What am I funding here?
Gideon Ira: Knight of the Blood Cross is the first novel in my new series of Christian Pulp stories, Deus Vult Wastelanders. The initial books follow Gideon Ira, a young knight in power armor as he traverses a post-apocalyptic wasteland America full of demons, necromancers, warlocks, vicious bandits, and savage warlords.
The Church has unified into one community of believers, though friendly denominational factions remain and support one another because this is not a time to be divided. Gideon Ira is Catholic himself while his best friend is a member of the Assemblies of God. Holy knights guard the huddled masses of survivors in the shelter of walled city-states. Mankind has largely forgotten the ability to forge advanced tech, so they preserve the existing power armor, plasma swords, and heavy weaponry like holy relics.
Gideon Ira: Knight of the Blood Cross opens with the wandering knight in desperate battle against a demon of pride. He's tracked the hulking monster to its lair, and the audience gets to see a range of special abilities supplied by Gideon's power armor. He takes the severed head back to the nearby border village where the hunt was commissioned and dumps it off at the local church for cataloging and disposal. When he hears the resurgent cult of Ba'al up north has laid waste to an entire village in order to harvest their children for living sacrifice, Gideon sets off on a journey across the wasteland.
The entire journey takes him to many locations: The ruins of a megacity populated by demons and cultists, the holy city of Belltower run by the Church, the demonic mirror world which lays beneath our own, cracked highways turned into gory battlefields, and across the flowering wasteland of a broken America. Several battles are gritty and brutal, real slugfests with huge swords and claws, while another adventure requires Gideon to work with a team of stealthy fellow knights operating with military precision as they seek to abduct the wicked Blackthorne. Gideon faces angels both fallen and faithful, articulate demons who seek to destroy his soul, and witches and warlocks commanding unholy powers.
The goal of this series is to create stories to inspire Christians with a new wave of heroic figures living out their faith in uncompromising ways. I'm studying the pulp writers who brought us Conan the Barbarian, Solomon Kane, Tarzan of the Apes, and John Carter of Mars, and my goal is to write blistering page-turners to keep Christian audiences begging for more.
What's the money for?
This Kickstarter campaign is to help the author pay for cover art, professional editing, and professional formatting for both ebook and paperback editions.
The rough draft of the story is already finished and currently stands at around 53,000 words prior to self editing and professional editing. My tendency as a writer is to increase the number of words during self editing because I leave description out of the rough draft, so that word count is likely to increase. The professional editor for this novel has worked on a wide range of novels and is already booked for August. He also holds a degree in theology, and I've got several members of multiple denominations ready to review the final copy and make sure it's friendly for all Christian audiences.
The cover art for Gideon Ira: Knight of the Blood Cross is designed to look face-meltingly awesome, likely with the titular knight in power armor, his weapons, and a scattering of demonic enemies. My goal is to have art so beautiful that people will want to hang enlarged versions up as posters in their bedrooms. Renowned artist Ivan Tao has already agreed to do the work and is booked for August. Examples of his professional work can be found at https://www.artstation.com/ivantao.
All backers will receive their digital copy of the novel at least 2 weeks in advance of the book being available for sale anywhere else. Backers are welcome to publish reviews as they wish upon receiving the novel and do not have to wait for the street date. The book is yours at that point to discuss to your heart's content.
A short appetizer
The first unedited chapter is included below to give backers a taste for what they can expect from the story:
Deep in a reeking pit in the earth, a knight in power armor challenged a feathery demon.
Two gasping torches hurled in haste upon the floor splashed light over the duel and revealed the nest of the foul monstrosity. Human bones crunched underfoot and putrid soil lined all other sides in the crude cavern, the last in a mazelike warren of twisting rabbit tunnels. Like sentinels of death, bleached skulls embedded in the walls with jaws agape shrieked empty songs audible only to the damned.
Metal rang and breath chuffed as the combatants stirred the bones at their feet and clashed once more.
The stalwart knight stood his ground even as a rain of blows fell upon him in a waterfall of death. Claws like daggers scraped his gunmetal gray armor, seeking purchase in the dark gaps between. The armor’s gilded edges reflected like gold sunlight in the flickering light of the torch. A bloodred ragged cross was painted across the warrior’s breastplate.
