Friday, 25 July 2014

Book Spotlight & Excerpt ~ The Forever Saga: Flash by Sean C. Sousa

Flash (The Forever Saga, #1)The Forever Saga: Flash

Genre: Sci-fi, Adventure

ISBN: 0615686230

Long ago, the first reign of Grigori Geist nearly destroyed the Earth. 

Returned from exile, Geist is secretly rebuilding his kingdom beneath Antarctica, and assembling his robotic Vaucan race to conquer mankind. Only one obstacle remains: the war hero Brian Renney. 

Yet Brian is now losing a battle against his fears. Scars of heart and mind linger in the Vietnam veteran and retired coach, fueling nightmares that leave him abrasive as a husband and father. His failures embitter his youngest son, Jason - a star athlete torn between pursuing the woman he loves, and meeting the demands of a father who is far from the storied Army captain he once was. 

And all the while, Geist is coming for them. 

Against an ancient tyrant and his servants, Brian and Jason must face a threat that plagues the world from deep shadows...and gain an ally who, once meant for evil, will forever be a force for good.

Buy: Amazon | Audible | iTunes | B&N

1. …To Fight Another Day

Prince Ahya laid eyes on his kingdom for the first time, desperate to escape it.

Before him lay the city of Regnum Aeturnum, built inside a rounded cavern beneath Antarctica. Thousands of gleaming skyscrapers, temples, ramparts, and terraces sprang from the city floor, while the region of Aether hung from the cavern ceiling; its suspended towers glowed with blue-white light – imitating the true sky that Prince Ahya had never seen.

Ahya…the meaning of that name had not been revealed to him; one of many secrets kept by his king, Grigori Geist.

The prince stood on an open balcony on the lower levels of the Great Spire – an hourglass-shaped stronghold of white quartz at the heart of Regnum Aeturnum, and the only structure that reached both cavern floor and ceiling.

As serene as the city was, the prince had a less peaceful purpose. As general of Regnum Aeturnum’s armies, he’d be expected to reclaim the Earth that Geist once ruled. If the prince obeyed, the outside world would look much like the one-hundred million citizens dwelling far below, all blissfully unaware that their free will had been taken from them.

For that reason, he could no longer serve Geist.

The prince’s only ally, Dr. Dietrich Schmidt, had convinced him to choose peace over conquest – but he needed to act. If he alerted the outside world to Geist’s plans, perhaps the people of Regnum Aeturnum could be freed.

The prince now saw his opportunity. Straight ahead, the Jupiter Terrace – the city’s primary road – stretched out from the base of the Great Spire toward the fortified Gate of Ishtar, twenty-eight miles away.

It was a dangerous gauntlet to run. The young prince was not at the height of his power, nor did he expect Geist to simply let him leave. Despite his creeping doubt, he had to try; otherwise, millions of citizens would remain Geist’s puppets.

The prince finally spoke with booming words. “Is it time?”

A gentle, weary voice replied, heard only by him. “It is.”

At once, the prince leapt over the balcony railing, falling hundreds of feet before skidding along the Great Spire’s base as it leveled off toward the ground. Such a fall did not harm him. He was not made of flesh and blood, but of metal and circuitry, his sixty-foot body shining in gray armor sculpted like the ideal human male.

The prince landed on the Jupiter Terrace, his red eyes burning radiantly. As the greatest of the vaucan race, he wished not only to escape Geist, but to one day defeat him.


Dietrich fidgeted in his armchair at the center of the human quarters housed within the prince’s chest. A ponderous man on the verge of his seventies, Dietrich resembled a mad scientist at first glance: disheveled white hair and wrinkles covered a kind face and sagging brown eyes, his tired body draped with a white coat over a black shirt and slacks.

His meager appearance belied the fact that he, not Grigori Geist, was the true architect of Regnum Aeturnum.

