So, part of my writing routine involves doing standalone scenes periodically, whether to practice a specific part of the craft, or to work on alternate openings and test settings for manuscripts currently in the works.
Jax Jensen is a special agent for an organization called the Department of Inquiry, that serves the Intergalactic Federation of Free Planets. Think a role heavily influenced by Judge Dredd, or Imperial Guard/Soviet Commissar. The role of the DOI Agent is to essentially do internal investigations, and crack down on corruption or disloyalty.
In the scene below, designed to be an opener for a piece, he has freshly arrived at his hotel in a tropical paradise and is taking in the scenery, and talking with his AI Assistant Keeper, before a startling turn of events.
Jax Jensen, a Special Agent with the Department Of Inquiry, stepped out onto the windswept gallery that ringed the fifth story of the Regal Stay Resort. Jensen swirled a cognac colored liquid around the short glass snifter cradled in his left hand as a light breeze carried the scent of ocean brine and a faint taste of saltiness to his lips.
Shivering slightly, He was still settling into the more relaxed atmosphere that swim trunks and a light t-shirt offered. It was a stark, but welcome, break from the heavy uniform he was normally confined to. His sandals clacked along the tiled walkway as he strolled, stepping to the rhythm of waves crashing against a cliffside that vanished into white churning depths below. Coming to a stop, Jensen ran his hand along the steel rail which capped the outer wall. His eyes slowly scanned the massive crowds gathered on the pearlescent beach below, who were sprawled out in hundreds of small groups divided into camps of multi-colored umbrellas and fields of beach towels. Following the distinct wakes of sleek watercraft as they carved graceful trails a mile out, Jensen noticed two single-man cutters in a seemingly reckless pursuit of one another.
“Oh my, fallen into the lap of luxury have we?” Keeper’s voice broke the sounds of paradise, a haughty and slightly condescending tone lacing his words. “Don’t get too comfortable.”
“Pipe down.” Jensen scowled at the comm-link bound around his wrist, “make yourself useful and find out who botched my travel arrangements back in McCarr to get me a room in this place.” He ran a hand through his hair and leaned forward on the railing taking a draw of the cognac while watching the cutters’ game of chase. The smooth liquid mixed well with the salted air. His gaze wandered from the cutters a little ways away to a much more rundown--affordable as the Department’s financial officers would call it—travel lodge whose sun-bleached pool and spotty walls contrasted greatly with the freshly painted exterior of the more modern Regal Stay. The smaller lodging looked as if a painter had chosen the color palette from a selection of vomit bile hues.
“It seems your lodging was made by President Brant’s office, not the DOI Travel Officer.”
“There is a god. Or ... gods.” Jensen muttered, “damn the travel officers.”
“Glenda is a lovely woman.” Keeper said, “throws fantastic parties.”
“What would you know about that?” Jensen cocked an eyebrow, his interest returning to his comm-link. “She doesn’t throw parties.”
“None that you’re invited to. I however am granted access through her own Home Interface Systems. Lovely lady.”
“Whatever, Keeps.” Jensen wasn’t sure whether to believe his AI assistant’s outlandish claim. “What’s my assignment brief say?”
“Standard apprehension.” Keeper muttered incoherently, mimicking the droning habit he’d picked up off a congressional staffer as he pretended to skim through the pages of assignment details. Even though Jensen knew that his assistant had processed all of the information in less than a second. “Intel thinks the cartel knows you’ve been dispatched here.”
“An agent in general.” Keeper answered.
“Go on…” Jensen swirled his drink.
“An asset of the Dark Hearts cartel has been operating a highly lucrative gambling business beneath the nose of the Kalgary Gaming Commission. Seems like a pretty profitable drug smuggling gig too.”
“Seems a bit excessive to call a DOI agent out here for something local officials should be handling.” Jensen took another long draw, watching out of the corner of his eye as a rather fetching woman in a tight fitting, flowery cocktail dress stepped out from her room onto the same gallery. I need to remember to send Brant’s office a handwritten thank you.
“Er, well.” Keeper hesitated. “The fact that the illicit gains are funding a hefty portion of the RLF efforts on Renia took it out of local hands.” Keeper paused, then quickly, “and the fact that thirteen local officers have wound up dead trying to stop i—”
“What?” Jensen stifled a choke, mid-sip, “lead with that next time.” A sudden feeling of vulnerability swept away the relaxation that had set in, and the fact that he was so exposed out on the gallery came to the forefront of his mind.
Jensen stepped back from the railing, scanning a few of the other high rise buildings that dotted the area. Sunlight reflecting off the glass walls of other luxury towers hindered his effort to scan all the areas an observer could hide, no matter how fiercely he squinted.
“You’ve been out here for a few minutes now, don’t let the fear ruin your luck.”
“Easy for the disembodied assistant to say.” Turning back toward his door, Jensen lifted the snifter to down the last of his brandy. The glass exploded in his hand, seemingly on contact as it brushed his lips.
Jensen fell in a quick spiral, landing with his back toward the Regal Stay’s inside wall. Taking cover, a sharp crack whipped the air, a bite was taken from the smooth concrete wall. Blood streamed from his lips and hand, disorientation playing with his senses. A shriek erupted from the nearby woman as she ran inside.
“Jax!” Keeper shouted.
I am extremely excited to share the cover for the first full length Jax Jensen novel. That's right! Not just a short story... a full length novel that is set after the short stories. Let me know what you think of it below, it was made by my very talented friend Gary. Check out more of his work here.
I really feel like Gary did an excellent job capturing the hustle of a big city, where this novel takes place, and does a good job leaving a sense of wonder and a feeling of expanse that ideally is engaging enough to capture reader's attention.
What do you think of the cover? What are some of your favorite covers that you've seen, or made yourself!
Share in the comments below I'd love to hear input.
Thank you. Keep writing!
Twitter: @MattTaylor1776 (here)
Author Central: (here)
I post on this blog rather sporadically as some of you may have noticed! As I balance out writing with "the day job" I will do my best to post more consistently.
Thank you for your support and feedback!
Matthew Taylor was born February 13, 1991 in Simi Valley, California. He earned a Bachelor's degree in Political Science from California State University Channel Islands, where he served as treasurer and briefly President of one of the campus's two political clubs. While earning his degree he continued to write and hone his craft, eventually releasing an initial few short stories on Kindle.