As soon as the demon’s attacks dwindled, the knight whirled into his counterattack. The crimson loincloth draped from his belt stirred with the movement, and the half-cape of the same color over his left shoulder snapped as the attacker pirouetted and slashed with his enormous two-handed greatsword. As tall as a man and a foot wide, the blade whistled as it cut the stagnant air of the stinking cavern. Golden glowing eyes set into the knight’s helm blazed like starlight as he struck again and again at the monstrous beast.
For its part, the feathery demon withstood the flurry of attacks. Like a hulking ape covered in obsidian insect chitin, the enormous opponent repelled every attack, no matter how ferocious. The demon stood three times the height of a man so its head, like the head of an iguana and covered in the same gleaming black chitin, nearly scraped the cavern ceiling as it whipped back and forth to track the knight. Craggy thorns as long as a man’s arm intermixed with vibrant peacock feathers rising from all over the demon’s body reached to gore the knight at each opportunity.
When the massive charcoal-gray greatsword proved ineffective, the knight pushed off with his foot and launched himself backward. The power of his suit augmented his strength and gave the backstep a reach of fifteen feet. Upon gaining some distance, the knight reached for his hip. A wide leather gunbelt hung askew across his armored hips. With the greatsword held tight in his left hand, the knight drew a silver-plated hand cannon from the holster and fired. The crash of gunfire tore through the underground cavern.
The .50 caliber bullet ripped through the air and crashed into the hulking demon’s shoulder. Despite the power of the round, the bullet pinged off the tough chitin armor. The shot was powerful enough to stagger the beast, but no more.
Not content to be fired upon, the gleaming demon roared and charged. Reeking earth flew like blowing curtains as the massive clawed feet churned the floor and propelled the monster forward in the blink of an eye. The knight barely had time to roll aside before the beast hurtled into the space where he’d been and slammed into the wall behind him.
From the floor, the knight fired twice more at close range. The huge gun thundered in his hands, and once more his helm’s auditory dampeners kicked in to save the prone man’s hearing. Even as his shots rebounded off the monster’s back, the knight pushed himself to his feet again and whirled his greatsword for a one-handed overhead slash. His suit’s maintenance was so thorough he could not even hear the servos whirring as the powered arms augmented his attack and slammed the sword against the demon’s flank with the force of a freight train.
Uncowed by the hit, the demon backhanded the knight with a hand the size of a car door. The metal armor rang like a gong and the knight flew across the cavern. His back slammed into the packed earth wall and he collapsed to the floor in a clatter of bones. Both weapons had dropped from his hands during his flight.
The beast roared hideous laughter. The sound boomed in the tight confines of the cursed lair.
The knight reached for his belt pouch and drew out a rosary. Sandy wooden beads rattled along the length of tan parachute chord. The steel crucifix on the end flashed in the torchlight. The knight wrapped the rosary around his gauntleted fist and struck a battle stance. When he roared his challenge, the scrapper’s voice resonated through the chamber and silenced the demon’s laughter.
“Come at me, filthy churl,” the knight shouted. “I shall crush you with faith alone.”
Snarling, the beast complied. Its charge was faster than the blink of an eye, its fist rising to crush the knight where he stood.
The knight slipped by his attacker’s fist. The wind of the passing attack stirred his cloth drapings once more. With a roar, the faithful warrior threw his entire strength into a punch which slammed the iguana jaw of the hulking monstrosity.
At the instant of impact, a flaring light burst forth from the rosary. The demon screamed and twisted away to avoid contact, but the knight lashed out again and punched the demon in its torso. The blow caused another flash of light. Where the punches had landed, smoke curled up from the scarred chitin.
Suddenly wary, the huge monster threw itself across the cavern to escape.
The knight made to pursue but his boot caught on the hilt of his greatsword and he stumbled. He lifted the enormous blade from the pile of rattling bones and hefted it in an overhead guard.
The demon snarled at him from across the room.
Inside his helm, the knight smiled.
