Echo Chapter 1

Atriya was on his way up.

The boots on his feet struck hard against the trail. His ruck, as well packed as it was, still shifted ceaselessly on his back. Every bounce tugged at his shoulders, sending stabs and aches throughout his body. His lungs burned as if he were holding his breath. Fatigue had spread from his legs to his arms, even though his arms were under no strain whatsoever. The exhaustion was simply a measure of how hard he was pummeling the ground with the combined weight of his gear and his body.

He embraced the pain. In a way, he was addicted to it. Not the pain itself, but the validation it gave him. Each burning breath, each chafe of gear against skin—every ounce of discomfort assured him he was strong. That he was tough. During his runs, he would pick the hardest, steepest trail available. And he always made it a point to fill his pack with the densest, heaviest sandbag he could find.

All throughout his life, he’d been rewarded by sticking to a simple philosophy: refuse to be weak. Push as hard as you can. Pain and hardship were not only inevitable, they made you stronger. Fuck everything else. What didn’t make you stronger wasn’t just useless—it was a waste of time.

Occasionally, someone would ask him why he punished himself as harshly as he did. The only answer he could produce was a condescending scoff, or a blank look.

Why not?

It was the only way he knew. For him, it was the only way that worked. Whether it was talent or luck that allowed him to push as hard as he did and avoid injury or plateau, Atriya had never cared.

That, however, was starting to change. His contemplative side had begun to interrupt the regulated march of his thought process. The timing of it was troublesome—he couldn’t afford distractions. The job was too important.

Atriya wasn’t just ascending in the physical sense; his career was taking off as well. He was gaining acceptance as a member of the Crusaders, an elite division of shooters within the Department of Enforcement. The guys in the unit openly mocked the pompous sounding title of “Crusader,” and opted simply to call themselves “The Crew.” If they ran into former or active teammates outside of work, they would shorten it even further, dropping the word “the.” As in: “Hey, are you Crew?”

He saw a plateau up ahead, where the trail leveled off. He summoned the last of his energy, churning his boots against dirt. He reached the break-point drenched in sweat, gasping, feeling like he was drowning even though he was on dry land. Every ounce of his ruck was transcribed into a unique pain: a mix of screaming agony and paralyzing fatigue.

He paused at the leveled part of the trail and sucked water from a bottle. He looked down to his right and saw the Crusader training compound at the base of the mountain: a series of squat, boxy buildings with the occasional comms array or obstacle course breaking up the drab, linear patterns of architecture.


Up towards his left lay a series of gentler, flatter trails that revealed an expansive view of forest-ringed lakes on the side of the mountain that was opposite the compound. During off hours, a good amount of compound staff would hike past the plateau to appreciate the scenery, but nobody explored those wilds. It would be beyond foolish; that territory was held by Dissidents.

Atriya didn’t run past the plateau—ever—so he never got a chance to appreciate the view. Why should he? He could run up the steeper, lower-lying grades faster than most could sprint on the higher, flatter sections. The lower trails were a better workout, which meant that the upper trails were an indulgence, a waste of time.

The other reason he didn’t want to venture up there was purely mental. It was his job to kill Dissidents. Thinking of them got his blood boiling. So regardless of the view, he opted not to interrupt the tentative peace he found during his runs with a visual reminder of the enemy. He experienced a welcome escape in his solo exercise, and refused to disturb it with thoughts of work.

He looked back towards where he’d come from, and noticed a Crew Selection class approaching from a distance, rucking in a loose column of two abreast. After reaching the plateau, he would usually race down the trails and proceed to crush himself in the weight room. But this time—for some reason—he decided to drop his pack, sip some water, and watch the class.

Every now and then a small, inquisitive part of him—one that was buried deep and marked by intense curiosity—took control. That part of him enjoyed noting the layered, subtle connections that ran through the world. He was rewarded with a profound satisfaction from indulging his contemplative side, but also realized that it was potentially dangerous; it could easily lead to a lack of focus.

Atriya counted heads. This class looked to be about twenty strong. They would probably drop another ten or so before moving on to Technical Phase. Typical Selections started with around a thousand prospects. Nine excruciating weeks later, they ended with roughly ten survivors. The remaining men (occasionally a woman) would move on to train in the nuts-and-bolts skills of being a Crusader.

Despite passing the first nine weeks—Commitment Phase—the harshness would continue. The majority of it, however, would be channeled into training rather than weeding out the weak.

In Commitment, students were thrown into a world of merciless competition, where hurting and crippling each other was standard procedure. In a very real sense, each class would cannibalize itself. This was to be expected—animalistic brutality was forever present in the life of a Crusader; it was threaded throughout training from beginning to end, and also infused in the day-to-day job.

