The Sentries is a series that takes place three hundred years in the future. This is a future that hails back to the past. It’s not a high tech future. The culture and society in general have changed. The world of Sentries was created by a natural disaster occurring, for the characters Todd and Nick Ruger, three hundred years in their past. Things have changed between now and then.
I wanted a totally different society for my series, and since I stayed on planet Earth for this one, I needed to do something with the society we have now. Being basically lazy and wanting to take the easy route I did the only logical thing I could think of: I blew ours up.
Don’t you just hate it when some schmo comes along and blows up the modern world?
I suppose it was messy and scary and there was chaos for a while, but for the Ruger guys that was way, way in the past, so what the reader knows of those scary, messy, chaotic days are on par with what the Rugers know. I’m currently writing book four of the series, and the Rugers will know a whole lot more about those days by the end of it, which means so will the rest of us.
However, that’s in the future.
Let’s go back to the Sentries and the future.
Creating a different society wasn’t my only motivation for using the future. I needed a place and time where my characters, those delightful Ruger men, could be what I wanted them to be and here and now wasn’t that place, or time.
I’ve had more than one reader comment on the fact that the future in Sentries isn’t bleak and barren, people aren’t struggling to survive, and they’re not starving. My question is why does it have to be that way? Firstly, it’s not logical to think three hundred years after even a globally devastating natural disaster, that humans wouldn’t have at least partially gotten their act together and rebuilt something. Secondly, there is no reason good can’t evolve from horrible.
In Sentries there are cities, farms, politics, coffee and pancakes along with a few paranormal baddies to be dealt with. There is also something else, and that is what is more important, to me at least.
Ever since I started reading and writing in the M/M genre I’ve been seeing blog posts discussing the fact that women can’t write about gay men because women have no idea what it’s like to be a gay man. I’ve even heard tell there are gay men who will not read anything written by a woman concerning the relationships of gay men.
For me, personally the gender of the author isn’t important as long as they tell me a good story, but I’ll concede to the fact that not everyone feels the same way. Do I know what it’s like to be a gay man? Well, no. I’m not even sure I know what it’s like to be a straight woman.
What I do know and understand is what it’s like to be discriminated against for reasons that are just silly.
See, I was divorced when my oldest child was only seven, he has two younger siblings. Before that I was a child of a divorced couple and for some reason people seem to think untraditional families of any sort produce people (male or female, gay or straight) that are somehow damaged. I had friends in school whose parents blatantly refused to allow their children to interact socially with me since I was from “a broken home”. I had a very nice home and was given a good education.
Twenty plus years later my own children were told they weren’t welcome in this family’s home or that child’s birthday party because—go ahead, gasp in horror—yes, they came from a broken home! Our home wasn’t broken, I fixed it and I now have three successful adult children with decent jobs and their own homes.
I may not be a gay man, but I sure do understand what it’s like to be judged (falsely) by others simply because my life is different from theirs.
What does all this have to do with blowing up the world as we know it, two guys in love with one another who fight paranormal baddies, drink coffee, like pancakes, and the future in general?
Quite a bit, actually, in a roundabout sort of way.
I detest discrimination against anything for any reason. One method I try to fight it on a personal level is via the books I write. This is where we go back to the future (loved those movies by the way). In the Sentries version of the future things are different, they have changed. One of those changes is same sex unions are perfectly normal and acceptable.
My most favorite books, movies, stories of any sort are filled with action, adventure as well as a smattering of romance. Sentries is a series set in the future, with lots of action, tons of adventure and a smattering of romance between two main characters who happen to both be men. It’s sort of my own, little, personal way of protesting those that might discriminate against someone because they prefer a partner/spouse/soul mate who is not the opposite sex.
I purposely don’t make a big deal out of the fact that Todd and Nick are both men; I do make a big deal out of the fact they are very in love with one another. The Rugers are a family in their eyes and I hope in the eyes of the reader.
The words homosexual or gay are not used in the series because I like to imagine a future where those are not words used to describe people. A world where one is not judged by whom they are attracted to or lovFroe, where it doesn’t matter if your family isn’t what we today consider traditional and ‘right’.
My take on the future is best summed up by the words of Doc Brown in Back to the Future III “…It means your future hasn’t been written yet. No one’s has. Our future is whatever you make it. So make it a good one, both of you.”