With his finger, he flicked the switch hidden inside the cross guard of his greatsword. The sharpened edge split apart as the blade butterflied open on both sides down the center spine. A roaring jet of golden plasma burst forth from the edges of the sword and threw surging shadows through the demon’s lair.
At the same time, the knight used his tongue to flick a switch inside his helm. The golden edges of his armor lit up as bright as the sun, surging into sudden radiance. For the demon, the effect was like staring into the heart of the Sun itself. The beast roared in agony and covered its face with both hands to block the painful light.
A countdown inside the knight’s helm started up, ticking down from 60 seconds in the top right corner of his vision. As the plasma blade thrummed in hands, the counter fell to 59 seconds, then 58. The HUD displayed the numbers in vivid red. Another warning along the bottom right of his HUD read Flash disabled. Recharge time: 120 minutes.
With no time to lose, the knight rushed to the attack. His plasma sword bit into the beast’s arm but failed to fully penetrate the chitin. By knocking the limb aside, he was able to drive his blade into a thrust directly at the scarred chitin on the beast’s torso where his blessed rosary had burned the monster.
The plasma blade tore through the chitin and into the flesh beneath. The demon, which had been swinging blindly as it defended itself from the unseen foe, lashed out in all directions. Blue ichor squirted from the wound and splashed across the reeking earth at the knight’s feet.
Ignoring the splashing blood and the swinging attacks, the knight stepped under the flailing arms and slashed his plasma blade at the demon’s face. The sword connected but the monster twisted away at the last second, so the blade failed to plunge through. The knight had been aiming for the scarred chitin along the monster’s jaw where he’d punched its face but the dodge caused the weapon to scrape along the apelike demon’s eye. With a burst of fluid the eye exploded and the beast shrieked in agony.
Another backhand hurled the knight back ten feet. His armored greaves skidded through the bones and shattered them to dust beneath his heels.
As he slid to a stop, his HUD read 30 seconds.
The blinded demon recovered vision in its remaining eye and fixed the dark orb on its tormenter. With a cry of fury, the monster charged forward.
The knight hurled himself into the attack. His plasma sword burned through the air as the countdown continued to tick toward depletion.
The monster reached with both claws to snag the knight.
The knight allowed himself to be caught around the waist, with both arms over his head.
With a cry of triumph, the demon squeezed with all its might, attempting to crush the knight.
In the bottom left of the knight’s vision, the words Armor integrity decreasing appeared. An outline of his body showed yellow around his lower abdomen, and the color was quickly burning toward a darker orange.
Trusting his armor to hold, the knight lined up a swing and slashed his plasma blade against the side of the demon’s face. The plasma sword bit deep into the scarred chitin along the jaw and into the cratered eye socket. With a sizzle, the blade bit through the side of the beast’s face and into the meat beneath.
The huge body jerked as plasma incinerated its brain and central nervous system. While not native to the material plane, the demon was forced to abide by the laws of living creatures when inhabiting a body. That meant a brain to house the spirit-body connectors. As for any living creature, destroying the brain meant separation of spirit and body.
The clawed hands around the knight maintained their grip for another moment before falling away. With a crunch, the limp corpse collapsed into the piles of bones and moved no more.
With 10 seconds left on the countdown, the knight pressed the switch under the cross guard on his sword once more. The golden plasma ceased to flow, the sword edges closed into a normal sword blade, and the countdown in his HUD disappeared.
With a flick of his eyes, the knight activated his gear search. The sword in his hand lit up as white light outlined the weapon. Across the room, another white outline showed him the location of his lost hand cannon. Bones crunched underfoot as the knight strode to his pistol and lifted it up to check for damage. Satisfied that the weapon was intact, he slid it back into its holster and turned to regard the fallen demon.
“I require your head,” the knight declared to the lump of armored meat.
Risks and challenges
I ran a successful Kickstarter for another novel last year and succeeded in sending out all rewards to backers with zero complaints. The rough draft of the novel is already complete and the three professionals being hired are already booked and awaiting payment. The only risk is that one of the professionals or the author have an unforeseen life event which necessitates time away from work, but in that event the work will be handed off to others to complete and every effort will be made to stay within the time limit for delivery of the product.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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