Around Dietrich, the room’s sparse furnishings remained still even as the prince sped across the Jupiter Terrace, hoping to avoid vaucan patrols. He studied the tactical display – a series of floating, holographic maps and screens revealing the prince’s vital signs and surroundings – and although their position was clearly marked in white, Dietrich was more concerned about the hundreds of gray dots now rapidly appearing.

“How many?” the prince asked, anxious.

“Every Protector-class vaucan.”

“My Crypsis system may conceal us.”

“It’s not operational yet,” Dietrich answered, flipping a switch on the chair’s armrest; every surface of his quarters dissolved to reveal the view outside. He disliked the Vigil screen; it had always given him motion sickness, and nausea now gripped him at the sight of Regnum Aeturnum.

Ignoring the blurred scenery passing by, Dietrich kept his eyes straight ahead on the Gate of Ishtar as vaucan soldiers formed ranks upon its ramparts. He wondered where Geist was at that moment, and whether the tyrant would risk destroying Prince Ahya.

The conditions of Dietrich and the prince’s escape attempt were less than ideal. Though Dietrich intended the prince to be the seventh and final of the archvaucans – leaders of their race and generals in war – the newly-created prince’s powers had barely developed. Dietrich had turned the prince away from Geist, but his treachery had been discovered – leading to this desperate gambit.

From the amusement region of Promenade to Dietrich’s right, and the shining skyscrapers of Invidia to the left, the first wave of five-hundred vaucans converged above the Jupiter Terrace ahead. Splitting into squadrons of twenty, the thirty-foot soldiers fell into phalanx formation and closed in on the prince and Dietrich, who recognized the insignia on their shoulders as the Protector-class – Geist’s homeland infantry.

While the prince continued to dash around the scattering humans on the terrace, Dietrich grimaced at oncoming motion sickness and focused on the tactical display; more vaucans massed on the Ishtar Gate, now fifteen miles ahead. All of them trained their weaponry on the prince and prepared to open fire.

“I can reach the gate,” the prince gasped, “but I fear it is too well-defended.”

“Not if you’re at your best,” Dietrich countered; he alone knew what the prince was capable of.

Before them, a vaucan commander appeared on the Jupiter Terrace, speaking in a cold, authoritative voice that filled Dietrich’s quarters.

“My lord Ahya,” said Dyne, the Protector Supreme, “it appears you wish to leave, and Geist cannot allow that. This is your only chance to surrender without punishment.”

Through the Vigil, Dietrich saw the prince halt as Dyne blocked their path. Clad in gray with flourishes of white, and nearly as impressive as the prince in stature, Dyne held his powerful arm up, ready to call forth the gathering vaucan legion.

“I have held back my force’s artillery out of respect,” Dyne declared. “We both know that Dr. Schmidt has sabotaged you and your six archvaucan lieutenants. Surrender him to us, and all shall be forgiven.”

The prince said nothing, and Dietrich sighed through gritted teeth. At the fringes of the Jupiter Terrace, numerous human eyes watched the prince warily, hoping he’d listen. It’s not Ahya they need to fear, thought Dietrich.

“Prince! Decide where your allegiance lies,” said Dyne.

Dietrich pressed a button on his display and spoke aloud. “You’d destroy me, Dyne? Your own creator?”

“Ah, Dr. Schmidt. You should know my loyalty remains to Regnum Aeturnum.”

“So is mine, but to its people,” Dietrich answered. “Not to Geist.”

Dyne’s face lowered to a glare. “Then you are a traitor and a saboteur.”

Dietrich chose his parting words carefully. “Our fight isn’t with you. Are you our friend or foe?”

Closing communications, Dietrich saw Dyne direct his troops forward in response. A ray of hope dawned on Dietrich: the prince’s Adaptation system would acquire any weapons or abilities that Dyne and the Protectors used against them. Will it work quickly enough? he wondered.

“Fly,” Dietrich urged the prince.

“Doctor, I cannot yet—”

“You know as well as I that Geist won’t stop at ruling one continent. Try.”

