Monthly Archives: October 2013

Walking in Shadow, Part 3

In a way it made me happy.  I hadn’t ever seen any animal life on Amon.  The Fall had been before my birth, as old as I was. However, since I knew nothing of what had lived with Amon, it also made me nervous. The few larger, furry creatures ignored as we made our way across the overgrown field.

A slick creature eyed us with interest as we drew closer to the tunnel.   The body low to the ground with a wide jaw, and four sets of eyes.  “Gulla, I don’t suppose you know what that creature is.”

“Yeah, ancient, extinct creatures were a part of my education.”  The tension in her voice belied the glib remark.

The creature’s body tensed up as I reached the tunnel.  My body braced as the massive creature slammed into me.  A crack as my ribs snapped under the weight.  Teeth snapping at my throat.  A repetition of gunfire echoed in the room.  The animal launched off me and started to lunge at Gulla.

Unlike me, she snapped her fist at hitting it the skull.  A loud crack as its head jerked it back.  A low whimper as it collapsed on the ground, blood leaking out of its head.  Gulla eyes were haunted as she stared at it.  “Amaria, will it die?”

The pain in my ribs distracted me. It took me a while to sense it.  “Yes, it will.”

“Kill it, so it won’t suffer.”  Her eyes closed as she glanced away.

It was well within my power, and it with a little focus, it died.  “Can you brace my chest, I need to heal my ribs.”

Gulla walked with gaze turned away from the dead beast.  She knelt and braced my chest.  “There.”

A fierce burning made my vision blur as bones aligned and fused back together.  I panted a few minutes.  When I came back to myself, she was already in the doorway.  With a shove I pulled myself up.  This doorway appeared to be darker once again.

The silence only broken by the sound of Gulla’s footsteps as we approached another cross section.  Gulla hands snapped out.  She drew out an empty clip and tossed it in the pathway as a flash of fire filled it reducing the clip into a melted puddle. “I don’t think either of us could survive that.”

“Most likely no.” My reply was absent as I peered around at the walls.  “There has to be something powering it.”

Gulla pulled her gun out, and fired several times into a square on the wall.  She took the empty clip and tossed it in the middle.  This time no explosion, no fire.  “Electrical box, but move it probably won’t last.”  A flowing, smooth jump as she shot across the middle.

I tried to follow.  Half way across the fire flared up.  Intense pain burst as I could smell my own cooked flesh.  The expensive, protective leggings were destroyed, and my flesh bloody beneath.  “Gulla.”

Her hands already running over my legs with a light touch. “Ko, I forgot I’m faster.”

“You are beyond faster.”  A grinding pain pulsed as my skin regrew.  “I can only make myself more.”

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Ownership

This week the Chuck Wendig challenge was a genre mash up.  I got Dieselpunk and Vampires.  I keep getting the undead in these mash ups, and considering I don’t enjoy horror, the dice gods are cruel.

Ownership

The deep rumble always filled Burnsville. One didn’t hear it during the day. Too many people talking, driving their huge bikes, and the dirty business of living. Of course I never heard it during the day. During the day I was dead. At night there wasn’t much else to hear. It made the city seem like a large slumbering creature.

My eyes flickered open. The automatic lighting started to flicker on around me.  I slipped off plush bed, and stood up. Already, my throat burned. The hunger thrummed in my veins begging for someone, anyone. I opened the door, and headed up the small stairway.

Before I reached the top I could smell the burning gas, and loud laughter. The clave was up.

The living room filled with old style furniture with brightly burning lamps. All three of them sat passing around a liquor bottle. “Aren’t one of you supposed be guarding the door?”

Heaven and Trix stilled their eyes widening in fear.  Trigger laughed.  “Screw you, Urien.  We are partners not your thralls.  If you want some lackeys make some.”  He chugged whatever swill he’d been drinking.  “My babies are all over it.”

“Forgive me if I don’t trust animals to our safety.”  I couldn’t stop from throwing up my hands in disgust.

Trigger’s face darkened.  “There’s nothing wrong with my rotts.  They’re more than smart enough.”

“They drink out of the toilet.”  Before Trigger got more upset about me slandering his ‘babies’, I strode over to the couches.  “Did you get the blood, or is there a someone to feed me?”

Heaven brushed her honey blonde hair from her face.  “Sorry, Urien. These huge tanks rolled in, and everyone scattered.  The military is making the move.  They want to own Burnsville.”  In a self-conscious gesture she rubbed her neck.

The scattered government of what used to be America couldn’t stand that Burnsville had enough weapons to be free of their influence. For weeks they’d been threatening a takeover.  There was one thing they didn’t know. Burnsville was mine.  No one gets to have what’s mine. “Did they?”

A heavy silence hung over my allies, and perhaps friends. None of them were my people, who are singularly untrustworthy in any case.  Each one shot side glances at the others, they were worried. Trigger snorted. “You’re a scary asshat.”

“Isn’t that why you are with me, and not my pathetic, strutting rivals?”  I shifted to sit in the gray brocade wing chair next to them.