As the class grew from dots on the trail to distinguishable outlines, Atriya heard the instructor’s haranguing grow from far-off needling to a steady drumbeat of insults, interspersed with appeals demanding to know why the students were putting up with this shit. The instructor had no ruck, so while the candidates destroyed themselves in an effort to keep up, he chugged along at an easy jog.

They clambered up the trail, close enough to where Atriya could make out faces. Their pace was barely a shuffle, and their mouths were slack with exhaustion. There were two that were having a harder time than the rest, and they were getting the entirety of the instructor’s love.

Stragglers. In training, stragglers were the enemy.

“Bottom ten percent,” the instructor sneered. “What the fuck.

The verbal abuse was a nonstop thing, and often punctuated by a smack to the face, or a half-push, half-punch to their packs or their arms. The worst was when he wound up and threw a vicious kick at a random pair of legs. Agony on top of agony.

The instructor called a halt, and the ragged group stopped in its tracks. Outwardly, they looked dumb and slow. Lazy. Atriya knew though, having been in their place, that this was a result of the accumulated abuse they’d been forced to endure. He knew that their hearts—even while sleeping—were racing abnormally fast from the unrelenting grind. He knew that their once trustworthy bodies felt traitorous; their limbs and joints had become awkward collections of fatigue and rawness. He knew that every action—an action that might normally be considered doable—required extra scrutiny to insure that limbs or spines didn’t give out. He knew that it felt like they were in a never-ending series of sprints, each one making them weaker and clumsier.

Atriya recognized the instructor as a Crew operator named Clement. Good on the gun. Not much of a personality.

Clement addressed the stragglers, arms crossed. “Hey fuckers, I’ve got a treat for you. Extra incentive, you might say. See Candidate 382 up front? Since you fucks aren’t pulling your weight, one of you is going to buddy carry him while the other handles his ruck. 382’s been pulling his weight, so he deserves a break. You pieces of shit are going to put in some extra work to make up for your fucking slacking. If you can keep pace for two minutes with the added load, then I’ll let the class drop rucks and sit for twenty minutes. If not…well, you know what comes next.”

He took a step back. His head canted upward and he addressed the rest of the group: “Any shitbag that falls back will join these weaklings in their misery. Keep the fuck up.”

The pair of stragglers gave each other dumb looks, steam rising from their uniforms. A resigned dread had entered their eyes, but upon hearing the instructor’s announcement they both straightened, and pitiful hope registered in their clammy expressions.

Atriya noticed that one of the two bore a strong resemblance to him.

The stragglers loaded up with the extra weight. The Atriya look-a-like was assigned the buddy carry. Heavier, but more stable. The candidate with the extra ruck had less weight, but less stability. The pack was positioned on the front of his body, and its main straps threatened to slide off his arms—the straps were designed to pull against the front of his shoulders, not the backs. It was only by gripping a pair of bunched up storage pockets on the front of the ruck that he was able to anchor it in place. The bottom part—the lower piece of the frame—pressed against the top of his hips, cutting his steps short. Because he needed to stay upright in order to keep ahold of both rucks, he couldn’t lean forward. All of this combined to cut down on the efficiency of his stride.

Instructor Clement looked on implacably, his mouth etching a hard line across his face. His eyes were covered with menacing sunglasses, giving him a cruel, robotic appearance.

Without speaking, the class realigned and neatened their formation. They were wrung out, barely able to think, but training had made this reflexive. They would endure brutal hardship that threw them into chaos, but as soon as they had a moment’s reprieve, they were expected to straighten their gear out, and then themselves. All the while knowing that the results of their toil were going to fall apart, and that they would have to repeat themselves again and again. Their efforts to maintain order never ceased, and stretched endlessly into infinity. Their suffering seemed eternal.

The two stragglers took their place in the back, one hoisting 382 in a fireman’s carry, the other adjusting the extra ruck through his arms, anchoring it as best he could on the front of his torso. With one ruck on his back and the other on his front, his silhouette bore vague resemblance to a double-shelled turtle. One shell on his front, one on his back.

Clement took his place at the head of the column. He set the timer on his wrist holo and began jogging.

The sound of rustling packs filled the air. While Clement was moving at an easy clip, it might as well have been an all-out sprint for the burdened candidates. Their breathing harshened into pained braying. To Atriya, the sound seemed starkly out of place amidst the sun-kissed trails and the whispering trees.

The two stragglers bowed forward with the extra weight. Their mouths were open wide, forcing out plumes of moisture with each exhale. Their eyes were sightlessly intent on the boots of the man to their front. Their already-reddened skin adopted an alarming flush, causing them to look severely sunburned.