“Understood,” the prince replied.

Dietrich watched through the Vigil: the prince broke into a run, and just as he bore down on Dyne, he suddenly leapt upward and stayed aloft, budding wings extending from his back, and soaring in the open air for the first time.

“Well done,” Dietrich said with pride.

Behind them, Dyne signaled the withering assault. Around the prince’s body, blasts of laser light danced through the air, but they missed their mark; the startled vaucans hadn’t expected the prince to flee.

“The Adaptation system has enabled flight,” Dietrich confirmed, studying the prince’s stable power levels on his display. “Now, let’s test your Taxis ability.”

“It grieves me to attack my brothers,” said the prince.

“And me as well. When this is over, I will restore them. I promise.”

As the first squadron of Protectors drew close, the prince stretched his right arm toward them and activated Taxis. An invisible, magnetic grip seized the squadron, forcing them into a single file column in midair. Using Taxis once more, the prince yanked the squadron leader toward him, plunged his fist through the vaucan’s midsection, and readied the fallen soldier as a battering ram, engaging the column head-on. Dietrich watched as the prince slammed into the line of vaucans in a deafening series of collisions, each falling one by one like dominoes onto the terrace below.

“Perhaps Geist will think twice about losing more troops,” the prince suggested hopefully, but Dietrich knew better: his display revealed vaucan forces rising from the depths of the fortress region of Arx, on the far side of the Great Spire.

Dietrich’s hopes of escape shrank in the face of Geist’s strength in numbers. “I’m afraid I’ve set us up to fail,” he said, as the prince was grazed by a laser blast from the gate ahead.

“I am here of my own accord, Doctor,” the prince replied, and Dietrich appreciated the resolve of his greatest creation.

Increasing his speed, the prince outmaneuvered the squadrons behind him as he careened straight toward the cannons deployed on the Ishtar Gate.

“I need to know, Doctor – why is Brian Renney so important to Geist?” he asked.

“Not sure. But Geist must fear him if he wants him dead. If so, you must protect Renney at any cost.”

The prince fought on, deflecting laser volleys into hapless vaucan squadrons nearby. Dietrich could sense the prince growing stronger with each passing moment and gazed urgently at the open gate ahead, so close now—

Massive artillery shells erupted from the gate’s cannons, exploding in front of the prince and enveloping them in a shimmering cloud. In moments, its effect became clear: the cloud was actually tiny, weaponized nanites – the building blocks that Dietrich had used to create the vaucans – that now ate away at the prince’s armor, leeching power from his body.

“I’m going numb,” the prince said, his words faltering as he struggled to stay airborne.

Dietrich searched frantically for some means of escape. To their right, Promenade’s forested border had little vaucan presence…they likely saw no tactical advantage for the prince there. Dietrich did, however: the dense tree canopy would provide cover – and precious time to hide beneath the city.

“Take cover in the forest,” Dietrich ordered, but the prince got struck in the back by a laser blast; on his display, Dietrich could see the mist slowly turning the prince’s body against itself.

It cannot end like this, Dietrich thought. Not with his capture and death. Not with the prince becoming just another slave. Not with the death of Renney and perhaps billions more.

As the prince descended rapidly, Dietrich caught sight of Protector squadrons, circling like vultures over them, before the Vigil went dark. The quarters grew dim and began to shake violently as the prince’s internal functions failed.

The prince could no longer protect him. As much as it pained Dietrich, he would have to flee. But what of the prince?

Dietrich staggered across the quaking room, reached a small console hidden on the front wall, and hurriedly entered a series of commands. He could enact a safeguard he had built into the archvaucans, but he had only seconds…

“What are you doing?” the prince asked weakly.

“Trying to preserve your free will,” Dietrich answered, steadying himself as the quarters shuddered again. “I can reach the Lupercal tunnels by the access ducts at the base of the terrace. I’ll remain there until I can free you.”