Trix patted her knee.  Her body was strapped head to toe in knives.  “Do you need me to round up the men?”

I considered it. “Yes, that would be best. Let’s not allow those usurpers to get comfortable in my city.” Trix stood bowed before striding out.

“Urien,” Trigger started.  “Are you going to feed off Heaven, or what? What do you need us to do?”

Feeding off Heaven was less than ideal.  My witch needed to be at full power.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t feed off Trigger at all.  For whatever reasons his blood was poisonous.  “Animal blood from the butcher’s?” As terrible as it tasted it would work for now.

“Yeah, we got some.”  Trigger gave me a once over with his green eyes. “I don’t know why you care about Burnsville.  The military is going to use the city, just like you.”  He was always the one to ask the questions.  Often, I wondered why.  Did the fact I couldn’t feed off him make him brave?  Or, did he merely lack the common sense to be afraid.

I moved faster than the human eye could follow.  My fingers wrapped lightly around his neck.  His fear perfumed the air as I leaned in my lips brushing his ear.  “It is mine.  I have lived for centuries.  And never, ever have allowed anyone to take what’s mine.”  I let go.

His green eyes widened, but his fear lessened.  A slow smile lifted his lips in a daring grin.  “I’m happy to be yours.  Sometimes, you need to be shook up.  You don’t want to end up like the others.”

The other vampires who’d gone insane.  When the world started to burn diesel, coating everything with a permanent layer of grim they went insane.  What caused it, none of my people know.  Yet the possibility of losing my mind weighed on me.  It is the only reason I told my three how to kill me.  I’d not be a beast roaming the streets.

“I’ll see you at their base at midnight.  We’ll show them what the Lord of Burnsville can do.”

***

Ash hung in the air.  The humans couldn’t feel it, but I could.  My lungs felt clogged with a thick morass of it.  However, I ignored it.  The battered, massive tanks bulky forms rested against the backdrop of the power plant.  From here I could see they were attaching tubing to siphon off my gas.  A snarl pulled my lips up.  The urge to charge in nearly overwhelmed me.  I needed to wait until they were in place.   A sweet whisper of honey, and raspberries floated into my mind.  “Everything is in place.”  Heaven deliciousness faded.

I cut the leash I held on my power.  The blood pounded in my ears, I could feel them.  My tongue ached to taste them all.   The leader, I needed to kill the leader.  A slow, agonized walk as I got closer scanning for the huge, stripped tent would be the officer’s.  I spotted it.  A fierce joy unfurled in me.  Blood would run.

Shots fired at the soldiers rolled out their gleaming Gatling guns fired back.  A flaming explosion landed in camp causing as even larger one as some of the diesel caught fire.  The screams and burned flesh bloomed around me.  My heart raced faster, and faster.  Soon, I promised, soon.  Finally, the commander stumbled out, a gun in hand.  I flashed forward tackling him back into his tent my body pressing him to the ground.  “I’m hungry.”

“What the hell?” He struggled trying to throw me off.

I laughed, maniacal and loud.  Yet, I knew no one could hear me.  The noise was too loud, too thick.  I shredded his coat exposing his neck. I bit down.  The warm, thick liquid wet my parched body.  So desperately I wanted to sink into the sensation forget the outside world.  With my will alone I remained aware.  Once his body was free of blood, I dragged him upward.  A megaphone rested next to the tent.  Hefting the body, I snatched it and raced up to the top of the tank.

I pressed the megaphone to my mouth.  “Your captain is dead.”  The body flopped as a bright light rested on him.  “Fire, your bullets won’t kill me.  I’m the Lord of Burnsville.”  Many of the humans didn’t believe I was real.  Instead of running, or hiding, I waited for a bullet to hit me.  A barrage them cut through my body, they burned.  I cackled into the megaphone and the shots slowed, and stopped.

“You tried to take Burnsville from me.  I could kill all of you, bathe in your blood.”  A smile pulled up my right corner of my lip. “I want to. It would be decadent in the extreme.”  My tongue rubbed over my teeth.  “Either way, you are mine.  Choose how you wish to serve.”  As I spoke my people closed in around them.  Surrounded, their leader dead, and a vampire wanting to taste them.  They did the smart thing and dropped to their knees.  I sent out a mental command.  “Any who are not cowed, knock them out.  I’ll drain, and store their blood.”

I stepped down throwing the commander’s body down.  A man had bars on his chest,   “Are you his first?”

“First?” He asked his voice shaking.

The word escaped me.  “Are you now the commander of this…”  My mind searched for the word.  The air outside caused my brain to work slower.  “Unit?”

He nodded.  “Yes, sir.”

“Good, you are mine.”  Fear rolled off him in waves.  The speed of his heart so fast.  “Are you happy to be mine?”

His head bounced up and down rapidly.  “Of course, sir.  I am happy to serve.”

My fingers wrapped around his chin as I peered into his eyes.  “You don’t need to lie.  You will like it.  Don’t worry I take care of what’s mine.  Serve me well, you will be well.  Make sure your men now they are mine, forever.  Can you do that?”