There is no reason we, as a society, can’t make a future where tags such as gay aren’t what defines people. The future is what we make of it and I chose to try and make it a more tolerant place, unless of course, you’re some paranormal baddie that needs dispatching. In that case, watch out, because Todd and Nick will getcha!
Thank you Lou for allowing me to take up your blog and ramble on it.
From Chained Hearts, book 3 of the Sentries series:
Todd and Nick Ruger are alive and on the run in the Yellowknife Protectorate, but maybe not for long. After narrowly escaping New Colorado, where they were implicated in the assassination of Chancellor Shaffer, they’re running out of steam: Todd is gravely ill and Nick’s injured. Just when it seems like the harsh winter will get the best of them, they find refuge with a doctor in the isolated town of Elk’s Ridge.
On the surface, Elk’s Ridge seems the ideal place to rebuild their lives. Nick begins training as the doctor’s apprentice, and Todd works in a lumberyard until they’re recovered enough to return to their duties as Sentries. They make friends, forge a new life, and most importantly, there’s no sign of anyone from New Colorado.
They should have known it was too good to be true. Victor Raleigh, the new Vice Chancellor of New Colorado, knows all about Nick’s psychic abilities, and he wants them in his corner. When Nick is betrayed and captured, Todd sees no alternative but to head back to the war zone to rescue him. But will Nick be the same man Todd loves after Raleigh’s pet psychic vampire is through with him?
Movement from the direction of Nick drew Todd’s attention. His mate rolled to his butt, sitting there leaning on one hand, legs half stretched in front of him and crossed just below his knees. Shaggy, dark hair was brushed away from his face and sleep-blurry eyes blinked at Todd making his young mate look even younger…more like a sleep tousled little boy.
There was no way Todd could, or would even try, to stop the smile from spreading over his face. Scooting closer to Nick, he combed his fingers through Nick’s hair, appreciating how soft it was. He pressed a gentle kiss to Nick’s forehead. “Morning.”
One side of Nick’s mouth twitched up for a second before he yawned.
“Christ, Nick, some days you make me feel like a pedophile.”
Nick yawned again, scratched at his chest and mumbled out, “huh?” Inching along the ground until he wedged himself between Todd’s legs and laid his head on Todd’s shoulder, face pressed against the side of his neck. Nick yawned again. His entire body relaxed as he nestled against Todd, ribcage expanding with yet another yawn.
“Lemme see this.” Todd lifted Nick’s shirt and inspected the bandaged wound as he had earlier. “According to the map there’s a town not too far from here, how about we check it out, see if there is somewhere we can get some supplies? We need more bandaging material and more medicine to put on this. I’m going to heat some water and get it cleaned out again.”
“I don’t think it’s ever going to heal.” Nick grumbled. “It’s been almost a month.”
“I wouldn’t mind finding a doctor to take a look at it either.” Todd smoothed Nick’s shirt back into place and took a deep breath. “Nick, you keep having those nightmares.”
“How are we going to explain this kind of wound?”
Tapping Nick’s nose with one finger, Todd warned, “No changing the subject.”
“I’m sorry. I can’t stop them, they keep coming.”
“Don’t be sorry, it’s not your fault. We need to work on stopping them.” Easing away from Nick, Todd stood up. Moving farther from the wagon he got a fire started and set a pot of water on to heat. Nick wandered off to the nearby river. Todd grabbed his clothes and headed after his mate. He’d considered the possibility Nick was right and the kelbit did have a mate who was somehow able to infiltrate Nick’s dreams. More likely it was trauma. Nick’s ability to sense evil entities also made him incredibly sensitive emotionally. That trait didn’t always work for them which strengthened his resolve to find them somewhere bigger than their wagon to stay.
Once they were done washing in the cool water, Nick quietly sat by the fire, naked from the waist up, while Todd scrubbed out the round bite wound, smeared some more of the antiseptic cream over it and applied a fresh bandage. The only sign of discomfort Nick let show was the occasional hissed in breath and a shifting of his shoulders forward. After the cream was smoothed over him, he turned and looked over his shoulder, rubbing at it with one hand. “That makes it feel better.”