“You are the one who needs protecting, Doctor.”

“You’ve done more than enough, my friend,” Dietrich assured, as the console’s red lights blinked; with one voice-activated command, the safeguard would activate.

Before Dietrich could finish, a cry from the prince warned him to brace himself. The crash came sooner, and harder, than Dietrich anticipated; with a sudden jerk, he was thrown across the room, slamming into the bookshelves along the back wall and crumpling to the floor.

Dietrich tried to move, even as pain shot through his head and blood gurgled in his mouth. Mournful thoughts swam in his mind about his first days in that doomed place, of Geist’s promises that had deceived him. All of his life’s work had been bent to ill purposes, and the regret of waiting far too long to act needled him as he lay there.

This is not how you are supposed to die, the voice of his late wife, Helen, reassured. Dietrich had left Helen behind to build Regnum Aeturnum, but it was her memory that had compelled him to escape with the prince. He had always been comforted by her voice.


Willing himself to stand, Dietrich swayed clumsily back to the hidden panel where he had been working, uttering into the panel’s sensors one simple saying – a favorite of Helen’s that honored her and insulted Geist’s pride:

“He gives strength to the weary, and increases the power of the weak.”

With the encryption finished, Dietrich sealed the hidden panel and readied himself, still torn over leaving—

“Doctor…you must go,” the prince urged, and Dietrich froze with compassion; there was fear in the archvaucan’s voice.

“I will come back for you,” Dietrich promised with wet eyes, stumbling to the nearby exit hatch; he could feel the prince crawling on hands and knees.

Pulling the manual release lever, Dietrich waited for the hatch to open, revealing that they had indeed reached the lush foliage of Promenade. The prince’s chest sagged eight feet above the forest floor, and Dietrich winced as he fell to it. To his left, no more than twenty yards away, sat the hundred-foot tall steel base of the Jupiter Terrace – and a service entrance, used by the ten-foot, Plebian-class vaucans that kept up the city’s inner workings.

Dietrich hobbled toward the entrance, hearing the chatter of the vaucans closing in above the towering trees around him. The entrance door slid open as he approached, and Dietrich, in tears, passed through without looking back, too anguished to witness the prince’s capture.

Explosions met his ears as the door closed behind him, along with shouts of surprise and blows being landed, as the prince made a last stand to buy him time. Dietrich limped down the dark passage, following a track of red lights along the floor to a long ladder that descended into Lupercal – the foundations of Regnum Aeturnum that resided in the Earth’s mantle.

Fumbling down ladder rungs and dreary passages for hours, Dietrich’s descent slowed with fatigue and the unbearable heat of Lupercal’s depths. When he had at last passed from metal corridors to jagged rock, Dietrich collapsed in the recess of a tiny, sweltering tunnel. If any vaucans had hunted him this far, he had nothing left to give.

Yet soon, he must reach the one place where the prince would be held: the Genesis Chamber, the lowest level of the Great Spire, where the entire vaucan race had been created. If Dietrich could get there in time, the prince might still be rescued.

For now, he laid his head on the crude, earthen floor, utterly miserable. The outside world had no idea that its freedom hung by the thinnest of threads. As Dietrich settled on unforgiving ground, he thought of the only man whom Geist feared.

“If he can help us, please protect Brian Renney,” Dietrich prayed feebly into the dark, not knowing the good that would come from his defection – or how great the prince would one day become.

About the Author

SEAN C. SOUSA first envisioned The Forever Saga as a video game design concept, then a screenplay, and finally a written work of fiction. His debut novel, Flash, marks the end of an eight-year writing journey, and the start of another: to bring his relatable, poignant stories to a worldwide audience.

His dream is to use fiction to inspire positive social change in the world, calling attention to issues of social justice and mobilizing his readership to meet the needs of those afflicted.

Mr. Sousa resides in Southern California with his wife, Shelley. When he is not writing, he is up to socially-acceptable mischief with his friends and family.

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