“Yes, sir.”

I shook my head.  “Yes, Master Urien.  You will serve me very well.”  I let go the man collapsed at my feet.  His sobs punctuated my steps.  Burnsville was mine fully, once more.

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Walking in Shadow, Part 2

Has it really been a year since my first blog post?  It hardly feels as if a year has passed.   Though, considering the amount of blog posts up maybe it should have seemed longer.   I’ve never had quite so much fun learning before.  

Thanks to everyone who stopped by to read bits of my brain cracked open for everyone.   I hope to see you all next year, same time.

Walking in Shadow, Part 2

“What else is in the way?”  I shook my hand in irritation as the tip of it grew back.  The burning and itching feeling distracted me.

She grabbed me and lifted me up. “A few traps, a few natural obstacles, and other things I’d guess.”

“Strip,” I motioned at the dead bodies.

Gulla frowned her fine, thin brows making a knot pattern.  “If we can on the way back.  I’m not sure how heavy the medical supplies are going to be.  I’d be great if found enough we couldn’t carry the weapons.  We need to pass this way on the way back. We can always get them later.”

The rebellion had been doing poorly for some time.  I hesitated leaving behind valuable armor, and weapons.  There was a time we had only ten guns. “I’ll mark the location, for pick up by the Vallen, and his troops.”

“Not Harl’s men?” Gulla had a rivalry with the leader of the rebels.  Harl didn’t like her much either.  But, Gulla was the most genetically enhanced individual on all of Amon.  There was no one even comparable.  And, considering she had brought the technology to allow us to easily enhance our own troops, he couldn’t dismiss her.  Gulla took advantage of that fact, and was building her own base of power.

“Gulla,” The warning apparent in my tone, “be careful to not spilt the rebels.”

Gulla tossed her head.  “What a random comment.”

She couldn’t fool me.  “I know how you think.  You were thinking I don’t trust Harl.  And this could be good for you.  Since, we are clearly friends.   However, I trust Harl.  But, his people are standard soldiers. Vallen’s are scouts, which fits Vallen’s temperament.”

Gulla started down the hallway, and I followed.  My senses extended enough to warn me if more troops were waiting.

A few minutes passed when Gulla whispered.  “So, you and Vallen?”

The question felt heavy for implications. What those implications might be I don’t know.  “What is it you want know?”

I could feel as exasperated sigh, more than heard it.  “Are you two dating, having a casual thing?”

It took me a moment to work it out in my head.  “I’m not involved with Vallen.  Why would you think such a thing?”

Her shoulder’s shrugged.  “You always seem to know what the other is thinking.  You even share quiet, secret smiles on occasion.  And, I’ll catch you guys exchanging glances.  Isn’t that sort of thing that says there is something going on?”

The evidence did suggest the was something going on.  “Well, there isn’t.  Perhaps, there is potential for it.  I doubt any Alaget are interested in alien.”

Gulla looked back at me her eyes wide.  “An alien who looks, talks, and acts mostly like an Alaget, and can look like any Alaget who has ever lived, at any time.”  Her voice grew more amused with each word.  “I can’t imagine any man who wouldn’t want that.”

A presence nearby, not a person, maybe something else, “Gulla, stop.”

All joy fled as she stilled.  Her eyes scanning the area.  A pain hit my heart, a child shouldn’t be this good at surviving.

The presence seemed to be shuffling.  It couldn’t be an animal.  Almost all life had been wiped out in The Fall. “What is it?”

Gulla tapped her foot.  It meant she was tired of waiting on me.  She believed strongly in silent communication while on mission.

The presense wasn’t getting any closer.  “There is something.  I’m not sure what it is. We might have to go and confront it.”

The click of Gulla reloading her gun was the only response.  She motioned with the weapon.

I led going in the direction I sensed the creature.  The tunnel lightened even more as plants, and moss covered everything.  A few insects fluttered in the air.  I peered upward as artificial lights beamed down.  “I’m surprised. Was this a testing facility of some kind?”

Gulla shook her head clearly as baffled as me. “I don’t know.  The records I dug out of that old computer were pretty corrupted.  That’s why we had to check other locations, I wasn’t even sure what was where.”

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Get F++Cked

Another Chuck Wendig challenge.  This one was to pull up a song list somewhere, get a random song title turn it into a story. Which I did.  This song is Get F++Cked by The Thrills.  I said, eh why not.  I’ve been reading the Kim Harrison Hollows novels, so excuse the demon motif.  

Get F++Cked

A soft tingling brushed down my spine.  “Ooh…” I purred, a summoning.  The sensation built setting my nerves on fire.  Summoners get worried the longer it takes you show up.  When summoners are distracted, they make precious, wondrous mistakes.  The summoning call turned to pained, I let myself be pulled.  A sparkling golden, red light ripped me from my home into a lavish bedroom.

