Introducing Noa, Moon-Child, Queen of Purgia, Winter Queen:
She straightened up, making regal her own pose. Her leather suit cried from pulling taught; medallions and bracelets chimed melodies about her person; a lustrous granite-blue coat with a deep-drawn hood fanned behind her in the blizzard’s wind, the face of a Black God grinning from its surface. Was the building taking notes? The Queen couldn’t tell. She wore a patterned blindfold that obstructed her sight, leaving her to guess at things like expressions.
She lifted her head, causing her hood to fly off and setting the tail of the bandage around her eyes loose in the wind, as well as the strands of her hair ablaze. The building almost swayed backwards in fear. Azure hair that almost glowed; snow-white skin, icy cold; delicate lips which somehow held vigor… Its daughter, Noa Rylie, had returned.
Introducing Van, the original Agent, the Clandestined Killer, the defeated knight:
After shooing the dog, he swayed to his feet, leaving any recollection of or even concern for the long dream on his bed of cardboard and newspapers. As in his dream, he was bare-chested and bare-footed, dressed only in his dark, worn slacks and purple hair. He yawned, ruffled a few strands, then looked around for his jacket and trench coat. He spotted them under a glass bottle next to him the length of his forearm, whose contents had been sucked dry. He yanked them up, slid his arms through both pairs of sleeves, tugged the collars, the wrists. He raised his foot to take a step toward one of the alley’s exits, and as his shadow fell over the bottle, abruptly, the shadow disappeared. The bottle spun around until its mouth aimed at one of the exits, where one Vantrekke Yuba could be seen staggering into the wall of city lights.
Introducing Dr. Dragon, kingpin of Purgia, master of Agents, mad scientist:
He stared down his crooked nose in propriety of the very air he breathed. His hands graced the armrests as if they were part of him. Only one foot touched the unworthy floor, while the other sat comfortably in his lap. His dark reptilian cloak fluttered lazily at the tail and tall collar in a self-generated breeze—his air of command—while the gems and jewels strewn about his person glittered and winked in the neon light. Van caught all of these features at a glance and dismissed them the same moment. What stood out about his new neighbor more than any of the extravagance sat behind oval frames wired with gilt. Time had provided no explanation for it, and poetry held no description. It was just a keen and gold and glorious thing, seated where eyes should have been.
Van could now recognize the malevolence in that gaze. He had been blind to it in the past under those desperate circumstances that had woven their fates, but now… His fists clenched in rage. Dr. Dragon could no longer hide behind his golden stare. That hopeful gleam belied the mad scientist’s true nature.
Introducing Anikae, the cheerleader, a woman of boundless optimism:
Anikae Shyrlie remained seated at the table directly to Van’s rear, a small grin playing on her lips. He had come in a black piece with a shimmering maroon shirt, which was, perhaps, the fanciest outfit in the establishment. She herself wore a dainty white dress and her hair was styled with flowers and jewelry, but that was for the festival; he had no interest in such a thing. She grinned wider as she imagined what answer he would supply if she asked him about his attire. Probably: “It was the only decent thing I could find.”
Her lime-colored eyes twinkled and her coppery hair glowed fire the deeper her amusement went. As if feeling her radiance, Van glanced over his shoulder in her direction. Annoyance painted his face at the sight of her. He turned back to watch the lower floor while she floated out of her seat, over to the banister, and planted herself beside him.
“There the whole time, uh?” he asked.
“There the whole time,” she replied.
Introducing the Agency’s height of command;
Meet Niccoli, local genius, director of the superpowered collective known as the Agency–
The trees pulled apart like curtains, revealing another bench just ahead. This bench had an occupant—a tall one. He wore a fine silver coat of modish cut and dark leather pants, gloves, and boots. His silver, wiry hair stood on end. His pale flesh held no vigor. As he heard the group approaching, he turned to look at them through bronze, opaque frames. No doubt they were wired with technology that allowed him to see much more than what was in front of him. As the man who had brought Ende monitors, cell phones, and automobiles, he had the means and the arrogance to do it. This was Niccoli Evomnestra, the director of the Agency, a man at peace with his own brilliance.
–and Rail Platoon’s junior commander, Agent Ex–
Two men stepped out from the circle as it was made: one in the standard white shirt, and one in black—the only match with Rail’s. The white-shirt approached Van and began patting him down. The black-shirt made directly for Rail.
Like Van, this man also had his hands pocketed, and even seemed bored in his stride. But it was a wolfish stride. His hair was long, dark, and spiked in large tufts, with a few silver streaks in between. His eyes were sharp and bestial. He stood at just above Rail’s shoulder, yet somehow made her seem little and spindly by comparison.
“Any trouble, cap’?” the man said as he reached the woman. His accent was not of Endeling origin; his voice came straight out of a gutter.