Thirty seconds. The two stayed close, their faces tight with desperation.

Sixty seconds. The additional weight became apparent as the two began to stumble and trip. Grunts and moans burst from their lips, and occasionally one of them would let loose with a defiant yell, trying to summon any aggression he could in order to help bear the load. The one carrying the extra ruck was hanging on to it by gripping the bunched-up folds of the front-side pockets; the jostling had caused the main straps to slide completely off his shoulders.

Seventy-five seconds. While the rest of the students’ breathing had a steady, grating quality to it, the men bearing the added mass were exploding with gasps. Dread blossomed in their eyes as they saw a short gap appear between them and the others.

Clement looked over his shoulder, noted the gap, and picked up the pace.

Ninety seconds. The gap widened. The stragglers weren’t going to make it.

Two minutes. Beeping from the wrist holo filled the air. It sounded like the crowing of a playground bully. The doomed pair were now unacceptably far back. Not just stragglers now, but failures as well. The candidate assigned the buddy carry, the one who resembled Atriya, turned an ankle and fell.

Legs were normally springs; muscles, tendons, and ligaments worked together to partially recycle the energy of every step. For the man doing the buddy carry, exhaustion had turned his legs into dumb, unresponsive weights. He had to spend the familiar effort of lifting a leg, but also the unfamiliar one of making sure that it didn’t collapse once he put it back down.

The man’s time was up; he had reached the limits of his energy and caved like a marionette that had just had its strings cut. The dust of the mountain trail blew upwards in a quick puff as his face smacked the ground and 382 tumbled off his back.

The beaten-down group had reached Atriya’s perch on the plateau. They were uncomfortably close, so he picked up his ruck and moved back a dozen feet. He dropped his gear and sat on it, resuming his observation. He knew what was coming. It was Crew tradition.

The instructor called a halt and rallied the men around the failures. The one with the extra pack had shucked it, and was now sucking air with his hands on his knees, barely conscious. The student who’d been carrying 382 was facedown on the ground, legs quivering.

A malicious smile bloomed on Clement’s face. This was the only time in Selection where the training cadre would demonstrate joy.

Clement gave the order: “Drop rucks!”

The class peeled off their rucks and organized them into a neat, double-row of packs by the side of the trail. Now that their fear and adrenaline were cycling down, they moved like old men. They took short, choppy steps and walked with a pronounced hunch; their best attempt at trying to keep the chafing to a minimum and exert as little energy as possible.

Clement spoke with a raised voice, demanding everyone’s attention: “What’s the Crew motto?”

In dull unison: “I am the mission.”

“What are these two, who refuse to carry their weight?”


“And what are obstacles?”

“The enemy.”

“Show me what you do to the enemy.”

The men shuffled over to the failures and began kicking them. Weakly at first, but with increasing savagery as they recovered from their sprint. Members of the class began smiling and laughing, whooping it up. The relief from dropping their rucks had flooded their minds and pushed out all other thoughts.

The men on the ground mumbled and groaned as punishment rained down on them. The one who had been carrying the extra ruck coughed up dark streamlets of blood.

The instructor looked on, nodding approvingly. He walked closer so he could get a better look.

“Keep going. I want to hear some bones crack. Cripple these motherfuckers.”

The class picked up the tempo, boots coming down in one earnest thrust after another. One of the failures was now drooling blood. He let out a pained yell as someone stomped his elbow, catching it at the joint while it was straightened. A harsh crack shot through the air.

The students stopped, assuming the air of handymen admiring their work.

“Good job,” the instructor said. “That one’s done. Get to work on the other.”

The mob crowded around the one that resembled Atriya. At first they rained down a storm of blows, but were rewarded with little more than muffled grunts. Then they started taking deliberately aimed shots. Still nothing. They were getting frustrated, and so was Clement.

“Hey fuckers, if you guys don’t break something, we’ll do buddy carry races for the next two hours. So hurt this motherfucker.”

They paused to reorganize their efforts. One man pinned the failure, so that the full force of each blow would be completely absorbed. Others hyperextended his limbs and propped them onto rucks, ensuring that his joints would be extra vulnerable.

With the failure’s body positioned and secured, candidates wound up and took their best, cruelest shots. It didn’t take long before three joints—an elbow and both knees—broke with sickening pops. The failure screamed, but it came out as a lazy moan. Without the context of exhaustion and abuse, the noise might have been comical.

Clement had been watching the process with a frown, disappointed at the man’s resilience. As the pops rang through the air, his frown relaxed into a smile. He sauntered closer to the failure, knelt down, and spoke in a conversational tone:

“Hey man, you hear about those cold-hearted fucks that wouldn’t piss on you if you were covered in flames? Well you’re in luck, friend. Because we’re not them.