The gold walls draped with red curtains, dark rich wood, and an opulent bed filled with pillows.  I find it curious people summoned most demons into basements.  But, as a Succubus I’ve only been called to bedrooms.  My eyes gazed my summoner a tall, rail-thin man. He had dusky skin, dark eyes, and black hair.  He wore an ill fitting suit of royal purple, a sky blue shirt not at all coordinated.  He licked his lips while staring me.  My fingers ran through my fiery red hair.  I never talk first.  That makes the summoners think they’re getting the upper hand.  The circle seemed well made, not that I had any interest in escaping.

He half turned keeping only one eye on me.  “Suicais Reevella Quinalda, I summoned you.”  By his tone and expression he was trying to be ominous.

“And, who summoned me?”  The reply required for every summoning.  Which, I detested.  Rituals were boring.

“Thomas Quinn Smithson has summoned you.”  The ritual response as the tension seemed to run out of his shoulders.

“Call me Reeve, no need to keep blathering my full name.”  Plus, it sounded old.  Reeve sounded hip, sexy, and dangerous.

Smithson eyes narrowed supicion wafting off him in waves.  “If I call you Reeve will the agreements still be binding?”

My head jerked back.  “I’m affronted, human.  If I say it’s binding, it’s binding.   Succubus’s don’t play those sort of games.” I smiled my lover’s smile.  “We are much better at other kind of games.”  I couldn’t lie, the circle prevented.  Another glance at the etching for the circle when I realized it’d been carved into stone.  And, well made, better than I initially noticed.

“Right,” He rubbed his neck.  “I don’t usually call your kind.”  A darkness flowed into his eyes, an intensity.  “My jobs are usually of a more brutal nature.”

The evil curling around him fascinated me.  This Smithson did bad, bad things.  Delicious, tasty bad things, he was a horrible man.  I really liked him.  “Oh, I’m not much for violence, sweet.  I’m a lover, not a fighter.”  Yes, I like old, but good lines like that one.

He paced back and forth his eyes no longer on me.  “See, Reeve I have a man I can’t kill.  I can’t touch him.  He’s ruining me.  I need someone to gain his trust, learn his weakness. A spy.”

Tension ran high in the room as I watched him. Perhaps, the man was a criminal of some kind.  It would explain the expensive furnishings.  Not the bad suit.  “Why are you dressed so poorly, Smithson?”

“Aren’t you curious about the deal?” The pace halted abruptly as he glared at me, fists at his sides.

I leaned against the wall shifting so my whole leg was exposed in my slit dress.  “We’ll get to it eventually.”  I nibbled on my lip eyes closed in ecstasy.  “Don’t worry I always get to the finish.  If you indulge my curiosity things might go better for you.”  Or not, hung in the air.  Slowly, I opened my eyes.

His jaw so tight his skin stretched over his cheekbones.  Again, I waited.  Waiting is easy when all you have invested is time.  “I hid my wealth.  I’ve increased my life trading favors with demons.  Most people think I’m a wanna-be-gangster, even the police, the press.” A lazy grin as he flickered to life.  “This city is mine, and I control it from the shadows.”

To take this man’s soul, I’d be the talk of the town for centuries.  A soul isn’t gained in a day, not this soul anyway.  “Are you so powerful, lovely?  Are you a spider on your web?” A bit mocking heat, a curl of my seduction braided inside.

A fierce red filled his face.  Rage twisted and heaved around him as pounded a fist on my cage.  “Don’t you mock me, you whore.”

I laughed.  “Of course, you’d call a Succubus a whore.”  As if it was insult.  “I may spread my legs, and anything else, but I assure you human I’m more than compensated.”  Really, a whore.  Ha.

Control trickled back into him.  He stiffened and stood back.  “I want walk as a human, do whatever you need to do to feed me information. I mean human, no throwing people around, no demonic displays. I want the information to be delivered by means only a diabolist can track, or if possible not even a diabolist.  Any information, anything.”

“I haven’t worked on a forever basis.  How long will you be taking up my time?”  A lot of freedom, I loved freedom.

“No longer than five years.  I hold the rights to dismiss you sooner, if I feel our agreement is up.” Clever, evil man, I licked my lips at his demands.  How tasty he will be.

I stood up allowing the dress to drift around my legs.  My finger ran down my neck.  “Anything you want?” I panted, because I knew what I going to ask for.

A heated look of anger as he clasped his hands together.  “I want rights to change the agreement five times, one for every year.”

“Ooh, darling I agree.  If you agree to give you a piece of your soul.  Not enough to drag you down, but enough to feed me.  Can you feed me? Are you up the challenge? ”  My body pressed against my cage as my hair danced behind me.  “Drop the circle, and the agreement is made.”

The barrier fell as I swept me into his arms.  Inside, I howled with joy.  In five years, he would be mine, all mine.

 

 

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Walking in Shadow, Part 1

The drip, drip of water echoed all around me.  Gulla crawled on her knees slowly in front of me.  The slime, and whatever else was in this tunnel was being ground into my clothes.  “You are certain this the abandoned supply depot?”   Irritation escaped my rigid self control.

A short laugh replied as her eyes glinting in the dark.  Unlike me, she had night vision.  “You keep asking.”

