Wednesday, March 14, 2018

New Viper Suits From Rebel Minis

I sculpted these for Rebel Mike at Rebel Minis.  Variable Payload Raiders, or VPR Suits (Viper Suits), are modular mini-mechs that can handle any number of battlefield and civilian roles.

Here are the new Mk.6 and Mk.7 configurations.

The Viper Suits were designed to incorporate a lot of the HAMR suit bits, as well.

The beautiful paintjobs by Dragon Slayer Models really make them look arena-ready!  Sweet!

For more backstory on the Viper Suits, click here.

To buy the Vipers, click here.



Monday, March 12, 2018

Blocked. Here's A Different Type Of Snippet.

Jessica Kramer isn't talking to me right now.
I'll have to start injecting coffee in my jugular to jumpstart Code Of Armor: Breakthrough, I think.

Problem:  I've never written fantasy.

Solution:  Do it anyway.


So, here's my opening scene.  It's the magical version of this...

     Private Farmboy!  What are you?  Tired?  Get up that gods-damned rope and ring my bell, before I skin you alive and feed you to the Company Gunny!”

     Mage Recruit Anders, still gasping from the three-mile formation run, dropped his hands to the tops of his knees.  A quick jolt from the Mage Instructor’s baton-wand straightened him up, and he sucked hard for wind. He looked up, forlorn, at the bell looming at the top of the tower.  Inhaling the cold morning air was like breathing daggers of ice.  His face was mottled in purples and reds, flush from the exertion and exhaustion of the morning’s training schedule.

     This was only week four of recruit training, and he was hating life more than usual.

     “Aye, aye, sir!” he managed to say between ragged breaths.

     Anders, still puffing hard, reached for the rope with his hands. Another jolt, harder this time, made him pull his hand back as if something bit him.

     “Gods-damn it, Private Farmboy, did you join the Fingers Corps, or the Mage Corps?”

     “This recruit joined the Mage Corps, sir!”

      “Well, then, get your snake-strokers off my rope, there, and utilize the training my beloved Corps has invested in you. Now, the Primary Ascent chant. Belt it out, like you’ve got a pair!  Focus!”
     Anders’ mind raced, trying to put aside the pain in his side and the biting cold.  They had just learned this one yesterday. Ascend, ascend, ascend…which prayer to which god granted flight?  Andos?  Ravahl?  No, not Ravahl, she was fire primary, flight secondary.  Andos.  He was the primary.
     “While we’re young, Private Farmboy!  Select the runestone, focus the will, and invoke the chant until the deed’s done. The rope’s just a focus object, to keep you from breaking your silly neck.  Now, ascend my obstacle and ring that bell!”
    “Aye, aye, sir!”

     Fumbling through the rune stones carried by each recruit on a string of sacred silver, Anders ticked them off one by one until a light blue triangle was in his hand.  Though his lungs were burning, he held his breath, closed his eyes, and called upon the favor of the Sky God, Andos.

     His feet left the ground, and he rose on unsteady currents of mystic energy. The sensation unsettled him, breaking his unsteady focus.  Like a fish, Recruit Anders flopped on his side, falling from four feet up. After impact, the mage instructor clamped an iron gauntlet around his forearm and jerked the young man to his feet.

     “Louder, and with faith, gods-damn it, Private Farmboy! Visualize the destination.  Visualize the bell.  Feel the power flow through you.  Set yourself aside from your fear.  Now, unscrew yourself, and do it again.  Visualize, channelize, attack!  Quit dreaming of milking the cows back home, and get up my rope!”

     “Visualize, channelize, attack, aye, aye, sir!”

Anders brushed the cold sand from his side and pinched the glowing runestone between his thumb and forefinger.  Bracing himself, he barked out the prayer in a growling, repetitious manner.  He felt the power course through him, forming an ethereal halo around his body.  His shaking boots lifted from the ground, slow and smooth, and he rose. The bell’s ornate rune carvings became more pronounced as he flew higher.  He marveled at the light blue energy pulsing around him as he ascended.  He gauged his altitude by stealing a quick view down.  The Mage Instructor’s stern gaze met his own, and he faltered.