The class howled with laughter. It wasn’t funny per se; they had heard the joke thousands of times as every straggler was beaten and crippled, but their relief at having dropped their rucks made the statement temporarily hilarious.

The instructor stood up, unbuttoned his trousers, and let urine fly on to the face of the man by his feet. Clement hammed it up, sighing and groaning, and the men laughed harder. Once he was done he made an exaggerated show of shaking off, which got a few extra chuckles. Everybody was in a good mood when the instructor was. And instructors were always in a good mood when there were failures.

He turned to the class. “Line up! Piss break!”

Two lines formed. Once everyone had fallen in, the mob took turns pissing on both failures. The conquered men turned their bloody, swollen faces to the side as dark streaks of urine arced through the air and onto their bodies.

The remaining candidates were in a good mood, laughing at the misfortunes of their former classmates. Their loss was the class’s gain. Failing selectees meant that the class got to experience relief from the weight of their rucks, and in the literal sense as well.

The instructor turned to Atriya. “You want in on this?”

Atriya got up and walked over. Even though he didn’t feel like participating (which he knew was strange; this was a scene he’d witnessed—and been a part of—countless times before), he said, “Got to uphold tradition.”

The last man finished, and Atriya replaced him. He unbuttoned his fly, relaxed his muscles, and took aim. He waited expectantly. Nothing came. For some reason this disturbed him deeply, but his only admission of it was the furrowing of his brow.

What the fuck? I’ve been sipping water all day.

Clement called out, “What’s taking so long? Don’t worry about us—we won’t tell anyone how small your dick is.”

Laughter from the class.

Atriya covered it up with a joke: “It’s the exact opposite. I can hear all you fuckers smacking your lips and salivating over this luscious penis. I can’t relax knowing that all of you are barely restraining yourselves from chugging my amazing cock.”

They howled in laughter, and even Clement chuckled a bit. Atriya buttoned up, unable to relieve himself. He covered his consternation with another joke. “Get out of here. Your hungry-ass meat gazing makes me too nervous to piss.”

More laughter.

Clement turned to the class. “That’s a Crusader addressing you, motherfuckers. Ruck up—time to get moving.” His smile was pure malevolence—like a slick, underhanded stab. “There’s still almost twenty of you. About half of you are going to get what you just gave.”

There was a low-voiced groan as the men staggered to their rucks, readying themselves to re-enter the cycle of suffering. They lifted sweat-darkened packs onto their backs, primed to dive into agony once more.

The instructor keyed his wrist holo and spoke into it. “Command. Requesting med pickup for two.” His console barked out a static-threaded reply and he nodded in response.

The class took off, leaving the crippled failures where they lay. A steady rustle filled the air as rucks jostled along, accented by the choppy drumbeat of booted feet.

Atriya watched them leave. He had seen the insides of people strewn about like garbage. He had pushed himself through mind-bending pain. He had completed some of the most brutal and demanding training on the planet. For some reason, his inability to piss on a failed candidate—something he’d done hundreds of times—distressed him more than anything he could remember.

And he couldn’t figure out why.

He raced down the mountain, trying not to think about it.

Click the link to continue reading:  Chapter 2 or click this link to buy Echo:  Buy Echo

Here’s a link to the author’s notes for chapter 1:  Chapter 1 Author’s Notes

385 thoughts on “Echo Chapter 1

  1. I like the direction you took in opening with a character moment. It feels personal, right from the start. Your military experience really seems to assert itself here. And I love the way the tension builds in this piece.

    More than just the physical pain, I felt like I followed and understood the recruits’ mental state, to the point that their cruelty started to make sense. Yikes. And then Atriya, who was watching this ugly scene unfold alongside you, the reader, the entire time, gets up and joins in. This chapter disturbs me deeply and I can’t figure out why.

    Thanks for the emotional turmoil during my lunch break today. I look forward to reading chapter two tomorrow.

    Liked by 6 people

    • Haha! Thanks! I also put in spiritual allegory with the plateau and the simple open and close of the chapter-he goes up and doesn’t want to go further, then he races down…anyways, sorry for geeking out literary nerd style, and thanks for reading!