“This tunnel is filthy.  And the last few tunnels did not lead anywhere fruitful.”  This was not the first disgusting tunnel I’d crawled in today.

“I’m more sure about this one, than any of others.” How could her voice should sound so cheery in these surroundings?

I didn’t dignify the words with a reply.  The only sounds were continued dripping of water, and the scrapping of Gulla’s shoes.  She could see in the dark, but I could always move silently.  The darkness began to lighten.  “Please tell me this is a good sign.”

“Oh yeah, it is.”  A grinding noise filled the air as the light blinded me.  “We have arrived.”

My eyes rolled, knowing she was merely being dramatic. From the plans she showed me we still had a long way to go.  The clang of her descending filled my ears as I waited for my eyes to adjust.  “How many obstacles?”

“Oh a few, and probably a few surprises.  That’s how it usually goes.”  There are times I find it strange that Gulla had to laugh in the face of death.  Death did not bother me, but she was reckless to the level of madness.  With a grunt I followed her down the steps clanging far less.

Gulla tapped the bar twice.  This was a signal to stop.  My voice pitched low.  “What is it?”

“Send your mind.” Her voice commanding.

The power contained within flowed outward.  It felt like the shackles on my body were broken.  They were milling bodies warm, and who were exerting a great of the muscle, “Armed, wearing armor, and about twelve of them.”

“Twelve.”  Gulla snorted.  “I thought this was going to be fun.”

“By the Sun, Gulla Valik you are an adult.  Could you feign maturity once?”  Annoyance sparked through.  Immediately, guilt set in. She was extremely mature.  But, her life had been too hard, and to cope she’d put on a laughing facade.

Instead of getting upset at outburst she lifted a brow.  “Did get your nap in today, I know how you old people are without your naps?”

A fought a smile, then laughed.  “I’m sorry.  I‘m dour in my ancient age.”

“How do you want to this?”  She stepped off the ladder into the narrow hallway.

“I’ll walk with the shadows.  How do you want to do this?”  The shadows veiled me as I exerted my will around me. Inky blackness wrapped around me, cool and calming. In truth it did not hide me, it only fooled the eye. Its influence skipped Gulla so she’d know my position.

“I’ll shoot them.  I was able to modify that old shield tech.  It will keep me alive allowing you to slip around the back.”  In her usual way, without waiting, she kicked down the door and started to fire.

Shouts, grunts, and screams of panic, anger, and pain echoed in the hallway.  A few bullets bounced off her shield before she ducked around the door frame.  I made my way around the back, and waited for her reach out and fire once again. As they engaged I sliced across the back of their necks severing their spines.  Four went down before they started to turn.  My hands found one of the bodies jerking it up and using it as a shield.  The bullets pounded into it as Gulla now flanked them, more dying.

The blood pooled under my feet. A close range shot blew my shield and I down.  A blade sliced out cutting off the tip of my finger.  A few more shots.  I heard a curse, and shuffle of feet.  “Gulla kill him, don’t wrestle with him.”

The noise stopped, and the body was thrown off me.  The sparse girl with long brown hair stood in the light covered with blood. “Ko, that guy was heavy.”

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The Tuesday

Usually, I post a flash fiction story from Chuck Wendig, due to his weekly challenge.   This week he challenged to write a scary story in three sentences.   However, that didn’t seem enough to warrant a blog post.   And, I decided to do something drastic.  Terrifying even.    I rewrote my About Me page.    I’d been informed a while ago the thing was unreadable, and I needed to fix it.   I decided to post it here first, and then throw it up on my About Me page a few days later.

First, my scary story entry.

The steps grew louder with each unrelenting second. My heart raced, my throat burned. The steps stopped by me, and I screamed even though I knew there was no hope.

 

About Me

My sister informed me my old about me page was crap.  It was poorly written,  and generally terrible.  I read it and I had to agree.  But, then I was stuck in a quandary.  How to make it better?  So, I started to read other bloggers about me pages. 

A lot of writers talk about how they write for the love of storytelling.  And, that has to be true.  I mean why spend hours writing if you hate stories. That would be truly bizarre.  It does feel a bit like a cop out.  I love stories too, but that’s not really why I write. 

I write because I don’t want the blank page to win.  Every day we go to war.  Every day I refuse to let it win.  Some days I don’t want to write.  The idea makes my skin crawl, but then the blank page would win.  That just doesn’t work for me.   My heels dig in and I beat the blank page into submission. 

 

A lot of things inspire me to write.  Things that help me beat the blank page down.  The video games I’ve loved and played.  (Baldur’s Gate, Icewind Dale, Elder Scrolls, The Longest Journey, Mass Effect).  Books I’ve committed to heart.  (Steven Brust’s everything, Kushiel’s Dart, The Hobbit)  

I’d say my family makes for great inspiration, but I’m not sure they’d take as a compliment.   They support me, mostly.   My husband most of all.  