“Today, Anders!  Today!  The war will be over by the time you’re up the rope!  Don’t look at me, look at the bell!  The bell!  Gods-damn it, recruit—”

Anders, rattled by the Mage Instructor’s snarling commands, wavered just out of arm’s reach of the bell.  He grabbed for the ringer, but it slipped through his fingers.  Fear flooded through him, and the wispy corona disappeared.  Powerless, he fell.

The Mage Instructor interrupted his curse, focusing instead on catching the plummeting recruit before he hit the compacted sand of the training field from three stories up.

Anders curled into a ball, trying to soften the crash that never came.  Inches from impact, Anders opened his eyes.  A yellow suspension field held him in an unyielding grip.  Growling out a sub-incantation, the Mage Instructor opened the fingers wide on his non-wand hand.  Anders was now spread-eagled, helpless in the glowing grip of the spell.  With a flick of the M.I.’s baton-wand, Anders spun like a pinwheel on a windy day.

     “Close, Private Farmboy, but close ain’t enough.  You come see me back at the squad bay.  You an’ me are gonna party, you understand that?”

     “Yes, sir!” the exhausted recruit said, nauseous from the fall and gyrations.  The tall, lanky recruit choked back vomit when he hit the ground.  Wiping his mouth with the sleeve of his combat robe, Anders shuffled off to the next training station on the circuit.

     The Mage Instructor pointed to the next nervous recruit in line to fly up the obstacle.

     “Next, you, Private Slowpoke, you see my bell at the top of the obstacle?  Yes?  Let’s see if you can fly better than you run.  Up the rope!”

     “Aye, aye, sir!”

*    *    *    *    *

More to come.


Friday, March 2, 2018

Reviews...Important? Nah. How 'Bout Some Pie, Instead.

Some folks live and die by reviews.

I'm cool.  I order a lot of stuff on Amazon, and rarely leave reviews, myself.

So, who am I to ask you to do the same?

If you can't leave a review, just leave some pie.


Reviews on what, you ask?

Code Of Armor, my book, of course.

Here's the cover, with beautiful art by William S. Frisby, Jr.

And the description...

Jessica Kramer is a mech pilot packing a 20mm revolver in her holster and an even larger chip on her shoulder.

When she discovers an incident with her brother in the armored arenas of Junctionworld involves more than just what the cameras showed, her path turns to revenge.

To discover the culprits, she must stay one step ahead of alien overlords, rogue enforcers, and fellow mech gladiators trying to kill her to gain their own freedom.

The deeper she digs, though, the harder the truth becomes, and the more sinister the plot to kill her, the last of the Fourth Gate Kramers.

Can this young mech pilot defeat the sordid conspiracy to erase her family's name and reputation in the arenas?

Can Jessica overcome her personal demons, as well as ones from her past, to discover the truth?

Find out in Code Of Armor, the debut solo novel by John Bear Ross.

To follow John Bear Ross (you can call me JBR), head to...

Be sure to follow me on, as well, for the continuing adventures of Jessica Kramer.

Cover Art by William S. Frisbee, Jr.



Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Small Snippet From The Code Of Armor Sequel

Here's a small snippet from the sequel to Code Of Armor, which is tentatively titled "Code Of Armor: Breakthrough."

Helpful hint: Some people might call an unplanned chapter ahead of the main story a tacked-on prologue.  I call it a "Chapter Zero!"  Heh. ;)


     They were the last survivors of their unit, but the contract was fat, and the completion bonus even fatter.  A pressing mixture of greed and bloodlust urged them deeper into the target facility.  This was an ugly situation, but they'd pulled through worse.  On the upside, with just the six of them left, the split would be enough to quit the merc life for good.

     “'Nice, easy rescue job,' right, Boss?  'Double rate, because the client wants it kept low-profile,' right?” one of them complained over the comm network.

