This omnibus collected edition includes the full text of both Sovereign Era novels in the Charters Duology. Get the entire story of Nate Charters in one place, start to finish!
"Brave Men Run - A Novel of the Sovereign Era"
April 18, 1985 - A startling revelation shocks a world already wound tight by the desperate tensions of the Cold War: super-humans exist and they demand autonomy.
Until that day, high school sophomore Nate Charters thought he was just an outsider and self-proclaimed freak. His unusual appearance, hair-trigger reflexes, and overactive metabolism could have made him something special, but his differences and low self-esteem marked him as a target for the jocks and popular kids long ago.
Now, just as his unique nature catches the eye of a self-assured older girl and the sinister attention of the enigmatic Dr. Brenhurst, Nate must solve the mystery of his origins and find his place in the world. Is he part of a remarkable, powerful new minority or just a misfit among misfits?
He'd better find his answers quickly. A shadowy organization knows more about him than he could ever imagine. And they're closing in.
"Pilgrimage - A Novel of the Sovereign Era"
A year later, as the first anniversary of the Donner Declaration heightens the tensions between humanity and the Sovereigns, the fathers and sons from Brave Men Run must re-define who they are and who they will be as, all around, the machinations of allies and enemies reach the boiling point.
Nate Charters struggles with a troubling revelation about his girlfriend and his increasingly tenuous control over his temper and his powersÖ while his father Andrew hopes to suppress his own bestial nature so he can help his distant son.
Sovereign Byron Teslowski, sequestered with his people, trains to join the Sovereign defense force, but the influence of a fiery new friend forces him to question William Donner's motives and Marc Teslowski, desperate to bring his family back together and restore his pride, falls in with the charismatic leader of an anti-Sovereign militant group.
As Sovereigns from all over the world converge on the Donner Institute for Sovereign Studies for sanctuary and safety, Nate, Andrew, Byron, and Marc find their paths lead there as well. Will the forces aligned against the Sovereigns tear fathers and sons violently apart on Declaration Day?
(FOR BRAVE MEN RUN)
"For me the greatest triumph of this novel is the author's grasp of human behavior and motivations."–Jarrett Lennon Kaufman ("Freaks and Geeks," "Grounded For Life," "Short Cuts," "Mr. Deity")
"A remix of superheroes, an adventure story, and a emotionally honest coming of age story with some real surprises."–Christiana Ellis ("Nina Kimberly the Merciless")
"Matthew Wayne Selznick creates a universe and characters that are real and genuine and live on in your heart long after you've finished the book."–Mark Lefebvre, Director Self-Publishing & Author Relations, Kobo Inc.
"A fantastic book and probably my favorite read of 2013 so far."–Patrick M. Monaghan (Amazon review)
"(Selznick) managed to reinvent the mutant genre, taking it out of fantasy and making the whole journey human."–Jonathan Schiefer ("Algorithm," "Hunger")
"The ending left me with strong, visceral feelings that had me thinking for days."–Brian E. Hunt (Amazon review)
At Claire's, everyone was gathered in the living room. If I knew Jason Talbot, Duran Duran wouldn't be blasting from Claire's parents' big speakers much longer. He flipped through a box of records and looked up when Mel and I let ourselves in.
"Dude! She's got, like, all three 'Synchronicity' covers!"
Greg Fonseca, slouched on the couch like he didn't care about anything, least of all Claire, muttered, "There's five covers."
Jason slid the vinyl from one of them. "Well, she's got three." He stood up to switch records and nodded a greeting to us. "What's up, dude?"
"Nada," I said. Mel and Jason clasped hands, their arms making a "w."
Claire came out from the back of the house. Fonseca sat up straight and smiled at her.
"Hey, guys!" Claire bounced with enthusiasm when she wasn't putting on a Molly Ringwald pout.
It was while we were saying our hellos that I caught the scent. Baby powder and new sweat, plus the mysterious undertone of female pheromones. It absolutely wasn't Claire. She had never, ever smelled like this. I looked around, confused and enthralled.
Then I saw her, coming down the hall. She was tall, with a shock of blonde hair done short and curly on top of her head - more Madonna than New Romantic. She had hazel eyes and a wide, smiling mouth and the smell of her was making me dizzy.
Claire introduced her. "Everybody, this is my friend Lina. Lina, everybody."
I don't know what else was going on in the room. I only know that Lina walked directly up to me and stuck out her hand.
"You have the most beautiful eyes."
I don't remember taking her hand. I was too caught up in the way her own eyes sparkled, and the way she managed to never lose the smile on her face the whole time she looked at me.
And she kept looking at me.
I'm used to the uncomfortable, curious stares people send my way. I'm noticeable. I'm different. I know it. This wasn't that kind of look. No one had ever looked at me the way she did.
I was suddenly aware of the lack of conversation in the room. The only sound was from the stereo: Sting's hollow tenor crooned "Walking in Your Footsteps" again and again. Claire finally spoke.
"Yeah um, okay, then. Lina, this is Nate."
I think I smiled. My lips felt like someone threw wet pasta on my face.
"No one's ever told me that before," I said. I silently thanked God my voice didn't crack.