Life in general has been a pretty good source of inspiration.   Growing up a foreigner in a small town taught  me a lot about life.  Some things good, some otherwise.   Travelling to Turkey in my teens showed me differences I never understood before.  I didn’t know how much a place could feel different. How the air, the sounds, the spirit of each city is unique and beautiful.  Also, walking in places that were ancient really puts the world in perspective.

 No wonder I have more than enough to battle the blank page every day.

——————

If you are brave,  and strong check out my current about me page.  Yeah, it might hurt.  

 

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Like Recognizes Like

How Amaria found Gulla Valik.  

I found her bloody, blackened, and weak. The limp strands of hair stuck to her filth rubbed clothing. Her dark eyes blazed with utter defiance. She welled up her face and spittle landed next to my foot. “Try me, try to kill me. Attack like the dog you are.” The words raw with the hoarseness of her voice.

“You think I am an assassin working for the Nobles?” It startled me. In a way I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. I walked with near silent steps, and my eyes were always watching.

“I can tell a killer when I see one.” A grim smile at odds with the youth of her face, “like recognizes like.”

The sorrow in her words struck me. A part of her, a hidden part, hated to admit what she’d done. “In these times we are all killers. If we hope to survive. That is the nature of war, rebellion, power, and freedom.” I showed her my hands were empty as I knelt beside her. “I don’t work for the Nobles. Nor have I ever.”

The girl, the only way I could think of her now, scrabbled back her body scraping against the half shattered building behind her. The sunlight glancing off her making her state even more obvious. “Why should I believe you?”

“I’m not sure there is a reason. You don’t know who I am. You don’t know who I work for. We only just met. Yet, I am not lying. If I intended you kill you, I would have done so already.” I let the statement sink in. I tipped my head downward. “Gulla Valik.”

Gulla hissed. “You liar.” A flash of metal flew passed me as I leaned away from the thrown blade.

“I do not lie. I can see your soul, and what you are. Look at my eyes, what do you see?” I changed position my eyes now in the light.

She sucked in a breath. “Your pupils they have a gray star around them. A Star Child? You aren’t even an Alaget.”

“I’m not a Soul Merchant either. They own me.” Even I could hear the calm in my voice break. The Powerless, all the people who weren’t Soul Merchants, thought they knew what slavery was. No one owned their soul. That was true powerlessness. “I mean you no harm.”

“I know about Soul Merchants. As much as anyone does, probably more. Ko,” The curse rolled off her tongue easily. “I can never catch a break.”

“Come with me, we’ll get you cleaned off, and something to eat.” I held out my hand.

Those ancient eyes in a child’s face stared at my hand. “Where would that be?”

“The Rebel’s camp. Sure, you wish to join them?” Gulla’s parents had been murdered by the Nobles. They had been genetic researchers, civilians, in every sense of the word.

“With Harl leading them, hardly. The Rebellion is failing. Every day the Nobles become more powerful. The citizens are afraid to even feel discontented. There is no hope.” A cry off pain as Gulla managed to stand. I could tell either her ankle was broken or badly sprained.

“There is always hope. I’ve seen more desperate situations before. The game wasn’t finished until there are no players left.” My masters always sent me when things were truly terrible.

The dark eyes narrowed. Her head cocked to the side. “You awfully preachy, is that normal for a never ending being. Are you going to spout off more sayings. Oh, like when its darkest the light is around the corner?”

The attiude should have annoyed me, it did a little bit. The rest was beyond amused. No one who knew what I was had ever been. “Perhaps. I have the wisdom of many lives times. I have great power. Do you not fear me?”

Gulla shrugged. “Since, I was twelve I’ve been running. I saw my parents murdered, my brother.” She paused as tears made tracks down her face. “I could have died a lot. Death scares me, but it’s kind of become something I’ve used to be being scared off. An old friend, fear, we’ve been through a lot together. You are terrifying. The only thing that kept me alive is my wit. And, I’ve gotten good at saying whatever pops into my head. It isn’t going to change any time soon.”

A laugh escaped my control as a smile settled onto my face for the first time, in a very long time. “I will enjoy your outputting, annoying mannerisms.” My eyes swept over here. “We have to get you ready to meet the Rebels. I’ll take you to my home until you’re ready.”

Gulla rolled her eyes. “Fine, fine, I’m hungry anyway.”

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Orichalcum Hive-Mind

Chuck Wendig challenge once again.  This was another roll of the dice.  A two part rolls where you got one part of the title form two columns.  I got Orichalcum Hive-Mind.  Which, at first annoyed me, but then it seemed cool.  

Orichalcum Hive-Mind

A hammer made out of moonlight smashed against a bronze-gold metal. Sparks flew off filling the air with fire. An echo of bangs, and booms sounded like thunder.  The anvil absorbed each blow with a fracturing pattern of leaf green, and loamy brown.  The smith glowed with an inner light face unknowable.  As he worked his voice lifted in a lilting song.  “Life be given onto these children of sky, and earth.  Life walks within them, as they speak, and walk.  Life they are blessed, and cursed with within.”

