ramp into the shadow of a small prefab. "Stick to the buildings as much as you can and fight smart. We could be here a while."
When the enigmatic and deadly aliens known as the Reapers launch an all-out invasion of the galaxy, most of their victims are caught by surprise. But not all. From the early, desperate hours of the conflict, a brave few are willing to lay their lives on the line to protect their homes. Made up of volunteers from every corner of the galaxy and every walk of life, they will need every bit of strength at their disposal to survive the war to end all wars.
They are the N7 Special Ops, and this is their story.
A Mass Effect fanfic.
"You can be honest, Veria. In fact I'd much prefer that." Nyreen leaned on her door, folding her arms over her chest. "Just ask." The younger woman hesitated, weighing "I just don't understand why... well... why nobody likes you. I mean..." "I know what you mean, and I'm not offended. At least not by you. But if you're looking for enlightenment, you've got the wrong turian. People don't like me very much. Except... for you." The older recruit's expression softened. "And I do appreciate that, even if I don't say so often." Veria's face brightened. "Oh, I know. You're just quiet, that's... okay. I understand. I'm just... it's kind of sad, isn't it?" "I wouldn't know about sad. It's always been like this. I..." She clicked her talons together nervously. "I never really knew why," she lied.
Talon Scars explores the background of Talon mercenary leader and freedom fighter Nyreen Kandros. Long before the Cerberus invasion of Omega, Nyreen is a soldier for the Turian Hierarchy, serving with the loyalty and distinction expected of a turian officer. But her life and career are interrupted when her long-dormant biotic powers awaken. Facing hostility from her peers and forced by turian tradition into a menial job for the secretive "cabal" operatives, she is forced to cut ties and explore what it means to stand on her own.
A Mass Effect fanfic.
His partner charged forward as Ashe and I had expected, hoping to trap Rose Talon between them, but she couldn’t strike before I closed in — a fatal mistake. I opened the throttle to full and stabbed forward with the heat sword in my main hand. Sunstorm pitched forward, actuators whining as its computer struggled to keep it upright. The bulky Balero ACE jabbed one lightning-wreathed fist at Makashi’s head and I deflected it away with my off-hand knife. Before the pilot could bring her other arm to bear, I swept the heat sword forward, chopping it down into her line of attack and carving into Sunstorm’s bare knuckle. Lightning spat and died as the orange-hot blade carved through armor and circuitry. - from "Teamwork"
Payload: The Price of a Life [read on Google Docs]
On the backwater colony world of Aresan, the freelance mech pilots of Hammer Squad are caught up in the political struggle of two of the galaxy's premier corporations.
Payload: Complicity [read on Google Docs]
New Horizon is a world caught between the spheres of two warring corporations. Balero regional director Jonathan Aldiman is tasked with restoring peace - but is he looking out for the company's interests, or his own long-buried ambitions?
Payload: Teamwork (part 1) [read on Google Docs]
Fi and Ashe are up and coming fighters in the arena circuits of Iwakura, ready to break into the big leagues at last. But there's a price to be paid for fame and glory, and only the strong and sure can truly make their own way.
Veria: First A Spark, Then A Flame [read on Google Docs]
Tensions are rising between the vast, expansionist Uralom Empire and their rivals, a fractious coalition of kingdoms known as the Twenty Thrones of Malkut. Over the disputed lands of Hofeai, a midnight encounter between their airborne fleets will spell the end of peace and usher in a new age of warfare...
Veria: Laniidae [read on Google Docs]
War has engulfed the world, and the tiny island republic of Gibria is no exception. The famed Gibrian Marines, their elite warriors, take to the skies hunting down the enemy's shipping and causing havoc, but these veteran soldiers chafe at chasing down paltry merchant craft. When fate grants them the battle they desire, will they be able to secure victory in the face of the enemy's vast firepower?
What rose in her was not panic or fear, which she had been trained to overcome; not nausea or grief, which she had never been prone to. It was uncertainty, a fundamental and fatal doubt that she belonged behind the helm of a single cruiser, let alone an entire fleet. She was aware of Herschel speaking to her, insistent, almost pleading, but she couldn’t make out the words. She was aware of the snapping and hissing of damaged cables, the hum of a hastily-raised shield containing the chamber’s air, the tense murmur of chatter from wounded officers and stunned crew. Her eyes shut around sudden hot tears. Her hands open and shut on reflex. None of it mattered. In her heart, in her mind, she was eleven again, alone and uncertain in the flood of her city. - from "Warforged"
Warforged [read on Google Docs]
It is the year 3547. For six years, the thousand worlds of the Confederacy of Nova have been at war with the Sivari Empire. When a Sivari ambush results in the death of her commander, Zessyr da Terau, young but highly decorated tactical officer of the NJF Vector Dancer must take command of the remnants of the fleet. Zessyr will have to summon all her will to triumph, or perish alone among the cold burning stars...
First Command [read on Google Docs]
It is the height of the Sivari War, the greatest conflict in the history of the Novan Confederacy. Newly-minted Fleet Captain Melissa Thastus and her five warships have been given their first life-fire mission: patrol an outlying system for any signs of Sivari opposition — and destroy it. But in the wilds of deep space, far from their home fleet, anything can happen, and a chance encounter will give Thastus the chance to prove herself once and for all... or die trying.
Wander [read on Google Docs]
Eight-year-old Tomas and his friends may be young, but they've already mastered the first art of the Novan life: you can't always listen to what the adults say.
There was a sudden tap on my back, right between my shoulderblades. I jumped about six inches and spun in place to see who was there, about half a second before I recalled there was only one person it could be. Brilliant green eyes stared at me, just inches away from mine. I quelled the impulse to jerk back or look away, and stared back. As kids, the adults had always grown unsettled when we tried this trick, breaking away in discomfort or even anger. I dimly recalled that we'd used to have that effect on each other, too, but right now I couldn't imagine why. - from "Transition/Revelation"
Watch the World [read on Google Docs]
Three ordinary children are on a trip to the big city when disaster strikes, forcing them to rely on their wits and their courage to survive.
Transition/Revelation [read on Google Docs]
Michael is a young man growing up in a starfaring carnival wandering Black Nova, eager to earn his "mark", a symbol of his personal philosophy and sign that he has reached adulthood.
"On Creation" - written for a college creative writing course, "On Creation" describes the process of constructing 3-d models from a poetic perspective.
"13 Ways..." - a piece about viewpoints. Thirteen strangers describe their thoughts about a blank scrap of paper.
"Harmony" and "Aphasia" - inspired by Stefan Gagne's "excrucio eternum", "Harmony" and "Aphasia" are concrete poems describing the thoughts of two characters in a twisted, horrific mental asylum.
"All That We Won't Be" [Google Docs], "Fallen and Forgotten" [Google Docs], "Summer Dreams" [Google Docs], "Winter Together" [Google Docs] - these works were written as "songs" to be performed at an in-character gathering in World of Warcraft. Taken together, they tell the story of the performer and her life's difficulties.
View as Google Doc
Also known as "SC Workshops", this project was a semester-long group process that resulted in a workable proposal for a student group on the USC campus. Our proposal detailed a theoretical group designed to put on workshops of valuable skills for students, ranging from life skills like tax prep or basic computer use to more esoteric engineering needs such as welding or soldering. The proposal was meant to be as in-depth as possible, and includes elements such as a student group constitution, notes on the workshop format and needs, a schedule and budget, and surveys of student interest. All of these elements were collated into a formal proposal document for the final deliverable.