"That makes me special," she said. "I'm Lina Porter."
"Nate Charters." I finally noticed we were shaking hands, very proper. We both laughed about it at the same time, let go, and the moment passed.
My friends moved in.
"I'm Jason." Lina nodded at him and smiled.
"Claire's friend from O'Neil High!" Mel tipped an imaginary hat. "Nice to finally meet you."
"Likewise. But I'm not so much at O'Neil now." She gave Claire a celebratory wink. "I'm doing home study, as of last month."
Claire said, "Lucky!"
Fonseca gave Lina a quick nod and turned his attention to Claire. "Hey, what are you doing tomorrow night, anyway?"
Claire cocked an eyebrow in his direction. "I'll think of something," she said with a laugh. She grabbed Lina by the arm and steered her back down the hall. "C'mere, you!"
They giggled their way to Claire's bedroom and disappeared behind the closed door. I took a few steps down the hall. If I could put just a little distance between me and the volume of the stereo, I might be able to hear their conversation. I wasn't really big on spying on people, but I had to know if they were talking about me.
My friends had other ideas.
"Dude, score!" Jason punched me on the arm.
"It would seem you have a new friend, Nathan," Mel put in.
Automatically, I rubbed my arm for show. Jason would have to try pretty hard to hurt me, but over the years I'd learned to downplay my so-called gifts. I didn't want to call any more attention to myself than I had to.
"What? You think so? Why?"
On the couch, Fonseca shook his head.
Jason rolled his eyes. "Dude, she was, totally, like, staring at you!"
"And in a good way." Mel smiled slyly. "Probably why you didn't realize it."
I tried to frown at him, but it didn't get through the goofy grin on my face. "You think?"
Fonseca huffed. "Dude, whatever!"
"'S'matter, Greg," Jason jabbed, "don't like someone else getting the attention?"
"Seriously," Mel said. "At least it's not Claire giving Nate the eye!"
Fonseca finally got off the couch. "Whatever," he mumbled. We looked at him. Now that he was up, he had to do something. He dived for Claire's record box and picked one out.
The chiming keyboards and "Hey, hey, hey, heys" of Simple Minds' "Don't You Forget About Me" rang forth. Claire burst back into the living room.
"I love this song! I can't hear it enough!" We would all hear it more than enough in the months that followed, but right then, it was fresh and different.
Lina came up behind her. She looked at me quickly and a smile flashed on her face. "Isn't it from that movie?"
"'The Breakfast Club.'" Claire bopped her head in time to the trotting bass line.
Mel inspected the album cover. "Right - a bunch of kids get detention together." He smiled at Jason. "Hey, it's your life story, Jase!"
Fonseca had worked his way next to Claire. "Hey, maybe you'd wanna go see it on Friday?"
Next to me, intoxicatingly close, Lina just barely whispered, "Oh, please."
I tilted my head and said quietly to her, "He won't give up, will he?"
She turned to me, eyes wide, that toothy smile back on her face. "You weren't supposed to hear that!"
"I've got really good ears," I said.
"I'm gonna have to remember that."
Claire said, "I saw it last weekend already."
Fonseca stuck out his chest a little. "With who?"
"With my sister, Greg!" Claire rolled her eyes. "I'm so sure!"
"Oh." Greg went back to the couch. "Okay."
Lina said to me, "So, have you seen it yet?"
"Do you want to see it?"
I took the album from Mel. "Yeah, uh, I guess. It's got that kid from 'The Outsiders.'"
Mel stroked his chin-pubes. "Um, Nate, I don't think that's what she meant."
I was completely without anything like a clue. It must have been obvious on my face.
Lina put her fists on her hips and stuck out her chin. "I want to, y'know, see it with you, Nate." She backed off a touch. "If you want to."
"Oh!" I floundered, adrift. This beautiful girl with the narcotic scent was asking me out? "You want." I felt myself starting to redden.
Lina seemed to deflate. "Oh, okay, that's cool."
Jason's mouth dropped open. "Dude..!"
"No, I mean." I looked at Lina. "I don't have a car."
Mel made a theatrical production out of speaking to me from one side of his mouth. "Nate. She asked you out. She. Asked you."
Lina was all smiles again, and eyes only for me. Every time she looked at me, I felt lighter.
I felt normal.
"It's no problem," she said. "I can drive us."
I smiled back. "Oh. Okay."
Mel spread his arms, presenting the two of us. "There you go!"
"Is Saturday okay with you?" Lina asked me.
"Uh, yeah. yeah!"
"Good." She took a pen out of one of the pockets of her peasant dress and held it ready above the palm of her hand. "What's your number?"
Mel shouted, "Oh, shit!"
Jason gave him a look. "Dude, chill."
"We're gonna miss the bus!"
I looked at my watch. It was way late. Even if we were on school grounds, we wouldn't have time to make the parking lot.
Lina had a small smile on her face. "You still take the bus? Oh, you poor dears."
Jason dug in the pockets of his stonewashed jeans and counted change. "I've got enough for the regular bus, I think."
Mel dialed down, but he looked morose. "That'll take hours."