Each piece pounded out, shaped and curved into a fine, slight bodies.  One by one they lined the wall of the grand hall made out of shimmering golden stone.  The smith voice never ending the phrases repeated with each one.  Finally, five  matching basic humanoid shapes rested in the hall.  The smith inner light faded.  He huge with hewn muscles, and broad unremarkable featuers.  “Children of Sky and Earth, awaken.”

The bodies moved as one stepping forward and switching their gaze toward their creator.  “We awaken.” Their eyes glowed green, and white.

“It is good to see you my children.  Come with me, and we’ll finish bringing you to life.”  The smith tread down the hall swinging his arms as he whistled a tuneless song.  A door of glinting silver sswung open to a field of fire, and another of water.

He pointed at the fire.  “Step inside, and be blessed with fire.”

The flames licked their bodies setting their metal bodies glowing.  Fire flamed up behind adding another color to their eyes.  Fire built up around them turning them molten, their features blending.

Smith stepped into the water. “Water will soothe the fire.  Join me in the water, and be free of heat.”  Their legs moved leaving metallic puddles on the dirt between fire and water.  Steam coated the air in a fog.  The high pitch of hiss signifying the clash between heat and water.   The bodies contorted and twisted under the pressure.

The smith stepped out the river.   He chest sucked in waiting for the steam to fade.  Five charred bodies stood in the water.  “Come out and let me see you.”

With creaks, and bits of flaking off the five stood on the bank.  The smith held out his hand a pick and chisel fell into his hand.   “Now, you will be what has been in my mind’s eye.”  A pounding as he chiselled them down bits of metal flying off as he worked on each one.  In their place were sculpted, muscular bodies with plain faces.  The eyes gleamed white, green, red, and blue swirling together.

“What do you need, master?” They asked in one voice.

“A war that leads to peace.” The smith flipped tools in the air and they vanished. “Go out fight the servants of chaos.  Bring order.  One mind, one goal, one truth.”

As one they bowed, and stepped out into the nothing.

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The Rebel’s Rise, Part 9

I could hear charging feet around the corner.  Then steps stumbled, Amaria stepped from around the corner.  “I sensed them.  Harl was hoping to get one more load.”  She pulled the other two up with a quick jerk.

 

My palms itching for my gun, as I followed suit. The urge to keep checking behind me was nearly overwhelming.  Amaria is there, I told myself, she’ll see someone far before you.  I swept down as I passed the door my gun resting, in my hands.  “Situation?”

 

“A lot of them are heading this way.  Our friend is either dead, or they gave up on them.”  The shadows spoke with Amaria’s voice.

 

“Can we go down the chute?” It was quickest exit I could think of.

 

Harl shook his head to the side.  “No, it would kill us.  I have an exit.  I’m not sure how to get there with all these men bearing down on us.”

 

A bit of hysteria filled me as I laughed.  All of them stared at me.  “I have a plan go to your exit, I’ll follow.”  They didn’t move.  “Harl, I swear to you I’ll provide a distraction.”

 

He knew what I was telling him.  He bowed his head.  “This way, be ready.”  They took off in a sprint.  Only Amaria lingered to offer me a deep bow of respect.

 

It didn’t take long for their footsteps to fade.  A few tears and I held the three remaining grenades.  I started to throw them into the cache when a voice piped up.

 

“Heroically sacrificing yourself.  That’s pretty adorable.” Gulla stood casually leaning against a wall.  Blood splattered across a tight fighting battle suit with several metal plates hanging loosely, or had fallen off.  The only fully attached pieces were the chest and shoulders.  “Aren’t you going to thank me for diverting the ambush?”

 

“That was you?” My jaw felt unhinged as I stared at her.

 

A roll her eyes as she strolled over.  “Of course, who else would try to keep you alive?  Do you think your little group of fighters has endeared yourself to anyone?”  Her eyes focused on the grenades.  “Why don’t you go hide out in the chute, I’ll throw them and join you before the explosion.”  She held up a pair of hooks.  I wonder who she had to kill for them.

 

“I made them myself.”  In the future, I realized, her having ability to read me was going to be very irritating.

 

I didn’t want to die, but I didn’t know if this was the best idea.  “I think you should go. I’m just a Noble, you are the hope the rebels need.”

 

She snorted.  “Give me a break.  I’ll be fine.  And, this is the only way to save you. I may be a kid to you, and maybe I could stand to be more mature.” It looked painful for her to say it.  “We don’t have time for this.  Go, or I’ll throw them and kill us both.”

 

I bit back a growl and headed out for the chute.  I slid in digging the metal hooks into the side leaving enough for her to fit as well.  A gust of wind filled the air as the door slammed shut.  The building twisted, and buckled around me. I rocked back and forth slamming into Gulla and the metal.  My muscles screamed in objection.  Then a series of explosions made it impossible to feel anything.  All I could think of it was I wish I had a way to plug my ears.

 

Gulla let out a holler.  “Now that was exciting.” She winked at me.  I could see bruises all over her.

 

“You’re hurt as bad as me.”  I stuttered, I never heard my voice so battered.