      Liked by 4 people

  2. You have a way of leaving the reader feeling as if he or she is experiencing the scene rather than reading it as an outside observer. The tone of your story seems very raw, and, although I’m not big on profanity, I also realize that it is very fitting given your subject matter.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Very nice. I especially liked, “He was rewarded with an inexplicably profound satisfaction from indulging his contemplative side, but also realized that it was a dangerous thing to entertain […]”. That seems particularly insightful. The second part with the trainee group was pretty excruciating, which tells me it is evocative. I was inwardly cringing for the poor guys.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Well…I wish my ‘rougher’ chapters looked like that! I’m following you–I can learn a lot from someone like you. Thanks so much for taking a moment to look at my blog as well. I put up some excerpts from some of my writing up. I like to put in practice what I learn in writing class. Happy writing, keep up all the good work. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Honestly, I used to be the guy who was like “A story doesn’t need to do anything but entertain me” then I started asking “Why’d the director put that there? Why the close-up? Why the repeated phrase? Why this? Why that?” I realized everything served a purpose, down to the phrasing of the dialogue-all serving to illustrate the themes as well as entertain, so that’s what I strive to do with my writing…Have a deeper layer but also stylistically be entertaining and fast-moving.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. My writing instructor would love you! I have a problem with keeping the tension in my writing. In the beginning all my characters were too nice! She’d always tell me ‘you have to have a reason for your readers to love or hate your characters–there has to be a reason to read the story! I’m getting better at it, but I still have to work at. I like reading stuff from other writers on WordPress to see how they go about this. All of th he things you mentioned in the above comment is stuff we talk about in class. A Lot of the students aren’t just writers and book worms but movie buffs. Class gets long and at times lively, because we all have our opinions on things!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Haha! Actually I just learned about writing by just questioning what I saw in movies (as well as reading buttloads when I was a kid, but I didn’t pay attention to anything but entertainment value back then). I recognize that every exchange between characters is better if it is a comparison/contrast between underlying philosophies…In real life we endlessly agree with each other sometimes and that is boring in writing. Also I see every event as a progression or illustration of the character’s progress towards his/her end state. I actually start my stories just being able to describe them in a sentence or two: You can reduce Harry Potter, The Matrix, and Star Wars in the same way (A commoner finds out he/she is extraordinary and saves the world). Then I layer on specifics from there on. So next question is where do they start, where do they end, and what are the main events that explain why they end up like that? Afterwards you can get really really specific with each scene once you know these things. Also it helps to have a strong grasp of theme. Theme runs through EVERYTHING in a well-written story.

      Liked by 3 people

  6. I am adding this book to my “MUST READ” I love the way your writing flows and the depth of your characters. As someone who suffers from aphasia ( the inability to see images in my mind” Words and descriptions are very important. You have written for me a visual that is clear. In other words I may not be able to see it as an image but I know exactly what it looks like. I look forward to reading this and anything else you should write. Thank you!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I started out disliking the instructor, and then it got even worse. I started to hate him. However, eventually, my disgust for him turned into a kind of hatred for the two slackers. I found myself getting angry at them. My reading increased and I noticed my pulse increasing just a bit. That all meant that a great writer had just taken control of me for a time, manipulated my feelings, and pulled emotion out of me. Great job. Not many writers can do that to me. Thank you for the buzz. Now I gotta go take a whiz.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. You get the reader identifying with the character from the off and your descriptions are very good. At moments the backstory slows things up when I want the action to get going but this has all the ingredients of a great story

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Thanks for checking out my blog and following me. Although your genre is completely opposite of what I write…I really appreciated your character development in your first chapter. I had empathy for the lead character and for those two poor souls on the ground! You have the great ability of pulling people in quickly.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Despite this not being the usual type of scifi that I read, I couldn’t help finishing it. The social dynamics of the training group was too interesting to let go. It was unapologetic and cruel and true. Atriya, as well, while not my usual type of hero, (because well, after reading a ton of books, I’ve kind of gotten a feel for the kind of characters I like,) might just grow on me. It’ll be interesting to see where those little moments of introspection will lead him.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks! I’ve seen many real-life brutes like Atriya, and usually they sadly just burn out, but I often wondered, what if they took on a path of self-discovery? Being sci-fi of course, it’s going to be threaded with unreal, fantastic events and setting. Thanks for the compliment! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  11. This is amazing. Atriya’s introduction was truly inspirational, the feel of the whole thing is really top notch. “his boots churned against the dirt, smacking the ground mercilessly. He reached it drenched in sweat and gasping, feeling as if he was drowning even though he was on dry land” I really loved that part, you can really feel what he’s feeling. Clement is also really hilarious (in his own way) to me. I feel like we all wish we were a little more Atriya, and maybe a bit less Clement. Lol.