I tried to calculate if public transportation would get me home before my mother. If not, I'd need a story to explain why I wasn't in the parking lot when the bus came.
We all looked at Lina.
"I'll drive you home."
"Yeah?" said Jason.
"That's capital!" said Mel.
I smiled at her. "That's great."
"That way, I'll know how to get to your house Saturday night."
Somehow I had forgotten that this gorgeous girl had made a date with me not two minutes ago. "Oh, right."
Mel put a chummy arm around Lina. "You're all right, Ms. Porter."
"My adoring public," she said. She looked right at me.
Byron Teslowski, a little cold in his athletic shorts and Abbeque Valley High sweatshirt, stood in the meadow between the Institute and Donner's weird old house and waited for Spencer Croy to shoot him in the leg.
Byron couldn't get it out of his head that his dad had shown up at the Visitors Center just a couple of hours before, been not even a mile away, and that he was still probably down in Missoula.
It made it hard to focus on the task at hand, and that could be a problem.
Mister Croy called to Byron from fifty paces away, where he stood with his right arm extended and a pistol in his hand. "You're distracted."
Byron glanced at Dr. Mazmanian, who was crouched a few yards to Byron's left. Mazmanian shrugged with sympathy.
"Sorry, Mister Croy." Byron swallowed and shook himself out like a boxer preparing to enter the ring. "I'll get it together. Just gimme a sec—"
The impact grabbed him on his right upper thigh and spun him around. The crack of the gunshot reached Byron just as he lost his balance and hit the tall grass on his left side.
His entire leg was numb save for the burning throb where the bullet hit him. He looked down at the massive, purple bruise he could almost see spreading as he watched.
He told himself he wouldn't throw up.
He managed to tilt his head toward the dewy grass before he did.
Doc Mazmanian got to his side quickly and gave the leg a glance before looking at Byron.
"What day is it, Byron?" Mazmanian smiled.
"Ow. Tuesday." Byron wiped his mouth, and then wiped his hand on a dry patch of meadow grass. "Fuck. Ow."
Croy holstered his pistol and strode to stand over Byron. "How is he?"
Mazmanian balanced his hands on his knees and stood up. "Much better than last week. Didn't even break the skin."
Careful to avoid the stinky mess in the grass, Byron gingerly shifted onto his back, propped on his elbows. The pressure of the ground on his ass made his right leg hurt even more. He winced and squinted up at Croy.
"You didn't give me a chance to get ready!"
"Closer to reality," Croy said. "There will be distractions in the field. Your state of mind this morning served its purpose."
Byron shifted back to his left side and carefully stood up. Neither of the adults moved to help him.
He had to keep as much weight on his left leg as he could. His right leg was beginning to come to life with fiery pins and needles.
"Served its?" Byron gaped at Mazmanian. "That's, like, totally why you told me about my dad before we came out here."
Mazmanian, still grinning, nodded.
"Jesus!" Byron looked at both of them. "Was my dad even here? Or was it all just part of the test?"
"Oh, your dad was here, all right." Doc Mazmanian's smile leveled off. "He made a big scene. They had to eject him from the Visitors Center under guard."
Byron took a second to picture that. He decided he needed some flavoring.
"Did they mess him up?"
Mazmanian raised an eyebrow; Byron knew the doc well enough to recognize that as a minor rebuke. "They only hurt his pride, Byron. Just his pride."
Byron's leg was on fire from the pins and needles, but he had to resist stomping his foot because of what the impact would do to the bruise. All the same, he smiled, just a little.
Mazmanian furrowed his brow and shook his head. "Great attitude, Byron."
Croy turned for the Institute grounds. "Time for your follow-up work." He didn't wait for them.
Mazmanian kept Byron's limping pace but made no move to help him. Byron didn't take it personallyóit was all part of the exercise. They needed to see how fast his adaptive abilities would work; any outside assistance would mess up the, whatever they called it, the data.
Croy went directly to the research center; if Byron wasn't bleeding or in shock, there was no reason to bother with the infirmary. Byron, eyes down, struggled with the stairs leading to the entrance. His leg really, really hurt.
"You can do it, soldier boy."
That throaty female voice sure wasn't Mazmanian.
Byron lifted his head and saw a girl about his age, sixteen or seventeen, leaning with deliberate cool against the rail on the far side of the wide steps.
She was skinny. Her holey, strategically bleached blue jeans hung off narrow hips. She had freckles all over her bare arms and, Byron noticed, across the belly beneath her gray half T-shirt. Her freckled face was topped by a shock of spiky red hair. If her wardrobe made her cold, she did a good job of hiding it.
Her smile was mostly mocking. She brushed lightly at her chin. "You got a little bit, right there."
Byron automatically scraped at his chin, mortified that he might have puke caked on his face.
There was nothing.
She laughed. "Sorry, dude. Couldn't resist." She pushed off of the rail, briskly descended the stairs, and strutted toward the residence center while Byron watched.
"C'mon, Byron," Mazmanian prompted. "Let's get you wired up and cleaned up. You'll be properly introduced before long, I'm sure."
Byron scowled and painfully ascended the remaining stairs. "Can't wait," he growled.