Authors: Max Masen
Tags: #scifi, #action, #military, #fantasy, #apocalypse, #epic, #knight
By Max Masen
The Nomad books are works of fiction and any
similarities between real people and squirrels, both living and
dead, are purely coincidental and products of the author’s deranged
imagination. Any places that resemble real locales in the book are,
again, purely coincidental, and have been fabricated for your
stories from our writers, visit
Cover design by Max Masen
Brandgurt stands attentively in line behind his
regiment. It's made up of various species, most of them crosses
with human and another species. He holds the wooden spear in his
right hand and a metal shield with his family crest- a gryphon with
five wings- in his left hand firmly. The armor he wears is far from
elegant; it's made up of Pre-Drop athleticwear, not that anyone
living in New Otrin would know the difference. To them, whatever
was found that was used from before The Drop must have had a more
grandiose purpose than its true one actually was. A rugby helmet
rests on his head, old and spliced down the center from what most
likely was a head on collision. Hockey pads sit on his elbows and
knees and an umpire's chestpiece is worn around his torso. The
other soldiers of New Otrin also wear various displays such as
this. But under Brandgurt's armor is a nervous, tense Grant, a
species from the hills over New Otrin. His tribe had been conquered
a hundred years before this moment. But now he represents the very
people that had dismantled his society and forced him into their
own. Grants have a light green skin color and eyes like serpents.
The rest of their body is mostly human-like, however they have
certain abilities that humans did not possess when it was their
turn to walk the Earth.
"You all know your mission!" a woman atop a podium
yells out to the crowd of soldiers. "Seek out the Brutes hiding in
the cave that threaten us!"
The crowd of soldiers erupts. They begin yelling to
increase their adrenaline and beating their spears against their
Brandgurt knows the mission but he can't bring
himself to reach the enlightened mood of the others. He beats the
spear against the shield with little enthusiasm and with little
effort. The thought of a horde of Brutes coming after him and the
other soldiers forces his mind to spiral.
They could kill
all of us.
Brutes are reminders to the people of the
Yesterlands of what the previous humans living on Earth did to
destroy the world. Brutes are radiation-soaked feral humans that
attack anyone and anything that comes near them. It was a problem
that was left unchecked for as long as Brandgurt had been alive.
But now the people of New Otrin once more assemble an army and are
prepared to finally do away with the threat of the
The gates suddenly rise before the grouping of
soldiers. Beyond the gates is the vastness of the Yesterlands, an
open, decayed area that stretches for thousands of miles. For many
of the soldiers this will be the first time they step foot outside
of the safety of New Otrin. But they are prepared for what comes
next. Their training has taught them not to fear what they see, not
to run from what they witness.
But Brandgurt's heart starts to beat violently. His
breathing increases with the heart rate. His fear overcomes him but
then for a moment, there's calm. He can think clearly. Then that
dissipates and he is left with a surge of adrenaline when it's his
turn to go. He follows the soldiers in front of him, civilians on
both sides waving goodbye to the soldiers, hoping they will return.
A sense of euphoria comes over him from the excitement of both the
soldiers and the excited civilians.
But once beyond the gate, it closes behind them and
the euphoria is gone. He is left with the realization that the
mission is still ahead and he has to earn the crowd's excitement
Brandgurt leaps over a small, decrepit fence and
lands in a tomato garden. They've gone into a neighborhood with
what appears to be a few peaceful residents living there. The
detachment of soldiers Brandgurt is assigned to numbers twenty-six,
and most of them are the younger of the main force.
Brandgurt steps lightly through the garden, careful
not to step on any growing crops. The soldiers around him are not
so delicate. They stomp around and pay little attention to what
lies in their paths. It's their hope to go through the town largely
unnoticed, or at least out of sight before the residents are able
to take action. The soldiers hunch over while passing windows and
talk quietly to avoid anyone that could be watching. They take note
of a few spectators watching from their windows. This hurries their
movement. They know the town militia could be ready to fight within
a few moments of notice.
Brandgurt walks through the garden, his mind idly
wandering. A fellow soldier, Kattey, comes up and puts his hand on
Brandgurt's shoulder, gaining his attention quickly. Brandgurt
looks to him and his eyes light up.
"What is it?" Brandgurt asks quietly.
"Boss says we're taking a right up ahead. Pass it
on." Kattey moves away from Brandgurt and motions to another
soldier nearby to deliver the same message.
Brandgurt walks slowly to a fellow soldier and grabs
his shoulder and bends him over to whisper in his ear. An idea
suddenly appears in Brandgurt’s mind, a chance for freedom and a
chance for adventure. But he disregards these notions and says to
the soldier, “We’re going right ahead.” The soldier nods in
acknowledgement. “Pass it on.” The message is passed down the long
line of soldiers and eventually becomes common knowledge that the
path they are going to take ahead is to the right. But an angry
group of farmers armed with farming tools and hunting tools present
themselves in front of the soldiers. The soldiers stand up and
switch to defensive positions. Brandgurt grips his spear and shield
tightly. The helmet slowly slides down his forehead but he quickly
pushes it back up. A vibe of intense nervousness is present in the
ranks of the soldiers. The farmers number at least one hundred.
