Collect and celebrate the small victories. We reach our goals one hill at a time.
I'm happy to report that I received an honorable mention in 2018's Writing Contest for the category of *Prose: First Chapter (Novel).* This contest is judged by professional authors from outside Utah, so that's something.
If you don't follow my FB author page, Daniel Rodrigues-Martin, I'd love your support. I'm also on Twitter, but only because I have to.
The honorably-mentioned chapter, "The Fates of Stars and People," comes from the beginning of my third book in the Ark Saga, Goddess from the Machine, and is included below.
THE FATES OF STARS AND PEOPLE
(c) 2014-19 by Daniel Rodrigues-Martin. All rights reserved.
For as long as he recalled, his hope had been for the advent of a true “new humanity.” For humanity to endure, it must evolve. To evolve, it must die and be reborn as something different. Death was the oldest instinct of living things, yet no one ever went quietly.
The man’s mistake was mathematics. Cost-benefit analysis. A miscalculation ready to be paid in blood. The girl about to kill him had transcended into something more than human, and for this he was grateful. Her foreign accent now bore a metallic resonance that frightened and enthralled him. She was sharper and stronger and fiercer than he could have hoped—a masterpiece. For that he could die.
The people of this city called her their “Goddess from the Machine,” for she was no mere angel. He saw it in her machine eye and understood that he was a fool to have ever sought to own her. He would die like a mutt, right here on the ground. He felt it, believed it, understood it.
But no one ever went quietly.
“So this is what you’ve chosen?” the man shouted through the rain as fog and smoke encroached. His fractured tibia jutted from his skin as he lay, drenched, in the cobbled streets of the city he’d helped build. She’d chased him here like a hare into a trap. He should have known.
“Evolution chose,” the girl said, one eye flashing neon blue as a stream of tiny, silvery machines circled her like hungry wolves. She was enrobed in black cloth that draped from her in shadowy tendrils.
“But you’ve finally embraced it,” the man said, shivering from the cold. “You’ve made the choice to accept the truth. It’s the only real choice we have.”
“All my life I thought I had no choice,” she said, “until the Vigilant brought me to this city and told me my life was my own. I believed him for a while, but you were right. It’s not about our choices. Never has been.” The girl gestured at the burning buildings that stained the gray streets orange and touched the fog with acridity. The silvery, cascading machines moved as extensions of the girl, just as she’d envisioned they would. “You were destined to be born rich,” she said. “I was destined to be a slave, to be abandoned, to watch the only people I loved die in front of me and to learn for certain that I’ve never been in control. You and I were always meant to be here, now, in this labyrinth of smoke, each of us broken, each of us alone.”
“Humanity won’t survive another Tumult,” the man said, knowing she was right. “The World is on your shoulders, now. You know what has to happen if we are to endure.”
“I don’t know much any longer,” she answered, gazing through the clouds and the stars beyond that her cybernetic eye perceived. “I know I’m not afraid to lose myself, that freedom is a lie, and the fates of stars and the fates of humans are one in the same. We read them, seekin’ answers, but we and they are swallowed by the same void. So I won’t be pushed and pulled any longer. I’ve found liberation in my chains. They’re mine by right and by choice.”
Rain descended and fires burned and smog engulfed the streets.
“They’re callin’ me their ‘goddess,’ ” she said without looking at him, the tiny, silvery machines pulsing around her in a rippling halo of steel. “What do you think?”
She looked utterly divine, something to be worshiped by an ancient people now forgotten, a harbinger of a dawning age. She was magnificent. “You are everything I’ve hoped for. You are the future. You are the true new humanity, my vision come to life.”
“I want so much to kill you,” she said, sounding more flesh than metal. She was neither; she was both.
“You of all would know if it is right. The World and all its people are yours to deliver or destroy, to be remade in the image of the new. We won’t survive without you.”
“I know,” she said, her brightened eye dimming into shadow, into black.
The man exhaled as cold rain fell and the tiny machines cleaved to the girl and more smog encircled them. Nothing would ever be the same.
The World would not go quietly.