     “You shut yer yap, Snim, and cover that airlock.  You make any more noise, and I'll tear yer tentacles off, and leave you behind as a meal for those things to eat, wrigglin' and raw,” the leader of the unit said, pointing his environmental suit's main claw while his smaller manipulators topped off his rifle's magazine.

     The mercenaries huddled up in what was left of the facility's cafeteria, surrounded by scattered chairs and overturned, blood-splattered tables.  They gathered in the center of the breached environmental dome, weapons pointed outboard as their commander consulted with the glowing map display on the outside of his claw.  Something stirred, and their rifle muzzles zeroed in on a motion from the far end of the dome.

     “Oh, void, Boss, it's another one!”

     A shimmering black form, about the height of a standard human, emerged from one of the frozen piles of corpses.  Trooper Snim opened fire with his laser carbine, and the pool of darkness staggered under the assault of heat and light.  Its gelatinous mass rippled in gray waves as a scab formed across the laser strike.  A slug rifle's projectile found its frozen form, shattering it.  It toppled, splitting into two smaller shadows, and closed in on them.  The divided pair of lethal puddles sprinted towards them at a freakish pace.  Snim panicked as he saw the ebon blobs try to flank them, and broke formation to seek cover behind a table.

     “Snim!  Get back here!”

     The pools of darkness flowed across the floor, skimming and bouncing as bullets and photons ricocheted around and through them.  The shape closest to Snim vaulted up, forming a spike-like penetrator as it hurtled towards his faceplate.  Despite his efforts to avoid it, it speared into his visor, and the comm channel was filled with screaming and liquid, gurgling noises.



Friday, January 26, 2018

Fabrication Friday

I set aside today to rework my working/writing/sculpting situation, in particular modifying the Autonomous SmartDesk my folks gifted me for Christmas.  Thanks, Mom and Dad!

So, I've incorporated a foot bar on the front of it, using some Faztek extruded aluminum leftover from my CNC machine build.

I also made a rack for my main sculpting computer's tower.

Also, a foursome of locking casters are now bolted underneath, in the threaded sections normally occupied by the leveling feet.
The thread pitch was M8x1.25, but Amazon had them.
Here's the link to the casters I used.  I had to bob the threads with a Dremel cutting wheel, so some modification will be necessary, unless you find a caster with a threaded stem about 12 to 15mm.

Here's some pics...

Well, first, here's my coffee setup.  It all starts with caffeine.  ;)

My working desk is in the corner of the guest room. When guests stay over, I've had to tear everything down and set up in the master bedroom.  Not much gets done when that happens.
So, I mounted the whole she-bang on wheels.

There's Voodoo, my ancient black cat, supervising.

The desk is motorized to rise and lower.  There are four preset elevations.  It's a sweet setup.

Supervisor Voodoo wonders when the next can of tuna is going to be opened.  Hopefully, soon.

 Here's the foot bar.  It helps for long standing sessions.

Here's some stickers on the side of my tower.  Most of my other ones are on the tool box in the garage.
The newest addition is up in the top right corner.  I got that one at work.  It's a neat project, if you google it.

Well, that's it for Fabrication Friday.  Back to writing the sequel to Code Of Armor!


Sunday, January 21, 2018

New Cover For Code Of Armor

Here's the newly formatted cover for Code Of Armor, coming soon to Amazon and Kindle Unlimited!  I'm probably going with the shaded/ghosted version, since it doesn't look like I made it in MS Paint. ;)

Cover art by William S. Frisbee, Jr.

Beautiful stuff!

I'll be sure to advise you guys when it's ready to launch.


Saturday, January 6, 2018

New Cover Image For Code Of Armor

I'm going to re-release Code Of Armor: Vengeance, Parts 1 and 2, as a compiled story, since they're the same arc.

Title will be simplified to Code Of Armor, since the original was a bit of a mouthful.  ;)

My good friend Rick Partlow sent me the contact information for William S. Frisbee, Jr., a fellow Marine and writer who also does covers.

William put this together for me, and it's beautiful.
A very striking image of Jessica Kramer, with a mech and worldgate in the background.  Stunning.

So, here's your sneak peek!  Enjoy!

John Bear Ross