 

She wiggled upward forcing the blackened, twisted door open.  “I’ll heal.  Better than you.”  A tug and she tumbled out.

 

It took me several groans to follow after her.  “Where to?”

 

She gave a massive stretch.  “Out the hole.”  She motioned to the shattered wall.  “I got rope too.”  She patted the coiled pile on her back.

 

I frowned.  She was a little too good at this.  “Alright, let’s get it over with.  If we wait too long my muscles will seize up.”

 

She spent a moment tying the rope off.  She leaned over the side.  “We’ll have to drop a bit, or we can try climbing the wall.”

 

The grinding of my bones distracted me as I looked down.  The rope stopped about three full lengths from the bottom.  “Won’t kill either of us.”

 

“True,” she half laughed grabbing the rope and shimmied down.  I followed watching her move at speeds I could barely follow.  She got the end, hooted and let go.

 

My ambition was less I went to the very end of it, then fell.  The ground came up hard against my feet, and I let out a yelp of pain.  I opened my eyes and she leaned over me.  “Are you going to be okay?”

 

“Probably, can you take me back to base?” My leg was broken.  It cracked right below the knee.  Thank my useless father who replaced my kneecaps long ago. I shut my eyes leaving it to her.  I felt bad about it, but I couldn’t do it anymore.

 

“Harl, I got your second in command here.  Broken leg, you might want to fetch him.”

 

I meant to ask her how she was talking to Harl, but I blacked out. It dawned on me; I was resting on a cot.  Harl, Amaria, and Gulla sat around me on chairs.  The rebels arrayed other outside.  “You get the weapons.”

 

A light slap on my shoulder as Harl scolded me.  “You are injured and the first you thing you ask about is the weapons?  They are here.  You need to rest.”

 

From behind them I could see everyone’s eyes on Gulla.  I knew then, as I went back to sleep, she would be our leader.  Harl was already on the way out. He just didn’t know it yet.

 

I hoped you enjoyed Gulla’s antics in Rebel’s Rise.  The next story coming up is the Rebel’s Lesson, where Gulla might have to learn some humility, and social skills.

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Cliffhanger Conclusion

Last challenge from Chuck Wendig was to write a story that ended on a cliffhanger.  So, inenvitably this week we needed to pick one of stories from our fellow challengers to finish.  I went with The Highway by Jreinmiller.  

My Finish to The Highway

The rail groaned as the car smashed through it. The whine of metal into metal reverbed through the car.

 

“We’re going to die!” The gun forgotten in the father’s hands.

 

Sam heart banged around in his throat. The car tipped forward over the edge. His stomach turned, the car swayed once. Another groan and it lurched forward.

 

Both men let out yelps. The gun clattered to the ground. For a moment Sam felt a sense of relief. Then, the car tipped, tumbling down. Everything seemed to slow down as the ground got closer. Each second felt as if it lasted forever.

 

His eyes closed as he remembered everything that lead up to now. It was going to a normal day, Sam thought, he’d thought he go home, drink a beer, and watch the game. And, now it was over.

 

“Sam.” A voice echoed all around him. All sense of motion was gone. The sounds of screams, and torn metal gone.

 

His eyes fluttered open to a white room, with a robed figure standing in front of him. “What’s going on?”

 

“That’s a good question.” The figure’s voice was toneless.

 

“I don’t understand.” Sam twirled around. The terrified thrill of earlier changed into something darker.

 

The figure gave a slow nod. “You know your limits, this is good.”

 

Sam’s throat worked up, but he couldn’t swallow. “I’m dead.”

 

The figure shook its head. “No, you are wrong. You are alive. None of this matters.”

 

At a loss Sam stared. After a shrug he ran his hand over his face. “How am I not dead? The crash, the car falling. This doesn’t make sense.”

 

“You ask many good questions. None of them revealing. Only one question matters. Life or Death?” The figure’s hands rose palm up.

 

“For who?” The rapid beat of his blood slowed, Sam shuddered.

 

“That question doesn’t matter now. Do you want to choose life?” A white light appeared in the figure’s left hand. “Or, do you prefer death?” A black light appeared in the right hand.

 

“I want to live. I wouldn’t mind if that bastard died. He was going to kill me.” A lance of guilt hit Sam. What if the guy really did have a sick daughter?

 

The figure shook its head. “You can’t have both. Life. Death. You may only have one.”

 

Sam paced back and forth. The thoughts in his head scattered. How could he make a choice, when he didn’t even know what it meant. But, Sam knew he didn’t want to die. “Life, I pick life.”

 

The dark light shrivelled up, and the white one expanded all around Sam. A flash and the once again the car dived at the canyon floor. “Oh god, oh god.”

 

Pain spiked his body as the car smashed in around him. A warm liquid pooled around his legs, and sides, his left arm went numb. The gunman’s body smashed against the ground, his body still. “Are you alive?” No response as agony made it hard for Sam to think.

 

A voice whispered in his ear. “The girl lives.” The sound of sirens was the last thing Sam heard.

 

 

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