“How about we get a real meal in town? It should be over that rise, it’s called Elk’s Ridge, and from the looks of it on the map it’s a decent sized town. Then we can hit a store if they have one. We’ll need somewhere for the winter, this area is as good as any I suppose. If we want we can head out again in the spring, but for now we have enough money to get us through.”
“We can always get work, Todd. There will be lots of our sort of problems kicked up by the war.”
“Not until that wound is healed we don’t. Besides, time to give it a break for a bit I think, and stay as far away from that war as we can. I hope if they have a store there is a post office so we can send our letter to Jimmy and maybe get a newspaper, see what we’re missing.”
Nick nodded and pulled his shirt over his head then the sweatshirt Todd had given him on their first day together and he still insisted on wearing. They dowsed the fire and packed their camp into the wagon before securing the team, choosing instead to ride the saddle horses into town.
“We can’t ride the same horse?” Nick stood beside Obi, looking up at Todd who was already sitting on the other horse. “What if it’s a problem, me on a horse?”
Motioning to Nick to mount up, Todd smiled softly. “It’ll be okay. No law says you can’t ride one as long as you’re with me. I know you like when we ride together better, but we’re going to need both horses and the packs to haul back supplies.”
“No law in New Colorado,” Nick grumbled and swung onto the horse.
“I doubt the laws in Yellowknife are much different, but if they are we’ll worry about it then.”
Nick didn’t say anything else, simply nodded and nudged Obi into motion, keeping close enough to Todd their legs brushed as the horses moved. The town, Todd discovered, was a pleasant one. There was maybe around a thousand inhabitants, smaller than the tens of thousands who lived in bigger cities like New Colorado City or Yellowknife City, but not so small that they were totally unaccustomed to people passing through.
Even as far north as it was, it was a hub for travelers which was immediately evident by the several number of inns. There were also a few cafes and restaurants, a larger sized livery, libraries and a fair amount of homes scattered around the outskirts and farther out in the countryside. Leaving their horses in the care of the livery, they decided to hike around and check the place out.
The buildings were mostly stone and wood with slate and shingle roofs. The streets were cobblestone or brick paved with wide, wooden sidewalks on either side. This was a little oasis of civilization in the rugged, mostly uninhabited far northern part of the Rocky Mountains.
Their first stop was a café a few blocks over from the livery. The letter to Jimmy started a few days ago was finished while they waited for their meal. Todd was pleased that people here had slaves, he’d seen several on their trip through and no one seemed much fussed over how he treated Nick. In fact this town reminded him of the New Colorado City neighborhood he’d chosen to live in, where more of the owners and slaves were a part of a family.
The fact Todd was a stranger and there with a slave drew little attention other than a few people greeting them on the street. As he’d always done, Nick’s tether was hooked to his collar and then tucked into his back pocket making it easy to grab if needed.
Todd got a good feeling from the town, people who minded their own business and were open to newcomers, not that he was ready to find a real estate office just yet, but this was definitely a place to check out more closely. They would probably be fine if they could find a small cabin or even a cave for the winter, keep an eye on the town and decide if this was where they wanted to live.
“The coffee here is good.” Nick had finally stopped shoveling food in and was leaning back in his chair, looking up and down the street. He looked content and was smiling, another good sign as far as Todd was concerned.
When they left the café there was a five-pound bag of coffee beans to add to their packs. The doctor, they discovered, lived just west of the town and outside of it on a small piece of property. If he didn’t find something for Nick’s shoulder in town then Todd decided a visit to the doctor was in order.
They wandered down the street to the next main intersecting street and took a right, walking along. There was a large store not far from the intersection; they’d gotten directions from a waiter at the café. It took up nearly half the block. It was several stories high, a store on the main floor, lodging on the second floor and whatever was on the third wasn’t open to the public, but Todd suspected it was storage. He could see houses behind the store that were attached to it. Probably whatever family owned it lived in those houses.
As they walked through Nick was all eyes, checking out everything, making Todd smile. It’d been a while since he’d truly seen Nick’s insatiable curiosity come bouncing to the forefront and it gave him hope his young mate would be on the mend if they stuck around this area for a while. Heading toward the back where there was a counter, and looking beyond it Todd did indeed see that there was someone’s home.
Two small children, a boy and girl, maybe about four years old came running from behind the counter. They were small, blond, cute, looked like twins and nearly ran Todd over.