    I loved it and I’ll definitely be picking this one up on amazon. I love the cover as well. Really inspirational. As an aspiring author this really makes me excited to get writing some more of my first novel. Well at this stage it’s more plotting than writing, but hey I don’t want to end up with a bunch of things that happen, with no underlying story to be found. A bit of a ramble, but anyways, thanks for being awesome.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much! As a beginning author, I’m super flattered by your kind words! Atriya has a long way to go, and the intro kind of puts him in the middle ground between brutishness and nobility. As far as the first volume, it ends in a cliffhanger, and I wanted to put it out there to see reception to my writing, so I apologize in advance if it lets you down by virtue of that. The second volume is more in depth and longer for the same price; I’m doing last edits right now. Once again, thank you for the positive compliments, and good luck with your writing endeavors! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Great, smooth tension building. I also love the way you used Atriya’s inner thoughts about the plateau, the wider view of the Dissident territory, and his desire to indulge his curious side by watching the recruits to hint that there is an inner conflict developing within him that may eventually make him question the lifestyle of a Crew member. The inability to humiliate the recruit by peeing on him backs this up. Lots of writers have a hard time using inner thoughts to contribute to larger meaning without becoming rambly or boring. You’ve done it subtly. Really great job.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I love this! Your writing employs such vivid imagery–you put the reader in the scene with such subtle ease. I can’t wait to keep reading. Definitely going to share this with some friends!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Glorious detail. Deep spirituality. Unrelenting brutality. Not a word said where it didn’t need to be. The fusion of discipline, military bravado, and quiet introspection makes for a gripping chapter— and a gripping book I’ll bet.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Hello, and thank you for the follow! I’m glad to see a new face willing to read our pieces. I just finished this chapter, and to be honest I’m somewhat lost. The first part focuses on Atriya and his love for the gain spawned from the pain, the push, the effort. The second part takes the focus away from this character to settle in on a group of trainees and their struggle through the phase. While some descriptions are wonderful including “insides strewn about like garbage”, I get lost in the adverbs. It takes opportunities to show and tells the readers what’s going on instead. I want to be more involved in the story, but with each adverb I’m reminded I’m reading.
    The feelings of the characters are often told instead of shown. I’ve always been a fan of first person point of view to better show and get readers involved, but every writer has their own style. Your concept has a lot of potential, and I’m excited to see where it goes. I hope I haven’t overstepped my boundary, and if you have any questions or want me to clarify or further explain myself, I’d be happy to.
    I look forward to hearing from you, and thank you again for the follow. -Author S

    Liked by 1 person

    • Understandable! I know well how writer’s hate adverbs (S. King has famously stated so) but upon studying King and Sakey’s work, really grinding into it, I see that they throw ’em in there themselves! My focus when I edit is not to abide by the convention, but to emulate the impact that these two greats (in my mind) have. Esp. Sakey, he’ll use huge run-on sentences, change up tenses within them, and violate all kinds of “rules.” So I’m keeping this in mind as I edit. To answer your second question; the trainees serve multiple purposes. First off it shows where the base of Atriya’s mentality springs from. Secondly, it foreshadows what happens to him, as I even include a trainee that resembles him. The contrast between the trainees’ ability to willingly dehumanize one of their own and Atriya’s inability to do so show that he’s growing, but he’s still confused (as shown by inner goings-ons) and doesn’t know what to do. Even the mountain, where he literally reaches a “plateau” and then instead of going up after the trainee encounter and instead runs back down, serves as an overall sketch of the story’s path. If you want more info on the individual choices I made when writing thematic significance into that chapter, take a look at the notes link at the bottom of the page. And once again, you haven’t overstepped your bounds! Glad to hear my reasoning challenged; one, because I like being able to defend it, and two, because it makes ME a better writer by having to articulate/re-examine it! Good luck with your endeavors! 🙂


      • Oh yes, getting into King’s work, even he admits to using adverbs from time to time. I sneak them in myself, though I do my best to avoid them at almost all costs. I use them more in academic pieces because I see those as coversations between myself and the reader, so adverbs would be a natural part of that. To have adverbs in dialougue is part of how humans communicate, but to have them scattered in other places can take opportunities from the writer to show.
        As I mentioned earlier, often what Atriya is feeling is told to the reader, and I’d like to see more focus on his actions and reactions to imply these things, to show his growth, fury, shortcomings, changes of heart etc.
        Reading through your examples with other authors, I can’t speak for them so much as say that perhaps there was a purpose, a method to the rule breaking madness.
        As for the focus on the trainees, the brutality of it was something else. I found myself cringing at it. I look forward to looking into more chapters and seeing where the story goes.
        I would love to hear your thoughts on my work as well if it isn’t too much trouble.
        I wish you the best luck with future pieces! Happy writing! – Author S

