Posted by: Thomas Drinkard | January 19, 2012

Sample and Question

Here’s the question: I’m at about 18K words in the sequel novella to V Trooper – First Mission. I’m trying to decide on the title. Should it be

  • V Trooper – Second Mission
  • or
  • V Trooper – Mission Two

Not a big difference, but which is a more compelling title?
I’ll deeply appreciate your input, folks.
Here’s a sample from the sequel–early in the novella.

“Boyd turned the device to text and silent operation. Fasting from blood for several days had sharpened his senses. He loped, in long strides to the target, silent as the wings of a hunting raptor, gliding above its unsuspecting prey.

His watch showed 3:10 A.M. On time.

Boyd threw a black nylon rope with a muffled grappling hook over the wall on the side away from the gate and climbed to the top of the wall. He paused and listened.

Gate guard’s asleep. Simplifies things.

The Afghan sat in a wooden chair. His chin rested on his chest. Even without his enhanced hearing, Boyd could’ve heard the man’s ratcheting snores.

Once on the roof of the main building, the vampire paused. He pulled a huge cape from the rucksack. It was deepest black and made from lightweight non-reflective fabric. Bobby Flynn’s contribution. Wil drew it around him and fastened the single button at his throat.

When I spread my arms, they’ll look like giant wings. That’s part of the show.

He removed his normal upper teeth that were anchored in his jaw by two titanium snaps, replacing them with the glittering, sharp metal teeth. Anna had had them fitted for him within days of the moment she’d made him a vampire.
“Just for fun,” she’d said.
Only partly true. Wil had ripped Babue Dostrem’s throat out with the fangs, just a bit more than a month before.
He paused for a few seconds, concentrating on the reason he crouched on the roof, a part of the darkness on a moonless night. Someone was supplying the Taliban with bombs that maimed and killed American troops and innocent Afghans. Adrenaline flooded. Every nerve and muscle was prepared to function far beyond unaltered athletes.
He moved to the side of the house away from the gate, swung down until his feet were on a window ledge.
The window was open! Even though it was only mid-May, the resident had wanted night breezes.
Boyd pushed the curtains aside. A man lay on his side, snuffling and snoring on a western king-sized bed, wearing a gray nightshirt. His back was to the window. The vampire stepped inside and watched his target’s breathing.
Got to get the words right.
He’d learned only a few phrases of Pashto for this, the initial venture, in the psychological operations (PsyOps) and intelligence-gathering operation called HALLOWEEN.
It should be enough.
The PsyOps people had created rumors in the local community that the Americans had a demon helping them. The creature was said to be like the Eastern European vampire, which would kill a man in such a way that he’d never get to paradise, or his seventy-two virgins.
There was no moon, and clouds hid the stars. Unless the man in the bed could see him, the effect of his cloak and teeth would be lessened.
No one had prepared for nearly absolute darkness.
“Wil, my dear, you need a little light. I’ll help for just a few minutes. I felt your frustration. This should do it.”
Anna’s silent voice chimed in his consciousness.
Hanging in the air, just below the ceiling, a pale green luminous globe appeared. The light stood steady, but glowed like a giant firefly.
“Awaken, you dog,” Wil said.
He spoke a memorized phrase in Pashto, but had to repeat the command to break the man’s slumber.
When Wakil heard the voice, he turned over and, seeing a massive shadow at the edge of the bed, leaped to flee.
Before his bare feet touched the floor, the vampire had rounded the foot of the bed and locked fingers like manacles around the man’s throat. A thumb, hard as the points of desert thorns, pressed his larynx into silence.
Terrified, the Afghan looked into eyes that radiated a pulsating blood-red glow.
“Who is the bomb maker?” Wil said.
The quivering man pawed at the arm and hand that trapped him. He may as well have been groping at a steel flagpole. He garbled feeble words.
“The name.” the vampire said.
His voice was a bare whisper, but enough to send the man into a shaking spasm. Wil smelled urine.
“The name.”
He incrementally released his victim’s throat and bared his glittering teeth.
“Gafoor. Ulla Gafoor,” the man gasped.
Wil reapplied the pressure, reached under his cloak and brought out the tiny digital recorder.
“Again,” he said.
The Afghan gasped, drew in air.
Too much air, he’s going to scream.
He pressed the larynx again. Harder.
“No. The name, again. Quiet, or you die now.”
Once he allowed his prisoner a sip of air in his lungs. Wil asked another telling question.
“Where is he? Quiet, now.”
The man babbled. A hoarse, frightened stream. Boyd moved so that the recorder clipped to his vest could capture the words.
“You can live; for now,” the vampire whispered.
He chopped the side of the man’s head, just above the left ear. When the victim slumped in his hand, he removed his shining fangs and punctured the unconscious man’s neck. He didn’t want the man’s blood in his mouth.
Could cause too many problems. Tonight is PsyOps and intel gathering. Only.
The wound was just deep enough to draw blood. Sufficient.
As Wil lifted the unconscious Afghan back to the bed, the glowing green globe shrank to a pinpoint of light and blinked out.
Wakil’s mouth was hanging open, making the final part of the mission easy. Boyd slid a capsule the size of a large multivitamin pill into the open mouth and stroked Wakil’s throat to be sure the man swallowed.

Time to go. Got to get this recording back to base. We’ll have a CIA translator decipher this asshole’s blathering.


  1. Hi, Tom. I like “V Trooper – Mission Two”



    • Thanks, Aaron. Of the two I offered, I lean toward that one.

  2. I’d title each mission in specific: V Trooper — Blood Fire: the 2nd Mission, V Trooper — Fang Strike: the 3rd Encounter, V Trooper — Afghan Armageddon: the 4th Covenant, etc.

    I like your excerpt!

    • Justin: Thanks for the comments. The Title of the First novella is set and published. I’ve toyed with adding a subtitle to the mission number. I do like the idea of keeping a number in the title. When looking for a sequel to a book I’ve just finished, I’m annoyed that I sometimes have to guess. Good ideas and thank you!

  3. V-Trooper 2nd Mission appeals to me more.

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