Men, women, and children all are armed in defense of their
The General of the New Otrin soldiers- an old but
well-built man with pointy ears and red skin- steps forward with
arms raised and with a peace-seeking smile on his face. “We mean
you no harm.” He speaks as if the audience of farmers is simple,
stupid. “The group of soldiers you see with me is meant to attack a
group of Brutes that threaten your lives here.”
Silence hangs in the air. The farmers maintain stern
expressions, not a single one of them stepping forward to address
the General directly. The General stands awkwardly and tries to
maintain his exuberant expression. It quickly fades. A flash of
light is seen from deeper into the woods and a bullet suddenly
finds its way into the General’s chest. He falls over into the
“Form a shield wall!” a soldier screams.
“They have firearms!” another adds.
The soldiers group up together and raise their
shields to protect themselves while a small barrage of bullets land
all around them. The barrage suddenly ends and a soldier yells,
“That’s all they have! Charge!” The shield wall breaks down and
each soldier becomes his or her own unique person again instead of
a single cog in the wall. Brandgurt charges onward with his allies
around him, each armed with their shield and spear. They group
together and use their shields for protection as they move up. The
mob of farmers form a line and raise their tools. Some of them
shoot arrows from bows into the crowd of soldiers. Brandgurt
finally reaches the battle line and the soldiers use the shields to
their advantage. The initial rush from the soldiers forces down
many of the farmers. Brandgurt’s face nears one of the farmer’s, a
girl appearing to Brandgurt to be not much younger than himself.
Her face appears grizzly and rough, battle paint streaked down her
pale skin. He raises his spear and strikes it into her stomach. She
falls back into the crowd of farmers and topples over a group of
them. Another soldier approaches Brandgurt and triumphantly slaps
him on the back as the soldiers’ battle line advances and the
farmers’ dissipates. The battle is nearly over; the farmers flee in
various directions, even their sharpshooters.
The soldiers advance and unleash victorious battle
cries. A few of the soldiers push on and cut down their fleeing foe
but most stand back and admire the fact that they still stand alive
and have survived their first encounter.
“That was a close one, eh, Brandgurt?” a soldier
hisses. His skin is coarse like a lizard’s and he shares the eyes
of one also.
Brandgurt takes his eyes away from the fire in front
of him and puts the gloves back on his hands to fend off the cold
of the wind. Overnight the temperature plummets and a few soldiers
have already suffered from cases of frostbite. Brandgurt looks to
the soldier and says behind confident eyes, “It was, Sheenja. It
“I saw you strike down the woman,” Sheenja says
suddenly. “Not even a second to contemplate.”
“Yes,” Brandgurt replies solemnly. “And what is it
you would have done?” He raises an eyebrow in anticipation.
“The same thing.” Sheenja looks away from Brandgurt
and back at the fire. “I think anyway. I was too far in the back. I
guess I don’t know for sure. I didn’t get a chance to test it like
“What are you getting at, Sheenja?” Brandgurt asks,
annoyance coming through in his voice.
“I just wanted to know… what it was like,” Sheenja
replies, diverting his gaze away from Brandgurt.
“Don’t know,” Brandgurt says with little
contemplation. “It was in the moment. Hard to tell what it felt
like. All I felt was a rush of adrenaline because I cared more
about keeping myself alive.”
“Makes sense.” Sheenja goes quiet. He stands in
place, eyes trained on the blaze.
“And yet this answer doesn’t please you. So tell me
what you wanted to hear me say, Sheenja. That I liked it? That
maybe it gets easier? Because I just don’t know!” The attention of
the camp of soldiers is quickly diverted to Brandgurt and Sheenja.
Brandgurt lowers his voice and continues, “I’m sorry. I just really
don’t know what to tell you. I guess it took a piece of me to do
it. And maybe it will every time.”
time?” Sheenja pries.
“Surely that won’t be the last time. But even you
knew that. Maybe it will be you in the front next time and me in
Brandgurt, Sheenja, and a third soldier, Racjack,
climb through a lush forest on the side of a mountain. A trail has
been previously cut for the three of them but they choose not to
follow it for long; it could be a game trail and may lead them to a
dangerous animal. They veer off and find berries emerging from a
small plant. Racjack bends down and plucks a few and tosses a few
into his mouth and then a few into his pack. The walk is mostly
silent, hard feelings still being felt between Sheenja and
Brandgurt. Captain Zene, the woman in charge of the regiment knew
it would be best to send Racjack as a mediator for their scouting
“You guys see anything yet?” Sheenja asks. He sounds
irritated and swats at flies swarming his face.
“Nothing,” Brandgurt replies. “Maybe we should get
back on the trail for a little while longer. It will be
“It seems too dangerous,” Sheenja says back.
“I agree,” Racjack cuts in. “I don’t like the thought
of an tracer bear coming down that trail at us. We stay on here or
a little longer and see if we can find a road.”
“We already know we won’t find a road this far out.
There’s no civilizations anywhere near here,” Brandgurt says