–and Rail Platoon’s senior commander, Agent Rail:
The pair’s attentions shifted from each other as the sound of high heels clicking on wood led their guest from the shadows into the room’s dim light. She did not walk; she strutted. Her bells swung pendulously and her whistles bounced. Milky skin glowed like porcelain; fox-like eyes studied the pair with a predator’s keenness; a shimmering curtain of raven-colored hair flowed behind her. She might have been some ethereal sin clothed in flesh, if only her black suit, black gloves, and black shirt and tie had not named her otherwise. She was an Agent: a battle-ready unit under the Agency’s employ. The trademark red jewel seated between her brows confirmed it.
Rail’s study of Van and Anikae expired over the course of seconds. She descended the stairs without inviting them after her; exited the tavern with them at her heels.
Finally, introducing the Agency’s Finest, the illustrious Elf Squad!
Meet the fist-fighting rookie, Agent Ghost–
He ducked instinctively as he heard the vessel shoot over his head. When the airship’s airy machinery fell out of earshot, he peeked back up. The moonlight washed across his boyish features, from the wild unkempt hair and bushy brows to the sharp, slanted eyes that would forever betray his Moon City origin. He wore a lopsided tie around his neck and a red jewel on his forehead like a badge. Everything else about him was just as Noa had recorded; unsettled, unseemly, hinting at strength.
Once the airship passed over his head, the Agent let go of his anxiety and fell into a relaxed pose. Keep it together, Ghost, he thought. Then he wrung his tie to another measure of dishevelment.
–the sagacious medic, Agent Delta–
Agent Delta straightened up without being asked, though he kept his hat pressed to his heart and had removed his iconic shades beforehand, the way a true gentleman should in her presence. Noa forgave him of the discourtesy for another reason than the habit. Seeing his face, his pile of dark wrinkles with the red jewel smudged into it, the sad-yet-wise eyes that had begun turning clear, the broad nose and large ears, the closely-shaven white beard—it was almost like seeing a friend. Well, had she known such a thing. If only he didn’t wear that Agency-issued suit. And those loafers. They contrasted much too sharply with her bare, filthy feet. She flexed her toes indignantly.
“How do you feel?” Delta asked.
How do I feel? she thought. Like a child standing before her elder.
–the clumsy buffoon, Agent Ziare–
Her rampant curiosity dithered. Dark skin, thickly braided hair held back by a band, a pressed black suit and tie. Dithered some more: a face that was alert, friendly, and scarlet bejeweled. Died. A tall and slender finish, hugged by an iron clamp around his waist. He was not even a filthy rogue; he was help.
The man, noticing her, brought his feet together, then his knuckles, and bowed. “Agent Ziare, at your service,” he announced.
–and the wisecracking mage, Agent Lair; the stoic commander, Agent Elf:
If Noa was disappointed before to find Ziare, she now teetered on being enraged. Chusse. Black suits and ties again, she thought. Although, she noted that the women wore black shirts instead of the Agency’s standard white, which meant they were of superior ranking. The older-voiced was of average build and had shoulder-length blonde hair; the younger-voiced smaller, skinner, possessing knee-length black. The youth’s pants were criminally short and accompanied by black stockings of felonious height. Her juvenile sneakers made slightly less sense than her counterpart’s classy boots, since it remained practical despite being uncouth. As expected, ruby-red jewels alighted over their eyes—the blonde’s sharp blue and the brunette’s round ebony. Noa had a sneaking suspicion one of these women was the master of the self-moving cables.
They saluted Noa in the Agency fashion: feet together, knuckles together, eyes closed, heads down.
“Ava luca, Your Highness,” said the blonde-haired woman, her expression stern. “Agent Elf is yours.”
“Agent Lair is yours too,” went the raven-haired girl, somewhat lamely.
They straightened up. “Together we are Elf Squad, one of the hundred fingers of the Agency,” Agent Elf said. “It is our duty and pleasure to guide you to safe haven this night. Please accept our escort.”
Get ready for the showdown!
Noa Rylie, the Winter Queen, is proud, mighty, cunning, and devious. She’s also pregnant with her first child, and she has no idea how it happened.
When Noa sets out to find an explanation to the impossible, her vacant throne becomes the meeting place for rebel factions and conniving tyrants long since ready to wage war. Only the Agency, an organization of highly-trained operatives with supernatural powers, have what it takes to bring her back and restore order to the realm.
But among the Agency’s ranks are a man hellbent on revenge; four misfits who don’t play by the rules; a duo of reluctant assassins; and an elderly medic who’s just about had enough. Not exactly knights in shining armor.
What fate awaits these valiant warriors as they chase the most dangerous woman alive? As they unravel her deepest secrets? As they remember their own dark pasts?
It all goes down tonight.
KNIGHT OF THE MOON.
Knight of the Moon comprises the first 16 chapters of the flagship JukePop serial Metal Shadow Prelude (no longer the official title). It is set for release on June 13, 2015 and will be available from retailers such as Amazon, iBook, and more. Beta read this fantasy sci-fi epic on JukePop today to receive news, discounts, and a first look at the upcoming two books in the trilogy, Knight in the Wild (ch.17-33) and Knight of the Son (ch.34-52).
So which character are you most excited to see in action? Leave a comment below!