Thursday, 10 September 2009
Chop-chop - some merciless editing
The rewrite of Super Maxwell 2 continues at a vicious pace. The following has been cut from the book, as it doesn't, on reflection, really move the story forward. Major Tom Richards is a key character in Super Maxwell 3 - so here is his first "unofficial" (he'll appear a few pages later in the final book) appearance in the Eternal Engine saga - if you want to know more about The Immortals look them up on Wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Immortals_(Persian_Empire) - or (if you're old enough) read Frank Miller's 300 graphic novel!
‘Major Richards, sir, 5th Immortal Regiment.’
Mr Vim eyed the soldier without comment. He was dressed in the black uniform of the Dragon Rouge but, where the uniforms of many of the men gathered on the platform were pristine black, Major Richard’s uniform was a faded, dirty grey, though the golden button on his tunic still gleamed, as did his broken-healed boots.
‘Are you a practical man, Major Richards?’ asked Mr Vim.
‘Yes sir,’ the soldier replied. He held his arm in the Dragon Rouge salute – his forearm held horizontally across his chest. Mr Vim tapped his arm now and he lowered it to his side. ‘Been on the battlefield since I was fifteen, sir.’
‘A practical man fighting monsters in an army of immortals.’ The other soldiers on the platform, whose plump necks mushroomed over their collars, unlike the skinny, dirty neck of Major Richards, chuckled. Mr Vim grinned his arid grin, and all laughter died instantly. ‘The practicalities of your assignment are this, major. I require eight of your men with stretchers to carry these children into the tower with me. You, and the remainder of your force, will protect the tower from all invaders. Do you understand my orders, major?’
The major turned and barked an order and eight men, dressed like Richards in faded grey with long, dirty hair, marched onto the train carrying stretchers.
‘The Immortals, Major Richards, traditionally consist of a force of ten thousand men, and have done so for over three thousand years.’ Mr Vim took a step towards the major. ‘I would be interested to discover why that elite force has grown into what can only be described as a combination crèche, sideshow and market.’
Major Richards snapped to attention. ‘Sir, the Dragon Rouge have been stranded on this crap hole – excuse me miss,’ he nodded to Daisy as she passed on a stretcher, ‘Stranded on this planet for twelve years, sir. During that time we have suffered rebellion and wars with the Beasts, the Wooden King, and factions within our own army, sir. Many of the people here today are farmers, sir, the families of the Immortals who are no longer actively engaged with the Dragon Rouge. We returned here—‘
‘To see if I would show up?’ interrupted Mr Vim. ‘Rebellion, war, my army fractured and weakened. That is what twelve years in the wilderness does to history’s greatest army, is it?’
‘Twelve years beneath a starless sky under constant attack by monsters. Sir.’ Major Richards replied levelly, staring ahead over Mr Vim’s shoulder. ‘Twelve years without a word and with no way home. ‘ He looked Mr Vim in the eye and smiled grimly. ‘Only history’s greatest army could survive that, sir,’ he said.
‘And did you doubt I would return, major?’ asked Mr Vim.
Richards stood to stiff attention. ‘I’m a practical man, sir.’
‘Go about your business, then major.’ Major Richards saluted. ‘The tower is safe?’
‘As safe as it can be, sir. As you may know guns and artillery don’t work on this world.’
‘I do know that, major, ‘ Mr Vim replied acidly. ‘But I assume that swords and arrows do work?’
‘Then get on,’ Mr Vim replied. ‘We have history to make, my practical young major.’
Outside Mr Vim’s appearance was met with the hissing of unsheathed weapons and ten thousand swords rose in the night air in salute. Mr Vim adjusted his cloak against the rapidly falling snow, and followed Major Richards’ men into the shadow of the Clock Tower.
Super Maxwell and the Burning Boys (2010)