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thank You! Yep, there’s a lot to work on, and that chapter bears the mark of being my first shot at fiction (don’t read the Filthy 108, that’s my first attempt at commercial writing). I’ve got a lot to work on and you’re describing techniques I hear Chuck Pahluniak (that the name?) does quite well. In volume III I’m going to stretch my art a bit and see if I can introduce a little bit of romance, and I’m not trying to sound elitist in my following words, but this is actually my present circumstance: I usually don’t look at others’ pieces but I’m more than happy with giving yours a dig, because of your in-depth read and genuine interest in advancing both our respective ability in our crafts, as well as your interest in literary structure. Are there any works in particular you would like me to look at? I see a six word story (honestly not a fan of those, although I recognize the art of a fast hook with an interesting premise), and some good meaty chapters. Throw me a few you would like input on and I’d be happy to oblige! 🙂


      • Well thank you for making me an exception, but may I ask why you don’t often look at others’ pieces?
        It’s great to hear you will be stretching out of your element, and I’m excited to see where it will take you and your readers.
        It’s always been my interest to improve in any field I can, be it in technique, structure, or a genre in general. A writer’s work is never done.
        As far as pieces to look at, I guess it would depend on your reading preferences. My Six Word Stories was a trial of a new way to write, to tell a story in a mere handful of words as the name states. I’m a fan of those who can craft entire stories and evoke emotions with a few powerful, well placed words. I thought I’d try my hand at that, if nothing else just to experiment with a new way to write.
        As far as pieces go, if you’re looking for fiction my Imagination Leaks series has a total of four total parts and is ongoing. If you’re looking for more academic work, my Food For Thought category has four pieces as well, ranging in topic.
        I’m happy with feedback on anything, as my goal is to improve anywhere. If you let me know what you’re in the mood for, I might be able to point in that direction, but as far as what needs improving, I’d say poetry isn’t my forte.
        It’s all up to you, and I look forward to feedback on wherever you land! Happy reading! – Author S

        Liked by 1 person

      • Well I should clarify—I carefully scrutinize Marcus Sakey/Stephen King/Robin Hobb and a few others to see how they get away with what they do. I find that if I focus too much on writers who don’t have the emotional impact I want to have, then I’m not looking at the tools I want to develop. So Stephen King for example—when I read his books as a kid I would literally not remember the words, because the images and sounds played like a movie in my head. Now look at his writing (I’m reading the Drawing of the Three for the umpteenth time right now), he breaks all kinds of rules and treats you to long, s-of-c rambles that would fail any English class, and yet you only notice it if you look for it. So I’m not looking to adhere to proper this that or the other, I chase the pieces that take me away, and try to figure out what ingredients they use to evoke that effect in me. I’m looking to study pieces that are written in a way for maximum ease of imagination, rather than perfect use of tenses, the right mix of adverbs, proper sentence construction—what have you. And yeah, I can write a mean essay (or so I’ve been told) but I’m not looking for a roomful of academics nodding at my piece confirming what they already knew to be true. I’m looking for awe, for WONDER. For that burst of childish excitement at how cool a concept or description is. I’m pretty sure you know what I’m talking about. Ironically, it usually requires a good knowledge of the rules, why they don’t work, and then careful application in breaking them. (Or in Mr. King’s case, massive doses of psychoactive substances, haha!). Anyways, hope that helps! I’ll poke around and let you know my thoughts on some of your pieces. Thanks! 🙂


      • I understand where you’re coming from, I do. I want to be able to see that movie in my head. I want the concept that makes me the kid again, that takes me on a journey, but at the same time, I want writers to know they don’t have to spoonfeed every detail. I want some of the blanks left for me to decide. I don’t want to be fed everything because it’s like a writer looking down on me, thinking I’m not smart enough to figure it out on my own. It may not be the intent, but that’s the feeling I get. I hate being treated as inferior or stupid which is why I haro so much on adverbs and telling. I’ve spent so much of my life feeling that way, and I don’t want one of the most enjoyable things about reading, the escape to another world than my own, ruined because I’m being handheld through everything. That’s the beauty of being a writer. I get to decide everything and in my world I have control over life and situations I could never dream of, something I’ve never had.
        I harp on certain things because I want t help improve writers and I’m doing the only things I know how. I don’t mean to be such a stick in the mud about it, but there are certain things that bother me for the reasons I stated above.
        Thank you for your patience with my stubborness, and I hope I can help you if nothing else by giving feedback. Please know I mean well, and I’ll answer any questions you have about my reasoning. Thank you for the offer to read! I hope you enjoy. -Author S

        Liked by 1 person

    • (a follow-up to the King stuff: I’m not sure how much he intended his literary usages; from what I understand, he was high or drunk for most of his novels. He doesn’t even remember writing Cujo and several others, haha! Maybe he’s just the Michael Jordan of writing and has good instincts, or it’s possible that he has the hands-down best editors in the world)


      • Whatever the methods or means of his madness, it sure has done him well! I’m afraid I don’t know much about his experiences with substances during his writing, but I might look more into them now haha!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Interestingly, I see a lot of critically acclaimed/popular movies and works including many mystical metaphors/themes. Now I meditate on a regular basis and ponder different philosophies, but I doubt that all writers follow suit. I also know that in the artist community, many of them have dabbled in hallucinogenics, I suspect esp. in LA. My suspicion is that many of their literary themes/structure comes from a deep psychedelic trip.