“Whoa, whoa, easy there,” he laughed and scooped one kid—the girl—up, swung her around and set her on the counter all while deftly sidestepping away from the little boy plowing into his shins. Nick covered his mouth and snickered.
“Oh my gosh, I am so sorry. Karen, Kieron you’re both supposed to be in the house helping Nana not annoying our customers. Now go.” A woman about Todd’s age rushed after them. She was small, equally as blond as her children with crystal blue eyes and had long, wavy hair that fell to below her shoulders. She offered Todd a dazzling smile. “I am very sorry. What can I do for you?”
A quick glance back at Nick who was brushing his hair back from his face and looking a little grumpy and Todd stepped up to the counter after the little girl, Karen, vacated it for the house and her Nana. The woman’s gaze flashed to Nick for a brief instant before landing back on Todd. He hoped he really didn’t look like some kind of pedophile after all. His mate looked too damn young sometimes. Todd resisted the urge to blurt out Nick was twenty-three.
“Do you have any postal service here?” Todd fished the letter out of his coat pocket.
Nick stepped up behind him and dropped to one knee, arms crossed over his bent one, he looked around the store casually. Todd knew that for what it was, Nick’s little bouts of jealousy hadn’t bothered him since the night he’d chased after his mate. Nick behaved this way the most when he wanted reassurance from Todd, he understood that and found giving Nick his needed security and letting it ride was his best course of action. He let one hand drop casually to his side and moved it back far enough to skim across Nick’s hair for a few seconds before bring it back up to rest on the counter. Todd didn’t often demand Nick take a kneeling position behind him, but wanted Nick to know when he chose to do so on his own, Todd completely understood the reasoning behind Nick’s actions and that Nick would never be reprimanded.
“We do.” She held out her hand and Todd set the envelope with their letter to Jimmy in her palm. It took her a minute to weight it and figure the postage, she chatted away at him while she worked. “I’m Amelia Wilbourne and you’ve met my children. Are you new in town or passing through?”
He also found out in those few minutes she was a widow, her husband killed earlier the year before. She lived with her grandparents and children. Her brother and his family ran the local lumberyard about a mile down the road. It was way too much information, definitely way too much hair flipping and touching of Todd’s forearm while she was giving it out.
“Not sure yet.” Todd smiled at her and handed over payment for the postage then gave her a quick handshake when she offered her other hand. “We’re definitely here to pick up some supplies.” Reaching behind him, he slipped one finger under Nick’s collar and tugged lightly. Nick stood, stepped closer and waited placidly beside him. “I’m Todd Ruger, this is Nick, my mate.”
Amelia’s gaze barely flicked to Nick who smiled politely and nodded. “Hello.” His voice was soft and Todd was likely the only person who’d ever hear the note of insecurity in it.
“Well, Mr. Ruger, if you need anything at all let me know.” She had a sort of predatory sweet smile that made Todd want to shake his head. Nick more glared at her than anything. “I hope we see more of you in here. If there is anything you can’t find, let me know, I’ll have it ordered.”
“I bet you will,” Nick grumbled. If she heard him, she ignored him.
Giving Nick a slight bump on his arm, they grabbed a basket and walked up and down the aisles. Thankfully Todd found some medicated cream as well as the rest of the supplies they were getting low on. Nick finding a book that interested him made Todd happy and he made it a point to hand it back to Nick after paying for it. Amelia’s looks were making him nervous and he decided he really wanted her to understand Nick was his mate and Todd was not looking for any other sort of company.
It was early evening when they left the town and headed back to their wagon, Todd wasn’t comfortable enough to get a room at one of the inns for a few nights. He wanted to watch the town and the area for a few weeks first. That night a cold wind blew in heavy rains forcing them to sleep in the wagon. Todd spent the night shifting from one side to the other, trying to ease aches and cramps, never seeming to find a position that allowed him to relax and sleep all while trying to stifle a cough he figured came from the damp air and not wake up Nick. That turned out to be a non-issue since Nick didn’t really sleep much. If he wasn’t flinching awake from nightmares he was rousted from Todd’s tossing and coughing.
By early morning the two of them finally got to sleep. It rained most of that day, making Todd even more antsy. He’d decided he wanted to check the area, watch the town, and bad weather was thwarting his plans.