  16. I’ve finally started reading this, and what an intense first chapter! I had my hand over my mouth as they were kicking the crap out of those poor guys. I can’t wait to continue reading. I love sci-fi, and I really want to begin sharing my own sci-fi fiction on WordPress, but I am a little nervous to start! Your story inspires me.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank You! It’s actually pretty rough (IMHO) to what I’m doing now, as that was my first stab at fiction, but Thanks! My stuff is pretty dark and violent, but there is a spiritual thread through all of it. And no spoilers, but I can’t stand a story without a happy ending, I’m just a fan of a harsh middle. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Awesome opening chapter and love your writing style! I felt tired and out of shape after reading the first few pages! Lol! Nice storytelling pace with crisp clarity.
    Solid work!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Hey I loved the first chapter. The way you explained the character, his actions and his surrounding was great. It really helped me to paint a picture in my head of what you were trying to convey.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Very well written. Colourful descriptions and characters with believable dialogue. A delight to read. Definitely very promising writing.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. First of all, thank you for following my blog. Hope that you will like some of the posts I have written.

    The first chapter of the book just made me dwell into the story It has great starting and I am sure that other readers would agree with it. The imagery is done fantastically well and I felt that I was in the book alongside the characters. This shows that the book has much potential and I am sure that it will do well. Congratulations on publishing the book and all the best for your success. Much love ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  21. I see your name “SciFi” I read your story right away :)) I’m a huge fan of Scifi
    I admire the way you build your world already. The spirituality in here is written and done well. I will look up to you to write my story :3
    Btw, have your stories been translated into other languages? I’m not an English speaker though, it’s a little bit hard to read ._.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Hey dude, awesome stuff. Some big characters building here. I just wanted to let you know that there’s a dead link on your page here. The link at the end of the post to buy on amazon is down.

    Keep it up man!

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Hey! I’m in the process of reading the first chapter of “Echo,” and so far it’s been awesome. First of all, the name Atriya is so unique. I love it when I stumble across new names like this. Your description really paints a vivid picture in my head of the rugged landscape. I find details to be really great, especially since I’ve never been in any kind of military/rigorous setting. I’m not used to a lot of rough language, but I find that for these characters the rawness works well. All in all, your writing keeps me wanting to read more! And that’s the best thing about it. Some say that too much description or contemplation in story-telling is something to avoid, but if your words are still keeping the reader in suspense, then there’s no harm it that! I’m definitely eager to keep reading.
    Also, I wanted to thank you for being my first wordpress follower! It means a lot to me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank You So Much!!! I actually got the inspiration from Stephen Pressfield’s legend of Bagger Vance; in it his hero is named R. Junnah—a play on the Hindu mythological hero Arjunah. So Atriya is a play on words, as his first name is Kishchan (yeah I didn’t like the sound of it but the thematic significance was too good to pass up) His name—Kish Atriya—plays out to Kshatriya, or the term for the Hindu warrior caste.


    • Thank You So Much!!! I actually got the inspiration from Stephen Pressfield’s legend of Bagger Vance; in it his hero is named R. Junnah—a play on the Hindu mythological hero Arjunah. So Atriya is a play on words, as his first name is Kishchan (yeah I didn’t like the sound of it but the thematic significance was too good to pass up) His name—Kish Atriya—plays out to Kshatriya, or the term for the Hindu warrior caste.


  24. Awesome! I was pleasantly surprised at the turn of events in this chapter. I’m glad you didn’t shy away from the violence of the world you introduced here, but at the same time it never felt exploitative or just brutality for the sake of it. It shows us right away that life here is cheap and expendable. Having Atriya join in was another surprise, all of it leading me to believe that this is a world where death really is just around the corner. Your ability to show that through the eyes of your main character makes for great reading! I really enjoyed it. : )

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank You So Much! I bite my lip because book 2 is essentially a giant battle that’s interspersed with dialogue and introspection, but I try to make everything tied to the underlying theme as it develops. At that point there is no need to show violence (although I’ll go gratuitous if the coolness warrants it). Thank You for the kind words! 🙂 🙂 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s